2005-2006 letters from the troops: (all spelling errors are MINE, not theirs)

From: "Burleson, Willard LTC 1-87 INF CDR"
Date: December 22, 2005 7:38:54 AM EST
Subject: Thanks for the Gifts for 1-87 Infantry

Thanks for the thoughtful gifts that you and the Firefighters of Ladder 20 sent over here to Iraq for the Soldiers of 1-87 IN.  All of you have my greatest respect for your daily service to your community and it means a lot that you took the time to remember us, especially during this Holiday season.  Although our days are full and the time goes by quickly, during this time of year our thoughts turn to our families and friends back in the States.  None of us will forget the sacrifice that many of your comrades made on 9/11 and for that reason we will continue to press the fight against the terrorists until the day we leave this country.  Please except my sincere gratitude on behalf of all the Soldiers of 1-87 Infantry.
LTC Bill Burleson
CDR, 1-87 Infantry

Date: December 22, 2005 9:43:43 AM EST
Subject: Thank you!
Dear Rachel,
Happy Holidays.  My name is Nick.  I am currently deployed in Iraq and have recieved a gift from you.  I wanted to thank you for the t-shirt and card and let you know that you truly made my Christmas a merry one. 
Merry Christmas,
         SrA Nick Tomasini

Date: December 22, 2005 12:30:52 AM EST
Subject: T-Shirt

Thanks for the T-Shift, I got it today and I will wear it as soon as I get home.
Deputy Fire Chief
Fire & Emergency Services, Balad, Iraq 
Rescue Air Mobility SquadDate: December 23, 2005 8:29:40 AM EST
Subject: Merry Christmas

Rachel and folks,
We received the shirts you folks were kind to send today.  I will be hand carrying these to my Security Force members that are scattered throughout Iraq and will tell you right they will be thrilled.  Hugh Mettham's story was incredible!  I know each of us will carry that terrible day and the individual memories of our feelings forever.
For those of us over here – know you will always have brothers and sisters that understand what you dealt with – if only to some degree.  God Bless you and yours and for my “kids” thanks.  They will truly be honored.
All the best and a very Merry Christmas from the over 200 Air Cops I have over here
Robert M. Anderson, CMSGT, USAFR
732d Security Forces Chief Enlisted Manager
732d Expeditionary Mission support Group

Date: December 25, 2005 4:31:11 PM EST
Subject: RE: Message from Ladder 18 Engine 15

Thank you for the quick Christmas Message.  It really lifts our spirits knowing that people are pulling for us back home.  Granted NY isn’t my home, but America is and NY is definitely a beautiful symbol for her!  Anyhow, we were attacked this morning as well as twice the other day.  Needless to say, I don’t think these insurgents like the Christmas holiday too much.  LOL!  Anyways, please pass the love onto the gentlemen of Ladder 18 and Engine 15.  Thank you guys for doing what you are doing back home so that we can sleep at night knowing our loved ones are being watched over by you all!  Take care and “watch your six”!
Very Respectfully,
Joshua S. Tully, SSgt, USAF
Captain, Crash 11, B-Shift

Date: December 26, 2005 5:52:41 AM EST
Subject: Thank you

I just wanted to send you a quick email saying how grateful I am for the card and the T-shirt. We did receive them on Christmas Day. To have a NY Fire Fighter send something and thank us for doing what we do is an honor. I was in NY a few years before the 9/11 and I have been in the towers. On 9/11 the anger and betrayal that we all shared is what joins us all now and will continue to join us all for years to come. I hope this email finds you in good health and in good spirits. Thank you and all of your comrades for all that you do everyday.
SSgt Sean Blanton
Balad Air Base, Iraq

From: andrea.foster
Date: December 27, 2005 2:09:15 AM EST
Subject: Thank you
My name is Andrea.  I’m in the Air Force and currently on deployed providing convoy support in Balad.  We would all like to thank you and the rest of the New York Fire Department for your support and the T-Shirts.  I hope you all enjoy the photos we took with the shirts.  Thanks again.Date: December 28, 2005 9:23:28 AM EST
Subject: Thank you

