Remember how I missed my plane in Dubai because I forgot to change my watch an hour? Sunday I went to church at the same meeting time...that we used 3 months ago. So I missed church. I talked to two soldiers instead, since nothing else was going on at the chapel.
I will call this one particular soldier Specialist Stern. I told him about an older German lady I met while on vacation and mentioned that Iraq may be like Germany was after the World War II, where some Germans must have hated us and some loved us. She straigtened me out and said she didn't know anyone that did not appreciate what the Americans did and Germans understood that the heavy devastation from bombing was necessary. I asked her again but she insisted this was understood.
When I mentioned this to Stern, he said he can already see that same feeling here. They know who we are and what we are doing here and they are grateful. I was particulary impressed with Stern because of his experiences he shared with me. For just one example: they were in a council meeting with Iraqis when a man became irate and pulled out a old Saddam regime 9mm gun and started waving it in the air. Bad idea! The soldiers reacted instantly and immediately several guns were aimed at his throat. A warning shot was fired, at which point soldiers are trained to shoot first and ask questions later. They all refrained. The man was detained by Iraqi police and believe me, they will not be nice to him. This is another example of the restraint of the American soldier.
I am hoping to maintain a friendship with Stern. A good man, he is also the son of a wealthy man, has valuable holdings himself, and a girl he was about to marry before being deployed to Iraq just graduated top in her class and received a job offer starting at about $300k/year! Stern is 26. He is considering marriage to this girl but says his contract with the Army isn't complete for 2 more years. Here's where he got me: He said, "but I plan to re-enlist. I love what I do."
Can you help but being impressed with that? I love these guys.