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The Catholic Defender: Almost Home 2008

Monday November 05, 2007: I've spoken with you since you sent this post, but I want to take this opportunity here to welcome you to the Catholic Church. This is the same Church that Christ established and sent the Apostles to teach and tend. It is the same Church that went throughout the Roman Empire spreading the Good News establishing churches where ever they went walking in sandals and carrying a staff. It is the same Church that converted the Roman Empire without a shot, it also defined and defended orthodoxy against the raging heretics and the Gnostic who sought to destroy the truth of the Church. It is the same Church that receives you now through the Sacraments of her Lord!

Thursday November 08, 2007: Another one of my students just before he received his First Holy Communion. May the Lord be praised, blessed, loved, and adored, and glorified in heaven, on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God. And by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar! Amen!

Friday November 09, 2007: I inspected are newly built Aid Station set out on our farthest remote FOB. We continue to save lives. I ask for your prayers for a female Soldier who lost both her arms above the bicep and had both her femurs fractured as a result of an explosion. One of my Medics, a convert to the Catholic faith about a month ago, saved her life.

Sunday November 11, 2007: Tomorrow, we have one baptism and two confirmations! Priest Defender's last Mass at Division Chapel ended as it all began going back to November 06. During the course of the year we seen hundreds of reverts, many Baptisms and Confirmations, and many participation with the bible studies and rosaries. It has been a pleasure and a joy to have worked here in the land of Abraham with this very excellent Priest of God!

Monday November 12, 2007: I quoted Jesus earlier when He said "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me". Something that struck me was what He said, "I will enter his house", I don't think Jesus was implying literally as He did Zacchaeus going to his house. I think it was more what Jesus was saying "I can destroy the Temple of God and within three days rebuild it". Jesus is obviously speaking about His own body, His death and resurrection. I think that when Jesus says "I will enter his house", He is speaking to the body. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday November 13, 2007: We have had Soldiers that have not seen a Priest since they arrived. I wish there were more we could do to support them. That's why it has been important to have some of these items like rosaries and holy medals cause we need all the support we can have.

Thursday November 15, 2007: Today is the fourth day in a row that we had daily Mass along with the Rosary Patrol. Today we said the rosary before Mass and I had a group that wanted to pray after Mass so today I got two of them said. Please keep the prayers coming, I want to finish this deployment strong all the way through it. The New Priest is happy with us, he is a very humble Priest who has a great devotion to the rosary and the Divine Mercy!!!

Friday November 16, 2007: I received another coin from the Division Surgeon today for having all my Soldier Medics trained and credentialed for EMT, C-MAST, and BLS certification. I really believe my Combat Medics are among the best we have to offer and they have done an outstanding job. Several of them have been put in for the Bronze Star.

Saturday November 17, 2007: Tonight, we will conduct our 85th formal bible study since we have been here. This has been a great ride as we have walked more than 150 miles to be at the Division Chapel. We will have some new personnel there tonight as we continue to finish strong here till we leave here.

Last night as I prepared and set up for the bible study at Division Chapel, I heard the "In Coming" call warning everyone to seek shelter as mortars were coming in. I didn't hear any explosions so I continued what I was doing. We soon had a full house when Father came in to see how we were doing when he reported that some mortars hit near where he was over on a near by camp. He told us there were casualties and wounded but he didn't know any details. I lead our group in the rosary for any casualties and wounded. Later, when I went back to our Pad, I found out that there were no casualties or wounded. That was a great blessing. I want to give God the glory and the credit for safeguarding us. Apparently some buildings were hit, but nobody was in them.

Tuesday November 20, 2007: I've got two Soldiers going to the promotion board today, please keep them in prayer to as this is a big step for them. They are the future of America!!! One of these days I will be put out to pasture, though I plan to hang tough as long as I can.

The life and times of the Catholic Defender! This morning I had two Soldiers that were going to the board so we met 45 minutes prior to make sure they were where they were suppose to be. Not long after that, I was given a message that one of our Companies needed an extra Medic to go out on a log pack, so I had to leave and make sure I had a Medic make this new mission. Ordinarily, I would have taken it but we had the board today. Taking the new Medic, I had to pull him out of the TMC leaving us short there, but I had no other choice. Well, as I was getting this squared away, I had another soldier that was suppose to fly from the 28th Cash in the Green Zone in Baghdad back here last night, but he never showed up. This is not good, so I called the Cash and found he left last night on a Rhino bus. I called where he was suppose to come in and found that he was not on any manifest. This was not good, but I had to get back to the board and found that both my troops were missing. I couldn't believe it! I finally found out they went to the Latrine as they were nervous. It was wild and crazy as we found the Soldier who came in by bus, and the two troopers made it back for the board. At the end of the day, all is well, both maxed the board, my soldier is back from the Cash, and all the missions were covered. It can get hectic, but in the end, all is well! Even got to go to Mass today after it was all said and done!!!

