Platoon Sgt Marquez

October 30, 2008

As a Forward Observer  Platoon Sergeant and Fire  Support NCO in Iraq, one of my  duties was the care of my soldiers.  Two people I knew very well got killed  out there.  One was in my platoon  that I took over after he'd already been  hit, and another was my Fire  Support Officer (SSG Dwayne Dreasky, 31 and LTC  Michael Maclaughlin, 44).  We lost a lot more people than those 2 guys...

altogether losing 83 great Americans in our  2-28 Infantry Brigade during  our year long tour in Ramadi/Anbar Province, from June '05 to June '06.  Many more got wounded, but thank God those  guys made it home and didn't  add to the count of 83.  We had a picture and a narrative of each fallen  soldier on an honor wall in our brigade command post.  .

When we  started losing guys, we had memorial services for them in Iraq and knew,  of course, they'd get the appropriate respects and honors back home. One  thing we didn't anticipate was the disrespect and hatred shown by the Phelps  church group...protesting at our fallen brothers' funerals, waving the  banners and signs that they wave so ignorantly and so proud.  The first time I  read about that in the "Stars and Stripes,"  I had to read it again, because  I couldn't imagine anyone being so hateful and disrespectful.  I just  about cried after reading the article.  Another soldier asked me what was  wrong..I handed him the paper, and he had the same reaction.  We were pretty  pissed off, and pretty soon we were all talking about what we would do if  we saw them in-person.  We'd all been insulted by this hateful group. Deeply  insulted.  We all were wondering, "Why doesn't anyone do anything about  this?"  We were in shock.

Then, a  few days later, there was an article about this group of bikers who were  now putting themselves as a barrier between the protesters and the grieving families of our fallen soldiers.  I  couldn't believe that when I read  it, I read it again, and again.  I must have read that article  ten times before I shared it with anyone.  Some other guys had already  read the article, and the feeling we all felt that someone was actually doing something to counter the protesters was  the best feeling I can't  even describe.  I was filled with pride to know that fellow Americans were  giving up their time, honoring our fallen, regardless of whether they knew  them or not, and providing a barrier from the protesters for the families grieving.  Pretty soon, everyone was  saying, "Hey..did you hear about  that biker group?  Yeah..they're all over the country, I hear they're doing  this all over the place, where they can...that's f&^*ing great, man!!!!"

It was  good to know that while we were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, someone  was fighting for us, back home...fighting for our respect, for our fallen  and for the families of the fallen.  Thank you.To all  of your group and all of the PGR..this Sergeant First Class would like to  give you my most sincere and heartfelt "THANK YOU" for doing what you  do.  THANK YOU with all of my soul.  I can't even put into words how thankful I am, and others are, for what you guys  do.  It means more to us than  anything, to know that regular Americans volunteer to ensure a fallen soldier  gets the respect and dignity he/she deserves at their funerals. We all  know who you guys are...everyone's heard about you and your group in Iraq.  I've spoken with Afghan vets also, and  your group always comes up as a topic  of respect and honor.  You are well known, and your efforts are very much  appreciated.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

God  bless all of you, and really..I can't thank you enough for how you honor  our fallen.

SFC J. Philip  Marquez



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