EDITOR'S Note: We recently found the letter below from Sgt. Joe Farley. It was sent to the Cleary family 12 years ago by Joe and published on CNBNews on January 1, 2008. The Farley family lived in our neighborhood for decades. We watched Joe grow up from a little tyke into a man. He was one of the good guys that came from our community of Gloucester City, NJ. Joe was a great representative of our country and the community of Gloucester City. After graduating from Gloucester City High School he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Joe passed away from cancer in April 2017.
We are republishing his January 1, 2008 letter to us as a tribute to Joe's memory. At the same time, we like to thank all the soldiers serving in some foreign land around the world protecting our country from evil.
Sincerely, The Cleary Family
Hi Bill and Connie,
and no other excuse then work has been very busy and that the NEW unit in charge made us an every remaining unit move out of their living areas and into others across the FOB, plus the INTERNET is slow as usual.
I want to wish you and everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from beautiful FOB Iskan, Iraq!
Well not much longer for me and my soldiers here.
We have our (TOA) Transfer of Authority on the 19th of JANUARY then we will be flying out to (BIAP) Baghdad International Airport from where we will wait a day or two then manifest for a flight and then the whole 127th MPCO will fly to Kuwait and then finally home safe to Rammstein Airbase then a nice lovely 2-hour bus ride to Hanau to Pioneer Kaserne to where we will have a welcome home ceremony.
We should be home hopefully between the 22-23rd of January with all the traveling and manifesting for flights.
As for all the recent news in my (AO) Area of Operations, I will give you a quick but thorough update of information that you don't see or hear about on the NEWS.
On 1 NOV my soldiers and I went to the Al Haleema Primary School (1st-6th Grade) for girls located in Hamiya and conducted a school supply drive. We distributed school supplies to 50 of the most
underprivileged and to the top 50 students designated by the school headmaster. We also had the Iraqi Police from the Hamiya Local Police Station assist in the distribution of school supplies along with the soldiers of my squad. This is a great way to build a strong bond between the people of Hamiya and the IP's (Iraqi Police).
Photo: Sgt. Joe at the Al Haleema Primary School
This gets the IP's involved in their community and presents a positive image at the same time. Also, this helps improves their IPC skills: Interpersonal communication skills and allows them to interact and get to know the people and show the children that IP's are good people and they can be looked up to in a positive manner like role models for a brighter future for Iraq!
This is one of the manyj ob responsibilities as (PTT) Police Transition Team Chief that I have on a daily basis to help the IP's here gradually become independent and able to perform the daily duties without any (CF) Coalition Force assistance.
As for the School Supply Drive, we ended up handing out 100 backpacks filled with 4 notebooks, 10 pencils, 5 pens, 2 erasers, 1 pencil sharpener, 24 pack of crayons, toothbrush, and toothpaste, and then each child got to pick an item from a table like art supplies, toys, stuffed animals, puzzles, bubbles, and flip flops and sandals. It's amazing how fast a smile can change your day and make you feel like you are making an impact here.
My motto has been: Winning the hearts and souls of Iraq ONE smile at a time.
We also conducted another School Supply Drive on DEC 26 at the Al Yarmok Primary School for boys in Hamiya. We used the same concept a utilized the IP's and this time around we ended up helping 400 students.
Each student received 4 pencils, 2 pens, 1 notebook, toothbrush/paste and then got to pick an item from a table: Matchbox cars, action figures, nerf footballs, crayons, and art supplies. Then the top 2 kids from each class also received a soccer ball. We handed out a total of 30 soccer balls to the children to include 6 for their athletic department for the kids to play during recess and gym classes.
I actually had soldiers from my other squads asking me if they could come out on Patrol and take part this time around after out last drive. It's nice to see there are others out here willing to forget we're here in IRAQ and try to do something positive for a good cause. I know for sure these positive images will not only last in each young soldier's memories but also in the little children we reach out and touch every day we do something that leads this society in the right direction.
Like always we finish the school supply distribution then get all the children together and take photos. They really get excited and smile and are really grateful.
Well if a picture can tell a thousand words these images can tell more and last a lifetime. (click on photo to enlarge)
This is a reason sometimes its worth tying up your boots and strapping 40 lbs of gear on and driving thru IED infested roads just so you can show these people here that we're the GOOD guys and not all of us are here for the god damn oil that our greedy government claims their not here for. I also thru the help of my interpreter speak to all of the students and stress the importance of getting an education and that the more knowledge each of them acquires the more POWER they will have in the future in turning their society in the right direction.
For those who don't know most Iraqi children unless in a very big city like Baghdad don't really have the option to just get an education, they have to help at home with farming and with what ever hard labor that's going to help put food on the table for them to survive. This is a really poor society for the most part and they live in very crude dwellings that we would find unlivable and unsuitable for our families. Hopefully one day the Government of Iraq can get their stuff together and be a
successful Nation like it was before the SADDAM era.
Photo: Make funny faces!
Our next and final push before we leave Iraq starts on JAN 2nd. We are doing a, Iraqi Police recruiting drive at the Iraqi Army Compound located on FOB ISKAN. There will be over 500 of the (CCP) Concerned Citizen Program coming thru and being screened for possible Iraqi Police candidates.
They must bring all their documents then go thru a process were we scan their
EYES and FINGERPRINTS into a database to ensure their not on a BOLO List and not barred.
Then each recruit then takes a reading and writing test in Arabic. Then speaks with an Iraqi Police officer. Then it goes to me and my SQUAD conducting the (PT Test) Physical Fitness portion. Each of the recruits has to complete 20 pushups, 20 sit-ups, 5 pull-ups, run 100 m sprint and then 1500 m run for time. I know it sounds like our Police academy. After 5 fun days of this, we will start to train and OJT the incoming MPs that are going to replace us. We call this the RIP Process Relief in Place. We do our LEFT and RIGHT seat drives meaning we take them out the first few times and they are the passengers then we let them drive and we sit back and
monitor their abilities.
Well that's about it from here. Please let me know if there is any more I can do before I leave Iraq. Just let me know if you would like something. I will enclose some photos of the School supply drives below. I am hoping to be home in Gloucester City sometime around the 22-23 if FEB too visits my Pop-Pop and Aunt Cass and rest of my family on Block Leave.
One last thing could you please update my INFO from the SOLDIERS serving in IRAQ...I am a SSG US Army and (MP) Military Police. They list me as a PFC in the Marines. I'm not a Jarhead. GO ARMY!
HAPPY NEW YEARS!
SSG Joseph Farley
RELATED: HI FROM IRAQ