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POLITICS1 Goes to War with the
1st Battalion/23rd Marine Regiment

Editor's Note: Politics1 "adopted" the 1st Battalion/23rd Marines -- an infantry regiment of reservists from Texas (and neighboring states) deployed to Iraq in August 2004. Lt James Crabtree, a regular Politics1 reader, belongs to the battalion and he submits regular dispatches to us. Anything you can do to show support for these brave yound men and women is greatly appreciated (regardless of whether or not you support the war). If you'd like to send them any care packages -- and they'd certainly be appreciated -- please send them to: Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 -- and James will distribute whatever you send to many of the Marines in the 1/23d.


FEBRUARY 25, 2005 - REPORT FROM IRAQ: ANOTHER LOSS. Our special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines writes home with news of a sad accident.

Dear Politics1.com Friends,

Itís a nice sunny day here at the dam and it feels like spring is near. The first wave of those that will replace us arrived today. I think that is why it is especially tragic that just a few days ago we lost LCpl Trevor Aston in a vehicle accident.

One of our Weapon’s Company Marine touching LCpl Aston’s helmet.
Aston kept track of each mission he had
been on -- 130+ -- with tick marks on his helmet.

LCpl Aston (right) was remembered at a memorial service at the dam yesterday (pictured above). Just like the memorials that came before, it was somber and moving. All of the Marines that knew him best spoke about the type of man he was. I had the privilege of being his platoon commander for a brief while back in Austin and I was struck by his thoughtfulness and his life experiences. He had been a bartender in Austin for about 15 years and joined the Marines as he came close to his 30th birthday. Trevor, 32, was older than most LCpls and I believe many looked up to and respected him. I remember him telling me that many of his friends were surprised by his desire to join the Marine Corps. Once you spent some time with him, it wasnít a surprise. Everyone that knew him spoke of his dedication and skill, his heart-felt connection to his fellow Marines, and his desire to return home and show the guys from his company a good time at some of the bars in Austin. The Austin American-Statesman had a story about Trevor today in which his mom talked about how he wanted to be a firefighter and how he joined after 9/11.

A final salute. Trevor's 1stSgt -- 1stSgt James Miller -- saluting
the memorial for LCpl Aston. The river is in the background.
The 1stSgt and CO were the last two people to salute.

It's emotionally draining to try to type just a few words that sum up our thoughts and emotions at a time like this. I pray this is the last update I write that mentions us losing someone. I can share one small item that perhaps reflects how strongly everyone here feels towards one another. After LCpl Aston had died and before the helicopter arrived to take his body on his final trip home, some of the Corpsman from our aid station covered him with an American flag. This flag was one that had been presented to us by Congressman Reyes of El Paso and had flown over the U.S. Capitol. We have been told that this flag will be presented to his family in addition to the normal flag that covers the casket. I certainly hope this is true, because it embodies the caring that the Marines and Sailors here feel for one another -- and for the families.

If any of you have been following the news from over here, you may be familiar with the fact that we are currently involved in an operation called "River Blitz." Even as I type this, we have members of our battalion that have been capturing or killing some of the insurgents in our area. This event has caused the media to pay a great deal of attention to our battalion. In addition to still having Mr. Razuri here with us from the Agence France Presse (several of his photos from here appeared in the L.A. Times and Washington Post recently) we added Mr. Alistair Bull of the Reuters News Service. Mr. Bull has been with Reuters for over 15 years and is a native of England. He refers to us as ďchapsĒ and is already outside the dam working on his stories. We also had a USAF SSgt from who works as a reporter for the Armed Forces TV Network visit us for a couple of days. I guess this is the place to be!

The other night I finally had a chance to watch the State of the Union address that my Mom and Step-Dad mailed to me. They burned a copy of it onto a DVD and I was able to see it on a small portable player. Iíve never been emotionally moved by a State of the Union speech before, but the moment when Sgt. Norwoodís parents were recognized was very personal to me. I thought of all of the families of those we have lost and I listened to what Mrs. Norwood had written to the President in her letter. His mom and dad reminded me of another family whose Marine son was lost over here last spring. Many of the Marines from Austin volunteered to take part in Cpl. Matthew Matulaís funeral and they will never forget it. It seemed like his entire town turned out for the service. Some that spoke of LCpl Aston yesterday were pall bearers and rifle guard members at that earlier funeral. You need to see this part of the address if nothing else. It choked me up. The entire chamber appeared moved by the moment, as well.

