A student in my classes has a friend in Iraq. She encouraged me to e-mail him. I did and got this response. Clearly experiences in war can vary dramatically in terms of safety and stress. I presume there is always some caution particularly when communicating with a stranger, since correspondence appears to be censored or subject to security classification, but am glad this marine has been in a relatively non-combat and secure environment.
It is my policy not to identify military personnel who contact me or others who they may know. Hence all the names are altered and are not the names of the actual individuals except me.
Feb. 2, 2006
I hope you are doing well in Falluja. I know this is probably a very stressful experience. Eleanor, may or may not know who I am besides being her teacher, but I just want to say hopefully some day we won’t need war and can find other ways to resolve differences. I am sure you agree but you probably don’t have time to think about it given the difficulties of your situation.
I do wish you safety and good health and hopefully your mission there will not be too dangerous or too violent. Eleanor is doing well and I see her three days a week and sometimes she is wearing a USMC shirt. We talk about peace alot in class and it is important we have the freedom to do so. I have not always had that freedom and so together let us keep our freedoms and our liberties.
Best wishes and when you return, I would like to meet you if possible and hear about your experiences. As I told Eleanor, I do hear occasionally from folks in country and posted an e-mail exchange between a USArmy captain and myself on my website.
Feb. 7, 2006
Good morning Dr. Kirstein,
Fallujah has been a pretty enjoyable time if you can believe that. For my Battalions entire year out here we have suffered 0 casualties. Stress only comes from being away from home and working long hours with no days off. On our down time we tend to keep ourselves entertained. Weâ€™ve had flag football tournaments, soccer games, video game tournaments, and just simple goofing off like Halloween pranks and launching water balloons from our enormous water balloon launcher. Donâ€™t get me wrong its hard being away from home and my loved ones, but Camp Fallujah has been a great place to spend that time away from them.
Now for danger, weâ€™re not an infantry unit so we arenâ€™t outside the wire everyday in deadly situations, but we do run our weekly convoys. Iâ€™ve only gone on one in my time out here so my stories are limited, but it was pretty thrilling.
We got 24 straight hours of rain 3 days ago so we are flooded. Itâ€™s almost dried up now but weâ€™ve put down planks of wood with sandbags under them to make paths for people to walk. Iâ€™d prefer the rain over the 130 degree heat the summer brings any day. Iâ€™ve got a busy week ahead of me with sending half of my Battalion home and bringing in our replacements. Thatâ€™s been my job out here, taking care of all of our personnelâ€™s movements. Pretty fun but I would much rather be in the thick of things outside the gate. Take care for now, Sir, and I look forward to meeting you when I return.
LCpl Garvey, Karl USMC
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