Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Guys In The Sand

As of this morning, three of my friends are either already in Iraq, or awaiting a flight north from Kuwait INTO Iraq. Let me briefly explain my connection to them, their current service, and also my purposes in sharing this.

Paul, the little brother of an old college roommate, joined the Marines not long after I did, and after a chaotic, tragic, and action-packed seven-month tour just north of me in Mahmudiyah (we were in Iskhandariyah) in 2004-2005, he has now returned to Ramadi with his engineer unit to help with base fortification, dismantling smaller outposts, and whatever else comes down the line. While the nature of the Marines is that everybody is subject to deployment, this activation and deployment came as a bit of a surprise, and inconvenience.

The first tour interrupted his tenure at Virginia Tech, but he returned, completed his degree, and found a great job not too far from home. Not two months after moving to that area, securing an apartment, getting a pet, and beginning the adjustment to a new job, the call came for another tour. The unit was short on senior, experienced leadership, and he was certainly qualified. His knowledge of demolitions (and other skills) is immense. His employer, thankfully, is very military-friendly, and took the news well.

He is in Iraq as of about two weeks ago.

Nate is an old friend from Weapons Company ½ back when I was in the Corps. We both served together in Iskhandariyah, and al Hit, and when I left the unit, he soon thereafter reenlisted and was posted with a reserve unit as a trainer (this is called “I&I”). Much to his surprise (since training staff aren’t typically slotted to deploy), he was informed he would be deploying with them. He is now in Iraq with his reserve infantry unit, and probably doing his best to ensure they have the necessary skill sets to keep them alive. As a two-time veteran of Iraq in its wilder days, he certainly knows how to conduct combat operations.

Jay is a friend that I met not long after I departed the USMC, and although he’s an Army dog (and an officer!), I suppose he’s an okay guy. This is, I believe, his first major activation with the Army Medical Corps since a tour in Kosovo. He will be traveling a lot in-country, so it’s difficult to say just where he’ll be stationed, but I believe it will be north of Baghdad. Here in Virginia he leaves behind two young children, a fantastic wife, and his own practice.

My purposes for writing about these three men are probably fairly obvious. These guys are all personal friends and I wish to not only support their families stateside, but also ensure that they have the equipment, encouragement, and primarily prayers that will help them in their overseas duties and hasten their return to families and friends. Only two have thus far been given APO addresses, but I will post those below. Because amenities are hard to predict in advance of a unit’s arrival, there are no specific needs lists just yet from any of them. But I know one need right now that can be easily met by all of us: prayers and letters/notes of encouragement.

Rest assured, when I receive information on ways in which to best help them and their units, I will quickly pass on this information to any who wish for it, so you may expect random interruptions to my writing for an update on their situations. If in the future I post a need (say ten packs of baby wipes), and you would like to help out, please indicate this and post it in the comments section for that particular post. This way we can avoid inundating these guys with more resources than they practically need. At this point, I do not know just what they will need, nor if we can help them with it. But mail and prayers are always much appreciated. I know this from personal experience. These three men are great friends and fierce patriots. I look forward to tracking their travels, progress, and passing it on to all of you.

Sgt. VanSant Paul
2/23 Marines
H&S Co. Engineer Platoon 43490
FPO AP 96426-3490

Sgt Foersch, Nathan A
2/23 Marines H&S CO S-3
UNIT 43490
FPO AE 96426-3490

*An address for Jay is still pending

Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw
All Rights Reserved

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