One final comment: we have received so many care packages (including a great one yesterday from Edd Hendee, the radio show host that visited us) that I was able to give another twenty boxes to our Azerbaijani soldiers. They loved it and want me to thank everyone. They do not get mail for the whole time they are here, so little things like snacks, hygiene items, and magazines really mean a lot to them.

Remember: "Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." - Governor Adlai Stevenson.

Semper Fi,

We appreciate that James continues to share his experience in Iraq. Remember: letters/"flats" for 1/23 Marines must be mailed by March 1 if they are to arrive there in time. The 1/23 Marines are scheduled to remain in Iraq until mid-March 2005.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 2.25.05 |

FEBRUARY 21, 2005 - REPORT FROM IRAQ: A VALENTINE'S DAY MESSAGE. Our special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines writes home with news of more journalist visits, a General drops by the award from medals ... and then there are those Girl Scout cookies.

Dear Politics1.com Friends,

Hello once more from 1/23 in Iraq. Sixty years ago this weekend Marines in 1/23 were taking part in the battle of Iwo Jima. This momentous fight cost thousands of lives and is still considered by many to be the most memorable moment in Marine Corps history. The flag raising that later took place atop Mount Suribachi became one of the most enduring iconic images of any war due to the photo taken by Joe Rosenthal. I donít know how many parallels there are between that event and what we are doing here today, but Iíd like to hope that members of 1/23 from WWII would be proud of our men that followed in their footsteps.

We've had a lot going on as usual and Iíll try to fit everything into this report. To start with, Joe Saccoís story from his time with us should be running in the Sunday magazine of The London Guardian on the 27th. Heíll let us know for sure when it does and will be sending us copies that we are eager to see. Tony Perry of the L.A. Times has retuned to the US and a new story he wrote on the battalion appeared in the L.A. Times on Friday. As usual, it does a good job capturing what life is like here (the part about an AC-130 gunship being used during the fighting in Haditha on the 26th is incorrect, but the rest of the piece is very well done). You can read it online here.

Currently we have Mr. Jaime Razuri staying with us as a photojournalist. He works for Agence France Press and is a native of Lima, Peru. Mr. Razuri is a friendly gentleman who has been in the media for almost 20 years -- and has covered some horrific events ranging from the Shining Path terrorists in South America to the Japanese embassy siege led by Peruvian President Fujimori in April 1997 to rescue hostages taken by rebel terrorists. Mr. Razuri has already been out with our Marines on a 14-hour mission and will continue to take pictures with us for another week or so. The AFP is the French version of the Associated Press or Reuters, so it is possible that some of his photos could appear around the globe. Mr. Razuri, like most media members that visit us, is currently staying in The Kuniholm Suite. He likes how weíve set up our room and was surprised that one of our roommates is fluent in Spanish. 2ndLt John Morris was born and raised in Chiapas, Mexico, and his family still remains down there as missionaries. It was funny seeing Lt Morris, who is white and about 6í3Ē, speaking in Spanish with Mr. Razuri, who is about 5í1Ē, about their various travels in Latin America while standing in a room in a dam in Iraq. It was almost Felliniesque.

We have also learned that a reporter from The Christian Science Monitor will soon be joining our Charlie Company Marines at their base near the city of Hit. They may also get a visit from a TV crew from CNN. I think the word has started to get out about the job our Marines do here . We've also established ourselves as a unit that is friendly towards the media. I'll be sure to keep you updated on any possible coverage that might result from their being with us.

One thing that I recently learned after seeing a copy of an LA Times that my Mom sent me was that the family the President recognized at his State of the Union address is from a town near Austin. Their son, Cpl Norwood, was killed in Iraq and was actually a part of the Weapons Company at Camp Mabry before he went on active duty. I personally never knew him, but several of our Marines here did. From all accounts Iíve seen, the moment that Mr. and Mrs. Norwood were recognized was the best part of the evening and was considered to be very moving. It makes it feel like a small world to know he was once in our battalion.

Cpl Parr (left) and LCpl Garcia marching forward to get their medals.
SgtMaj Miller is holding the awards,
LtCol Stevens is in the center, and Brigadier General Williams is at right.

