On October 12, 2003, I entered active duty – a National Guardsman from central Illinois, called up to serve for 18 months in Iraq. What follows in this book are the letters I sent home to family, friends, my community, and interested people throughout the country. People who wanted to know what it was really like being a soldier in Iraq. Not just the statistics and sensational stories they could see in the media, but the real thing, from someone like themselves. At first, I just wrote to people in my email “friends list.” I would write about our day’s missions, within the parameters of security concerns, of course. I told the stories the newspapers did not. I told people about the good things our unit was getting done; building playground equipment for schools, providing medical assistance for the locals, delivering clean water to entire villages, obtaining wheelchairs for kids who otherwise had to be carried to and fro – these are the stories that needed to be told. This is what the men from Foxtrot Battery were doing, all while fighting with the insurgents. We are just a bunch of farmers, truck drivers, stock brokers, factory workers, and students who were thrown together, taken from our civilian lives in America, ripped out of our comfort zone, and thrown into a place thousands of miles from home, handed a rifle, and told to help a people we had never seen. We have done so with unwavering determination and compassion.