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From: Captain Charles Gray
Date: June 12, 2003
Subject: Checking In

Family,
     You may be getting tired of these little short messages I have been sending daily.  I just try to let you all know things are going well on a regular basis if I get a chance. 

All is going well.  I have been staying busy and am actually starting to get a lot of work done.  Anytime you start a new job, you do not fully know what is expected.  I always hate the feeling of seeing everyone around you busy and knowing I am not helping as much as I want to.  Also, sionce I do not have an official job yet, I have had a hard time getting involved as the different staff officers have their work and are focused on it and really do not want me in the way.  I went to my boss and asked him to give me a stack of work to do and he did just that.  I feel like I have a purpose again and life is going well.

I have made it out of the secured area where we sleep on numerous occassions.  It is interesting to get out in the town of Mosul and see the people and places.  I had some time the other day and went with the Chaplain over to Ninevah to recon a trip he was planning for the soldiers in the battalion.  What an awesome experience.  Ninevah was basically leveled in 612 BC by the babylonians (just 14 years before Jerusalem was destroyed for the first time by the Babylonians).  It has not been rebuilt and we were walking in fields that used to be the great city.  You can still see the mounds that over 2600 years ago were huge walls surrounding the city.  We found an area that was the excavation site from an 1847 excavation of Sennacharib's Palace.  There are ancient carvings on decaying marbel walls.  There was also cunnieform writing all over the place.  I was completely fascinated by all of this.  The stuff is just sitting out there unpreserved.  The picture I am including is of me at the walls of the city.  These walls were rebuilt to resemble the original ones.  It is interesting that what is written in Nahum fortelling the destruction of the city was actually very accurate according to the history of how it fell.  Nahum speaks of a flood that would accompany the siege and the actual fall of the city did coincide with a huge flood of the Tigris River.  The flood went right up to the walls of the city and is what allowed the walls to be toppled.  Amazing!

Anyway, I am actually enjoying being in Iraq.  I miss you all terribly but am excited to see you when I return.  Keep praying for these people.  They need it.  ALso, thanks for the prayers you have been pouring out for me and the rest of our soldiers here.  We need it more!  Alright, I have to go but will write again later.  If anyone was planning on sending anything, here are the things I can use.  I am not short now but probably will be as the months go by.  First of all, I can get food (cookies, snacks, powder gatorade, etc).  Gatorade is a big thing here.  Another thing that is big out here is that disinfectant liquid that you can wipe on your hands to kill germs.  Also, I have had many opportunities to take pictures.  If you send disposable cameras, I will be able to take more. 

Anyway, thanks again.  I will try and write again soon.  God Bless you all. Charles 

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From: Captain Charles Gray 
Date: June 15, 2003 
Subject: Quick Helo!!!             

Family,
     How are you?  I hope this message finds everyone doing very well.  All is well here.  I am getting busier as the days go by.  I am settling in and finding a nitch and have been making more work which is good because it keeps me occupied.  I have not made it outside of the gate in a few days but am heading back out tonight.  The conditions here are getting a little hotter.  I have not personally seen anything yet but the perimeter has erupted in small sporadic fire fights over the past days.  I have not seen it yet but have defintiely heard it.  Our guys have everything under great control though and you can tell that God defintiely has His hand upon our soldiers.  There are so many stories of guys getting shot at and Rocket Propelled Grenades getting shot at vehicles and so few of the attempted attacks actually hurting anyone.  I have been on the very safe end of things so you do not need to worry about me.  Just stay in prayer for our guys over here and for the innocent people here.  There are a lot more innocent people than there are Baathe Party Loyalists.  Our guys are doing well though, so your tax dollars are being well spent. 

At any rate, I have to run.  I will be in touch with you all soon and look forward to hearing from you all whenever possible.  God Bless, and I will talk to you later. Charles

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From: Captain Charles Gray 
Date: June 20, 2003 
Subject: Family Letter    

Family,
            How are you?  All is well here still.  Last night we had to go down to an airfield about 55 KM south of Mosul called Q-West.  We went down there to bid farewell to our outgoing battalion commander and afterwards had a little time.  I met up with my friend from West Point, Sean Scott, who jus took command of A Company, and he took me on a great tour around the airfield to show me the mission his company was carrying out to fix the runway.  During the initial phases of the war, the US and British struck the airfield with over 40-2,000 lb bombs in different areas to disable the runway.  The airfield used to be an Iraqi airbase.  Our forces have basically occupied the old Iraqi quarters and buildings, which are quite damaged but are very interesting.  None of the buildings have glass or lights or plumbing that works but they do provide a place out of the sun to set up.  Anyway, Sean’s company is fixing the runway and he took me around to the different craters to show me the progress from one to another.  The holes that these bombs left in the runway were over 25 ft deep and about 30 to 40 ft wide.  Each one left debris, rebar, and asphalt all over the base.  Sean’s guys have pushed much of this debris back into the holes with bucket loaders and small dozers called DEUCEs.  Then they compact it to different specifications depending on the layers of fill they are emplacing.  The have added additional layers of select fill and compacted it significantly.  They also had to bust up the concrete around each hole all the way out to the expansion joints in the runway and clear that away.  They then add one additional layer and compact it until it is almost like concrete.  Then, they work with contractors to lay rebar and re-pour the concrete, thus completely patching the holes.  

Basically, this is the work I am supporting in the ALOC from Mosul.  I still do not have an official job and am just working on little projects here and there.  I am still staying busy though.  I will know more in the coming weeks what my new job will be.  I am envious though and wish I could be down there with them doing this work.  It was neat to see so much that I have studied in my engineering classes being applied.  Those guys are doing a tremendous job, and I was honored to be able to spend some time with them last night.

At any rate, I am doing well.  I need to get back to work but wanted to touch base and tell everyone hello.  I appreciate all of your prayers and am not just saying that.  You have all been extremely kind and caring in your thoughts and prayers for me, and I am extremely grateful.   God Bless you all, and I look forward to hearing from you whenever you can write.
Love, Charles

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