Theodore's World: An E-Mail From Afghanistan

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August 24, 2006

An E-Mail From Afghanistan


Our son, Boots Dunlap, is a Capt. in the 1-32 Inf Battalion (nicknamed Chosin Bn.). We just got this letter to soldiers' families from the Battalion Commander. These men and women are doing a great job and spilling their blood for us at home. I hope American appreciate their sacrifice. Charlie Dunlap

Dear Chosin Family,

As you all make your way back from summer vacations and travels, I
thought I would welcome you back with some great information about your
loved ones' exploits over here in Operation Enduring Freedom.

It has been a long, hot summer here in AOR Chosin, but things are
going very well. As you know, we have perhaps the most challenging
area of responsibility in the division; the mountains are very high and
very steep, the roads and the towns are very undeveloped, and the enemy
is fighting hard to hold onto his most cherished safe haven. It is a
tough fight. To win, we have to defend the population from the enemy's
intimidation, and we have to hunt the enemy in his hiding places and
homes. This is not easy: our soldiers, unlike in other theaters, have
to live among the people we protect. Our soldiers have to spend
enormous amounts of time in the field, living daily without the
creature comforts most people consider necessities - running water,
phones, hot meals, beds. Most of all, our soldiers have to spend
enormous amounts of time in contact with the enemy, crowding him out of
his normal stomping grounds and cornering him in places we can destroy
him. And we are succeeding at this every day. This battalion has
beaten more enemy in more places in six months than most brigades do in
a whole year. We have forced the enemy out of his sanctuaries and we
have run him out of his towns and we have closed off his escape routes.

Most of all, we have separated the enemy from the people. Every day,
we fight to convince the people of Afghanistan that their best future
lies with us and with the Government of Afghanistan. We have built
roads and bridges and clinics and schools. We have conducted medical
visits that have treated thousands and thousands of people. We have
handed out eyeglasses and bookbags and more pens than we can count. We
have built hydroelectric plants, we have trained policemen, we have
conducted classes on governance. We have spoken at schools, started
sports clubs, and spent countless hours on street corners teaching kids
to do high-fives. We have saved drowned children and cared for kids
who have fallen out of trees and have worked feverishly to save the
lives of people hurt in accidents or wounded by the enemy. We have
created an incredible sense of goodwill toward us and toward the
Government of Afghanistan in this part of the world. When a 1-32
patrol comes by, people gather from all around to greet us and to
interact. As we roll up in HMMWVs, we can see children running
-sprinting-hundreds of meters across open fields just to wave at us or
to ask for a Gatorade. It is impossible to visit AOR Chosin and not
feel the affection of the people toward us. We are creating for them
the first hope for a good future that they have had in more than thirty

All of this is possible first and foremost because we are protecting
the people. The enemy preys on the local populace remorselessly, and
intimidates and beats and kills those who don't go along with them. If
we are to create hope for these people, the first step is to keep the
enemy away from them. We can't roll out, do some good, and then head
back to our bases, leaving the people to contend with the enemy for the
rest of the night. If we were to do that, merely accepting our
goodwill would bring people trouble, and believe me, these poor people
can't afford any more trouble than they've already got in their lives.
So, the most important thing we do is stay out among the people and
protect them. We are there with them - we are out in the rain and the
sun and the wind, and we are in their villages and on their roads
keeping the enemy away from them. And they know it. Over time, as the
people have realized that we are there for them, that we truly are
committed to our mission, they have come to trust us. They bring us
food, they bring us "chai," and -most of all- they bring us information
about the enemy. By being among them in the good times and the bad, we
have earned their trust, and given them the confidence to side with us
against the enemy.

The enemy sees what we are doing. He knows the people are turning
against him, and he senses that his time is slipping away. He will
strike back when he can, and he will strike where he thinks we are
absent. This is the time for us to press the fight.

The enemy will not just go away, he will need to be faced down and
chased away - by your valiant loved ones, who will continue to show the
people of Afghanistan and of America what it means to fight for right.

This doesn't come free. It takes incredible effort to remain as
committed to the mission as we have. It takes sweat, and some tears,
and -despite our best efforts-some blood. We have lost many soldiers
here, fine young men and women whose patriotism and valor is exceeded
only by the bravery they displayed in Always Placing the Mission First.

Their efforts and their sacrifice have been in the service of a just
cause, and an important one. The enemy we fight is not some strange
group of unknowns in a far-off land; this enemy is the direct enemy of
the United States, the very groups and their associates who launched
the attacks of 9/11, 2001. When we fight here, dear members of the
Chosin Family, we are fighting America's fight. We are defending the
way of life we cherish for each of you, and we are carving out the
future that we want our children to have. We are truly doing the
Nation's work in 1-32, and I very deeply believe that our sacrifice
-even the Ultimate Sacrifice-is not in vain. We are winning.

But we aren't there yet. Day in, day out, the soldiers of 1-32
continue to face and overcome obstacles that would stop any other
unit. They are led by wonderful sergeants and excellent lieutenants,
who lead by example and by their own bravery: of the dozens of Purple
Hearts earned so far in 1-32, the vast majority have been earned by
Team Leaders and Squad Leaders and Platoon Leaders who put themselves
in front, who put their own lives on the line, that they might
accomplish the mission and their men might live. And what men, what

They succeed wherever they go and whatever they do, no matter what the
odds. Your loved ones have earned for themselves a reputation as the
hardest-fighting battalion in this Division. It is impossible to take
two steps in this country without hearing tales of the daring and valor
of the soldiers of 1-32 Infantry. I hope you can understand even a
small portion of the pride we feel for the job we are doing. Your
loved ones are writing new pages in our Regiment's history, our
Division's history, and, indeed, in the history of our Army.

If I sound proud, I am. I have never, in almost twenty years of
military service, seen a battalion perform this brilliantly, for this
long, under such harsh conditions. And it is clear where the credit is
due: to the fine soldiers of this great unit, who daily display the
finest qualities of military professionalism and American citizenship.

And the credit is due to our strong families, our rocks, who wait at

It is truly the deepest privilege of my life to serve among you all.

With Respect and Affection,

Chris Cavoli


1-32 Battalion Commander

Posted by Wild Thing at August 24, 2006 01:55 AM


The 32nd Inf. Rgt of the 7th Inf. Div was decimated at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. The Marines got all the glory for their successful retreat from Chosin, but the 32nd bought the time and paid the price for the Marines.

Posted by: TomR at August 24, 2006 09:44 PM

Thank you so much Tom for telling about that. They were very special and more people should learn about that.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 25, 2006 02:10 AM