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Today's word on

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Those were the days:

"The way I had it is all gone now. The bars are
gone, the drinkers, gone. There remain the smartest, healthiest newspeople in the history of the business. And they are so boring that they kill the business right in front of you."

--Jimmy Breslin, newspaper columnist, 1996 (Thanks to alert WORDster Jim Doyle)


Letter No. 9: Rumors of where to go from here

By David J. Jenkins, USU class of '98

January 19, 2005 | Hello everyone, Greetings from Baghdad ...

I feel that so much time has passed from my last correspondence, but then I look back and see that it has only been a week. It is amazing how the closer you come to the goal, time seems to slow, until you feel like you are in a shower scene in a soap commercial, and slow motion sets in.

In my search for the ever elusive sergeant's stripes, I am faced with one last hurdle (I hope) and that is to pass a Physical Fitness Test: push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. It seems easy enough, but some recent injuries -- torn calf and torn rotator cuff in the past year -- make me hesitant to be optimistic. However, I am going to go at this with full determination and hope for the best. I plan to make the attempt to pass in just a couple of days. I should have more information by next week.

There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding our return. In my last update I notified everyone that Jan. 15 should be the last day to send out any mail if we should hope to receive it in a timely manner. I have received many responses back congratulating us on returning back to the States on Jan. 15. Although I cannot be perfectly clear on this point, I will attempt to paint a picture:

We are currently stationed in East Baghdad. Rumor has it that from here, we may be moving to another post farther north. From that post we will begin the de-mobilization process, which could take a month, or three months. We don't know.

Once we have begun this process, we will more than likely commute south to Kuwait, where we could remain for a week or a month, we don't know.

When we do finally make a move back to the states, we will more than likely be stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., (as best we can tell), for approximately a week.

Our final stage of de-mobilization will take place in Eugene, Ore., and this process could last a week, or three months. We don't know.

Best-case scenario, we will be back in the U.S. and returning to civilian life by April. Worst-case scenario we will remain on active duty until September. But, once again, we don't know.

I apologize for any confusion on this, but I hope that this information helps everyone to understand the mobility nature of our position here.

A few days ago, as I was pondering on the new requirement that has been thrust upon me regarding promotion to sergeant, our platoon medic, Spc. Theodore Cole, came into my room and asked if I wanted to walk over to the Internet lab with him.

We began the short trek across post and along the way, began discussing my possible promotion and he informed me that one of our corporals was being promoted that afternoon. As we sauntered along the pitted road, kicking the bits of loose gravel scattered about, we decided that it was only right to attend this moment in history.

We arrived at the palm grove just in time to hear the formation being called to attention. We silently moved up to the rear of the group and fell into the position of attention. The command sergeant major did an about face and relinquished authority of the formation over to our battalion commander.

The battalion commander, although short in stature, is large in character. He is a man of confidence and this shows in his countenance. He paused for a moment, looked over his troops, then began reading the promotion order.

Corporal King stood there, his body rigid, but relaxed. There isn't too much that he hasn't seen in his some 20 years of service. Like myself, he also had a 12-year break in service, but his career began with an overseas trip in the summer of 1968. He is a wealth of knowledge and has volumes of stories which he has shared with me on many occasions. The most memorable experience took place in May 1969.

He was a young specialist, attached to the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment. They were known as the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division. Their unit occupied a small piece of land just off the Laotian border, and after several days of intensive fighting, he was one of the few survivors to walk down a mountain that would be listed in the history books as Hill 937. those intense days of fighting resulted in 39 killed in action and 290 wounded. Although listed as Hill 937, it would become better known as Hamburger Hill.

Our medic and I stood there watching as this soldier, now 60 years old, pin for the first time in his stoic history, sergeant's stripes. It was a proud day for our company, battalion and for Oregon. We are grateful to be acquainted with this American Hero.

Thanks to everyone for your continuing support. I look forward to your continued correspondence. My updates may become sparse as we begin our transitional phase, but I will continue to write when time and resources permit.

Best wishes,

Spc. David J. Jenkins

Click for Letter No. 1 and a photo of David J. Jenkins
Click for Letter No. 2
Click for Letter No. 3
Click for Letter No. 4
Click for Letter No. 5
Click for Letter No. 6
Click for Letter No. 7
Click for Letter No. 8


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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