On Saturday our battalion had a visit from Brigadier General James Williams. He is currently the Commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Forceís Augmentation Command Element. The General was the commander of our battalion in the mid '90s and you could tell he was glad to visit. He was given a full brief by the staff and then awarded Navy Achievement Medals to Cpl Parr and LCpl Garcia in front of the entire battalion. The formation even included a large number of the Azerbaijanis and the newly formed Iraqi Freedom Guard. Gen. Williams and his Sergeant Major later addressed the entire battalion and they had nothing but praise for the job that everyone has done here. Itís not everyday that a general comes to see us and itís nice for the troops to know that the folks high up on the chain of command appreciate what they are doing.

GySgt Salvati, Cpl Carner, LCpl Seeger, and Cpl Parr from Weapons Company
in Austin enjoy some Girl Scout cookies in the Weapon’s Company office.
Actually, GySgt Salvati is eating some of our ubiquitous chow hall chicken.

Finally, I want to thank the girls of Brownie Troop 1788 in Austin, Texas, for the great package of Girl Scout cookies they sent us. The Marines loved them. We get lots of great care packages from so many people -- and this was one of the best. The girls sold cookies in front of an HEB grocery store on Highways 620 and 2222 in Austin and their den mother writes that they were extremely excited about sending over the large package full of cookie boxes. I donít think Iíve ever met someone that didnít like Girl Scout cookies.

Well, until next time, thank you for reading this update and for all of your continued support.

Semper Fi,

We appreciate that James continues to share his experience in Iraq. Remember: letters/"flats" for 1/23 Marines must be mailed by March 1 if they are to arrive there in time. The 1/23 Marines are scheduled to remain in Iraq until March 2005.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 2.21.05 |

FEBRUARY 14, 2005 - REPORT FROM IRAQ: A VALENTINE'S DAY MESSAGE. Our special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines writes home with some more good news. [Editor's FYI: We also got a nice email this past week from the father of LCpl Karl Linn, one of the four 1/23 Marines killed on January 26. Here's an except from Dick Linn's message: "Check out the web site [Karl] slapped together in the middle of January at www.karl.linn.net. He was doing what he wanted to do ... Tell all the guys that we sincerely appreciate all that they are doing. I hope they all return safe, and soon."]

Dear Politics1.com Friends,

Hello from the Dam. All is relatively well here right now. This Valentine's Day will hopefully be our last holiday (if that is what Valentine’s Day is) in Iraq before we return home to the states. I know we have many Marines and sailors here that long to be home with their Valentines. God willing, it won't be too much longer until that is the case. As a kid, my favorite Valentine was always Bobby, but I think that’s because he managed my favorite team: the Texas Rangers. In all seriousness, please don’t feel lonely if your loved one is over here right now. Just save all of the nice Valentine’s Day stuff until they return home. I’m sure it'll be worth it.

One sign that our return is growing imminent is the fact that we now have mail cut-off dates. In order to ensure that any boxes mailed to us here arrive before our return home, we are asking that no one send any packages after February 20. Letters and flat items travel much more quickly and, thus, the cut-off date for them should be March 1. Anything that is sent over after we have returned to the US will be returned to sender unless the outside of the box clearly states that it can be passed along to anyone. Once we have the mailing address for the battalion that will replace us I’ll be sure to let everyone know. It will not be the same as ours. Mr. McFeely -- he of Speedy Delivery fame on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" -- is the patron saint of our mail, and I’m sure he’ll continue to look over our care packages until the battalion’s return.

L.A. Times reporter Tony Perry (right) with
Azerbaijani commander Major Shabuzov (center) and Lt Qarayev

One of the highlights this week has been having Mr. Tony Perry here with us from the Los Angeles Times. He has been in the newspaper business for many years and is now the San Diego Bureau Chief of the L.A. Times. This is his third trip to Iraq and everyone has enjoyed having him around. Already he has spent time with members of our Small Craft platoon and the Marines from Weapons Company. Yesterday he was even able to interview the Azerbaijanis and get a full tour of their side of the dam. The AZs were first class hosts. Their commander, Major Salbuzov, rolled out the red carpet for him by serving hot tea and chocolates. Later a soldier even brought in hot chocolate. The interview went very well and the AZs were flattered to have a prominent American paper writing about their exploits. After thirty or so minutes of drinking and talking, the Major presented Mr. Perry with a nice bottle of red wine direct from Azerbaijan. Now it's up to Mr. Perry to figure out how to get it home without breaking it.

