Friday, May 26, 2006

Unsung Heroes

There will undoubtedly be many diaries here offering tribute to the fallen warriors as well there should be. But I hope you’ll permit me to sing the praises of another group of unsung hero’s?

As a former Marine and a life long patriot I know what this day means to me, my family, and every fallen Americans loved ones across the sands of time. There is no greater sacrifice than giving your life for principles and ideas that are greater than yourself, and that’s just what the good men and women of the armed forces and their civilian contractors are doing in the ongoing war on terror.

Which brings me to the point of this pontification and the subject of this tribute: The American Contractor

These brave men and women put their life on the line everyday supplying our mighty military with the necessities needed to conduct daily operations. These necessities include, but are not limited to, fuel, water, ice, meals and the Mail. The largest contractor is KBR which has 700 trucks rolling across Iraqi on any given day and drive more than 3.3 million miles a month in order to transport fuel and supplies for the U.S. Army.

Civilian contractors work alongside the troops in dangerous conditions, but Halliburton/KBR employees have also had to endure political derision from home and I believe every civilian working in Iraq needs and deserves support from Americans!

Here’s an excerpt from a story titled The Trucker’s War: On the Road in Iraq

Private contractors are America’s shadow army in Iraq; essential, but often forgotten. Among the most vulnerable: Civilian truck drivers who navigate the most dangerous roads in the world, delivering everything from meals to mail to bullets to portable toilets.

The truckers face ambushes unarmed. At least 63 of them have died. Twenty-four were Americans, the rest were third-country nationals.

And it goes on to tell about a day in the life:

Imagine yourself in the cab of a truck bouncing along a highway in Iraq. Palm trees and dun-colored houses whiz past. Children run out to beg. Men in white dishdashas and red headscarves with hostile faces watch you pass.

You swerve to miss a donkey carcass; it could be booby-trapped. Suddenly, a familiar sound: the pop, pop, pop of machine-gun fire. You hope the soldiers in the Humvees escorting your convoy shoot back.

You pray the flak vest you’re wearing stops an AK round, because the truck you’re driving is not armored.

Above all, you tell yourself, “Don’t stop.” There are bad guys out there who want to pull you out and cut your head off.

Then suddenly there’s a sharp concussion, black smoke, chaos. An IED on the left side of the road. You say a quick prayer and you move on.

It’s another day on the job of a truck driver for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It’s such an unusual type of job,” says driver Scott Hodges. “For the people who do it and are successful at it, there’s a real kinship, there’s a real brotherhood there.”

Michael Vick says young Iraqi rock throwers “can hit inside your cab while you’re moving at 50 miles an hour.”

While the civilian death toll is relatively low compared to the military the sacrifice is no less meaningful. Like most of you who have served this great nation, a piece of me/you dies every time you hear of a military death, as well as the deaths of those civilian contractors who work so closely with us to insure victory.

So I would respectfully ask all of you while you’re at your BBQ’s, picnics, parties, and celebrations to take a moment to remember these brave Americans who’ve given their lives for the noblest of causes… FREEDOM ! ! !

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