Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Few. The Proud.


CAMP RIPPER, Iraq

Marines are handed candles as they enter the chapel for a candle light vigil Christmas Eve.






Yesterday evening our dear friends the Wicklines held a dinner party in honor of Marine Corporal Brian Weiss who is preparing to go overseas. Brian told us that he is being posted to Djibouti, Djibouti in Africa. His unit is the Provisional Security Force 4 HOA (Horn of Africa), comprised of about 400 Marines. His detachment received all new weapons (The CO called them Christmas presents).

Brian: I was issued an M4 Carbine; it’s quite the nice weapon… (New guns bring me joy). We have been getting all of our immunizations the last two months and they will continue until we leave. So far I have gotten, Yellow fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, Rheumatic fever, Anthrax, TB tests, HIV tests, flu shot and some I have probably forgotten. So far the mission seems to be based on security of the American base named Camp Lemonier. We will be doing security patrols and general security for the base. The Marine Corps has been tough but it is bringing me extreme amounts of joy. I have really good leadership and I feel a huge sense of pride serving my country in war time. I’m not at all impacted by all the political junk going on, as I know that the mission is important, and it will keep our country safe in the future. Plus who could complain about a boss that just gave us a raise! Thanks GW.

Special Forces Colonel Dave McCarthy showed us amazing pictures of his duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. I remember the opulence of Sadaam's palaces against the squalor of the poor Iraqi homes. Most uplifting were the Kurds who were being murdered by Sadaam in large numbers only 15 years ago, but then were protected by the US Air Force until this war started. They looked like a happy people and the town could have been in the American midwest.

The American war on terror came to the Kurdish area when a small Special Forces unit joined several thousand Kurdish Pesh Merga fighters in a lightning blow that left hundreds of terrorists dead and hundreds more running for the jagged, snowy peaks which mark the border with Iran. Dave said that the Kurd soldiers were actually protective of the Americans. When he was ready to leave country the Kurds made him an honorary Pesh Merga warrior and presented him a 1938 British pistol.

Karen's marvelous food and the legendary Wickline hospitality were appreciated by all. We all wished Brian a safe journey and will keep him in our prayers.

Semper Fi Brian.




3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill,

I didn't know you knew Karen Wickline. She is a tremendous person, I know her from PVP Republican Women's Club. Small world.

Happy New Year!
Prim

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things are going well.....


Suicide Attacks in Iraq Kill at Least 130
By SAMEER N. YACOUB, AP

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Jan. 5) - Suicide bombers targeted Shiite pilgrims in the south and police recruits in central Iraq, and a roadside bomb killed five U.S. soldiers, bringing Thursday's death toll to at least 130 people in a series of attacks as politicians tried to form a coalition government.

The two-day toll from insurgent attacks rose to 183, reflecting a dramatic upsurge in bloodshed following the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections. Some leading Sunni politicians accuse the Shiite-led government of condoning fraud in the voting.

Iraq's prime minister denounced the violence as an attempt to derail the political process at a time when progress was being made toward including the Sunnis in a new, broad-based government and thereby weakening the Sunni-led insurgency.

But Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, blamed the violence on Sunni Arab groups that fared poorly in the elections. SCIRI warned that Shiite patience was wearing thin, and it accused the U.S.-led coalition forces of restraining the Iraqi army and its police forces.

Thursday's death toll _ the largest single-day total since Sept. 14, when 112 died, and one of the bloodiest days in the three-year insurgency -- included the death of five American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling the Baghdad area, the U.S. military said.

Earlier, Iraqi police Capt. Rahim Slaho said the U.S. convoy was heading for the Shiite holy city of Karbala when it was attacked 15 miles south of the city, and five soldiers were killed.

At least 2,188 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began, according to an Associated Press count.

A suicide blast near the Imam Hussein shrine in central Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, killed 63 people and injured 120, Karbala police spokesman Rahman Meshawi said.

In the attack's aftermath, a woman and an infant girl in a bright red jumpsuit lay in a pool of blood, their faces covered by a sheet. Television images showed men ferrying the wounded in pushcarts.