Mr. Perry's story about his visit here is in the Friday edition of the LA Times. You can read it online here. The articles mentions that site plans of the dam that were found in an insurgent hideout. This happened well before we got here (Mr. Perry found that factoid by doing a search on the internet). He also unearthed a nugget about some firm doing $12 million worth of renovations to the dam. This, too, must have occurred before we arrived. The story is well-written and I hope it will help generate more interest and appreciation for what the Azerbaijanis do -- and for what strong allies we have in them. They are some of the most disciplined and loyal military men I’ve seen and we're grateful they are on our side. The Major spoke of how he has been in the military for 18 years and that he even spent five years as a platoon commander in East Germany as part of the Soviet military. Who in 1987 would have ever expected him to be serving with us shoulder to shoulder here in Iraq?

A few months ago I wrote about Lt Abasov returning to Azerbaijan after having spent 18 consecutive months at the dam. Yesterday during the interview, Lt Qarayev (called "Garayev" in the Times piece) happily told me that Lt Abasov is now a company commander and, more importantly, he and his fiancée got married. I don’t think they have Valentine’s Day in his country, but Lt Abasov and his wife must believe in true love if she would wait 18 months for his return home.

Not all of our news coverage here comes from media professionals. Corporal Adam Gobbo -- a 23-year-old from Tulsa, Oklahoma -- is a member of Weapons Company. While on patrols, he is able to film events that unfold around him. Two weeks after his graduation from Oklahoma State he found himself being activated and sent to Iraq. This sudden change of events has allowed him to focus more on one of his main passions. Video making is one of his hobbies and he was able to ingeniously rig a small video camera onto his helmet, cover it with camouflage, and use weights to serve as a counter balance -- as pictured above. His helmet now weighs twice what it normally would, but besides ending up with a neck the size of Popeye, he is able to simply press a small exposed button on the back of the camera to begin filming. The videos he has recorded here in Iraq are unlike anything an embedded reporter would ever be able to capture. It is like you are seeing the actions through his eyes and you often see his arm and rifle come into the picture. Talk about stepping into someone else’s shoes; or combat boots in this case. There is a good deal of training value in what he has taped and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of his footage could be made into a documentary. He is also using his skills in editing and layout design work to put together a souvenir disk for each member of the battalion. Some of the videos he already produced are very impressive. In a related note, his younger brother is the LCpl Gobbo pictured in my February 5th report for receiving a Navy Achievement Medal for helping save a wounded Marines’ life.

Well, that’s all the time and space I have for this update. Thank you as always for your prayers and support!

Semper Fi,

P.S. We received a nice letter of support last week from Congressman Michael Burgess of the north Dallas suburbs. Including his letter, we have now received correspondence from 14 of the 32 Members of Congress from Texas.

We appreciate that James continues to share his experience in Iraq. If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23. Remember: Packages must be shipped by February 20 and letters/"flats" must be mailed by March 1 if they are to arrive there in time. The 1/23 Marines are scheduled to remain in Iraq until March 2005.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 2.14.05 |

FEBRUARY 5, 2005 - REPORT FROM IRAQ: A RETURN TO BETTER DAYS. Our special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines writes home with some nicer news.

Dear Politics1.com Friends,

A few days ago Punxsutawney Phil, the infamous Pennsylvania groundhog, emerged from his hole on Gobbler’s Knob and saw his shadow ... meaning that 1/23 has another six weeks in Iraq. Actually, it probably means six more weeks of winter, but for our Marines and sailors the end is getting closer. That's why everyone is redoubling their efforts to maintain focus and accomplish the mission before our return home.

LCpl Sauceda, LCpl Ramirez, HM3 Perez, LCpl Gobbo, and LCpl Poe (not visible.), all at attention on the left. 1stSgt Miller (right) is holding the awards and Major Russell is the one pinning the Purple Heart on LCpl Ramirez.

