My Personal ‘Iraqi Freedom’ Hero Is Coming Home!

My friend Omar emailed me a few days ago, and this is what he had to say:

Dear (n2l) Hi,
How are you my friend and how is every body down there in big D, I’m doing well, I just came back from my last mission, and I’m working to do some paper work and head back home, I should be back in Dallas by mid April.
————-
I just finished my five years in Iraq, and it is time for me to take a long leave, do some thing El’s(sp=else), and see my old friends so be ready for me and I want to learn how to capture a fish and drink beer at same time, I will give you a call when I get back.

Omar and I have known each other for about fifteen years. Born and raised in the Kurdish city of Erbil, he had to flee Iraq as a young man, as he refused the order to enlist in Saddam’s Army; a death sentence was the response for refusing. Leaving his beloved Kurdistan, and his remaining family behind, he first went to Germany, then finally to the U.S. As you can imagine, it was a difficult transition, with only some acquaintances to help, as he had to learn the language, the culture, and acquire a job. He overcame all those obstacles, and despite his achievements, he often confided in me with a far away look in his eyes, how his heart ached to be back in the mountains of Kurdistan, to live a simple life in his own country, without fear of being murdered by a murderous tyrant.
After the events of 11 Sep 01, the response to the Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan, and Saddam’s continued recalcitrance in complying with the UN and it’s member nations, the new approach by President Bush of “preemption” was welcomed by many of us, instead of the repeated terrorist attacks of previous years, with no response at all. As President Bush began pushing the UN to disprove what we all knew, that it was an irrelevant debating society, and he began to make the case for forcing Saddam to comply with the UN, or face removal, we could all feel the telegraphing of a round house punch. Omar and I, along with some of our friends, would discuss the situation, and we all agreed that Saddam would never capitulate, and he would rather see his entire country destroyed, than give in to the demands of the UN or it’s member nations. The stage was set, the lights were on, and we all knew what acts would follow, before the “full figured” woman wearing the Viking helmet would sing. As the run-up to the re-invasion of Iraq gained momentum, and our Armed Forces began deploying to Kuwait, and various other countries, in anticipation of the conflict, Omar became more excited, and often would comment on how much he wished he could be involved in helping liberate Iraq from Saddam, and his sadistic regime.
One day, he informed me that the State Department was accepting applications for those fluent in Arabic, that might qualify for positions as interpreters with our Armed Forces, and that he was applying. A little time went by, and he was called in for an interview, and when I next saw him, he was very dejected, as he believed he had done very poorly in the interview. He was down, and inconsolable, despite my repeated attempts to reassure him that he didn’t know that for certain. About another week, or longer, went by and I received a phone call from Omar on a Monday morning, and he excitedly asked me where I was, that he wanted to make certain he saw me before he left for Washington on Wednesday morning. I was shocked and thrilled for him, his wish had come true, and he indeed would be a part of ridding Iraq, and the world, of the “Butcher of Baghdad.” I told him that I had appointments all day, and on Tuesday, that regardless, I would definitely, most assuredly, and without a doubt, see him before he flew out of DFW International. It took until a few hours before his flight, but I got to see Omar off at DFW, and he was vibrating with excitement, he looked ten years younger, he had a fresh haircut, his shoes were shined, his slacks were freshly pressed, and he had on a new sport shirt. He looked marvelous! With much emotion, we embraced, and I told him to keep his head down, and to watch his “six” at all times, and also that I was so very proud of him for what he was doing.
On 8 Apr 03, Omar was in his hometown of Erbil for it’s liberation, one day before Baghdad fell. He had been attached to the Joint Special Forces Task Force-North, and when he came home for two weeks leave in ’04, it was great to see him, and he proudly showed me the letters of commendation he had received from his squad leader and unit commander.
Over the course of the next four years, he has been able to come home briefly on leave, once for medical reasons, related to heat stroke he suffered, due to the 125 degree heat, body armor, and other gear, and he has been wounded twice from IED blasts, but he has continued to go on patrols and raids, for all these five years. He has been involved in capturing foreign fighters, the “Surge” in Baghdad, and most recently, in the various Ops in Diyala province, trying to rid the area of Al Qaida, as well as stemming the flow of weapons from Iran.
Omar is not a young man, he is closer to sixty than he is to twenty, yet the physical and psychological demands asked of him, he was able to meet, as an American citizen “terp” was always in demand by our Forces, as they were considered more trustworthy than a local national.
I look forward to having my good friend come home safely and whole, to be reunited with his family and friends, and to live a life in peace, that includes the knowledge of having his wishes for so many years come true, and of a job very well done.
Omar, it is no longer HOKAHEY…it’s a good day to die!
For you my friend, in the words of Chief Joseph:

