October 12, 2007


The phone rang at about 7:20 a.m. on Thursday. I hate it when the phone rings that early. It rarely means anything good.

On this day, it did.

On the other end of the line was my buddy Drew. He was calling me from an airstrip in Tikrit. He and the last of his regiment were about to deploy from Iraq. After 15 months, he was coming home.

He sounded exhausted. He wasn't looking forward to 36 hours in an airplane flying west across Europe, the Atlantic Ocean and the U.S. mainland before heading home to Hawaii. But he knew that his beautiful wife and adoring sons would be waiting for him. That was more than enough to keep him going.

I told him he looked really thin. He said he at first gained a few pounds when he got to Iraq but that he decided to drop the weight so that he would feel better. It's not exactly Shang-ri-la when it's 130 degrees in the desert.

It was great to hear his voice, but I have to admit that my heart has fluttered a bit in this last week. I think it's only natural when you worry about someone close who is in a forward combat area. You can't wait for the second that their wheels leave the ground. You can't wait for the wheels to touch down again back where they belong.

It's been my pleasure to relay the e-mails and phone calls that I've been honored to receive from Drew during his service at FOB McHenry. As I've stated before, it's amazing and surreal how close technology can bring you to someone so very far away.

The original plan before he left was that I would go and visit Drew and write about his battalion once he got in country. But after he lost the first few men, I didn't want to bring it up. He was devastated after each soldier's death. I didn't want to bring added stress to his life by being there and him being responsible for my safety.

Before he left, he sent out one more letter to the families and friends of his regiment. With his permission, I'm sharing it again today. He continues to astound me with his clarity, his sense of purpose, his candor and the forcefulness of his conviction:

Drew exchanging the colors at FOB McHenry

8 OCT 07

Family and Friends of the Wolfhounds;

Today marks the end of another chapter in the legacy of the 27th Infantry Regiment. I would love to be able to say that this journey went fast, but that is just not true. The Wolfhounds started this misson with a positive direction of hope for the people of the Hawijah District and spent all of 15-months convincing the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, Local Government and the people that they do have a future away from the evil clutches of fanatics that have hijacked their religion and only wants to destroy a peaceful and prosperous Iraq. Some have yet to be convinced, but the changes in this area have been immense. Without question, the Wolfhounds gave the people of Hawijah District a vision of hope, peace and liberty. Please keep 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment in your prayers as they assume the mission in this area. Ask for God to give them the wisdom and discipline to show compassion to the peaceful people of this area and nothing but ruthlessness to the twisted enemies of this nation.

Task Force Wolfhound 25th Infantry DivisionI don’t know if I will ever be able to convince myself that our loss of 18 Wolfhounds was worth this journey. I am not a politician and will never claim to be. As Soldiers, we took our obligation to our nation freely. We were given this mission to rid the world of the views of Islamic Extremists not only for the security of a prosperous Iraq, but also for the safety and future of our nation, and every nation that does not conform to the twisted views of sick individuals who have hijacked a beautiful religion onto a path of death, oppression and world dominance. The Wolfhounds made a stand in the Hawijah District and the legacy of our sacrifice will be told by the children of this area, and the children of these children, years from now. The local population’s reaction to our departure tells the tale of our success here. The Wolfhounds fought hard to gain the trust of the innocent people of Hawijah and the fear of the terrorists who faced us. We entered this fight virtually alone and depart this area leaving behind trusted brothers of the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police who fought side by side with us for a peaceful and prosperous Iraq.

The future of Iraq must be determined by Iraqis. We have forged an Iraqi Army and Police Force that now understands the responsibilities that they face. We have molded their capabilities in the proud Wolfhound Tradition of distinguished combat service showing both ruthlessness towards a brutal enemy and compassion towards the innocent people enslaved by the terrorist’s cowardly actions. NO FEAR ON EARTH has taken root in their hearts and we leave here knowing that they can accomplish their dreams of a united homeland if they stay true to the simple motto that has served our historic regiment well for over 106 years.

We fought this fight until the end. News of the extension to our deployment from 12 to 15 months struck everyone hard, but Wolfhounds do not sway easily. Instead of consuming us, it served as a defining moment in this chapter of our history. As the Commander of this incredible unit, the drive and determination of every Soldier and Leader under me has left me humbled by their achievements. In the 30-days prior to the arrival of our replacements, these incredible Wolfhounds conducted 10 Battalion Level Operations and over 100 platoon level operations…In our last 30 days here! The results were equally as impressive. Your Wolfhounds were directly responsible for the complete dismantling of one of the two major terrorist networks in this area and the capture of 3 of the top 4 of leaders of the other network. Throughout this deployment, your Wolfhounds captured over 1,200 enemy to include 58 of the 64 Brigade High Value Targets and killed or captured 130 men trying to emplace Improvised Explosive Devices against us. Hawijah District and Kirkuk Province is showing major security improvements on the shoulders of the 27th Infantry Regiment, WOLFHOUNDS!

Today, many of our Wolfhounds are already home safe in the arms of their loved ones. The rest of us will be home soon. All that we have achieved would not have been possible without the love and support of our friends and family. You have been the source of our strength and determination. The countless packages, letters and prayers only served to strengthen our resolve. I will never be able to thank you all enough for all that you have done for us. The American public will never be able to comprehend the magnitude of your support and sacrifice to our nation. You have done more than fly our flag and paste a bumper sticker on your car saying you “Support Our Troops.” Your countless hours of sacrifice out of love for our Wolfhounds will always be known by the Veterans of Task Force Wolfhound, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM V. I love each and every one of you for all that you have done to make our Wolfhound Family strong.

The names and faces of our Fallen Wolfhounds will always be etched in the hearts of every member of this team. Please keep the families of these incredible heroes in your prayers always. The loss of these 18 brave young men is tragic to our nation. They are part of 1/10th of 1% of American youth that decided to make a difference in our world and not just talk about making a difference. It is so easy to criticize anything and everything that anyone does, but it takes intestinal fortitude and courage to actually stand up for what you believe. Our Fallen Wolfhounds wrote a “blank check” to our nation and what we stand for as Wolfhounds. These values don’t come from the streets of America; they come from incredible family values and dignity. The families of our fallen brothers forever deserve our love and support. Though they have lost a son, brother or father, they have gained a family of Wolfhounds that will be with them always.

Between now, Block Leave and the Wolfhound Formal in December, my time as the Commander of this incredible organization grows short. I long to hold my family in my arms again and I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can before the day comes where I must hand over the Battalion Colors. With over 5 years total in this unit, all that it stands for and believes will never leave my heart, mind and soul. We have stared death and destruction right in the face and lived up to our beliefs that we fear nothing on this earth. On a razors edge we have balanced the ability to seek out and destroy anything evil and at the same time show love and compassion to those caught in the middle. This is a truly blessed Regiment and I am humbled to say that I have been the commander.


Respectfully Yours;

Commander, 2-27 Infantry “Wolfhounds”


Saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye to new friends.

Getting the job done.

Excerpt from Soldier magazine.

Walking tall.

Desert sombreros.

'Not the same Hawijah.'

Time out for toys.

Coffee and sunsets.

Get your motor runnin'.

"Wolfhounds don't do anything small."

Thanksgiving in Iraq.

"What sacrifice for the sake of freedom feels like."

"I am amazed by them every single day."

It's who you know.

Month two of deployment.

I'd walk a mile.

Boots on the ground.

Once more into the breech.

Posted by Jeff at October 12, 2007 01:44 PM | TrackBack
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