The links below will take you to letters that have been received from military personnel that have shared a note of thanks with us. Although a thank you is not necessary, we will welcome them. It is us that should be thanking them, we felt that by sharing these notes with you, you will help us make a difference in our active duty military personnel's life. You too can say thank you to a military person by sending us that recent magazine that you were going to toss in the garbage. (See the list of items needed.) Please keep in mind that all personal care products must be new and in a factory sealed package or with all safety seals in place. Donations are also greatly appreciated for this project. Thank you, VVnW, Inc.
16 March 2005
Peter J. Forbes National Commander Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. 805 South Township Boulevard Pittston, PA 18640
Dear Mr. Forbes:
As the Commander of the 130th Finance Battalion, I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to you and the members of Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. The items you sent to my soldiers and I have played a significant role in lifting our morale. This genuine display of kindness and care have confirmed that there are fellow veterans and citizens back at home that are proud of what we are doing in this foreign land.
The soldiers of the 130th Finance Battalion want you to know, we are proud to serve this great country of ours and we are dedicated to the principals which made our country free. We are here doing what we do so that you and your members can continue to do what you do.
May God Continue to bless you, and all that you set your hand too.
Your Humble Servant,
LTC James R. Gorham
I would like to take the time to express my sincere gratitude for the package that I received from the Veterans of the Vietnam War, inc. It is true patriotism and honor that makes our country so great. And to see those characteristics on display through the selfless acts such as these that the soldiers here truly appreciate. There are a lot of folks back home that are questioning why we are here. There are a lot of folks back home that are voicing disparaging remarks to our young soldiers on their return to the States (Not uncommon to the veterans in the Vietnam era). They will never know the pain and suffering that we have witnessed. They will never know the life-altering events that take place in war. They will never know the sacrifice that is made by an Armed Forces comprised of 1/4 of 1% of our entire population. Those are our crosses to bear. Those atrocities that define our role in this war will never be seen or experienced by the average American Citizen. Thank God!
To the spouses and veterans that make up this great organization, I Salute you. You never forgot what the soldier had to endure. You never forgot what Honor, Courage, and Commitment means to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Whether or not the people of Iraq will ever fully appreciate our sacrifice in freeing them from their bonds remains to be seen. But to know that there is an organization out there that will always welcome them back home with open arms and a "Job well done" makes the sacrifices all worth while. Thank you dearly for your Patriotism.
CPT T. C.
My name is Tim Harten and I received a care package from your organization. I want to thank you so much for that. I am a Corpsman working at the US Military Hospital Kuwait. I work on the ward. I was able to share the goodies you sent me with some of the patients. I am writing first of all for helping me do that. Also I wanted to see if you could send more packages so that I can distribute them to the patients. I can not give you a number because we are always full with patients and most of them come to us with nothing. SO it would be great if we could distribute things to them. Clothes, food, games, magazines, puzzles, toiletries, ect. Anything we can get our hands on, we give to them. I see you have "Squad Packs", things like that would be great for them as well as my fellow service members that are working at the Hospital with me. I would appreciate any help you can give us to help these injured service members. I also want to find out how I can join your wonderful organization. You seem to be something I need to be a part of, so if you could tell me what I need to do I would appreciate it. Thank You.
Thank you for your sending the various sundry items to soldiers out here in Iraq. I take the liberty to speak on behalf of those who are busy doing their day to day jobs. You warm caring and attention to what we soldiers go through is much appreciated. The last time I looked at the Preamble of our United States, the first few word say. . . "We the people. . ." The things going on most of us understand that it the will of the people at home that we do what we are doing. Defending our freedoms both on foreign and domestic soils. To this end we will continue to stand and fight at the will of the American people.
Again thank you for caring.
5 Oct 02
Thank you for the morale package I received. It makes the time away from home a little easier to handle when you know people care. My unit and I were deployed on short notice and are currently serving as peacekeepers in Bosnia as part of SFOR XII. This time will be especially difficult due to the upcoming holidays, but as I said if you feel like your appreciated it makes the separation a little easier. I personally want to thank you and all who served with you for your sacrifices to our Nation. Your hard work, sacrifices, and dedication to GOD and country will never be forgotten. I feel honored to be able to wear the same uniform as you and our other brothers in arms. Once again thank you.
November 4, 2002
Hello fellow veterans !! My name is CSM B. S.S . Task Force CSM with "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Europe. My permanent Headquarters is in Lewisburg, PA with the 3/103rd Armor. The purpose of my e-mail, is to thank the organization and its members for the soldier packs (all 765 of them) that we graciously received from you over the Christmas season. I am aware you are located in Pittston, PA and I want to visit your Hqs when I return and personally thank you. Also........we are plugging away to recruit new members for this outstanding organization....as I will be joining as well.
Note: This is an open letter from U.S. Army Maj. Eric Rydbom in Iraq to the First Lutheran Church of Richmond Beach in Shoreline, Wash. Rydbom is Deputy Division Engineer of the 4th Infantry Division.
What you don't hear about on CNN
It has been a while since I have written to my friends at First Lutheran Church about what's really going on here in Iraq. The news you watch on TV is exaggerated, sensationalized and selective. Good news doesn't sell.
