Soldier’s mother shares son’s Iraqi insight

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2003

For most Greenvillians, the conflict in Iraq is worlds away. But for those with family members serving there, the region is on their minds virtually every day.

That is certainly true of Brenda and Charles McCormick, whose son Jason, 26, is stationed in Baghdad right now. He is a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne Field Artillery Division, which was deployed on February 13.

The McCormicks only means of communication with their son has been primarily through the letters they receive from him periodically.

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&uot;We receive letters from him at odd intervals, sometimes I will get two in one day that are dated from the previous month,&uot; Brenda McCormick said. &uot;But we still worry. It’s hard; we hear stories about soldiers getting killed every day.&uot;

But Brenda said she is proud of her son because he is helping the Iraqi people. The soldier’s mother was even prouder after she received a recent missive from Jason that included a letter from an Iraqi woman.

&uot;She gave the letter to him on the street one day while he was on patrol in the streets of Baghdad,&uot; McCormick said. &uot;He said the woman’s daughter wrote it for her. He wanted me to share her letter with the people at home; he thought it sent a good message to those who have doubts about the war.&uot;

Here is the letter Jason received from the Iraqi woman:

&uot;Greetings. I would like to thank you, Coalition force. You are really brave hero and brave men. You toppled Saddam’s regime. But you didn’t arrest him, please don’t leave us alone. Arrest him and kill him, he is devil, tyrant and criminal.

I’m Shiite woman. Suddam insulted every person in Iraq. So I in behalf of all men and women of Iraq, I hail you. Saddam killed 14 men belong to my tribe. They are my relatives. If you come back to your homeland without killing Saddam, I’m ready to go with you. We don’t prefer to stay in Iraq and Saddam still alive. His existence with us prevents us from expressing our feelings freely now.

They are some persons in Iraq are still support Saddam, don’t care for their activities. They are coward and silly. We advise you to kill them. Go on we ask you to bless and protect you. Send our greetings to President Bush.&uot;

Brenda thought the letter was heart-wrenching for her.

&uot;I couldn’t imagine living a life of desperation,&uot; she said. &uot;To write a letter like that and give it to someone. I thought it was a very touching letter.&uot;

Jason explains his feelings further in another letter to his family:

&uot;It really helps when people back home appreciate what you’re doing. Some will protest just to protest, but the Iraqi people are happy that we’re here, so I’m happy.

They need help. Kids here are so thankful for the smallest things. I gave one some candy, and he just waved, turned around and walked back home. When he got there he told his whole family. I was watching him through my binoculars. He turned and waved from his yard.

Every morning him and his sister take the lamb to the pasture. I think he’s six and she’s 11 or 12. They live a simple life.

Brenda said that Jason has befriended some of the Iraqi children; something she specifically told him not to do.

&uot;I told him not to get near any children because you don’t know what’s going to happen,&uot; she said. &uot;That’s the first thing he did.&uot;

One of the children Jason befriended is called Mustafa. Jason writes about him in another letter to his parents:

&uot;He doesn’t speak much English at all. He lives here at the water treatment plant. We have to guard the plant because of all the looters, but now it’s like our home. We have showers, A/C, TV, we eat local food on a regular basis. I had lamb. It was OK, but actually, it was nasty.

About the little boy, everyone here calls him my stepson, even though we can’t really talk; we still have fun. I taught him how to brush his teeth. He had lots of plaque on his teeth, so I got him a toothbrush and paste, and took him to the bathroom and showed him how to brush. It was so funny.

Now he comes up to me and shows me his teeth and they look so much better. Most people have terrible teeth here. Maybe he will be okay.&uot;

Despite her pride in her son’s service, Brenda said she hopes he is able to come home soon.

&uot;Jason isn’t sure when he will be sent back,&uot; she said. &uot;My other sons, Senior Master Sergeant Michael Cone and Tech Sergeant Scott Cone, were deployed to Jordan in March, but have recently returned to the states. They are with the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery.&uot;