The bomber appeared to have blown himself up about 30 yards from the shrine in a busy pedestrian area surrounded by shops.

In Ramadi, a U.S. spokesman said dozens were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a line of about 1,000 police recruits. Marine Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool initially put the death toll at about 30, but Mohammed al-Ani, a doctor at Ramadi General Hospital, later said 56 people were killed and 60 injured.

The attack took place at a police screening center in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 70 miles west of Baghdad. Pool said recruits later got back in line to continue the screening process.

In other violence Thursday, a suicide car bomb killed three Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Thamir al-Gharawi said, and gunmen killed three people in separate incidents, police said, raising Thursday's death toll to 110.

The Karbala bomber detonated a vest stuffed with about 18 pounds of explosives and several hand grenades, al-Taie said. Small steel balls that had been packed into the suicide vest were found at the site, as was one unexploded grenade, he said.

Many pilgrims travel to Karbala on Thursdays to be at the holy site for Friday prayers. Mohammed Saheb said he travels there every Thursday.

"I never thought that such a crime could happen near this holy site," said Saheb, who sustained a head injury. "The terrorists spare no place from their ugly deeds. This is a criminal act against faithful pilgrims. The terrorists are targeting the Shiites."

Akram Saleh, a vendor, said he lost consciousness after the explosion.

"I was selling toys near the shrine when I flew into the air because of the explosion," he said from a hospital bed, where he was being treated for burns and bruises.

Karbala's governor, Aqeel al-Khazraji, blamed "takfiris and Saddamists" for the Karbala attack. The takfiri ideology is followed by extremist Sunni Muslims bent on killing anyone they consider an infidel, even fellow Muslims. Al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a takfiri, and his group often has targeted Shiites.

A senior official in the Iraqi Accordance Movement, the main minority Sunni coalition, denounced the violence and called for solidarity among Iraqis to defeat it, but he blamed the government for allowing it to happen.

"This government has not only failed to end violence, but it has become an accomplice in the cycle of violence by adopting sectarian policies and by weakening the state and strengthening militia groups," Izzat al-Shahbandar said.

SCIRI, a partner in the governing Shiite coalition, said the attacks were part of a plot "to eliminate the Shiites in Iraq."

"These crimes took place after statements and threats of a civil war issued by some Iraq political groups," it said. "Such political groups bear the responsibility for every blood drop that was shed."

It said U.S.-led coalition forces were preventing Iraq's army and police from stopping insurgents, an apparent reference to increased American oversight of Shiite-dominated security forces following widespread charges of abuse -- especially of Sunni Arab detainees.

"The multinational forces, and the political entities that declared their support for terrorism, bear the responsibility for the bloodshed that happened in the recent few days. They should know that the patience of our people will not last for a long time," it said.

Karbala has been relatively free of violence since December 2004, when seven people were killed and 31 wounded in an attack. But the deadliest civilian attack in Iraq since the war began came in March 2004 in Karbala, when coordinated blasts from suicide bombers, mortars and planted explosives exploded near Muslim shrines, killing at least 181 people.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber struck a funeral for a Shiite politician's nephew, killing at least 32 mourners, wounding dozens and splattering tombstones with blood. The attack in Muqdadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad, bore hallmarks of Islamic extremist groups.

There also were two car bombings in Baghdad and a militant ambush on a convoy of 60 oil tankers heading from Iraq's biggest refinery to the capital.

Politicians said the funeral attack was an attempt to hinder a broad-based government or force the dominant Shiite alliance into further compromises. Shiites were said to be close to a deal on a coalition with Sunni Arabs and Kurds nearly three weeks after parliamentary elections.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that the "horrendous crime" was the latest in a series of increasingly violent attacks after the Dec. 15 elections, and he called on Iraqis not to undermine the democratic process.

Final results from the elections should be released within two weeks, and they are expected to show the United Iraqi Alliance winning about 130 of parliament's 275 seats. That figure is well short of the 184 needed to form a government.

10:54 AM  
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