Monday, November 20, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving, Nate

Don't forget our troops!

Lance Cpl. Nate Salatin, USMC....
As I prepare for Thanksgiving with my family, my thoughts turn to Nate, the 21-year-old who was a major influence in my home school teen group. Nate joined the Marine Reserves after graduating high school, went through boot camp, then completed his freshman (Rat) year at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) before his Unit was activated and deployed to Iraq two months ago. See more about Nate here.

Nate and his fellow Marines are mine sweepers ... they patrol for IEDs - Improvised Explosive Devices - that are planted by terrorists on roadways throughout Iraq. They are working the area between Al Assad, which is just outside Baghdad on the Euphrates River, and the city of Al Qaim which is located where the Euphrates crosses from Syria into Iraq. This is a major point of entry for insurgent terrorists.

Nate is a driver of one of the armored vehicles that regularly patrol the area looking for IEDs and clearing them to make way for supply caravans and other military vehicles to drive safely through the desert. The roads are in bad shape with many IED craters so the recon vehicles can only make 15-20 miles per hour. Lately, the insurgent terrorists have begun planting IEDs in the bottom of old craters thinking Nate and his crew won't look there ... and the bombs are becoming larger and larger.

Recently, a huge IED went off in front of the vehicle in line ahead of Nate. No one was hurt but the lead gunner had his Kevlar (helmet) chewed up by frag (came about half-an-inch from his forehead).

These guys are on all the time watching for and disassembling bombs. They have long days with little sleep as they work diligently doing their jobs. They do it because they want to do it. They volunteered to join the military.

Nate joined the Marines after 9/11 so he was pretty sure he would end up in Iraq.

He was a leader in my teen group, he was a leader in 4-H where he served as Virginia State President, he was a leader once he got into the Marines, and he was a leader at VMI where he excelled at his studies. And he's a mentor to me, teaching me public speaking five years ago, something that had eluded me all my life.

So when your family gathers around the dining room table on Thursday, please remember Nate and all our other brave Marines and military personnel, both overseas and at home, who are there to keep us safe from other 9/11 attacks. These are true American heroes.

Thank You Troops
by A. M. Smith

The occupation of a soldier has meaning beyond comprehension
The job that they do without contention,
The lives of our soldiers' is a lifelong test
And the lives of their families one would never guess.

To protestors, think of them as you stand in the streets and jeer
Think about who and what has given you the freedom to be here,
It is our soldiers who stand up and fight -
The heroes that gave you the voice to say "it's wrong" or "it's right."

Through deployments and war our soldiers go
Into situations that we will never really see or know,
The military family sits in fear and they wait -
Waiting to hear of their hero's fate.

Why do we send our soldiers to strange lands to fight?
So, we, as Americans can speak freely by day and sleep safely at night,
The soldiers and their families live life, sometimes hard to bear -
But they do it for the good of their country and people everywhere.

As you stand in the streets holding your signs
Think of those soldiers approaching enemy lines,
Think of the dedication that keeps you free
So that even you will never be subjected to what he can now see.

He is ensuring your freedom and your right
To a voice and a sky that is not lit up at night,
I think we should take time to give thanks everyday
To the men and the women who have given us the freedom to live our own way.

I choose to support our soldiers who endanger their lives to fight
And to protestors, it was soldiers who gave you that right!

May God bless our troops, our President, and our Country. Happy Thanksgiving!

No comments: