Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]
An Email from a Captain in Iraq
We knew there was a dinner planned with ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. There were
But, about 1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile, asked me to come to dinner with him, to meet him in his office at 1600 and bring a camera. I didn't really care about getting a picture with Sanchez or Bremer, but when the division's senior intelligence officer asks you to go, you go. We were seated in the chow hall, fully decorated for thanksgiving when aaaaallllll kinds of secret service guys showed up.
That was my first clue, because Bremer's been here before and his personal security detachment is not that big. Then BG Dempsey got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as if to give a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this thanksgiving speech to give to the troops. He then paused and said that the senior man present should be the one to give it. He then looked at Sanchez, who just smiled.
Bremer then said that we should probably get someone more senior to read the speech. Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me! The cheering went on and on and on.
Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks. It was the most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my wedding and Aaron being born. Here was this man, our President, came all the way around the world, spending
Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a plane and spend another
You could tell he was really enjoying himself. It wasn't just a photo opportunity. This man was actually enjoying himself! He worked his way over the course of about
I felt like I was drunk. He was getting closer to my table so I went back over to my seat. As he passed and posed for photos, he looked my in the eye and "How you doin', captain." I smiled and said "God bless you, sir." To which he responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then moved on.
Origins: The National Review has posted items confirming and explaining the origins of the letter quoted above: the captain's sister explained that it was a private message sent to his mother and his wife, the captain himself wrote in to verify it, and the captain's mother let readers know that her son and his wife are spending their first Christmas apart this year while he's stationed in Iraq, but they may be together again soon. His account of events related to President Bush's secretly-planned Thanksgiving Day trip to Baghdad and his description of the President's introduction to surprised American troops by
The two dispensed a few quick words. Bremer then turned to Sanchez and said he had a Thanksgiving message from President Bush. Bremer said the most "senior" U.S. official among them should be the one to read it.
Turning toward the stage backdrop, Bremer asked: "Is there anyone back there who's more senior than us?"
Bremer's hands, cradling the president's speech, quavered.
At that moment, Bush strode forth from the wings in an Army track suit emblazoned with a
Enlisted personnel at the grade of
McCastle told his grandfather that he immediately thought, "Oh no, what have I done now?"
The mystery heightened when the sergeant major told McCastle to take a seat on the sofa and relax, then explained that McCastle was to go back to his Baghdad barracks, put on his best set of fatigues and await a ride to the Baghdad airport for Thanksgiving dinner with some VIPs.
As related by his grandfather, Admon McCastle of Baker, the 24-year-old Army medic felt a heightened sense of security when he arrived at a large building and noticed lots of civilian security agents milling around.
They appeared to be Secret Service agents, he thought to himself.
McCastle told his grandfather he started putting two and two together when
Admon McCastle said his grandson told him, "About that time, President Bush walked out, and the place broke into a roar."
Learning McCastle was from Louisiana, the president commented, "How about those Tigers?" He also observed that the Thanksgiving dinner probably didn't measure up to south Louisiana cooking.
McCastle told his grandfather he then asked the president how he knew about Louisiana cooking.
"He said the president just put his arm on his shoulder and winked," Admon McCastle said.
We haven't forgotten you either, captain, and you have our thanks, too. We hope you're able to spend next Thanksgiving back home with your family in the U.S.A.
Last updated: 3 September 2007
Krane, Jim. "Bush Appearance Stuns Troops Gathered at Airport for Thanksgiving." The San Francisco Chronicle. 27 November 2003. Minton, James. "Baker Soldier Meets Bush." WBRZ-TV, Baton Rouge. 3 December 2003.