Hard morning for my ego and my heart. Quoted e-mail below is from one of our nation's most unsung heroes. He enlisted in 1968, volunteered for duty in Vietnam, was commissioned in 1977, "retired" with 35 years active service in 2003, volunteered to return to duty last year, and is in Iraq. You do the math, but he has got to be one of the oldest men in uniform in Iraq--certainly the oldest US warrior hunkered down in a bunker on a daily basis. I am proud to call him my friend, brother Christian, and best fishing buddy--LtCol Scott Westervelt, USMC.
"Ed, Thanks for confirming your email network is functional. Appreciate your
watch on us - we all covet you and your friends prayers. Even in the midst
of this forlorne place, we had Easter Sunrise service on the bunkered roof
top of our Provincial Civil Military Operations Center (PCMOC) building on
Easter monring - four of us. Had to keep our heads down below sand bag
level as snipers are very active. Had a Marine shot in the helmet recently
- grazed the top of his head - cut his girl friends photo in half - gave him
whip lash - better than the alternative I recon. Had a bunker hit with RPG
a few days ago - some of Steve Neary's Marines - for wia none serious - sand
bags saved their lives. We've had a mortar round through our roof, no
injuries. By far 17 April was the most active day - seemed like a minor Tet
Offense in Iraq as they struck a number of objectives in and around Ramadi.
It is amazing the false news reports filed. Some read that we were over
run, and others similar. No one got within a 100 yards of the Government
Center (GC). Certanly no one got inside. We did get the Hell shelled out
of us, but no injuries. Had about 50-60 Iraqi officials meeting at the time
of the attack - in fact I was sitting next tothe Governor of Al Anbar in his
weekly reconstruction meetng with my interpreter when the mortatr attack
began. We ushered evereyone to a safe location and took up defensive
positiotnsinside the GC. I went to K Co 3/8s COC in the building next door
to keep SA for my boss who stayed with the governor. I was so sproud of
these young Marines of Steve's. A Lt was on two radios directing the fight,
the co Gy was on a Motorola barking directions mixed with profanity.
Marines were calm and collected moving quickly to reinforce and resupply
posts. When they would get back to the COC they would wait outside the
hatch for futher directions - adrenaline was running high - spirits were
high - they were laughing at the stupid stuff that someone did or said -
smaking and cussing and laughing. Ed, it was one of Marine Corps moments I
will not forget for a long time. They were magnificient - everything we as
Marines would have expected of out newest generation of warriors - evrything
the nation must have in its defenders of freedom. We get some good MG and
AT-4 chatter evey day - rare for it to be quiet. But most of the chatter is
one way. Anything that moves in the zone that looks like it has any hostile
intent gets fired up. I bet I've heard over a hundred At-4s go down range.
Didn't mean to write a book, but every one that I have sent emails to on
what is really ground zero are astonished at what isn't being said in the
news. CNN has practically had squatters rights in Neary's AO. CBS, Ap
Press, Iraqi and Arab news make their presence known. I am glad that
Theresa is not much of a news buff - she hsan't seemed tohave had too much
worries or she covers it well. I think it is the former. I tell you
though, I am looking forward to a few simple pleasures when I get back -
that photo of you and the redfish really brightened my day and reminded me
of more fonder days recently passed. I am definitely going to our old haunt
at PI when I get back - if you are free, you'll have to join me for a few
days. I'll try to hook you up with a few photos on my next email. Please
give my favorite girl a hug and a hello - take care -
Semper Fi , Scott (so I hacked up the spellin - ain't got time to go back)"
Later on this morning, I am going to mow my yard and trim some bushes. But right now, I'm going to have a good cry.