27 August 2008

Together again

Yeah!!! Vince and I are spending the week together while he outprocesses here in Illinois. I'm following him around the base while he does things like clean his weapons. He never fired them, but the revolver sure got dusty being carried around ;-)
The arrival information is still good.
Sat. Aug 30, 3:10 pm

23 August 2008

In the U.S.A.!!!!!

He called at 1 a.m. to say he had landed in Baltimore! Yeah!!!!! A group of 15 to 20 people from a local organization meet every plane carrying returning troops. They take pictures, have posters and cheer. Vince was very moved and had a chance to talk with several of the folks there about what they do. He mentioned how all the Iraqis he had worked with were so appreciative of U.S. efforts there. They said they hear the same thing from all the soldiers returning. We don't get that report here!

All is still on for Aug 30th!! I leave tomorrow to join him for the next week!! Hooray!!!

15 August 2008

Arrival info

August 30
3:10 pm
Love Field

There's a slight possibility this could change, but right now it looks good.

10 August 2008

Almost home

Vince has moved out of his trailer and office. He's within a week or ten days of leaving Baghdad. He still does not have a reserved seat from the middle east to the United States.

He has many stories he has never had time to blog. Maybe when he gets stateside he'll have time to share some of them. He's seen a side of our effort in Iraq that most of us don't hear about: construction, progress, and the enthusiasm and pride of the Iraqi people.

16 July 2008

Banjo and the Colonel

This photo cracked me up!! Below are Vince's comments. I have to wonder what the folks over think about the Colonel with his stuffed lion ;-)

"Banjo and the Colonel are at the Hadditha Hospital in Western Iraq. Banjo was hoping to see some children but the type of visit was focused on the project. We will be constructing a new wing in place of one that was destroyed by a vehicle bomb several years ago. The project will also install additional equipment like a modern X-Ray machine."

11 July 2008

Vince in the local paper

Vince traveled this last week to somewhere south near the Euphrates. I think the best part was the dining facility (DFAC) at that base had his favorite ice cream, Baskin Robbins chocolate mint. Evidently the DFAC where he usually eats does not have that. Poor guy ;-)

He has had little time even to email me due to people transitioning and his boss traveling. Since I have nothing written by him for the blog, I thought I'd post excerpts from an article that appeared this week in our small, local paper. If you'd like to see the full text of the article, email me and I'll send you the link or do a google search on his name. The google search I did pulled up two articles on the GRD website (linked at right), one where he is quoted and one that he wrote. The local news article was the third hit for me. We picked up several copies of the print version because they included 3 photos, 2 of Vince in Iraq and one of our family! Our 7 year old thinks he's famous because he's in the paper.

Hopefully, the quotes below sum up the work they are doing. This is definitely a side of our effort in Iraq that I feel is underreported.

Betsy – filling in the gaps for Vince J


"Since deposing Hussein, we have helped the Iraqis guarantee clean water, get sewage out of the streets and underground, provide sanitation services for the first time and begin the process of rebuilding the electric grip to serve all the people of Iraq not just the privileged few. That's in addition to building schools, improving roads and building hospitals and medical clinics."

U.S. military presence in Iraq is sometimes met with some skepticism. Efforts made in Baghdad by groups such as the USACE are often shadowed by more negative misconceptions of the United States' motives for its occupation of Iraq, he said.

"[The Iraqis] still want a little more help for a little while longer because they know their newly paid for freedom and independence are still fragile and reversible. The people of Iraq are taking the lead in military and police operations, reconciliation between religious and ethnic groups and are starting lead out in international and economic development."

"We are partnering with the Iraqis to provide basic services to all the Iraqi people. Many in the U.S. do not realize that under Saddam Hussein only a fraction of the population had clean water, sewer service and electricity. The Iraqis I have met and talked with have said that the U.S. is here to give them a new life and a new freedom."

Vince feels that the partnership between Americans and Iraqis to rebuild the damage in Iraq holds benefits for both countries.

"The Iraqi people and government are very appreciative of the sacrifices made by the American military, civilians and contractors. Iraq wants to become one of our economic, political and regional allies."

Vince said that Iraq becoming a stable, self-sustaining nation will contribute to stability in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

"The work here prevents the planning and carrying out of terrorist attacks on United States soil."

Vince feels privileged to be a part of an effort that improves the quality of life for all the Iraqi people.

"My first month in Iraq, I met a brigadier general in the Iraqi army who risked his life everyday to work alongside the Americans. He told me to thank my wife and children for letting me come to help his family and the people of Iraq;"

"I'm honored to work alongside Iraqi ministers, officers, officials, engineers and workers. I see everyday their enthusiasm and hope for their nation. I'm humbled by how grateful they are for the sacrifices we and our families have made to help them."