I have the greatest admiration for the men and women of today's military who are far from home and fighting for freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq.  This is a great powerpoint presentation which I think you will enjoy.  I didn't create it.  The artists are credited within the file.

This is a 3 megabyte file so it may be slow to load on a dial up connection but it is well worth the wait.

Click Here to download the tribute entitled "If I Should Die Before You Wake"

Remember where you put it on your computer and then double click the file.  If you don't have Power Point on your computer, do a google search for free powerpoint presentation viewers and you can download that program on your computer so that you can view .pps files.

See also this message from LTC (Chaplain) White in Iraq about remembering our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine and national guard troops this Christmas.  This is a 4.4 megabyte movie file and may take awhile to load but it is well worth it.  Thanks Phil Mohler for passing this on to me.

The perspective of war doesn't differ much from war to war.  War is in very many ways the same today as it was in Vietnam.  I thought the following was a very interesting piece written by a young corporal who served his country in Iraq just as many before him have served.

Thoughts From A Young Corporal

Want to know what combat is like?
By Corporal Lawrence, C.

Well, I am still here in Iraq, and with regards to this war, I can say I have seen and done some amazing things.

I've seen both cowards and heroes both young and old.

Been both confident and terrified, both at the same time.

I've grown to love and hate people with a fierce passion.

I've given food to the starving, and water to the thirsty.

I've seen the pain and uncertainty in a man, woman, and child's face right before they died.

I've seen the terror in a man's face when my weapon was pointed at his head.

I've looked a man in the eyes right before I put a sandbag over his head.

I've tasted the burn of OC/pepper spray as I sprayed a man in the face.

I've learned Arabic from a 12 year old girl who was my friend.

I've waved hello back at so many passing cars, I felt like I was famous.

I've been on TV 4 times, then watched the media tell lies about us.

I've been in 3 papers, and was amazed at the inaccuracy of my story.

I've seen dozens of marriages fall apart on both ends.

I've seen Iraqis cry, they were so happy that we were here.

I've had Iraqis swear me up and down because I had to search them.

I've heard the launch of mortar rounds as they left the tube.

I've seen those same mortar rounds blow up around me and my friends.

I had a friend show me pictures of his kids, and get killed the very next day.

I've heard the pop-pop-pop of gunfire, and then the ping-ping-ping as it hit around me.

I've seen people afraid to pull the trigger, and not kill...and I've seen people kill when they shouldn't have pulled the trigger.

I've seen men in the cross hairs of the scope mounted on my rifle and I've pulled the trigger so they will never ever be seen again.

I've laid countless hours on my cot trying to sleep but couldn't, because the helicopters were to loud, explosions were to close, their was to much gunfire.

I've taken prisoners, guarded prisoners, and released prisoners.

I've lost weight because my stomach couldn't handle the food here.

I've knocked on people's doors, kicked down people's doors, and almost shot off someone's door.

I've sat on a rooftop for 53 days straight looking for bad guys, and learned what patience really is.

I've lost all sense of privacy, but grew closer than a brother with my squad and platoon.

I've cleaned my weapon more than I have cleaned my clothes, because it was more important.

I've learned to appreciate all the things I once took for granted.

I've never worked so hard and got paid so little in my life, but even still worked harder.

I've watched videos of Nick Berg getting his head sawed off his body while he screamed, and never wanted to kill so bad in my life.

I remember when a young kid that called us "sadiq-i" (friend) brought us food each day at a checkpoint, and remember when a suicide bomber killed him and 18 other people days later.

I remember a crazy lady telling me lies to waste my time for no reason.

I remember a pretty girl secretly waving hello to me so nobody would see, fearing ridicule.

I remember the screams of people when a restaurant exploded with innocent people inside.

I'll never forget the smell of burning flesh for as long as I live...ever.

I've seen Iraqi people fight alongside us one minute, then fight against us the next.

I've captured dozens of weapons, some of which were gold plated.

I've been in a car accident that would've killed me if I wasn't riding in an armored hummer.

I've smiled and scowled, laughed and yelled at different crowds of people.

I've seen a 13 year old prostitute bring money home to her father to live.

I've smelled the crisp air of a new morning, and the soot and stench of cordite the next morning.

I've been so hot, that I stopped sweating and my body started to shut down.

I've been so tired and worn out, but still couldn't sleep for days at a time.

I've seen people accidentally shoot their weapons and almost kill people, and I've seen people intentionally shoot their weapons and kill people.

