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I have been writing this letter in my head for the past thirty-eight days and now that I am back in an American firebase, I am finding it hard to put to paper the thoughts I had in my head. Guess the best thing to do is write what I am thinking just as if I were back out in the field.
The team was given an assignment to gather intelligence about our enemy and it should have taken no more that ten to fourteen days to complete. Brad, John, and I left thinking we would cross the valley, get what the intelligence officers wanted, and boogie back to base camp. Little did we know that the area they wanted us to scout was actually two valleys over from where we were. Needless to say, we were pissed. I know what my job is. I volunteered to be trained as a long range patrol commando and accept everything that I am ordered to do, but fucking hump over two mountains and through two valleys to gather intelligence is patently ridiculous. Thirty-eight fucking days to get what? I wish I could tell you but then I would have to kill you (just kidding, sweetie, you know I could and would never do anything to hurt you) and they would kill me.
As I explained to you before I left for this God forsaken country, when I go into the field I have no documents, pictures, or letters on me so in the event I get killed or captured the only information the enemy will have is my dog tags. In my minds eye, I keep my favorite picture of you sweetheart. I can see you just like you were standing opposite me and we are looking into each other eyes. It helps me to do my job, because you are the reason I live, the reason I take care of my buddies, and the reason I do what I do for a living. Every night before I try to get some shuteye, I bring the picture out of the picture album in my head and look at you while I try to rest. Sleep is impossible when you are living in the field. The constant fear that something or someone is going to creep up on you and slit your throat keeps you from falling into a deep sleep. The picture I keep of you in my head lets me relax, relieves my anxiety, calms my nerves, and allows me to reinvigorate my body to keep my teammates and myself alive.
The team has worked in the valley and the mountain opposite our base camp since we were ordered into the area. The villages and the people living in them have come to know us because we treat them with kindness and sympathy. Brad has on occasions used his limited medical knowledge to help sick men, women, and children. We are not supposed to use our limited medical and food resources on helping the indigenous people, but we cannot just walk away from them. Our enemy would kill them in a heartbeat to make the point that they were the masters of these simple people's fate. Our goal is to show them that kindness tempered with the proper force wins and the hearts and minds of the villagers are collectively unified to keep our position quiet. I know you are reading this letter wondering why the officers do not want us to get involved with the villagers considering we are supposed to be helping them, converting them to a democratic political model. Seems that if we become too close to certain individuals and they are found to be agents of our enemy it would be harder for us to kill them. Believe me; if I had a choice of dying or shooting an individual to save me or the lives of my teammates, I think you know what my choice would be. Nothing is going to keep me from coming home.
As we continued across the first valley and up the mountain, we encountered a small force of enemy troops. Our goal was to get across the valley, over the mountain, down, and trough the next valley. We decided to leave them be and noted their position for future reference. The three of us could have wrecked a bit of havoc on the enemy troops, but their number made it a bad decision. We moved ever so quietly past them and relaxed as we neared the top of the mountain. We had been to the top before, but never crossed it to the next valley. When we came to the designated crossing position and looked upon the valley stretched below each of us had to stand still and stare.