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Believe me when I say, I would love for our tour to be over in the next few months. It is true that it looks like we are going to be out of here 2 or 3 months early. That still puts us here through November if not later. I will be sure to let you know when our tour is up. We have as many children as they do, so we are preparing them for the visit plenty in advance. We like to think of it as a mental exercise.
Regarding your packages, (name censored) was very thankful for the one he recieved, and with the one that I got we were able to help almost 2 dozen Iraqi children with their school supplies for this coming year. It is a blessing to see them learning to take care of themselves instead of spending all of their time begging in the streets for scraps of food.
That is one of the reasons why we are so needed in this country. These people know only a welfare society. They were not allowed to work, so they begged. They were not allowed to grow or have access to water, so they became totally dependant on the society to take care of them. We are working to educate their youth, open jobs, hospitals, police and military. We walk a fine line between humanitarian aid, and strengthing these peoples resolve to make it on their own. That is why we are hated around the world. We want these people to stop depending on everyone else to get what they could be working to get by the sweat of their own brows. They just have no idea how to do it. So we are attacked every day. By who you ask? By those who have kept the people of Iraq beggers and paupers telling them that this is the only way to survive all the while heaping for themselves treasures in the form of gold machine guns and 24 ct. gold chariots. This is why they seem to never st
op. They have plenty of money to fund their efforts. It is not the poor of this country (who are the majority by the way) that want to drive us off. It is the wealthy radicals that want to remain wealthy at the expence of their people.
We thank you for your supporting our troops. Thank you for meeting the needs of my fellow soldiers, and thanks for the cookies.
That is one of the reasons why we are so needed in this country. These people know only a welfare society. They were not allowed to work, so they begged. They were not allowed to grow or have access to water, so they became totally dependant on the society to take care of them.
What region are they serving in? And what division?
Originally posted by Gazrok
What region are they serving in? And what division?
It was via e-mail (they all correspond with the organizer of the effort here, and she forwards us their e-mail). I can't tell the region or the division from the military e-mail address ([name censored]@us.army.mil). I actually have quite a collection of such letters, including many who don't agree with why they are there, but do at least enjoy the interaction with the people, especially the kids. It's just nice to some good news for a change...
If you like, I can look through our scrapbook and give you some examples of where troops our from (some are also in Afghanistan and Kosovo, etc.). In fact, a recent Time Magazine article featured one of our guys talking about their role in Iraq (would have to look at the article for his name).
Originally posted by EastCoastKid
Good luck to them, mpeak. What divisions do they serve with?
Here is an article from our hometown newspaper about Mike.
His picture was with it but I can't get it to come up.
Davidsville man key player in Iraq
Posted-Saturday, August 7, 2004 11:12 PM EDT
By MIKE FAHER
Growing up in Davidsville, Michael Formica was a respected big brother, an honor-society scholar and a hard-nosed football player nicknamed, "Bionic."
Today, Formica is relying on those same qualities to get through the biggest challenge of his life: Commanding thousands of troops in the heart of Baghdad as an Army colonel.
Formica has led his 2nd Brigade, 1st Calvary Division through months of bitter firefights, dangerous checkpoints, nighttime raids and difficult rebuilding projects.
But the man who as a teenager memorized portions of the movie "Patton" still finds time to regularly e-mail his soldiers' families, balancing humble praise and encouragement with a steely resolve to stay the course.
"The sacrifices made now help give the people of this region a chance to have the freedoms that we in the United States take for granted," Formica, 44, wrote in one message.
"Please continue to pray for us and we'll continue to pray for you."
That's a comforting notion for Formica's family, which includes his wife, the former Kim Conzatti, a Jerome native, and four children living at Fort Hood in Texas.
Formica's parents, Sam and Janet Formica of Davidsville, speak of their son's work with a mixture of pride and worry - a common lexicon among military families.
"We'd sooner he would be doing something safer," Mr. Formica acknowledged as he sat in the quiet kitchen of his Crestvue Drive home.
At the same time, they know Col. Formica is doing what he loves. It is a task destined for him after more than 20 years spent moving up through the ranks.
Mrs. Formica recalls a conversation with her son before he shipped out for Iraq.
"He was talking to me about his job, and tears came to his eyes," she said.
In a sense, Formica has been preparing for this since he was a child. His brother, Jeff, recalls that the future soldier loved to "play Army" and sang military fight songs even before age 10.
"He knew them well, and I don't think that was an accident," Jeff Formica said in a telephone interview from his Allegheny County home.
Siblings remember Formica as an avid outdoorsman and a fairly good athlete. His senior yearbook entry from Conemaugh Township Area High School lists activities including track and ski club, and he was a successful halfback on the school football team.
But some also saw in Formica a consistent compassion - possibly, a sense of duty.
"He would always go out of his way to help people," said Chris Formica, another brother who lives in Davidsville.
That altruistic spirit apparently included animals as well.
Jeff and Michael Formica shared a newspaper route when both were in junior high school. Laughing, Jeff recalled the day his older brother picked up an injured rabbit along the way.
"He was carrying this rabbit throughout the rest of the paper route, trying to take it to his science teacher to see if he could help it," Jeff Formica said.
Col. Formica graduated from high school in 1978 and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He decided not to stick with football, instead joining ROTC.
A military career was born.
Formica raised his rank relatively quickly, also earning masters' degrees in public administration and national security affairs.
By 1989, Formica was serving in Washington in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff office. He was working in the Pentagon when the first Gulf War broke out.
"He was very upset because he wasn't over there," Mr. Formica said.
He originally was scheduled to lead his brigade into Iraq when the war began in March 2003. But the United States' diplomatic problems with Turkey, which had been an expected launching pad for U.S. troops, delayed that assignment.
Formica made it to Iraq early this year, and his job has been high profile. He has been quoted in Time magazine, as well as in articles by The Associated Press and Reuters news service.
His troops, dubbed the "Black Jack" division, operate in Northwest Baghdad.
While Formica's wife has taken on a leadership and support role at Fort Hood, the colonel also has kept what he calls the "Black Jack Family" updated with frequent e-mails.
Those notes speak of feverish battles as well as everyday military life. A February e-mail detailed "aggressive" patrols, as well as attempts to keep the division's camp safe.
"Last weekend, one of the soldiers protecting the camp was wounded, but stayed at his position to make sure the enemy didn't have a chance to hurt any of the other soldiers," Formica wrote.
An April e-mail contains a harrowing account of several ambushes and firefights. Formica mixes military jargon such as "lethal indirect fires" with emotional, dramatic descriptions.
"The sound of the cannons gave everyone on Camp Black Jack a boost of confidence as the enemy forces were destroyed from afar," he wrote.
Formica's letters are filled with praise, not only for fellow soldiers but also for the people of Iraq. In his first e-mail after the U.S. transferred power to an interim Iraqi government, the colonel began this way: "What an important week for the people of Iraq - sovereignty - independence."
He also remarked on the proficiency of new Iraqi security forces, some of whom were trained and advised by his brigade.
"Their actions, combined with a growing sense of civic responsibility on the part of the Iraqi people to report suspicious activities, are greatly assisting us in our security mission," he wrote.
Above all, Formica is passionate about promoting and defending the accomplishments of U.S. troops in Iraq.
He writes of soldiers distributing medical supplies, food and even sports equipment. He talks about infrastructure projects such as water, sewer and electricity improvements.
In a characteristic message, he assured his soldiers' families that the brigade is "having a deep impact on the lives of thousands."
In one of his latest e-mails, Formica admitted that he could not say for sure when the division is coming home. But he detailed a speech he had given to his soldiers after an early morning run.
The talk had three themes: We are winning, it matters and don't stop. Formica directed those messages to family members at home as well.
"We cannot lose here," Formica wrote. "We are fighting to enable the Iraqi people the ability to exercise self-determination in their quest to become a democracy.
"Failing to win means the terrorists, like those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, win."