Thursday, March 29, 2007

Maine Troop Greeters

The Old Man mentioned this group of people greeting them at their last stop in the U.S. prior to Iraq. This is an amazing group of people. The founders Harry and Sharon Rideout were recognized and I posted the article below.

Couple Honored with Fisher Award
by Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

A husband and wife have been honored for their support of the military in Bangor, Maine. Harry and Sharon Rideout are the 2005 recipients of the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award. The two were honored during a ceremony at the Pentagon Oct. 26. Together, the Rideouts created the Bangor Greeters Group at Bangor International Airport, Maine. The all-volunteer group greets Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines as they pass through the airport, either going to or returning from overseas deployments.

Since the group began in May 2003, they have touched the lives more than 200,000 U.S. military members. In addition to welcoming members home and wishing them well as they deploy, the group also lends returning members cellular phones so they can call loved ones as they step off their airplanes. The group also was instrumental in creating a welcome facility at the airport where troops can relax before deploying or can wait for a ride upon returning to the United States.

The Rideouts also headed the clean-up of the home of a Soldier and his family after it was destroyed by fire.In another effort, they led the distribution of flannel shirts and sweatshirts to veterans in the Togus Medical Center in Augusta, Maine. Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne said the Rideout's contributions to troop morale is in line with the Department of Defense's own priorities.

"Our young men and women are our No. 1 priority in the Department of Defense," he said. "And when I see great Americans like the Rideouts taking it upon themselves to support (servicemembers), it makes me very proud to also be in service to this nation."

While speaking at the ceremony, Mrs. Rideout said she and her husband appreciated the honor but shifted focus from their contributions to those of U.S. Military members.

"It has always been a pleasure to thank a Soldier, to thank a member of our United States military for (his or her) service to our country. (They) are keeping America safe, and we appreciate it so much," she said. "We are very honored, and very humbled, and grateful for this award. But we want you to know this is not about us. It is about the members, and the men and women in our Army, our Air Force, our Navy and our Marine Corps, those who have served, those who are serving, and those who will serve."

In 1996, the Department of Defense service secretaries created the Fisher award in honor of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher who contributed extensively to the support and welfare of members of the armed services. The Fishers are best known as founders of the Fisher House, which is special lodging for military families with sick or injured loved ones. The responsibility for administration and presentation of the Fisher award rotates among the services each year. All service branches vote on the final recipient, and all services can make nominations. This year, the Air Force was responsible for the presentation.
Source: U.S. Air Force

To learn more about the Maine Troop Greeters, Click Here!

You're my favorite!!!!!!!!!!

Boy do I wish I could hug you right now. Thank you sweetie!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Aruba, here we come!

Sitting on the beach drinking fruity cocktails, snorkelling over the coral reefs, fishing in the crystal clear, blue waters... Yup! That'll be us! The Old Man is taking us to Aruba for our 1 year anniversary.

We've jammed packed a ton of stuff into this year. But we talked about it and you know what? Any other way just wouldn't be our style! :)

I have to start another countdown!! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Workshop helps families cope with extended deployments

By CHRISSY VICK / Associated Press

When Tessie Moyer heard the news about her husband's extended deployment, she knew she had to get more M&Ms. Each day, her three children look forward to eating one M&M, which represents that they are one day closer to wrapping their arms around their father's neck. Only this time, Moyer didn't have a concrete number for her children's method of counting down to their father's return from Iraq.

The news her husband, Lt. Lewis Moyer, battalion surgeon for 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, wouldn't be coming home on the date they had planned hit Moyer hard. It was even harder to tell her children their trip to Disney World would be canceled. His unit deployed in September 2006 for what was thought to be a seven-month stay in the Anbar Province. But they were told earlier this year that the unit's deployment would be extended by 60 to 90 days.

After President Bush's announcement that more troops would be going to Iraq, most of the 1/6 spouses knew the extension was coming. It's something they try to prepare for anyway.

But it's never easy to deal with. It can be even harder for children, said Angela Tagliabue, who had to break the news to her four children.

"Their whole world is turned upside down by an extension," Tagliabue said. "We were over halfway there when we got the news, so it was like starting all over again. We had to cancel our cruise."

The 1/6 wives, along with Marines of 8th Communication Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, gathered last Thursday night for a unit extension workshop. Lyn Helton and Judy Dunn, professional counselors with Marine OneSource, conducted the workshop that offered advice for coping with an extension. Marines and sailors with 8th Comm are preparing for their upcoming deployment.

Though the workshop was the first of its kind at Camp Lejeune, many of the wives already knew the basic information they were hearing. But they needed to hear it anyway.

"Taking this news is really like mourning," Dunn said. "The good part is your Marines are going to come home. Maybe not when you expected, but they will come home."

Dunn and Helton offered tips for coping with the added stress of an extension. Focus on things you can control. Avoid destructive attitudes and behavior. Give yourself time to regroup emotionally. Stick with routines. Focus on the future. Keep things in perspective. Stay focused on what's positive.

"If you get really down, make a list of three people you can call and three things you can do," Helton said.

"It's real important for you to be reminded of these simple things," Dunn said.

But sometimes it's the lot in life for a Marine wife.

"I think they're a different breed of women," Tagliabue said. "There's more camaraderie there than a normal community."

You stay strong, deal with it and move on, others said.