Rachel and Ladder 18;
            I wanted to thank you personally for everything that you and Ladder 18 Firehouse have done for us. Knowing people care is the biggest boost for our troops, and especially the support coming >from the people who were actually there during the acts that started the War on Terror means the world to us. You and Ladder 18 have shown the ultimate professionalism in the face of all diversity. Thank you for every thing, I will wear the shirt proudly when I’m able to wear something besides these DCUs.  Thank you.
Joel A. Pitman, 1st Lt, USAF
Det 2632 Combat Logistics Patrol
Alpha Flight Commander
LSA Anaconda, Balad, Iraq

TO: Rachel
ATTN: FDNY Ladder# 20
I would like to start off by saying “THANK YOU”, to you and the FDNY Ladder # 20 that wrote such nice letters to our unit. We are currently deployed to Qaayarah Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom out of Fort Campbell, KY, home of the “Screaming Eagles.” I know that they had to take time out of their busy on-call schedules to do something that was really great for our morale. Rachel you are truly a great patriot, it is your support as well as that of your fellow Americans, which keeps us focused on the job at hand. I know how fast pace life in general can be sometimes, but you still can find the time to support men and women, Soldiers, who you hardly know, is very commendable.
I am truly blessed with a home base made up of supporting family members as well as my friendship with you, fellow Americans, and many other admired friends over the country. I will keep a little bit of you all, in my heart and thoughts throughout this time of deployment. Everyone from New York has contributed to my fond memories (through helping others, do we know ourselves) back in the states, and I am thankful to you all. Well I will end this short  Thank You note.
Tell all who have pitched in that we, the soldiers of HHC 101st , thank them and that they have contributed to the Happiness of some humble & grateful soldiers. God Bless you and your family and friends, especially to Ladder 20 until next time Rachel, stay sweet, be safe. Tell everyone that helped you to support soldiers deployed,I said “Hello”, “God Bless”
Sergeant First Class Hemphill
Date: December 30, 2005 10:57:26 AM EST
Subject: thank you
Thank you for your gifts. I'm sorry it took so long for me to say so. We have been very busy here with the elections and being located in this portion of baghdad. we are an infantry unit and we get used a lot. for us it's been patrol and sleep since we have been here. I am a platoon sergeant and tend to get less time to myself than others. No big deal though it makes the time go faster. We have a very great history. This battalion was the spearhead for Anaconda in Afghanastan and was called back there a year later. Due to our success we were selected to come here. Alot of the soldiers here have been in combat for three out of the last five years but they know the cause and the cost. They are happy to serve and very glad to know that there are people out there that care. once again from all of the us thank you. can't wait to get back to New York!
Sergeant First Class Hemphill

Date: December 31, 2005 3:52:08 PM EST
Subject: Re: FW: Message from Ladder 18 Engine 15
The 10th Mountian Division is based in Fort Drumm. I'm from the middle of nowhere Minnesota (same snow but a lot more cold). I've never been to new york and only spent a short time in the state before i came here to Iraq. I've been in the army for 10 years now i was in texas, colorado, and georgia befor coming to fort drum. i think i have some soldiers that work for me that are from new york city. heck, to me the east coast is one city. i can check. we put the patches to good use. our snipers all carry one and we glued some to our hummers (next to the guns so they have a chance to see them. arn't we sensitive?) and the rest we saved because the bad guys keep blowing parts of our vehicles off. it's good to have spares. we thought it would be a good tribute. mabe some irony for them too. long day tomorrow have to go to bed.
wow, a couple of minutes to new years! i didn't even remember what day it was untill a couple of hours ago.

Date: December 30, 2005 8:15:03 PM EST
Subject: Thank You!
Rachel & The Firefighters of New York FDNY,
2nd Platoon/HHC-1-10 Aviation(Attack) Regiment, would like to personally thank you for your support. I am currently the Platoon Sergeant for this particular platoon known as the "Funky Bunch". Fort Drum, NY is a long way from home for most of my young men and women in this platoon, so your caring touch meant a lot. Thank you and God Bless. Happy New Year'sDedric L. Jones
S3 NCOIC, TF 1-10 Avn (Attack)
Q-WEST/MOSUL, IRAQ Date: January 4, 2006 7:23:38 AM EST