From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.

See you soon Omar, and just for the record, it is “catching” fish.

MSU Bulldogs feast on Duck Soup

rhodes.jpg

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP)Charles Rhodes (photo) kept Mississippi State in the game. When his teammates finally started helping, the Bulldogs rallied past Oregon.

And it didn’t hurt that the Ducks suddenly lost their shooting touch.

Rhodes scored a career-high 34 points and the eighth-seeded Bulldogs came back from a 13-point second-half deficit for a 76-69 victory over ninth-seeded Oregon on Friday night.

Mississippi State trailed 41-28 after Malik Hairston’s 3-pointer at the start of the second half, but Oregon didn’t make another 3 until the final seconds, finishing 9-for-38 and 2-of-21 after halftime.

Rhodes scored six straight points to start the Bulldogs’ rally – part of an 8-0 run that cut the lead to five. Mississippi State then fell behind by nine before Barry Stewart made a 3-pointer with just over 13 minutes remaining – the Bulldogs’ first of the game after 12 straight misses.

Until that shot, only four players had scored for Mississippi State. Stewart went on to make three more 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.

Stewart’s third 3 pulled the Bulldogs within one at 52-51. Rhodes then put Mississippi State (23-10) ahead with a dunk.

The Bulldogs finally took control with Stewart’s final 3-pointer, which gave them a 66-60 lead. He was so open in front of the Mississippi State bench that coach Rick Stansbury discretely pointed to him, and Jamont Gordon eventually threw him the ball.

The Bulldogs are making their fifth NCAA tournament appearance under Stansbury. He’s now taken them to the second round four times, but never further than that.

Malik Hairston scored 22 points for Oregon, but when the Ducks (18-14) stopped making outside shots, their offense went into disarray. That was the case for most of the second half.

World Famous Friday Open Pickle Thread

Today’s WFFOT pays homage to culinary wizardry of the Speedshop Deli, creator of the World Famous “Nuke Gingrich” Pickle, located in Bend, Oregon (recently admitted to the Free State of Jefferson).

Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's OasisIt is especially apropos today, as Nuke’s alma mater, the Mississippi State Bulldogs tangle with the Oregon Ducks this evening in the NCAA’s.

Since I didn’t see it on the Speedshop menu, I’ll offer this recipe for some tasty “Duck Soup” in honor of our opponent in this evening’s contest in Little Rock.

Ingredients: * 2 to 3 wild ducks, * 1 package of crab and shrimp boil or bottle, * 2 cups garlic butter
Directions: 1 Boil ducks in large pot with crab and shrimp boil for one hour, sticking fork in ducks to allow the shrimp boil to penetrate meat. 2. After boiling, put duck into oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. 3 Baste with garlic butter while cooking…

Also, this tasty one-liner from Duck Soup

Mrs. Teasdale: Your excellency, the ambassador’s here on a friendly visit. He’s had a change of heart.
Rufus T. Firefly: A lot of good that’ll do him: he’s still got the same face.

This is the World Famous Friday Open Thread. A free speech zone. Comments, questions, recipes, predictions, and track-backs are welcome.

WFFOT: To boldly go where no thread has gone before!

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