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Letters Abroad

Notes from Servicemembers in Iraq

IMG_8454_2.jpgIn 2004, Santa Barbaran Sally Brown
started sending care packages twice a month to a family friend who
was serving in Iraq. Word spread about what she was doing, and soon
people inquired as to how to get their loved ones on the list — and
so began the group effort, headed by Brown, called the Santa
Barbara Angels. The parcels sent to the servicemen and women are
themed (e.g., Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl, etc.), and
each contains a personal letter, as well as snacks, candy, socks,
DVDs, magazines, and other goodies. Although each package is mailed
to the name of the servicemember Brown has been given, it’s filled
with enough to share with the entire unit.

The following are snippets of emails sent between 2004 and 2006
to the Santa Barbara Angels, thanking them for their kindness and
telling a bit about life in Iraq.

As you have no doubt read in the news, it was a tough summer
here in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen
performed marvelously. They are truly making a difference here for
the people of Iraq. These young men and women continue to set the
conditions for peace and prosperity among a people with tremendous
potential. … The 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division (Ready First
Combat Team) has been extended for a short time. We will be here
through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The soldiers have
taken this news in stride. They fully understand how critical this
mission is. — U.S. Army Chaplain

Your love within every letter and package lives in us throughout
the deployment and keeps us strong. … All is well here. We now have
a bigger area to operate in since GdF Company is heading south. So
we will be that much busier. Our company, Echo, is doing well. We
have pushed the enemy out of our area, and had a 90 percent voter
turnout … for the elections. We are constantly making progress
here. Thank you for praying for our safety and guidance. 
— U.S. Marine, Texas

[T]hings have been … pretty busy out here. There have been some
events that have taken place lately that I like to call nirades [as
in night raids]. Our platoon got in a firefight a few nights ago
and everyone came out alive. We had one marine injured by the
fragmentation of a grenade blast, but he’s been back from Fallujah
surgical for a few days now with a hole in his lower shin and one
in his right arm. He thinks the piece is still in his leg, but said
he’s fine. … [He’s] from Amarillo, Texas. He’s one of the platoon’s
favorite characters. We’re all very glad to see he walked away from
the incident. We had a few confirmed kills and one Iraqi detained
for questioning. We are winning this war. God is truly on our side.
— U.S. Marine, Texas

I am a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief, which means I am one of
the mechanics for my company’s Black Hawks, and I am part of the
aircraft crew as a flight engineer on our mission. … I grew up in
Santa Barbara for 18 years. I attended Monroe Elementary, La Cumbre
Middle School, and Santa Barbara High, graduating in 2000. I then
went to college at UC Santa Cruz and earned a BA in art. After
graduating, I was inspired to do something important with my life
and help out for the greater good, so I joined the army. I feel
like we are really helping the people over here, and the attitude
of the Iraqi people toward us is much more positive than how it is
portrayed in the media. I’ve seen such generosity from the soldiers
to Iraqis that it’s truly heartwarming, and I feel like we are
making a positive impact in their lives. — U.S. Army Black Hawk
Crew Chief, Santa Barbara

We really appreciate the boxes of goodies you all have sent to
us. When I received the Girl Scout cookies … I handed them out to
the soldiers who were going on six- and eight-hour patrols and they
were delighted. … We are a recon troop … from Fort Hood, Texas. We
patrol the streets and neighborhoods in Baghdad. We work with the
Iraqi Army and the Ministry of Interior forces. We make the streets
and neighborhoods safer for the Iraqi people. … We have been here
since January 2006 and already have made a big difference in this
area. This is my second time here and I’ve already seen a
difference in this country for the better. — U.S. Army Soldier,
Texas

If you know of anyone who would benefit from the support of the
Santa Barbara Angels, or you’re interested in donating to the fund,
call 682-6760 or email sbangels@cox.net.

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