Subject: RE: Message From Ladder 18 Engine 15From: Scott Bohlin
Date: January 14, 2006 4:08:51 AM EST
Subject: thank you
I just wanted to express my appreciation for your card and the FDNY t-shirt. It always makes us feel better to actually hear from people back in the states letting us know they appreciate what we are trying to do. Being away from our families and friends is very difficult but on that occasion we receive a letter or package from someone who cares makes it worthwhile. The words in your card were very touching and I cant even begin to tell you what it meant to me and how many times I have read through it. Once again thank you for caring and thank you in return for your sacrifices and dutys back home in the States. I am currently serving in Mosul Iraq with the 732 Security Forces. GOD BLESS all those that serve others in any capacity to better life and protect good people.
                                                          SSGT.Scott Bohlin

From: "Mark Nelsen"
Date: January 15, 2006 12:39:01 PM EST
Subject: Thank you from Iraq!
Dear Rachel,
I want to thank you for taking the time to write that beautiful Christmas card. It makes everything worthwhile. I had been out of the military for 18 years when 9-11 came. I joined the Iowa Air National Guard. I am now with my usaf security forces unit just outside of Mosul. When I get a letter from someone other than my family I usually pass it on to someone else. With your letter I let them read it, but I will keep your letter always. I am deeply moved by it. I also want to thank you for the t-shirt that accompanied your card. My son is in high school and wants to become a fireman. I will give the shirt to him but I'm sure he will put it on the wall to admire and remember. When "Ladder 49" came out I took him to see it. It made me cry and I thought it might scare him a little. After the movie he said "see dad, thats why I want to become a fireman." I was very proud. I don't know if it was Ladder 20, but please pass on to the ones who provided the shirts, my thanks. I mourned the loss on 9-11. Having been a police officer over 20 years and on a volunteer fight department for 3 and now 14 years in the military so far, I truely know the sacrifice those men made and how brave they were. There are none better. Please keep us in your prayers.
Your friend,

From: "CSM Michael T. Hibbs"
Date: January 20, 2006 4:50:18 AM EST
Subject: A Brief Update...
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
To all,
It’s hard to believe that over a month ago we were patrolling the outlining areas around the polling sites, assisting the Iraqi Army and Police in their efforts to secure the streets for people to come out and vote.  The Soldiers of 1-87 Infantry did nothing but an exceptional job…the men and woman carried themselves in a professional and courteous manner during the entire process.  The election turn-out was a success…they turned out in a rate that shadows our own elections.   The majority of the Iraqi people were ecstatic that they had the opportunity to do their part.  I guess having limited rights for over such an extended period of time gives you a feeling that you “need” to be heard…unfortunately, some of that could rub off on our own country’s people.  I believe that the best analogy is like a child that has everything given to them…they never really appreciate what they have.  I see a reflection of that in a few of our own…not really appreciating what they have.  There are always lessons to be learned from other countries and this one that should really open people’s eyes…I guess that you have to want to see it and absorb it to really understand it.
Today is a day that will have an everlasting effect on the people of Iraq (and the World) for years to come.  It’s the day that many of the Iraqi people have been longing after for over a period of 35 years…the results of the free and democratic elections.  It’s also a day that a few neighboring countries are not looking forward to…this may be the day that turns the smothered masses of the surrounding dictatorships.  This is the time where others see that having a voice makes a difference, a difference that ultimately effects generations to come.  There is a long journey ahead for many supporters of this “new” country…many have already laid their lives down for this cause, and you can only appreciate their heroic efforts even if you disagree with the ultimate goal.  I believe that this country will be the foundation for freedom in this region…one that will spread in the years to come.  Take the opportunity sometime today to pick-up a newspaper or turn the television to the news channel…check out the results, and pass it on to a fellow American that our Soldiers are making a difference over here, not just for this country but the World to come.
Thank you again for all of the support that you provide to the men and women of this great Battalion…your supporting voices and care make the difference.
“To the Top!”
CSM Michael "Todd" Hibbs
Task Force 1-87 InfantryFrom: "Hibbs, Michael T. CSM 1-87 INF BN CSM"
Date: April 3, 2006 1:29:17 PM EDT
Subject: Update from the front
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
To all,
Where has the time gone?  It’s hard to believe that we (1-87 Infantry) have been working Baghdad proper for over eight months now, and the majority of the Battalion has had the chance for some rest and relaxation back in the great United States of America.  There were a few Soldiers that spent their ‘down-time’ in Europe…one benefit is that the beer is better than ours.  There’s a lot to say for having 500 years of brewing beer under your belt.  I really enjoyed my time home, and I’m sure it was nice for all of the families to have a little one on one time with their loved ones. 
 After ‘eight’ months, the Soldiers of the Battalion have been awarded over ‘40’ Purple Hearts, and numerous Valorous awards.  The Soldiers continue to work one of the most difficult areas of Baghdad joined with the Iraqi Security Forces…all of this, and their moral is extremely high.  We are working on our ninth out of 12 month tour, and the Soldiers of this great Battalion continue to contribute tremendously to the Global War on Terror everyday (there are no days off).  They have brought the fight to the enemy which takes them out of their decision making process, and have built relationships with the great Iraqi People and Iraqi Army Soldiers through-out our sector.  The Iraqi people really do want freedom and everything that goes with it.  Everything that we ‘normally’ take for granted.  I ask for your continued support for the Soldiers of this great Battalion…continue to keep us in your prayers.  The combined fight with the Iraqi Security Forces is making a difference…period!  You can see it in the people’s faces when you are out in the city. 
Thanks again for your continued support, and the support that you bring to your Soldiers.
Summit 7
CSM Michael T. Hibbs
Task Force 1-87 Infantry