"It is one day at a time," said Sue Jurney, wife of battalion commander Lt. Col. William Jurney. "You can't handle any more than that. "But one thing that does help is drawing strength from each another. The spouses of 1/6 Marines and sailors remember they are not alone."

"Everybody is going through the same thing, so you've got someone that sympathizes," Tagliabue said.

They're things that often become a lifestyle for Marine and Navy spouses like Ashley Gafford, who grew up in the military. She is due to give birth to her second child April 11. If her husband, Corpsman James Gafford, had been home on the original scheduled return date, he probably would have made it just in time for the birth.

"I don't know anything other than military life," Gafford said. "I deal with it. I'm pretty independent because I have moved every three years. You have new friends all the time and you don't know anything else."

Gafford's 3-year-old daughter recently began asking where her daddy went. Lately, her words have been "Daddy left me and isn't coming back."

"My daughter feels like he's not coming home now because it's been so long," she said. "She's too young to understand."

So, what makes it worth it? The 1/6 spouses agreed that it was because they believe in the mission.

"You believe in what they're doing and you back them 100 percent no matter what," said Tagliabue, who has been through nine deployments with her husband.

"They're making a difference. And you know that." Jurney, who has endured eight deployments with her husband, says that is what she focuses on.

"You feel like you're a part of that difference they're making," she said. "I look at it like this — Ramadi has now been called a 'former stronghold' since our guys have been over there.'"

To see the story online, Click here!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Britain's Queen honors a U.S. Marine

My Aunt's neighbor watched this Marine grow up. This is a great story. He was honored with the Flying Cross from the Queen!

To see the video, Click Here!

Prayer for a serviceman

My mom gave me this and I wanted to share. Print this and use it to guide your thoughts. It's a wonderful prayer.

O Mary, Queen of Martyrs, look after my beloved wherever he may be. Talk with him during the silent watches of the night and spur him to bravery when he faces the cruel foe.

Keep him inspired by a never dying faith in his God.

Wherever his duty takes him, keep his spirit high and his purpose unwavering.

He is my choicest treasure. Take care of him, O Mother of God!

Keep him in health and sustain him under every possible circumstance.

Touch him with my smile of cheer and comfort and my full confidence in his every brave pursuit.

Fail him not and may he not fail his God, his country, nor the one who loves him.

HERCULES, HERCULES!!! (as I'm clapping wildly in the air!)

Christie and Evan are pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Weeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Babyfest 2006 continues!!!!

She wrote a post about it on her blog. Click on the link below.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Last day to send packages!!

FYI- Mailing deadline for 1/6 is April 1.

They're almost home!!!!!

1/6 Marines let Iraqi Security Forces take the lead in central Ramadi

March 21, 2007; Submitted on: 03/21/2007 06:51:38 AM ; Story ID#: 200732165138 By Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr. , I Marine Expeditionary Force

AR RAMADI, Iraq (March 21, 2007) -- Since arriving to the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, in September of 2006, the Marines of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, have had a three part mission for their task in supporting the ongoing Operation Iraqi Freedom. That mission is to neutralize the insurgency, support and train Iraqi Security Forces, and conduct civil military operations to improve the quality of life for residents in the city.

In the more than six months since their arrival the mission has not been altered, but the lead effort in neutralizing insurgency and civil military work has changed. Local police of the Western Ramadi District and Iraqi Army soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Division, have stepped forward to shoulder a majority of security and civil military responsibility in the city.Conducting food drops to local mosques, re-supplying medical facilities in the area and leading security operations throughout the city, Iraqi Security Forces have assumed their responsibilities with renewed zeal.

“We are one country and this is our job,” said 2nd Lt. Adnan Fasel Taher, executive officer of 2nd Company, 2-1-7. “Not just to fight terrorists, but to help our people.”

Civil Military Operations
In recent weeks, Iraqi Security Forces have conducted two combined re-supply operations to central Ramadi’s main medical facilities.The combined forces delivered more than $90,000 worth of medicines and surgical support equipment to the Ramadi General Hospital and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to relieve shortages. The delivery of supplies, provided by Iraq’s Ministry of Health, was part of the security forces’ continued cooperation to aid and relieve the citizens of Ramadi. Individually, Army and Police forces continue to conduct food relief operations in various neighborhoods. Units stationed in certain areas provide deliveries of flour, rice, beans and cooking oil to local mosques for distribution to the neediest citizens of the city. The two forces generally conduct at least one food relief operation per week, on average. To date, the citizens of Ramadi have received 50 tons of rice, 15 tons of beans, 50 tons of flour, and four thousand liters of cooking oil from food relief operations.

Security Operations
Down nearly every street in Ramadi there are boots on the ground to patrol the area, but nowadays those boots rarely belong to the Marines. While the Marines of 1/6 still provide security from posts in their numerous security stations and conduct combined patrols with ISF, it is the Iraqi soldiers and police who have become a common sight to Ramadi citizens. Whether it is Iraqi soldiers in high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles rolling down the larger streets, policemen in pick-up trucks cutting through the alleyways, or a combination of policemen and soldiers on foot in local neighborhoods, Iraqi Security Forces have kept up a strong presence in the city.

“Due to the cooperation of the local police and the Iraqi Army, the increased presence has greatly increased the security situation in the city,” said 1st Lt. