| An Email from a Captain in Iraq
We knew there was a dinner planned with Ambassador Bremer and
LTG Sanchez. There were 600 seats available and all the units
in the division were tasked with filling a few tables. Naturally,
the 501st MI battalion got our table. Soldiers were grumbling
about having to sit through another dog-and-pony show, so we had
to pick soldiers to attend. I chose not to go.
But, about 1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile,
asked me to come to dinner with him, to meet him in his office
at 1600 and bring a camera. I didn't really care about getting
a picture with Sanchez or Bremer, but when the division's senior
intelligence officer asks you to go, you go. We were seated in
the chow hall, fully decorated for Thanksgiving when aaaaallllll
kinds of secret service guys showed up.
That was my first clue, because Bremer's been here before and
his personal security detachment is not that big. Then BG Dempsey
got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez.
Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as if to
give a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this
thanksgiving speech to give to the troops. He then paused and
said that the senior man present should be the one to give it.
He then looked at Sanchez, who just smiled. Металлические опоры ЛЭП, изготовленные нами, служат несколько десятилетий
Bremer then said that we should probably get someone more senior
to read the speech. Then, from behind the camouflage netting,
the President of the United States came around. The mess hall
actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet
with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts.
The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely
stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only
two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty
feet away from me! The cheering went on and on and on.
Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying.
There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the
cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks. It
was the most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my wedding
and Aaron being born. Here was this man, our President, came all
the way around the world, spending 17 hours on an airplane and
landing in the most dangerous airport in the world, where a plane
was shot out of the sky not six days before.
Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a plane
and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment,
and I will never forget it. He delivered his speech, which we
all loved, when he looked right at me and held his eyes on me.
Then he stepped down and was just mobbed by the soldiers. He slowly
worked his way all the way around the chow hall and shook every
last hand extended. Every soldier who wanted a photo with the
President got one. I made my way through the line, got dinner,
then wolfed it down as he was still working the room.
You could tell he was really enjoying himself. It wasn't just
a photo opportunity. This man was actually enjoying himself! He
worked his way over the course of about 90 minutes towards my
side of the room. Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to shake a
few hands. I got a picture with Ambassador Bremer, Talabani (acting
Iraqi president) and Achmed Chalabi (another member of the ruling
council) and Condaleeza Rice, who was there with him.
I felt like I was drunk. He was getting closer to my table so
I went back over to my seat. As he passed and posed for photos,
he looked me in the eye and said, "How you doin', captain."
I smiled and said "God bless you, sir." To which he
responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then