Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

Hello to all my blog readers!

She's baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Yup, I am home now from my sunny vacation in the Caribbean, where I had a wonderful time feeding iguanas, jet-skiing, taking a catamaran around the British Virgin islands, and sipping fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas. Yummy!

Thank-you Catherine Moy for keeping everyone up-to-date with your jam-crammed posts (and kick-ass blogs about the moonbats who drive us all slightly crazy!)

It wasn't easy getting home, in fact it  was quite aggravating in returning back to the mainland because of the nasty weather on the Eastern Seaboard that caused flight delays, which resulted in my family missing our connection in Miami.

Being a Type A personality, (Reese Witherspoon and I have SO much in common) so I had to bite my lip and lean into the situation.

As a result, I was not able to attend the California GOP convention in San Francisco where I was scheduled to speak on a panel about the future of Talk Radio.

My apologies to everyone who expected to see me there.

Meanwhile, my good friend Megan Ortagus of Freedoms Watch sling-shot her way out of the Beltway of insider nay-sayers to put her eyeballs on the ground in Iraq and has filed a report that I want to share with you.

(Actually, this is a photo of Megan's identical twin sister Morgan, who works for the State Department. Close enough!)

Reporting from a U.S. military base in Kuwait

Private Ryan is a name most Americans associate with Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning picture about a fictional paratrooper from the 101st Airborne Division; his three brothers are tragically killed in WW II and General George C. Marshall orders a grieving mother’s last son to be returned home from France.

I had the privilege of meeting an actual Private Ryan today in Kuwait. Private Tim Ryan and I met over a distinctly American meal – McDonalds – while prepping for transport into the red zone of Iraq. Private Ryan will deploy to a kinetic area of operation where he will lead convoys through the rugged terrain, dealing with deadly I.E.D.s on the way, and working with the Iraqi Security Forces to protect the local population.

As we snacked on chocolate milkshakes and fries, the clarity of his conviction struck me. “I’m living my dream,” he gushed, “this is what I was born to do.”

I can confirm that life in Kuwait might not typically be described as a “dream” by most American standards.  But Private Ryan explained that his dream, not unlike many of the other soldiers I spoke with today, stemmed from a deep desire held since boyhood to serve his country in a combat zone – and make his grandfather proud.

Private Ryan told me of his family life in Southern California, proudly sharing memories of his highly decorated grandfather (two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart) who served as an Army medic in World War II.  And he explained how his friends seemed to no longer understand him.

His most telling anecdote concerned his leave time in Orange County, California. While en route home - in uniform - he stopped in Maine and Dallas, where he was met with applause and hugs from grateful strangers who thanked him for his service.  But the reception in his affluent California neighborhood was quite different. Instead of warm, welcoming greetings, he was met with ambivalence and cautious stares.

I asked Private Ryan why the country seemed so harshly divided over the war. “Well, I think the American people are misinformed when they say they support the troops but not our war.” I asked him to define the U.S. mission in Iraq. “For me, it’s providing peace; if we leave, these gangster terrorists will destroy these people.”

I’d say Private Ryan has a better grasp of what is at stake in Iraq than all the politicians and pundits in Washington.  While policymakers talk of political reconciliation, timelines, mission changes, and war funding, Private Ryan gets to real issue and defines in stark terms the dire consequences of a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.  Early withdrawal would lead to utter chaos and a military/strategic defeat for the United States.

Private Ryan urged me to share one final thought: he asks for us all to have faith in our military leadership and in the mission. He reminded me that he volunteered for this duty and fighting for American and Iraqis freedom was his life’s highest honor.

“Megan, we’re not just kicking up a bunch of sand over here.”

Well said, Private Ryan.

Megan Ortagus is the Freedom's Watch Iraq Project Director, and will be posting periodically from Iraq throughout the week.  Please check back often for further updates from her trip.