Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Troops Send Love to Family from Baghdad

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Troops Send Love to Family from Baghdad

Article excerpt

More than 400 Florida Army National Guard soldiers from Jacksonville and Pensacola are deployed to Iraq as the 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, responsible for operating communications equipment throughout the country.

The battalion, one of seven expeditionary signal battalions in the entire Army, left Florida in early October to train at Fort Bliss, Texas, before heading to Iraq. The soldiers handle equipment that transmits data, voice, video teleconferencing and secures the Internet, allowing commanders and coalition forces to communicate with each other.

Here are some of their letters home from Camp Victory, Iraq, for the holidays.


Merry Christmas! It is almost unbearable to be away from you during this holiday season. However it comforts me to think how men through the ages have left to fight for what they believe in. I think about the American Civil War and how the Soldiers were gone for years with little to no contact. Ugh. I miss you, darling, and I love you. I thank you for all your support. The saying really is true ... behind a strong man is a stronger woman. Without our faith and your support, this would be a million times more difficult. Enjoy that world-class turkey your mom makes. Tell everyone that I love them and that I am safe. I wish you could be here ... it sure makes me appreciate our life together. Can't wait to be back home.

May the Reason for the Season bring you peace.

Unrelenting Love,


(From Staff Sgt. James "Jay" Deen to his wife, Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Deen)

Merry Christmas and a great holiday season to Jacksonville area family (Hicks, Soles, Matovinas, Hagans), friends (Forbes, OPE staff, Horsey Friends) and OPE Students!

Iraq's weather makes me feel like I'm at home until I look on the Internet and see you are at up to 80 degrees. We top out around 60 right now! Santa will come here before he thinks about the Jacksonville area!

All the countries' representatives here are very polite to each other. I spoke to a man from Uganda yesterday. He spoke very good English, but my ears needed tuning to his accent. He indicated that Christians in his country do celebrate Christmas in a similar way that we do.

Last night I bought myself a present: a used bicycle! I have walked many miles so far, so a bike will be a welcome upgrade.

Take care of each other! I'm doing fine here, to include the enjoyment of Soldier Boxes sent from many groups.

Have a great holiday season and let's start the New Year out with peace and prosperity!

Love to all, Donna Hicks

(From Chief Warrant Officer Donna Hicks to her friends and family in Jacksonville)

Hey guys,

It's Shawn. First off I would like to say Merry Christmas to you all! Well, we have been in Iraq for about 3 weeks now and so far everything is just fine. …

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