Via Blackfive comes this email from Sergeant Mike Stutzke – a soldier in the Washington Army National Guard. He was home on leave in Sept. and sent these thanks that really touched me. Sometimes I feel that Americans can be so jaded and biased but this letter sent me back to reality. These true Americans make me proud.
“I am a member of the Washington National Guard, an infantry squad leader, assigned to the 1st Calvary division, in Baghdad Iraq. After spending approximately 6 months in Iraq, I got to go home on leave. I had many people, strangers, walk up to me and thank me in a variety of different ways. I would like to share some of the experiences I had while traveling across our great country.
Some of the people would look at me, and quickly look away when I looked at them, eventually they would say something. Some would see me from across the airport or wherever I was, and make a B-line to me and say something. They all appeared to have nothing in common, some were old men, old women, young men and women and children. I enjoyed the children the most, the way they look at a soldier, with wide eyes and open admiration. I told each of them about my daughter who was at home who I was getting to see after a long time of being away from her.
Most started out the conversation by asking where I was going, or where I was coming from, others asked if I had been in Iraq. When I told people I was on leave from Iraq, they all made some kind of physical contact, shaking hands, putting a hand on my shoulder or arm, and a surprising number hugged me.
Some bought me drinks, some bought me lunch, some gave up their first class seat to me, some shared stories about their family members or friends who were in Iraq, and each asked me if I knew their family member or friends. Some asked for my address to send care packages to me and my platoon. All were incredibly polite, thankful, and inspiring.
Some, who spoke to me, did so with a red face, some with tears in their eyes, some crying. Each were, once again, inspiring.
The people who I spoke with made a lasting impression on my life, to me it was awe inspiring. I wish everyone could experience the love and appreciation I felt while traveling home to see my family.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the people who have inspired me.
To the people at the Bangor Maine airport, who where there at 5:30 am with coffee, cell phones, cookies, a handshake or a hug. THANK YOU!
To the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport fire department (real American heroes), who showered our plane with water, with their lights flashing, giving us a “heroes welcome”. THANK YOU!
To the people at the Dallas/Ft.Worth airport, who applauded, shouted, held up “welcome home” banners, handed out water, and made us feel great. THANK YOU!
To the bartender who bought me a drink at the Sacramento airport, who only said to me, “Thanks” THANK YOU!
To the man at the Sacramento airport who spent almost 2 hours just visiting with me and insisted on getting my address so he and his company could send me and my platoon care packages. THANK YOU!
To the woman at the Sacramento airport who shared her stories of her family members who were in Iraq, shared her fears, hopes and dreams for when they came home. Who hugged me to the point where I didn’t think she was going to let go. THANK YOU!
To the cab driver in Portland OR., who was a Vietnam vet., who I had to argue with to pay my cab fair. THANK YOU!
To my daughter, who nearly knocked me over at the airport. I LOVE YOU!
To all my family who traveled from all over the state of Washington to have BBQ’s with me. I LOVE YOU! THANK YOU!
To the TSA lady at the Spokane airport who shook my hand and hugged me on my way back to Iraq. THANK YOU!
To the maintenance supervisor at the Spokane airport who visited with me and bought my lunch. THANK YOU!
To the women who were going on vacation from Spokane who invited me to be in their group picture. THANK YOU!
To the many, many people at the Denver airport who spoke to me, thanked me, and told me they will pray for me and all the soldiers in Iraq. THANK YOU!
To the woman who approached my friend traveling back to Iraq with me, and said “Thank you.” Then later returned and gave us a hundred dollar bill and said “I came across this unexpectedly and want you guys to buy
lunch somewhere nice” Then quickly left the area with tears running down her face. THANK YOU!
To Keith, who I sat next to on one of the flights, who visited with me the hole flight, and offered many things, which I could not accept because I was reporting for duty. THANK YOU!
To my new friends at Belo interactive in Dallas. Who took my friend and me out, welcomed us, then opened their business to us, took us to lunch and just spent time hanging out with us. Who also send our whole platoon care packages every month. THANK YOU!
To all the people at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport who took time out of their schedules to visit with me. THANK YOU!
To all the flight crews who flew us overseas and back. THANK YOU!
To all Americans who support the American soldiers, simply because we are serving all over the world, who we will never meet, or get to personally thank for their enormous support. THANK YOU!
The support, love and respect that I received all across America, is humbling. To be treated like a hero for doing one’s job, is something I wish everyone could experience. It is incredible. For the record, none of us consider ourselves heroes, we are just soldiers trying to do a job, then to get home to our families.
I know I’ve said it many times, but THANK YOU AMERICA.
A grateful American Soldier
Sgt. Mike Stutzke C co 1-161 Infantry Baghdad, Iraq”
Just remember when you see a soldier traveling, please take a moment and thank them, it can make a difference.