We have had some good and positive things happen here over the last few days that I’m eager to share with you. First, several members of our Weapons Company were honored at an awards ceremony recently. Lance Corporals Sauceda and Ramirez received Purple Heart medals from their company commander (Major Russell) for wounds suffered in combat. HM3 Perez and LCpl Gobbo were each awarded a Navy Achievement Medal for quick and skillful first aid they applied to a wounded Marine. Their actions likely saved his life. The fifth person to be recognized was LCpl Poe, who received a medal recognizing his three years of good and faithful service in the Marine Reserves. Ceremonies like these don’t get a lot of attention in the mainstream media, but they should. [Editor's note: James is being very modest here, but he was also awarded the Navy Achievement Medal last month -- in part for these columns he's been writing here.]

Another highlight here at the Dam was a live radio call we conducted with KVET in Austin on Thursday morning. Governor Rick Perry was on the air before us to present University of Texas Coach Mack Brown with a pair of boots for winning the Rose Bowl. Both of these gentlemen kindly hung around in the radio studio to speak with our troops after their segment was over. It was quite a thrill for everyone here. Unfortunately, the station ran out of time before we could get everyone on the air, but they did have us on for 23 minutes with no interruptions during prime drive-time. Coach Brown was extremely classy in his comments and the Governor remarked about how he was present for the battalion’s send off in June and wants to have an even bigger welcome home event. I know everyone here would love that. You can go to www.kvet.com and click on the Sam and Bob Show to listen to an audio file of the phone call. It was very surreal to be looking over the Euphrates River and speaking with Mack Brown and the Governor via satellite phone. The people at KVET are great folks and it always makes us feel closer to home to talk with them.

Our quest to get attention for our battalion continues to pay off because we learned yesterday that Tony Perry, a writer for the L.A. Times, will be embedded with us starting on the 8th. He has a good reputation as a journalist and has been embedded with Marines before. My mom and step-dad live in the Los Angeles area, so it’ll be nice for them to read about our battalion in their hometown paper. As the legendary Dizzy Dean used to say, “Whoda thunkit?” I also got a nice email from our first embed, Mr. Joe Sacco, who told me he’s furiously finishing his drawings for his story on 1/23. His deadline is near and the piece should be in a Sunday magazine of The (London) Guardian sometime this month. I’ll be sure to let you know when it comes out.

We have continued to receive an enormous amount of care packages from people all around America. I’m amazed at all the different places these packages come from. They are from all walks of life and various backgrounds and political beliefs, but they all have selflessly chosen to mail items halfway around the world to people they may never meet in person. We’ve received boxes that range from a firm on Wall Street to a small class in Sioux City, Iowa. Thank you for doing this. Today I was even able to give our Azerbaijani soldiers over a dozen large boxes full of care items. They greatly appreciate this since they are stationed here for 18 months and have no way of getting mail from their country. Each and everyone one of them would thank you in person if they ever got the chance.

I have one more photo I want to share before I wrap up this update. I mentioned the other day that 1/8 -- the infantry battalion we replaced here at the dam -- had returned home to Camp Lejeune last Friday after their time here in Iraq. Well, this photo above is of my great friend, Capt Mike Pretus, sleeping with his newborn son Jackson. After all the hell Mike and his Marines went through over here in places like Fallujah, I love being able to see a picture like this. It’s an iconic imagine of home, family, security, and the future. I hope and pray that everyone here in 1/23 will be able to be home soon and experience moments like this as well.

Thank you as always for reading this update and for all of your support.

Semper Fi,

We appreciate that James continues to share his experience in Iraq. If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23. The 1/23 Marines are scheduled to remain in Iraq until March 2005.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 2.5.05 |

FEBRUARY 1, 2005 - REPORT FROM IRAQ: REFLECTIONS ON SOME SAD DAYS. Our special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines writes home about the loss of four more of their men.

Dear Politics1.com Friends,

A lot has happened since I was last able to write and once more the news is such that I would rather not share it, but I feel compelled to.

