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The Catholic Defender: Mission Complete, Finally Home January 18, 2008

Friday December 28, 2007: I've been working with our replacements getting them ready to take on the challenges we faced. In the course of today, I was able to talk to two of them about the faith. One of them, the person taking my place, went to the Rosary and Mass today. That was a good beginning for him. I hope he carries through and helps out. He has some things to learn and I feel that he has the potential to go forward. The other guy was wanting to be a Protestant Minister but I found he was a former Catholic. We talked for about two hours today and I think I totally have him in turmoil as he is taking me seriously.

Saturday December 29, 2007: I was able to talk to about three people today who had left the Church but was able to gain their interest through the song "Twelve Days Of Christmas"! I remember last year how we maintained each day of Christmas. Today the "Five Golden Rings" representing the first five books of the bible. We have been keeping up with the days again this year. It helps as we count down to the last day here!!! God bless you all and Merry Christmas day 5!!!

Sunday December 30, 2007: Today I found a replacement for the 20:30 Bible Study, I am so relieved because the program will continue. I have three new people who want to become Catholic that will begin coming at this Bible Study. Easter Vigil will be in March so there is precious little time now. I was able to witness to a Soldier from Ft. Sill Oklahoma who will seek to become Catholic last night. He watched two of the DVD's last night at the TMC. I was there showing these to Soldiers until 24:30 last night. Today is "Six Geese a-laying", can anybody recall what that signified?

Monday December 31, 2007 2-5 Cav Bandaid Ops

Early on in the Operation Iragi Freedom (OIF 06-08) deployment, I was supporting the Scouts as a Platoon Medic. It was an opportunity for me to see some of the missions the Scouts were conducting and what were expected from our Medics to support these missions. During one particular mission, I was waiting in the vehicle as the Scouts were speaking to the leading Shieks of the community. CPT Scarleta called for me after about 10-15 minutes into the meeting to help out the Shieks Daughter who had suffered some burns on her legs. I was asked to take a look at the burns, upon inspection I found that the burns were about three days old and that there were no signs of infection noted. I placed some kerlex on the area to help keep dirt out of the affected areas. After completing the short mission, I was invited to take part in some food they had prepared. This was when I began to see the need to have something setup for the medics to use to treat civilian Iraqi’s as we interacted with them in these missions. I found that working with my aid bag was insufficient and so I began to plan what could be used to create a kit for such opportunities. After putting together some ideas and some particular items for a packing list, I approached our Battalion Surgeon, CPT Moolji about what we could do to initiate some kind of support our medics could handle at the Platoon level. Because of the previous attempted MEDCAPS, he felt this was a good idea. He approved the packing list with some modifications that the medic can use for the medic level treatment such as Tylenol 325 m.g., Sudafed, cough medicine, Motrin, burn creams, Bacitracin, and several dressings to name a few on the list. As we were working this out I contacted Brigade with our plan. Their concern was using American items and brands and they encouraged us to use Iraqi made brands. This I did, originally I wanted a kit made for each Company to include PSD, Scouts, and Mortars. However, the Scouts were attached to E Company and the Mortars were attached to D Company so we made four kits that were made available for the Companies to plan for their missions. The kits proved to be an asset as the Companies began to utilize the Medics to conduct what was coined as “Band aid Ops” to the program. This would become valuable to gain information from local Iraqis as they went from mission to mission. It became a good humanitarian opportunity. It also served to help identify families with special needs. I began to see the same children as parents would bring them to me hoping we could help them. Many of these children we were seeing had birth defects and congenital issues I could not help. I was simply able to listen to the parents and offer some hope referring them to American and Iraqi sources. Despite having problems with the Iraqi Department Of Health due to their internal issues between the Sunni’s and Shiite tribal conflicts, we continued to pursue help for these families. It did seem like there was a wall keeping the people hopeless who consistently came to any MEDCAPS and Band Aid Ops they could come to. We kept plugging away at it and recently I was informed that some of these children were recently taken to Syria where Israeli Doctors were able to help some of them. My Medics, in the course of several thousand missions, have affected in a positive way, thousands of Iraqi’s I believe influencing a shift in local public Iraqi opinion towards American support and away from Al Queda. Not long after this, several Iraqi Volunteers began to come out in support of American troops disavowing the extremism of the Islamic Terrorists. The last report was that we had over 1800 Volunteers helping us with keeping the Terrorists out of their communities. The attack on Americans have decreased considerably the past few months noted by the press. The greatest impact in the country seems to be where the 2-5 Cavalry had been conducting their missions. Since the War began in 2003, we were about 90% kinetic and about 10% humanitarian. Today, it has turned around greatly as our focus has shifted to the humanitarian causes winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. The “Band Aid Ops” and the 2-5 Medics have played an important role in the overall success of these humanitarian missions.

