Two months ago I celebrated my 30th anniversary with the Army. During all those years, I’ve been privileged to command fine American Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors. All are patriotic servants in our uniformed services.
The fight in Iraq is truly a joint effort- Navy electronic warfare officers and explosive ordnance disposal teams are helping to keep our roadways clear. The Air Force is providing amazing support to ground commanders. And our Marines are fighting side-by-side with our 1st Brigade Combat Team in Ramadi and in the Multinational Division - Center.
I’m also honored to work alongside civilian patriots here at war. These fine American civilians have made sacrifices in order to contribute to the fight over here. I want to tell you about them.
In the Multi-National Division- Center, we have 10 retired law enforcement personnel who deployed with our Soldiers in order to contribute their expertise to help us win this war.
These fine Americans have backgrounds in the law enforcement services of our federal and state government. Their experience ranges from violent and financial crime investigators to forensics and domestic terrorism experts and bomb technicians. They are all retired investigators, detectives, and agents. Some served in the FBI and two of them are retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents.
Dawn Rhodes worked for the GBI for 17 years, was the first female to join the Law Enforcement Professionals (LEP) program last fall. Her previous training and experience has allowed her to help the Army reduce deaths from road side bombs. Dawn works with the intelligence community to focus on explosively formed projectile (EFP) networks and assists with the forensic examinations on missions. Every day she’s out there with our Soldiers helping to keep them safe, and more importantly, prevent future acts of violence.
Jeffrey Gordy is retired from the GBI as well. He uses his law enforcement background to help Soldiers become investigators after the fire fight is over in order to detain the insurgents and keep them detained. He has helped our 3rd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers learn to capture effective sworn statements as well as physical evidence collected at the scene of a crime. He goes on missions with our Soldiers and teaches them how to handle crime scenes and process evidence. He also assists them in writing effective reports in order to keep the enemy behind bars and off the streets.
These fine Americans resoundingly say they love law enforcement and hope to continue serving in the field. Each was deeply moved by the events of September 11, 2001 and wanted to contribute to the war effort. When they go on missions with our Soldiers they wear uniforms, but they are not Soldiers in the traditional sense of the word. They have stepped up to the plate at a time when our Nation needed them. They all say they are grateful for our service, but as Soldiers, we are so proud of them for joining us here.
Now, not every citizen can afford to deploy as a civilian, but the little things matter most to our Soldiers and these great civilian patriots serving here.
The "Adopt a Soldier" program is the most heartwarming outreach I’ve seen from our local community. Soldiers who wouldn’t otherwise be receiving mail are getting letters and packages from you.
When our fellow citizens at home ask "what can we do," I’d say that simply sending a serviceman or woman a card to show appreciation would make a world of difference in their lives. It shows them that you care about them and about the sacrifices they are making.
Likewise, when you meet a family of a deployed Soldier, thank them as well. This is so important.
We are grateful for the assistance of our skilled law enforcement personnel and of those citizens reaching out to our Soldiers.
Rock of the Marne!
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch is commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, now deployed in Iraq. Capt. Allie Weiskopf Chase contributed to this column.