|This letter has been shared with me and I wanted to share it with everyone. This is the reality of what our Soldiers are living with in Iraq. They need us more than ever and we as a nation need to be there for them. I will warn you that some of this letter is graphic!|
God Bless America! God Bless Our Soldiers!
A soldier’s letter from Iraq
By Pat Minelli
Created 05/27/2007 – 1:23pm
Editor’s note: Jonathan Schulze of Prior Lake, who committed suicide after returning home from serving his country in Iraq, wrote the following letter home in 2004. His mother shared the letter with us. It was written while he was in Iraq.
Dear Friends & Family,
Sorry I have not written for over a month now. I lost some very good friends and it has been very difficult for me to deal with. You might have heard on the news on April 6th and 7th that our battalion was involved in fire fights that lasted 4-6 hours each day during the afternoon. We lost 16 of our fellow marines in 2 days. One of them, Staff Sgt. Walker, my drill instructor from boot camp, was hit very close to me. I knew him very well and was really shook up when he died. It’s not so bad to see the enemy dead but when it’s somebody I’ve been with since boot camp, it’s really hard. We had over 75 Marines wounded in those two days.
Two weeks ago, my friend in our platoon who is also a machine gunner was hit by an IED(improvised explosive device). He took a lot of shrapnel in the back of both legs. He was flown to Germany where all of the GI’s go for surgery when they are wounded over here, before they are sent back to the U.S. We were told he will not have permanent damage, Thank God! I don’t want to go into a lot of detail but some of the injuries are really bad. A few days ago another Marine in our platoon, who is just a junior Marine and hasn’t even been in the corps for a year was hit by an IED. He practically walked right over it when it blew up. He wasn’t very far away from me when he was hit. He was hit by shrapnel in his neck and his eyes. The shock wave from the blast broke his femur bone in his right leg. The heat from the explosion melted the contacts in his eyes. Now, he is permanently blind in one eye and lost the other eye from the shrapnel. He is only 18 years old!
And now for the hardest thing to write about: Last Saturday, I lost two very close friends in one of the most awful ways possible. They were my buddies, Corporals Jeffery Green and Justin Schrage. They were only 20 years old. We were doing a raid with boats on to some small islands in the middle of the Euphrates river, which is one of the most dangerous rivers in the world. They were our company scout swimmers and were swimming across to set up security on the shore of the island. They both drowned because of the strong currents and whirlpools in the river, not to mention a storm the night before. They shouldn’t have been sent out there. I helped look for them for 2 days before we found their bodies. I found one of them and I can’t even describe how awful it was after 2 days in this 100 degree heat. I’ve been friends with them for over three years. I trained with them, fought in combat with them, partied with them and spent nearly every day of my last three years in the Marine Corps with them. I just can’t believe that they are gone. It has been really hard to live with and every day, I ask God why…..
We continue to get shot at every day and live in fear of getting hit by an IED or bombs made out of 130 and 155 millimeter artillery shells. Sometimes we have bullets whizzing around our heads and when we try to sleep, we get jarred awake by explosions of bombs day and night. The projectile of the artillery shells weigh around 50-60 pounds and are packed with over 15 pounds of gun powder. There are also 100 millimeter tank rounds as well that are planted with 10-15 pounds of PE4 Russian plastic explosives which is just as potent as C4. They also use metal coffee cans and place any kind of shrapnel in there from nails, to bolts, metal or steel cut into razor sharp pieces, and we have even seen Iraqi coins cut into razor sharp star-shaped dimensions. They are mainly detonated electronically by cell phones. A number or code is dialed in to the receiver which is connected to the bomb to detonate it. Remote control cars are also used to detonate bombs.
The remote controlled car is driven near the bomb. The bomb will have a negative magnet connected to it and the car will have a positive magnet connected to it. The negative and positive create an electrical charge which detonates the bomb. I came close to an IED twice now We walked or patrolled past two IED’s and for some reason by the grace of God, they didn’t detonate until we were 50 meters past them. Somebody up above is really watching over me because I’ve had three close calls now and I don’t know how I’m still alive. I pray so much over here and ask God to keep me safe so I can make it home alive and in one piece. I always pray when I’m out on patrol as I’m terrified of getting hit by an IED. We have to have our guard up at all times and can’t trust anyone, even the women and children. It seems that some of the people know where the bombs are planted but they don’t tell us. Our vehicles and Marines are getting hit hard by these bombs that are planted all over and hidden in the ground.
The weather here is deadly hot, over 100 degrees every day and it hardly ever cools down at night except for maybe a few degrees. We are always drenched in sweat. It’s a big sandbox. We find sand everywhere, and in the craziest places.
Thank-you to everyone for your cards, letters, pictures and packages. Thank-you Sarah for the chex mix. Thank-you Mom, Grandma Carlson, Theresa, Nancy & family, Travis and everyone else for your letters and packages. They are the most precious thing a GI can possibly receive over here. I really miss home and all of you. Thank-you all for keeping me in your prayers. I know God is watching over me. I love you all.