Thursday January 03, 2008: I was speaking to our Battalion Commander recently and he is very happy with the way the Medics have handled the humanitarian role in Iraq!!! He feels that we have saved untold lives. That means a great deal to me. I think we have made a difference and participated in winning this war!!!! I've not heard much from the media attacking us lately.

Saturday January 05, 2008: The faithful Apostles!!! Today is the 12th day of Christmas representing the twelve doctrines of the Apostles Creed. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I have six days left and a wake up. Tonight I conducted the Last Bible Study tonight. It was great to have played a part in all that has happened there this last 15 months. I have one more Bible Study this coming Tuesday evening. God bless you all!!!

Tuesday January 08, 2008: Tonight is our last bible study, there should be a good group there tonight, I plan to show the Early Church Fathers one last time for the new crowd!!! I have four more daily Rosaries that we can participate in, it does look like we have people that will be able to carry on the mission!!! They also have access to me through AKO and DCF!!!

Wednesday January 09, 2008: Last night should be my last Bible Study at Warrior Chapel. It went very well last night. I had a soldier who came last night hearing about it from a friend. Afterwards he came up to me telling me that he was an Non-Denominational but now want's to be Catholic!!!! I told him I would meet with him today at noon for any questions he might have. Plus we will pray the Rosary!!! God is soooo Good!

Today, I had a unique experience, I went to Division Headquarters to see the Division Surgeon's office concerning a matter when I found myself waiting for someone from that office who was helping me. I met this Captain that I had never seen before when I asked him a question to strike up a conversation. I asked him if he was from nearby Horton Kansas which shocked him because he really was from there. I really surprised my own self as I told him he was raised a Baptist. He really was raised a Baptist. Wow, then I asked him about his wife being a strong Catholic. By this point his mouth dropped open and he was wondering how I was able to talk about his past like this. Then I interjected that he liked baseball and we spoke about that for a minute. We talked about the Church for almost 40 minutes when I took his email address. I think he was definitely interested in looking at the Church!!!! I was just having fun but I truly didn't know these things, but I had him pegged!! Tonight I had the chance to speak with an Iraqi interpreter who asked me to speak with someone they know who want's to be baptized. This person is considered a Muslim, but would rather be a Christian. I will talk with him tomorrow. I also had the chance to speak with an Iraqi Communist tonight. That was interesting, I hope that I planted a good seed or two!!!

Friday January 11, 2008: Can you believe that it is snowing in Iraq? It sure is! It has been snowing now for a good while. The bad thing is that it is muddy all over the place, but I'd rather it be snowing as opposed to raining. The Battalion Commander gave us a good speech this morning about the effect our unit played in the transformation of the war here and how we are now winning it. Thank you all for your prayers for us as I believe that is crucial. I thank God for the Rosary Patrol as prayer makes a difference, gotta have it!

I may have been extended for a short period of time. I should be at the Bible Study tonight. That is a blessing, but it is good to know that I should be home this time next week, Lord willing!!! Thank you all for your prayers and support!!!

Saturday January 12, 2008: Thank you so much!!! God is so good! I was just speaking with Landminer (new board member) and he was telling me when it snowed yesterday, that was the first time in Baghdad in 100 years. That is really wild. Kind of like snowing in New Orleans!!!

Friday January 18, 2008: The Catholic Defender is now safe and sound sitting here at the den of the Catholic Defender, very much home! The next few days will be spent quietly at home recuperating from the long trip and to take in all that has happened. I want to send a huge thanks to all of you who were spiritually following us in this mission. Your prayers and support meant a great deal to me and the troops. To God be the glory!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, this ends the experience in Irag beginning October 2006 to January 2008.

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