Friday, September 21, 2007

"Surrounded" A Letter From a Soldier

Number three in a series of letters from SGT Daniel Nuoffer

Dear Mr. Lewis
I am sorry for the delay between letters. I write as I can and as things come about. Some of these stories come as a shock to others I tell. Some say, "How could that happen? How do you deal with all that stress? Do you ever break down? What is it like?"
Some people think that Iraq would be the furthest place away from God- very little if any Christians. Bibles are illegal for the public to own. Up until now the penalty for owning one was death, no questions asked. Its hot, dusty, dirty, full of hate from years of wars, really not a place that a Christian would go looking for God. But it is hard to miss him here. I have been several times to the house of Father Abraham not 3 miles away from one of the forward observation bases South of Baghdad. Babylon is here and all kinds of things that remind you that Jesus, God's only son, was here in this area. All around me, God is here. So, now back to the questions.
"How could this happen?" Read the bible- it says that this area will be at war 'till the end of days. How do you deal with the stress? 2 ways: 1. I know that there are prayer warriors at home right now praying for me and that gives me hope and calms my spirit. 2 I answer to a higher power and he is my strength. Psalms 91 before I go on mission every time.
"Do you ever break down?" Yep. I am not going to lie to you. This is not an easy job and sometimes I need to take a knee and let some tears out. Knowing you are hurting someone is being hurt, is never easy, even if they are the enemies of freedom.
"What is it like?" That is the hard one and no matter how well I explain it to you Sir, you could never fully understand unless you were here with me.
I was on a mission to a base North of Baghdad. We were escorting heavy equipment trucks (HET) . They are larger than 18 wheelers- Very big and very slow, top speed is about 45 mph. On this mission, we got a redirect to another post. So, we had to turn at the base North of Baghdad and go in to Baghdad. We move at night and try to go as fast as we can. While on the mission we came on an Iraq Army check point (friendly). They divide the road with very large concrete barriers to check vehicles as they pass. Sometimes for these HETs there is not a lot of space to get through and movement slows way down. I am the rear Gun truck and I have to listen to the radio at all time to know what I need to do in the back. 2 HETs had made it past the check point. But the 3rd HET, also the convoy commander’s truck (CC), was having trouble and stopped. Over the net I hear, "SHOT FIRED! 3, now 7!" I called for a direction and description to engage the enemy so the rest of the convoy could move past. The HET pulled out fast and the rest of the convoy with it. As the 2nd gun truck made it up to the end of the check point she stopped and looked for a target. She called up that an Iraq Army soldier had been hit and they needed help. But there was no aid personnel on that gun truck. 3rd gun truck, my gun truck commander, told the truck to move out and he took her place. He had a soldier that could speak Arabic and had aid on the truck. The rest of the convoy pulled past as an angry mob began to form and move towards the truck. As I passed I saw that he was all alone and I stopped my truck to help him. There were easily 30 to 40 Iraqi nationals and Iraqi army swarming and surrounding our trucks trying to get us out to pull first aid. And all we could do is tell them to get back away from the trucks. It didn’t seem to help matters. Inside our truck we communicated with our higher element and land owners for assistants. A land owner is the US Army unit in charge of operations in the area of the country. Quick reaction forces (QRF) were sent as fast as they could and I kept the (CC) informed on what was going on using the radio. After about 5 min, QRF made it to the check point and the crowd of IA and civilians left at the sight of more gun trucks headed that way. We found out that when the CC’s truck passed the check point the back tier of the trailer hit one of the barriers and knocked it over on to IA sleeping on the other side killing one and injuring another. We found out also that the shots that where fired where to try and get her to stop. The CC, who’s name I will keep to myself, has been relieved of her command and faces charges of vehicular man homicide. She had a lot of problems earlier in the convoy and more than 4 times came close to putting an American soldier's life in negligible danger.
Now the readers want to know why. Why do I care about his story initialed, 'SURROUNDED'? It seems in our lives that there are days, months, and even years that we feel that we as Christians are surrounded by the enemy, outnumbered and trapped. And all it seems we can do is call to outside sources for help. As humans there are so many to choose from- money, food, material things, even drugs. But I go back now to the very first commandment: You will have no other GOD before me. Keep calling to God the father. When you are surrounded, help is on the way and will save you. Now some will say, "I have waited so long." There are 2 things to think about:
Number one: When you know help is on the way it always seems that it takes longer to get to you.
Number two: You are in the wrong area and the chopper can’t get to you. Move out and find another area to call out for help. Churches work great and can provide first aid and shelter.
God bless you all. I love you and thank you for your prayers. They are what keep me safe and in his hands.
SGT Nuoffer
Note: Sgt Daniel Nuoffer is on his second tour in Iraq. His duty is to command the lead gunnery vehicle that guides our troops in convoy down treacherous roads from Kuwait into Bagdad. He will be gone for 15 months. His new wife awaits his safe return as do we all. Send him your love and support. You may e-mail him at
(minor edits by JTO)

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