Wednesday November 21, 2007: This is a letter one of our Soldiers wrote concerning the Rosary Patrol, thought I would share this: " thought you all might enjoy the attached files, but a little background first, I belong to a Rosary group here at Camp Liberty started by our Medical Platoon Sergeant, SFC Donald Hartley, the Catholic Defender. At first, our Rosary group was small, but some people would attend when they could, some would come and go. Around the end of July, early August, we started incorporating the Scriptures into our routines using a little Rosary Guide booklet. Though there were only limited numbers of these guides. So, when we ran out, I looked online to order more of them. The company that distributes them, Circle Media, had an online site and I noticed they were a little pricey, $10.00 per booklet, so I ordered 10, when they arrived about a week later, inside there was an invoice with PAID stamped on it and a handwritten message: “No Charge – God Bless.” When I told the other members of my Rosary Group, which we have been calling ourselves the “Rosary Patrol,” one of our members, CPL Joe Campbell suggested we send them a thank-you note, so that’s what I did and the whole Rosary Patrol signed the note card. I didn’t think anything of it when I sent the note off. A few days ago, I received a large envelope from Circle Media, inside I found a letter from Mr. Michael Lambert, Development Officer for Circle Media (the parent company and publisher of The National Catholic Register as well as 10 issues of the Veteran’s Day issue. They printed the note we sent and sent another 15 copies of the Rosary Guide. Mr. Lambert also included an article about an experience he had while in Vietnam as a Marine. I wanted to share these with all of you. Friday November 23, 2007: Our new priest loves to pray a decade of the Rosary and a decade of the Divine Mercy after Holy Communion each and every Mass. He is a very spiritual Priest and loves the Church. Please pray for all our priests serving here in Iraq. They have a great amount of work and territory to cover and there is so few of them.

Tuesday November 27, 2007: We had 4 more traumas come into the TMC today, all of them will survive but it was still difficult. These men had their guardian angels helping them today. I really do believe in guardian angels and they do help us. Does anyone here have any angel stories?

Last night at the bible study, I had one Soldier who had converted to the Catholic Faith some time ago before he came to Iraq but had never been to confession. After the class we had the opportunity to share with him the method in which he can make a good confession. Sometimes people may not totally understand the grace and the opportunity of grace, people have in the Sacraments. Yes, he was very excited on learning what he needs to do here, how many more Catholics need to come to see the value of the confessional. I will give you a hint here, if a person knew God's grace in the confessional, they would use if often and would never abandon the Catholic faith. The problem in Latin America would solve itself outright if people knew this great grace.

Wednesday November 28, 2007: brother will be here later this week. I hope to see him Saturday if everything works that way. I hope he might be able to help if he can. There might be others I can check with who leave out of here next August. They will keep the fire burning. Today, I spoke with a fallen Catholic who is now restored to the Church!!! It took me two hours, but it was great. I've noticed something about young females today, many of them seem to push this "freedom from religion" as some of them were offended about our discussion. I've noticed this kind of reaction from them in the past from other units as well. Very curious, I wonder how many are involved in white witchcraft?

Thursday November 29, 2007: Just doodling this morning as I sat in a meeting that had nothing to do with me or the medical Platoon and I figured using what routine I've maintained I've walked about 200 miles for the Church during this deployment, spent almost 1,700 hours in actual time conducted at the bible studies, Church, and the rosary. We had hundreds of reverts, many conversions, and over a 1500 participants in our program. If you tabbed it up as far as hours, it would equate to 71 days. That constitutes about 15% of the time I served here in Iraq. This does not count the many soldiers I witnessed to during the day, at the chow hall, at the TMC, in my room, just in passing when the opportunity became available. I hope this is not a pat on my back, that is not the purpose, but I wanted to give some hard points to share with you some of the effects of your prayers. We have been a team throughout this deployment in that your prayers and sent items have helped me so much. God bless you for all the help and support. That has helped me greatly to get through this deployment. I want to take this opportunity to thank my wife Gigi for being the best wife a guy can have. She truly is my greatest gift from God. She is my soul mate!!!

Friday November 30, 2007: Today a couple of good things happened, SPC Gaines (future St. Sabastion on this board) he just doesn't know it yet, wants me to tell you hi as well as all on this board. He confessed yesterday that his wife wanted a divorce. He was upset about it and we talked awhile on it. I told him that the Rosary Patrol would remember his situation. Today, his wife reconsidered and reconciled with him today. He was much relieved. He was received into the Church about a month ago and doing well. I spoke with an Iraqi today for the Catholic Faith and they were really interested in learning more about it. It has been another good day for the home team. God bless you all! I received some rosaries today, thanks Don for the rosaries, they came in. I can receive up until the 25th of next month. Thank you and your little ones and the lady who shared with you!!!!

