Thornhill in Iraq — XIII

Once again, it’s been about a month since I sent out an e-mail update to the group.   The good news is – this will be the last!   As of today, April 22nd, I have 8 days left on the FOB and 9 days left in Iraq!   Boy has time slowed down considerably.   I have attached a few recent photos that will give you a little bit of an idea what I’ve been doing lately.   The first is actually a copy of a photo that appeared in the Ida County Courier, my hometown newspaper in Ida Grove.   If you recall, shortly after I arrived here at the Law & Order Task Force, a guy who went to  high school with me showed up.   This clipping from the Courier is of Pat and me delivering some Girl Scout cookies to local Iraqi children.   It’s easy to feel bad for the locals here, but seeing the children really gets to you.   I found out shortly thereafter that the cookies did not last long!
The second photo is from about 2 weeks ago.    I am with 4 of our federal law enforcement agents on the day they were leaving the FOB to head home.   Notice how they are smiling and I am not!   If I did not mention it before, this task force includes a lot of people from a lot of different agencies.   This group of agents consisted of 1 FBI, 1 DEA, and 2 ATF.   These guys, like their replacements, are on 3 month rotations.   The effort we (the U.S.) is putting into helping the Iraqis establish their legal system is really tremendous.   The progress is slow, but at least it’s progress!
fob-shield-apr-2008-2-019.JPGThe third photo is from last week.   This is me teaching a session at a week-long seminar on fighting terrorism using law enforcement.   This was held at the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau.   The audience is a pretty select group of high-ranking Iraqi officials.   I was fortunate and honored to be recommended to participate in this event by the Director of our task force.   The other members of the seminar “faculty” were flown in from the United States.   The only bad part about the week (that I did not tell Paula until I returned!) was that it was held in the IZ (International Zone a/k/a Green Zone).   If you’ve been watching the news, the IZ has pretty much been taking rocket and mortar fire on a daily basis.   If you want the details, you’ll have to wait until I get home.
Needless to say, I am in the process of winding down my work here and am VERY excited to get home.   I have flag football games to get to and baseball season starts for all 3 boys!   It will take me a while to get home as I have a couple stops to make on the way.   With luck, I should be home by the middle of May.   I will let you all know when I get home.   And, yes, I dream about Tomaso’s Pizza and beer almost nightly!
See you soon.

Courier Photo