Thursday, March 20, 2003

'I'll see you all when it's over,' Marine e-mails from the desert



By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] In the Kuwait desert, Pfc. David Anderson of Murray, Ky. (left); 1st Sgt. David Foster of Colerain Township (center ); and Lance Cpl. John Grimes of Colerain Township.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)
| ZOOM |
The Marine's e-mail is clear.

"I'll be fine; I'm not scared; and just want all of this to get over with," he wrote.

After two months of dust storms, desert training and nearly unbearable boredom 20 miles south of the Iraq border, 1st Sgt. David Foster of Colerain Township paused for a quick e-mail back home. It was Tuesday - halfway through the 48 hours President George Bush had given Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face attack.

His family expects it will be the last message for awhile.

Foster is one of thousands of American servicemen and women who have been able to e-mail and telephone home as they move around the world to prepare for an attack on Iraq. But such access for those close to the front is expected to cease.

Foster's message was written as Marine Military Police Company A loaded its gear at Camp Coyote and prepared to head to Iraq.

"I'll see you all when it's over," Foster wrote to his parents and siblings in 26 lines full of emotion and hard-eyed realism.

Foster is a member of the military police company based in Lexington. The 30 Marines are based just north of Kuwait City, waiting for the word to move north.

The 40-year-old Marine has served 22 years of active and reserve duty. In seven months, he is scheduled to retire. Twelve years ago, he was in the same Kuwaiti desert, fighting in the first Persian Gulf War while his twins, a boy and a girl, were born back home.

Now nearly teenagers, David Jr. and Emily live in Fairfield with Foster's ex-wife. His parents, Del and Carolyn Foster, live in Ross Township. His girlfriend, Holly Hasselbeck, says his family and friends are "extremely proud'' of his service to his country.

Foster wrote that he and about 30 MPs of his company will cross into Iraq to hook up with an Army unit.

"Expect to be in Iraq 8-10 weeks," Foster wrote. "We will handle pockets of POWs, supply route security and displaced people.

"I've just been told we should be back in Kuwait by June 1 and the rush to get reserve forces home will begin," Foster wrote. "Cross your fingers and I just may be home by mid-July."

Foster makes it clear that the going could be tough but he was confident.

"They do expect us to get hit by chemical munitions, but I believe we will be OK," Foster said.

His brother, Keith Foster of Fairfield, shared the e-mail with the Enquirer and said its tone reflects his brother.

"He's a tough guy; he's seen a lot of things and been a lot of places over the years," Keith Foster said. "He's Marine through and through."

It's clear the Marine does not like reports of antiwar protests.

"Tell all the liberals who are protesting ... to grow a back-bone and stop hiding behind the signs," he wrote.

It's also clear, he believes the mission is just.

"I want you all to know that despite living like a dog and missing home, I do believe in why we are about to take this action."

"I don't want my children fighting a much larger war 8-10 years from now."

E-mail hwilkinson@enquirer.com




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