Date: April 5, 2006 7:24:38 AM EDT
To: "Hibbs, Michael T. CSM 1-87 INF BN CSM"
Subject: Re: Update from the front
CSM Hibbs,
Glad to hear you're 3/4 way through your current tour in Iraq. We're up here dealing with Al Queda and Taliban in RC East. You may have caught the news a few days ago. We had a M1114 with 5 engineers IED'd. First patrol for those guys. Going to be a long year for our sappers. All 4 were RTD thank god, even though the gunner was thrown clean of the turret when the Hummer literally was thrown into the air anf flipped over by the blast. From what I gathered we got some BDA on the SOBs at least. We has another M1114 roll over into the PEch River last night and again, miraculously, the crew all survived. After dropping 30 feet and landing upside down in the river. Pray that our luck holds out for the entire year. We are one month in.
CPT Nate Tagg

From: "Jody Sammons"
Date: May 1, 2006 2:05:16 PM EDT
Subject: Thank you
I am sorry it has taken so long to contact you but I wanted to thank you for the Christmas card and the nice words that were said in it.  I wanted to let you know that every base/compound/hole in the ground where the US Military is present there is some form of remembrance of 9-11-01 and the people who paid the ultimate price for caring for someone else more than themselves.  It is easy to get discouraged here thousands of miles from home when you get hit by a roadside bomb, clear the area of supposed bad guys, then your friend gets hit in the very same spot the next day, but getting letters and cards from people like you seem to stiffen our backbones when we most need it.  I don't really know what else to say but Thank you for taking the time to show us you care, it really does mean alot, and you give us a reason to fight hard day in and day out.
Very Respectfully,
SSgt Jody Sammons
Det 3  732 ESFS/709th MP Batt/49th MP Brig (USAF)
Security Escort Team
Mosul, Iraq

From: "Hibbs, Michael T. CSM 1-87 INF BN CSM"
Date: July 3, 2006 9:43:57 AM EDTTo all,
It is hard to believe that we are getting ready to head home this month.  Vehicles that have become part of you are being turned in, and equipment that will make another unit’s life a little easier while they are over here is being transferred.  It really has been a long trip, and it’s hard to believe that it’s finally ‘over’.  We have brought ‘everyone’ back in the wire…over 600 IEDs (over half found), over 200 terrorists captured – a few of them killed, almost 10,000 patrols conducted throughout our tour, and 68 Soldiers wounded in action. 
It really has been a productive tour for us.  We have seen the Iraq Security Forces move forward with progress and have received numerous accolades from the Iraqi people.  We’ve helped secure three national elections, and have seen the government begin to stand-up.  The Iraqi people established a National Police, and have made a difference throughout their country with their dedication to duty and an amazing drive to see it through.  They still have had a rough road to travel, but are determined to go as far as it takes.
There is one major contributor in my mind that has had a direct effect on the morale and success of the American Forces fighting this war on terror…the American people’s support that they are providing these young men and women of the Department of Defense.  It really could not happen without your dedicated support.  I appreciate everything that you have done for the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry, and can only hope that you would continue your support for those forces continuing the fight.
Thank you for your support and God Bless,
Michael Todd Hibbs
Command Sergeant Major, 1-87 Infantry

Return to Ladder 20's Troop Support Table of Contents