The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
The following is an update from Sergant First Class Gary N. Jackson of La Harpe, who is serving in the United States Army in Iraq:
"Nine months into deployment to Iraq and all is going smoothly.
"The weather here is still in the low 100's so it isn't that bad for us during the day.
"The local Iraqi people are in the middle of the Ramadahn Holiday which is a 30 day period where the people fast from sun up to sun down.
"Then at the end of the 30 days they have a big feast/celebration to end the holiday.
"It has been pretty nice for us during this time because the people tend to not want to do a lot during the day because of the sunlight and heat, and the fasting. This makes it easier to ensure that all is safe on the Port.
"The only bad part of this is is that the Iraqi Security that works on the Port is also tired.
"So we have to straighten them out occasionally, but it doesn't take much motivation from us to get them to do the right thing again.
"Other than that, things on the Port are going well for us.
"We still conduct passenger screening daily with the passengers traveling to and from Syria.
"We are also responsible for the training of the employees of the Port.
"The customs security Battalion are responsible for the outer security of the Port.
"The Customs Police are responsible for the inner security and the searches of personnel and vehicles that come into the Port.
"Then there are all the other agencies that work on the Port as well such as the Passport office, Intel House, Inspectors of the cargo trucks and other offices.
"We serve as mentors for them and teach and train them the different ways to improve or better the job and over all performances of the Port.
"We are also in charge of twice a week supervising and over seeing the operation of the Rabiyah Train Station.
"It makes 2 trips a week. One day it goes from Mosul to Syria and then about 3 days later, it makes the return trip.
"The first train started running about the first of June.
"That was a pretty special ordeal since the last time a passenger train ran through Mosul to Syria was back in the early 70's.
"We are also in the middle of trying to get everything ready to come home. We should be home somewhere around the end of October first of November.
"It has been a long year over here and we are all ready to get out of here and back to the states.
"One of the problems we face is the boredom factor as it is getting closer to the time to come home but we, as a team, have kept each other in good spirits and not allowed each other to fall.
"We have driven over 2500 miles, done over 15 combat patrols and worked on the Port every day for the last nine months and have only had to deal with kidney stones, the common cold, and the not so average case of dysentery.
"We have been very lucky and blessed the whole time that we have been over here and pray that it will hold out for us for the remaining time we have.
"We appreciate all the prayers and support from our family and friends back home. There are no words that express our gratitude.
"People ask me a lot, How do you do it? Why do you do it? It's easy:
"With God's protection and the support of my family and friends. I enjoy what I do and I am happy to serve this country.
"And if you ask me the wives and families have it harder than we do.
"They have to be mom, dad, the handy man around the house, the accountant, the taxi driver, and everything else that goes on daily.
"And not knowing what is going to go on from day to day. We over here have each other: Our Team
"We have our schedule and we do it day in and day out every day.
"So, if you ask me, give the praise to my wife and all the other wives and families at home who don't know what the next day will bring.
"We love you all and appreciate all the support you give.
SFC Gary N Jackson
COP Heider, Rabiyah, Iraq