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Best Intel Work Finding Jill Carroll's kidnappers all of them. I was mighty proud of my guys that day. I figured we'd all get the Christian Science Monitor for free after this, but none have showed up yet. [CLARIFICATION FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: "Regarding the writer's comments about his unit's "Best Intel Work", the Monitor is very grateful for all of the efforts the US government made to secure Jill Carroll's freedom after she was held against her will for 82 days. Monitor Editor Richard Bergenheim expressed his gratitude in a press conference he conducted on the day that the capture of Jill's kidnappers was announced, and Jill directly thanked the men who participated in the operation. Also, the Monitor has offered to send the marine who wrote this letter and his unit 25 gift subscriptions to its weekly international edition."]
Saddest Moment Having an infantry battalion commander hand me the dog tags of one of my Marines who had just been killed while on a mission with his unit. Hit by a 60mm mortar. He was a great Marine. I felt crushed for a long time afterward. His picture now hangs at the entrance to our section area. We'll carry it home with us when we leave in February.
Best Chuck Norris Moment 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.
Worst Sound That crack-boom off in the distance that means an IED or mine just went off. You just wonder who got it, hoping that it was a near miss rather than a direct hit. Hear it practically every day.
Second Worst Sound Our artillery firing without warning. The howitzers are pretty close to where I work. Believe me, outgoing sounds a lot like incoming when our guns are firing right over our heads. They'd about knock the fillings out of your teeth.
Only Thing Better in Iraq Than in the U.S. Sunsets. Spectacular. It's from all the dust in the air.
Proudest Moment It's a tie every day, watching our Marines produce phenomenal intelligence products that go pretty far in teasing apart Bad Guy operations in al-Anbar. Every night Marines and Soldiers are kicking in doors and grabbing Bad Guys based on intelligence developed by our guys. We rarely lose a Marine during these raids, they are so well-informed of the objective. A bunch of kids right out of high school shouldn't be able to work so well, but they do.
Happiest Moment Well, it wasn't in Iraq. There are no truly happy moments here. It was back in California when I was able to hold my family again while home on leave during July.
Most Common Thought Home. Always thinking of home, of my great wife and the kids. Wondering how everyone else is getting along. Regretting that I don't write more. Yep, always thinking of home.
I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer. I'll try to write again before too long I promise.