[January 18, 2017] This is my fourth post in a series on my personal view of the War in Iraq. It spans my thoughts after one year in combat during its early years; 2005-2007. That was a time where many of us got to know the Iraqis, terrorists, other combat troops, contractors, hometown folks, reports, and politicians. To review and understand those early years helps us “see” how leaders saw important events.
My view of hometown folks is just as important as my view of U.S. troops fighting there, or of the terrorists and Iraqis themselves. These three posts can be found easily (links here, here, and here). My thoughts reflect what most of us were thinking at the time and shapes our actions today. Of course, any bias is my own and is to be expected when emotion is involved.
HOMETOWN FOLKS: The best word I can use to describe the hometown folks across the United States is “supportive.” I heard from people all across the country; they sent us anything including desert boots (Operation AC, Operation Homefront, etc.). Special “shout-out” to our, state of Maine Troop Greeters who greeted every planeload of troops coming into the U.S. (each were routed through Maine).
Wow, lots of good things to say here. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of support from U.S. citizens although I should not have been. We were sent anything we asked for. I got a pair of high-quality desert boots from a lady out in California. She bought and mailed them to me and even was my email buddy for most of my stay.
There was no reason to purchase anything at all while in Iraq. All the basics were taken care of by either the military or by people in the States. Soap, toothpaste, hygiene products, candy and cookies (my favorite), and so much that occasionally the products piled up in our mailrooms. No one serving in Iraq came away without a great appreciation for the American citizen.
I heard from people all over the U.S. For example, I got mail from grade schoolers in Oklahoma and New Mexico and email from families in several states. They certainly made me appreciate the U.S.A. The letters were sometimes addressed to “any soldier” or “any troop.” Sometimes they found your name through family members. But it mattered not to us how it came but that hometown folk cared and were concerned for us.
When I finally returned from Iraq to the U.S. my first stop was in Bangor, Maine. A large part of the town turned out to greet us as we got off the plane. They offered their personal cell phones so we could call our family to say we made it back safe. Now, that’s hospitality.
Oh, while in Iraq, I ate so many Girl Scout cookies, that I gained a few pounds.
Local news media were generally supportive. It was common for articles to appear in newspapers about how a service member was getting along. Despite the operational and security concerns of this being in print, no one experienced any sort of problem (that I am aware of).
I was particularly impressed with young children who wrote and drew pictures for us. Any place you went where there were American troops, you would find these hand-drawn pictures (inside the barracks, headquarters buildings, dining facilities, and even inside armored vehicles).
When I returned home, there was no place that I could go that people who I didn’t know would come up to me to give me their thanks and to say how proud they were of what all the troops were doing. At a restaurant with my wife, anonymous people would buy our dinner just because I happen to be in uniform. Never before had I experienced such an outpouring of appreciation (I had been in the military over 30 years at that time).
The pride that it showed by all the hometown folks cannot be thanked enough.
More on my thoughts later. Next up will be my view of the News Media (and last post on this subject).
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