by Sergeant Steven T. Kern,
Tom Kern, Steven’s father, says, “Just in case anyone wants to write something to our Troops you can mail them to me here at Pratt 4700 Duke Drive suite 140 Mason Ohio 45040 and I will get them sent out. They must be here by October 24th. The more the merrier!!! Thanks to all.
“I found comfort in knowing that I had a support system that was unrivaled.”
During my 15 years in the Marine Corps I have been deployed to Iraq on four separate occasions cumulating a total of roughly 34 months in theater. Although being away from family and friends was extremely difficult, I found comfort in knowing that I had a support system that was unrivaled. The numerous care packages, letters, pictures, and videos that I received made what seemed to be the hardest times of my life, feasible. There were many times we, as a company, would receive letters and drawings from children in schools from all over the country and this was a great blessing. The Marines that I served with found a certain place of happiness when they received these letters and even if for a brief moment, made us feel as if we were home. Very few things, while in Iraq, brought smiles to our faces.
“Very few things, while in Iraq, brought smiles to our faces.“
Amongst some of those things were chow, sleep, water, packages and letters. These few things are what we took for granted while back home and soon came to realize that it’s the small things that made us happy. Getting a package of beef jerky, or a handful of letters in the mail made us the happiest Marines in Iraq!
On my first deployment to Iraq (Jan 03- Oct 03) the mailing system was almost nonexistent. If I recall correctly, a letter that I sent home would take about 3 weeks and the letters from home would take 4-5 weeks. It was funny at the time because I would send 5 or 6 letters home and by the time I received one, I had forgotten what their letter was in response to! Never the less, it was always something special when I received letters. The holidays were always the worst best times of being on deployment.
“Nobody wants to be away from family during the holidays.”
Probably doesn’t make sense, but let me explain… Nobody wants to be away from family during the holidays, especially not in Iraq, hence WORST time on deployment. Through those holidays a special bond was formed that could not be broken. Brothers and Sisters in uniform coming from all walks of life, coming together and experiencing each other’s misery and somehow finding a way to make the best of it was something special. Hence, BEST times on deployment. One thing that made us so close during the hard times, was getting letters. We would get a ton of letters from children and we would split them up amongst all the Marines. Marines would read mine, I would read theirs and again, we felt as though we were almost home for the holidays.
I can’t express in words, the gratitude that we as Marines had for those letters being sent. It truly made a very tough and rugged situation into something that we just knew we would pull through.
Kern is Gunnery Sergeant (MCIWEST-MCB CAMPEN Headquarters and Support Battalion Bravo Company G-4 Operations Chief) and grew up in Loveland, Ohio.