Mike's brother, Bill, is a 1st Lt. in the Marine Corps and is a Huey (helicopter) pilot. He set off to Iraq for the second time back in February. His time there is more than halfway over at this point. We are anxiously awaiting his return home in September. He will have five months to spend here before he goes back again for yet another seven months.
In a previous post several months ago, I had promised to post updates as I got them. The following is an e-mail I received from Bill last week:
First of all, let me apologize for being so bad at sending out emails this year! Time sure flies when you are out here. I think it is a combination of the "Groundhog Day" effect and the long days. We are just over half way finished with this deployment and I thought it would be a perfect time to send an update to you all and let you know how everything in Iraq is going.
Needless to say summer has arrived. The temps are breaking 115 everyday and it is getting drier and drier. The wind doesn’t help. It is very hot and just amplifies the heat. When I left last August it was 130 degrees, so at least we have that to look forward to. The flying has been good, not nearly as exciting as last year, but that is a good thing. I have been progressing in the squadron fairly quickly and picked up both my Aircraft Commander and my Section Leader designations. The first means that I am trusted to fly and fight with my own aircraft and the other means that I can lead a section of two aircraft on missions. The flight time has been good. I am hoping to break 1000 hours of flight time before we head home sometime in September. I am still on the same midnight to noon shift and I think my body just got accustomed to the strange hours. Better late than never I suppose. I am looking forward to heading home here in a couple of months. It will be a quick turnaround again, we are coming back here next year, but it will be great to relax for a few months. I am looking forward to having a nice dinner and sleeping for about a week. An added bonus is that it will still be beach weather for another month or so before it starts getting cool so I will take advantage of that. There is a lot I want to fit in that five months and I am going to do my best to pack it all in.
As far as the war in general goes, I think that we are doing some good. Every month that goes by we are seeing more Iraqis taking over some part of their own destiny. The Iraqi security forces are coming along and in a few years I am sure they will be almost self-sustaining. Personally, I think the worst thing we can do is have a whole scale withdrawal out of here and leave these people high and dry. I don’t think Iraq will ever be a world power or an economic powerhouse, but I do think we can get it to be stable enough where the Iraqi people wont have to rely on the US for its security or have to worry about being terrorized by the foreign fighter population. I think the big difference between this year and last is that the Iraqis are tired of being intimidated by the terrorists and are fighting back. I think the movement will spread and they will take that much more ownership of their lives. There is a long way to go, but it is still getting better.
I hope all is well with each of you back in the states. When you get a chance, drop me a line and let me know how you are doing.