Dear Captain Dan: March 15, 2006

Editor's note: Captain Dan appreciates readers' good wishes but will not accept gifts through Soldier's Diary. For information on how to help troops deployed overseas, see "Fast Facts: Helping Soldiers and Veterans."

Dear Captain Dan:

I am the mother of a soldier serving in Baghdad and I wonder constantly what his life is like. He is very careful with what he tells me not only for security reasons but because I am a mom and he doesn't want to scare me. I talked to him during the most recent sandstorm, the one in which I just read you were trying to get back to Baghdad in. That makes me feel like you are right there with him and you can tell me things that he can't or won't.

— Paula K.

I get up and go to work in an office, go to lunch every day at the same time, go work out after work, go to WalMart when I want or even go out and have a drink when I want. I don't know anybody over there so I guess I can use that as an excuse as to why I haven't paid much attention to [the war]. I have read up on it since I read your Diary and never could imagine doing what you do. I guess in the end all I want to say is Thank You for what you are doing and just take care of yourself. Thanks for sharing your story and opening my eyes to what is really going on out there.

— Teresa M.
Crossville, Tenn.

Thank you, thank you for all you are doing. I don't agree with this war (maybe you can help us with that) but I more than support all of the troops.

— Lisa and Rick W.

Please tell our soldiers that the vast majority support them wholeheartedly. We think of them, pray for them, and worry for them. Their service is not entertainment for us. It is dangerous work, and it is noble work.

— Gary G.

I just want to let you know that all the people that I know support the troops no matter what their party affiliation. They may not be happy with the mission you have been sent on, but that's it. Keep that diary going.

— Mitch P.

Thanks for letting folks back home know what we do and see into the human element. Because of the media coverage, people only see the casualty lists, IED footage, and endless misery. They forget there are more than body counts.

— Johnny B.
U.S. Army

And don't ever complain about coffee. I know you are trying to attract readers and this column is trying to sell, but come on, coffee. ... While you were sipping on Green Bean in Kuwait during the invasion, I was on the border in Afghanistan trying to survive at a remote fire base, making coffee from MREs! No T-rations, no hot meals.

— Capt. Douglas M.
Camp Ramadi, Iraq

People here in the states so easily forget what you guys are going through over there, what you see on a daily basis. Know that not everyone forgets, some every day remember and think, hope and pray that you all come home safely.

— Kimberly H.

Everyone may have different feelings towards the reasons for the U.S. deploying soldiers, everyone may have different feelings for the reason on why we are helping to fight this battle and everyone may have different opinions an a lot of issues surrounding this war. One thing that the majority of us DO have in common is the confidence, pride, support and love for all soldiers.

— Tiffany S.
Louisville, Ky.

My father and all the South Vietnamese soldiers were very grateful that American soldiers came to our country. They tried to help us fight for freedom. ... Only the people who live in the war country know exactly how we feel about American soldiers. American soldiers give up so much for the people they don’t even know. My son's unit was in Iraq from the beginning of the war. Just like many other soldiers, he went there to help out. He did the same way American soldiers helped the Vietnamese. ... I [would] just like to express that at home, most of us, we pray, we think about our soldiers, and we love all of you in Iraq, Dan.

— Nhung O.

My husband has been gone since October, but in Iraq since November. He is not a soldier, but an international police liaison officer. He is in Mosul. ... Thank you for touching my heart and helping me to realize what he may be going through on his return home then having to leave again. It is all I can do not to hurt for him and all of you other soldiers in having to leave your families twice, or even more if another leave is taken. I know how it feels on this side and it's bittersweet. Thanks again on presenting a new side to consider.

— Cindy E.
North Carolina

My older brother is a tech sergeant in the Air Force and was in Iraq last year. I will admit it was the hardest year of my life. The not knowing was the hard part. We couldn't be told where he was exactly and then hearing horrible stories on TV (to the point where I stopped watching the news altogether) made it worse. ... I can't imagine what you are going through, but seeing as it was your choice I can't help but be in awe of you. I can't tell you enough how proud I am of all of you over there.

— Jennifer M.
Charlotte, N.C.

I have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve in our armed forces. It is because of you that we are all free to watch crap like "American Idol," etc., instead of worrying about getting blown up, denied civil liberties, you name it.

— Sandra F.

I believe in the cause of this war. We can't allow our enemies on our shores again. ... I hope you all are able to "tune out" these close-minded people as I don't believe they look at the bigger picture — that is, they wouldn't have such a wonderful country to be so outspoken, etc., without all of your help.

— Barbara D.
Springfield, Mass.

I'm 66 and these days when my grandkids ask who my heroes are (expecting baseball players) I tell them all my heroes are in Iraq and other parts of the world protecting us from people who would do harm to the USA. ... Please know that there are millions of Americans who totally support what you are doing. The ones who sit and complain will someday understand that they are safe and free because of you and the rest of our fine military.

—Pete C.

I served in the Air Force from 1967 to 1971 as a clerk typist and never saw the war action in Vietnam but I am very much aware of the abuse our troops received from having served there after they returned home. I lost friends and co-workers in Nam and can truly understand how difficult it is for our troops in action, whether stateside or in the core of the war. ... I don't fully agree with what is going on [in Iraq] but then I am not there to see for sure and the media reports can differ so much from what our government is telling us. I read your article on and will be interested in reading more. Keep it up, please.

— Ed L.
Corpus Christi, Texas

It’s sad to see the direction that some politicians and the media want this country to move toward and the freedoms they try to take away. I just want to let you know that there are a lot of people who genuinely feel a strong appreciation and admiration for your dedication to us back home.

— James W.
Erie, Penn.

There are almost 270 million Americans. Yet, less than 2 million Americans are actively engaged in this war. No wonder this war is not popular. ... The biggest thing most Americans are concerned about is getting a new home loan from Ditech or buying a new SUV. One thing that does please me is the fact the majority of the men-in-the-street is behind each and every one of you.

When I came home [from Vietnam] it was not that way. Several of us were in the San Francisco airport when many, many college-age kids came up to us, calling us the usual bad names and being generally stupid. ... Keep your butt down and your powder dry.

— Rudy N.

It was very interesting to read about something as mundane as your flight back to Iraq, it's not all about battle and glory like some people think. I think sometimes it's about the day in and day out boredom that is almost as bad as not knowing if you are going to survive the day. ... I just thought I'd drop a line to let you know that there are a lot of us that think about you guys every day and what you are doing, and appreciate it.

— Chris L.
Logistics Management Specialist
U.S. Army

I thank you and everyone with you for having the courage to fight for us while we sit in our houses and pay no mind to what you guys are going through. It's difficult to understand that you guys are over there fighting for our freedom and right to live but all we see on TV here is our own people killing each other. To me it's ironic that you're trying so hard to make things better and we just make it worst.

— Connie B.

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