Monday, October 31, 2005

Paying Respect to Those Who've Earned It

Bruce Willis is one of the finest and most successful actors in the world. Further introduction would be redundant. Mr. Willis has been to Iraq with his band and the USO, and has been following the events in Mosul through my dispatches. He has expressed his desire to support our troops to me on numerous occasions. One need only read his website to see how strongly he feels about this:

And so, Mr. Willis wanted to personally thank American soldiers for their successes and sacrifices in Iraq, and made plans to fly to the Fort Lewis area and thank soldiers who fought so well. Mr. Willis will attend the Deuce Four Ball near Fort Lewis, on November 5th, 2005.

His gesture is being warmly and enthusiastically received by the soldiers, who are looking forward to welcoming Mr. Willis to the Fort Lewis area, and thanking him for his support for American troops.

I also have returned to the USA for the first time this year, and am greatly enjoying being in Seattle, and getting to talk again with the soldiers I lived with in Iraq. Nearly 600 soldiers were killed or wounded from the 1st Brigade (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division, while fighting in Iraq. I visited the newly-built 1st Brigade Memorial, and as I read the names of the fallen etched in the granite face of the memorial, I was humbly reminded of the great price our soldiers continue to pay for my freedom to write and to speak.

I look forward to spending the next week with American soldiers at Fort Lewis and attending the Deuce Four Ball on November 5th. Both Bruce Willis and I are honored to be invited. I will write a full report after the occasion.

The Ball will be the last time the majority of these soldiers will be together; most are being transferred to other units, while many others who were under the Army's stop-loss program will depart the service before Christmas.

I will return to Iraq immediately following the Ball, to continue to write firsthand about the dangers facing our troops and their struggles and successes.