Saturday December 01, 2007: Had a new Soldier join us praying the Rosary. This was his first rosary ever. It has been a joy teaching Soldiers how to pray the rosary and other devotions. We have lots to do with a short time to get there. Tonight we have our Division Bible Study, I hope that SaraB's brother can make it!!!!

Sunday December 02, 2007: We had a great group last night, we went over the rosary as we had some new people present. That's awesome. We have more Soldiers going home as today was their last Mass here. We are under 48 days!!! Gigi, I can now say that I should be home next month, the Lord willing!!!

I have about 8 Soldiers that I'm working with in the RCIA, maybe the most I can do is get a letter from Father for them to have when they get back home. We have several others who are participating with the bible study. It has been a good situation having everyone come and participate as Catholics have been enjoying these evenings as much as those wanting to become Catholics.

I want to share something with you I found out today, I felt that this thread was the place to put this. Thank you all for your prayers and support: NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL TO SFC DONALD T. HARTLEY SFC Donald T. Hartley, United States Army, distinguished himself by meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States as Medical Platoon Sergeant of HHC 2-5 Cav 1BCT, 1CD, Camp Liberty, Iraq from 29 October 2006 to 4 February 2008 during combat operations conducted during OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM 06-08. SFC Hartley brought order to chaos on a daily basis. As the Medical Platoon Sergeant in support of the Riva Ridge Level II + TMC, he led trauma stabilization and rapid evacuation in support of key sectors of western Baghdad. Units operating in Khadamiyah, Ghazaliyah, Mansour and Ameriyah routinely evacuated casualties to the facility, located inside of ECP III on Camp Liberty. SFC Hartley supported the scene. He triaged patients, directed medics, supervised care, and controlled onlookers in trauma and MASCAL situations. In November, SFC Hartley led a trauma team treating a US Soldier. Responsible for maintaining an airway, he supervised a combi-tube and provided artificial ventilation until the medevac arrived. In December, a school roof fell on an Iraqi Army Company, wounding 17. SFC Hartley supported three trauma teams to respond. He triaged the 17 patients and directed medics as they stabilized and evacuated five IA soldiers, returning the remaining 12 to duty after care. In January, a Soldier arrived with bilateral leg amputations, SFC Hartley again led a trauma team, providing wound care and controlling bleeding until the medevac arrived. SFC Hartley exhibited the same steadfast leadership in treating over 375 trauma patients. SFC Hartley led the most complex Level II+ facility on the Victory Base Complex for 2-5 Cav. His agile management enabled the Riva Ridge TMC to provide outstanding medical care to over 16,000 patients. In addition to 24 hour a day emergency response, his leadership facilitated basic medical support of more than 4,000 missions and patrols outside the wire. Supporting two Forward Aid Stations with personnel and supplies of operation, supporting several JSS and OP sites, he ensured the best Medical care. SFC Hartley ensured seamless medical support on the FOB through close coordination with medical platoon sergeants throughout the brigade. He carefully managed personnel in order to support over 20 Cooperative Medical Engagements in sector while ensuring the mission at Riva Ridge TMC would not suffer. SFC Hartley’s leadership is shown in that he organized and developed a very young Platoon with newly promoted Sergeants and brand new Soldiers right out of AIT preparing and training them for Iraq. His Platoon performed at a high state of professionalism and bravery supporting 8,000 missions, patrols, log packs, saving many lives. He always met mission, yet took care of his Soldiers at the same time. His versatile leadership is a testament to the NCO Corps. CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL TO SFC DONALD T. HARTLEY FOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE DURING COMBAT OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM 06-08. HIS OUTSTANDING DEDICATION TO DUTY DURING COMBAT OPERATIONS IN IRAQ CONTRIBUTED TO THE OVERWHELMING SUCCESS OF THE COMMAND’S MISSION. HIS ACTIONS ARE IN KEEPING WITH THE FINEST TRADITIONS OF MILITARY SERVICE AND REFLECT DISTINCT CREDIT UPON HIMSELF, THE HHC 2-5 CAV 1BCT, 1CD, AND THE UNITED STATES ARMY. Well, there is actually a whole lot more, but I though some might like to see this! God bless you all!!

The bigger story is that I trained 32 young men who were just barely adults to become one of the finest Medical Platoons anywhere. These are the future of our fighting force and I am so proud of them. Some of these guys were just over 17 when I got them and today they are veterans for this great nation of our. 4 of them would become Catholic and two more would return to it. It has been my privilage to have played a part.

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