I've never counted or carried so much ammunition in my life, and I've been around the world more than once or twice with the military.

I've sat back and enjoyed an ice cold Coke, and other times I've called on the radio begging for a resupply of water and food because we were starving literally.

I've seen guys "baby" their weapons, and I've seen guys treat them like hell, fully knowing it was the only thing that might save their lives.

I've said "I hate here" a thousand times, and heard it said a million more times.

I've seen a platoon leader curl up in the fetal position out of terror during a firefight, and a private in that same platoon fight like a savage for his life.

I've seen a medic choke-up and not be able to do his job, and an infantryman next to him bandage up a wounded child.

I've had kids throw rocks at me because I didn't have any chocolate candy to give them.

I almost shot a 14 year old kid that pulled a gun on another kid, the toys look very real here.

I've seen kids play in a virtual minefield of explosives and ordinance like they were at Disneyland.

I've heard shots fired and hit the ground, ducked, jumped behind cover, and flat out ignored them I've seen "new guys" in units come here so scared they point their guns at everything they see.

I've been on missions so long, that I've come back to my FOB (base camp) with a full beard.

I've sat up late at night waiting for a friend to come back from a patrol that got hit, like a parent waits for their child who's been out all night.

I've made best of friends with a 17 year old kid, and a 47 year old man, and talked to both like we were old high school buddies.

I've cleaned my friend's blood off of his equipment, and turned it in because he was killed in an explosion hours before.

I've seen enough different people's body parts, that I could put them all together and make a completely new body with them.

I've laughed and joked with Australian soldiers, had conversations with British soldiers, and drank chi (tea) with Arab soldiers.

I've seen how well our bulletproof vest work, and they do stop bullets.

I've read the bible and figured I am in, or near the 'Garden of Eden'; but it hardly looks like paradise to me.

I've seen fisherman fishing, kids swimming, boats and dead bodies floating in the Tigris River.

I've asked myself dozens of times "Why am I here", but I know the answer, and I know if asked...I'd come back again no question.

I've missed my family and still do, and I regret not spending as much time with them as I should've before I left.

I've figured out who my real friends are back home, because they have taken the time to write me a letter or an e-mail.

I felt sold out by my chain of command because I made a decision to shoot, and sat through an 'inquisition' for making a judgment call that I would again.

I've gone on my 2 weeks of R&R and enjoyed the downtime, however was anxious to get back to this strange place.

I've been to far too many memorial services of our fallen brothers, and choked up everytime, even if silently so nobody could tell I've seen an enemy sniper cause so much pandemonium, that without a shot being fired the sniper was winning a psychological victory over us.

I've traded 'war stories' with my best friend who worked in the private sector up north through countless e-mails.

I've been disgusted by the double standard that I have seen day in and day out.

I've lost a friend to an enemy sniper's bullet and felt helpless.

I've been given a urinalyses test because people were doing drugs over here.

I've seen the Iraqi people respect the military, and I've seen them totally disregard our presence and "walk all over us".

I've searched a car we stopped in sector and found an Oklahoma license plate in the trunk with '04 tag stickers on it.

I've felt my stomach knot and my heart skip a beat when a vehicle speeding by, cut his wheel and came directly at me...I was going to be blown-up for sure I thought.

I've been terribly sick, but continued to work and patrol through it...mission first.

I've gotten packages and letters from people I don't know, and a smile was brought to my face each time.

I've had my comfort zone tested and violated by these people time and time again.

I've had Iraqis throw fireworks at me on New Years, thinking it was funny that I couldn't tell it wasn't a gunshot.

I've come to the conclusion that some soldiers here will return home by the grace of God, and other soldiers will come home simply because the man to the left or right of him did their job.

I've seen lousy soldiers awarded medals for no reason at all, and other soldiers who rightfully deserved recognition for gallantry under fire passed over with not even a pat on the back.

I've seen the clear difference between competence and arrogance in my leadership.

Corporal Lawrence, C.
This I pledge, and I'll take it to my death
I'll lay my life down for you and die over again
I and I, I'm not ashamed of the Most High
Even if I die tonight, if I die tonight

Si vis pacem, para bellum



Copyright 1999-2014 by Don Blankenship. You may use the images, descriptions, stories or text within this site, with proper credit,  for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes only. In the event you wish to use any material contained within this site for commercial, for-profit purposes, permission must be obtained from the author, Don Blankenship, in advance of such use. All rights reserved. Click email if you have comments. Thanks for your interest in learning about the Mobile Riverine Force.