Let's start with electrical power production in Iraq. The day after the war was declared over, there was nearly zero power being generated in Iraq. Just 45 days later, in a partnership between the Army, the Iraqi people and some private companies, there are now 3,200 megawatts (Mw) of power being produced daily, 1/3 of the total national potential of 8,000 Mw. Downed power lines (big stuff, 400 Kilovolt (Kv) and 132 Kv) are being repaired and are about 70 percent complete.
Then there is water purification. In central Iraq between Baghdad and Mosul, home of the 4th Infantry Division, water treatment was spotty at best. The facilities existed, but the controls were never implemented. Simple chemicals like Chlorine for purification and Alum (Aluminum Sulfate) for sediment settling (the Tigris River is about as clear as the Mississippi River) were in very short supply or not used at all. When chlorine was used, it was metered by the scientific method of guessing.
So some people got pool water to drink and some people got water with lots of little things floating around in it. We are slowly but surely solving that. Contracts for repairs to facilities that are only 50 percent or less operational are being let, chemicals are being delivered, although we don't have the metering problem solved yet (...but again, it's only been 45 days).
How about oil and fuel? Well the war was all about oil wasn't it? You bet it was. It was all about oil for the Iraqi people! They have no other income. They produce nothing else. Oil is 95 percent of the Iraqi GNP. For this nation to survive, it must sell oil.
The Refinery at Bayji is [operating] at 75 percent of capacity producing gasoline. The crude pipeline between Kirkuk (Oil Central) and Bayji will be repaired by tomorrow (2 June). LPG, what all Iraqis use to cook and heat with, is at 103 percent of normal production and we, the U.S. Army, are ensuring it is being distributed fairly to all Iraqis.
You have to remember that only three months ago, all these things were used by the Saddam regime as weapons against the population to keep them in line. If your town misbehaved, gasoline shipments stopped, LPG pipelines and trucks stopped, water was turned off, and power was turned off.
Now, until exports start, every drop of gasoline produced goes to the Iraqi people. Crude oil is being stored and the country is at 75 percent capacity right now. They need to export or stop pumping soon, so thank the U.N. for the delay.
All LPG goes to the Iraqi people everywhere. Water is being purified as best it can be, but at least its running all the time to everyone.
Are we still getting shot at? Yep.
Are American soldiers still dying? Yep, about one a day from my outfit, the 4th Infantry Division, most in accidents, but dead is dead.
If we are doing all this for the Iraqis, why are they shooting at us?
The general Iraqi population isn't shooting at us. There are still bad guys who won't let go of the old regime. They are Ba'ath party members (Read Nazi Party, but not as nice) who have known nothing but and supported nothing but the regime all of their lives. These are the thugs for the regime who caused many to disappear in the night. They have no other skills. At least the Nazis [in Germany] had jobs and a semblance of a national infrastructure that they could go back to after the war, as plumbers, managers, engineers, etc. These people have no skills but terror. They are simply applying their skills ... and we are applying ours.
There is no Christian way to say this, but they must be eliminated and we are doing so with all the efficiency we can muster. Our troops are shot at literally everyday by small arms and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). We respond. One hundred percent of the time, the Ba"ath party guys come out with the short end of the stick.
The most amazing thing to me is that they don't realize that if they stopped shooting at us, we would focus on fixing things more quickly and then leave back to the land of the Big PX. The more they shoot at us, the longer we will have to stay.
Lastly, all of you please realize that 90 percent of the damage you see on TV was caused by Iraqis, not by us and not by the war. Sure, we took out a few bridges from military necessity, we took out a few power and phone lines to disrupt communications, sure we drilled a few palaces and government headquarters buildings with 2,000 lb. laser guided bombs (I work 100 yards from where two hit the Tikrit Palace), [but] he had plenty to spare.
But, any damage you see to schools, hospitals, power generation facilities, refineries, pipelines, was all caused either by the Iraqi Army in its death throes or from much of the Iraqi civilians looting the places.
Could we have prevented it? Nope.
We can and do now, but 45 days ago, the average soldier was fighting for his own survival and trying to get to his objectives as fast as possible. He was lucky to know what town he was in much less be informed enough to know who owned what or have the power to stop 1,000 people from looting and burning a building by himself.
The United States and our allies, especially Great Britain, are doing a very noble thing here. We stuck our necks out on the world's chopping block to free an entire people from the grip of a horrible terror that was beyond belief. I've already talked the weapons of mass destruction thing to death - bottom line, who cares? This country was one big conventional weapons ammo dump anyway. We have probably destroyed more weapons and ammo in the last 30 days than the U.S. Army has ever fired in the last 30 years (remember, this is a country the size of Texas), so drop the WMD argument as the reason we came here. If we find it great if we don't, so what?
I'm living in a "guest palace" on a 500-acre palace compound with 20 palaces with like facilities built in half a dozen towns all over Iraq that were built for one man. Drive down the street and out into the countryside five miles away like I have and see all the families of 10 or more, all living in mud huts and herding the two dozen sheep on which their very existence depends.... then tell me why you think we are here.
WMD is an important issue. We have to find them wherever they may be (in Syria?), but that is not our real motivator. Don't let it be yours either.
Respectfully, ERIC RYDBOM MAJOR, ENGINEER Deputy Division Engineer 4th Infantry Division