On January 26th our battalion lost four of our fellow Marines to enemy action. Combined with the tragic crash of a Marine helicopter that same night, the 26th of January was the single deadliest day for the US Military since the USS Iowa explosion in 1987 -- and the worst day for the US Marine Corps since the Beirut barracks bombing in 1983. These four young men we lost in the ambush were all a part of our Engineer Platoon, based in Lynchburg, Virginia. Here are the four Marines:

Jesse Strong
Sgt Jesse Strong, 25, of Albany, Vermont

Christopher Weaver
Cpl Christopher Weaver, 24, of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Karl Linn
LCpl Karl Linn, 20, of Chesterfield, Virginia
(holding a chrome plated AK-47 captured from an insurgent)

Jonathan Bowling
Cpl Jonathan Bowling, 23, of Patrick, Virginia

They were all lost on the same mission. The next day we had a memorial service for our fallen brethren and it was hard to keep your composure as you listened to their best friends speak about them. Even the cameraman from the WABC crew -- who had been on the raid the night before -- was brought to tears during the memorial. I wish I wasnít the one writing to you about losing these men, but I know how vital it is that we never forget them.

Vague platitudes and generalities can not replace the hurt I know their families feel. These men are heroes to me and I know everyone else in the battalion feels the same way. My personal beliefs tell me that these young men are in a better place now; a place with no suffering, death, or war. No lonesomeness, tragedy, or sorrow. Those that remain behind to grieve them are the ones that bear the burden now, but I believe these men will be reunited one day with all those who love them. Maybe Iím getting too spiritual for some folks, but this is how I feel. There are a lot of things that happen here that have no explanation.

I often think about my great-great-great grandfather -- Sgt Artemas Wetherbee -- who served in the Civil War with the 21st NY Volunteer Cavalry Regiment at my age. I wonder what his experiences were like. How did he deal with the loss of his fellow soldiers? How did he communicate with his family? What were his hopes, desires, and fears? It brings me some comfort to know that he went through some of the same things Iím dealing with now. I believe one day Iíll be able to talk to him and compare our experiences. I also hope that I can talk to all of the men we have lost in 1/23 and tell them that we love them. The Marine Corps calls itself a ďBand of BrothersĒ and I feel that more now than I ever have at anytime before or elsewhere in my life.

We do have some other news to share. The elections were held here in Iraq on Sunday. Our Marines did an outstanding job working with the Iraqi National Guard to establish and keep the polling places open in our area despite violent attacks by the insurgents. Our two polling sites were attacked with rockets and such, but none came close to hitting our guys. I'm just glad they are all safe -- and that the polls here remained open for the entire time. Many people here considered that achievement alone to already be a victory. Iíll leave it to the pundits and talking heads to debate the results in the rest of the nation. Iím just glad our Marines do not have to count provisional ballots right now.

Edd Hendee, taking photos at the dam

In other news, Mr. Edd Hendee from KSEV in Houston did two great live radio shows with our Marines and Sailors. The highlight was anytime the studio could connect live on the air one of our troops with a family member at home. What a great surprise for these families. Mr. Hendee is a one of the most genuine and caring people weíve met over here. He brought all sorts of gifts for our guys and you could tell he was here more to support the military then he was to bring fame to himself. WABC also did some very nice segments on our battalion and perhaps helped people better understand what our life is like over here. The footage they shot of the attack on the night of the 26th was one of the few times an embedded crew has been exposed to something of that sort and their segment was picked up and shown around the globe on ABC World News Tonight, CNN, and many local stations around America.

Another worthy item to mention is the sharp and skillful actions of Sgt Dance and his Marines from Weapons Company that resulted in the capture of two high value insurgent targets in this area. I wish I could tell you the details because it demonstrates the courage and wits that these Marines display. If Iraq is going to become a peaceful place one day, it will owe a big debt to Marines like Sgt Dance and his group.

The final note I have to share is that the Austin Marines will be live on The Sammy and Bob Morning Show again on Feb 3rd. I donít have the exact time yet, but it will be in the morning in Austin on KVET 1300 AM and 98.1 FM. I hope you will listen if you can.

Also, the 1/8 battalion that we replaced at the dam is finally home in Camp Lejeune. My good friend, Capt Mike Pretus, was able to see his son for the first time when he got off the plane. Itís news like this that makes my day.

Thank you as always for reading this update and for all of your support. Every letter, email, and care package we have received from you has made a world of difference for our guys. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A few closing words: "Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum." (an ancient Roman expression meaning "Therefore, whoever wishes for peace, let him prepare for war.")

Semper Fi,

We appreciate that James continues to share his experience in Iraq. If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23. The 1/23 Marines are scheduled to remain in Iraq until March 2005.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 2.1.05 |



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