SOUND OFF: Greetings from the war zone

At approximately 04:45 this morning (somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea) hostilities between U.S. Forces and Iraq commenced.

As I was waking up to help supervise the administering of the Navy-wide advancement examination for our young men and women sailors, the president was about to address the nation for a second time during this short week of uncertainty.

Many of my shipmates were fast asleep, unaware of the events unfolding in Iraq. Mixed emotions came over me. One of great relief that we finally began the conflict (war) we have trained so hard for these past couple of months. The squadron has been preparing for several months as has the Carrier Task Force in preparation to carry out the Commander in Chief’s decision.

At the same time, sadness came over me knowing that our young and old Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen would yet again be called on to liberate an oppressed nation from a cruel dictator.

The world of popular opinion wasn’t on our side this time as in the last time we faced off in the desert. Sad, because even with all the evidence that had been presented to the world, the world has chosen to turn a blind eye. Sad, because the Iraqi people once again must suffer because the leadership of their nation has failed to comply with U.N. resolution 1441.

My Sailors and Marines have trained to put on display to America and the world why we are the best at what we do. These fine Sailors and Marines come from all walks of life in America, the heartland, rural America, the big cities and our wonderful hometown of Oak Harbor.

We are presently on the cutting edge of the war. Our aircrews have begun flying in harm’s way as you read this letter. My prayer as is the nation’s is to see every one of them return safely to the carrier and eventually home to their families.

As for those of us who remain aboard we watch with great anticipation for the safe return of our squadronmates. We know in our hearts that we have provided the finest aircraft available to them. Your father, mother, son, daughter, aunt, uncle are America’s best!

I would ask that you support our efforts to resolve this conflict quickly and with little devastation as necessary on both sides.

Many will disagree with my views about our actions but, to those that oppose my view I salute you for your resolve. Why do I salute you, who oppose my view? Because that’s what makes America great! She has been tested during the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, again during September 11th. America will prevail yet again!

If you can’t see why America is great I’m truly sorry, because our Constitution is a living document; we are a nation of mixed diversity. We have succeeded where others have failed.

Be proud, be strong, but most of all be aware that the Constitution has granted you these rights to disagree without fear. Not many nation’s in the world can say that.

Tonight as we fight on in Iraq and Afghanistan, take a moment to say a short prayer for our brave young men and women going into harm’s way.

I can assure you, they are thinking about you. God Bless America, her people, but most of all our Sailors and Marines who answer this nation’s call.

This dispatch is from NAS Whidbey’s CMCDM Francis “Bags” Bagarella, who is with VAQ-130 aboard an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea.

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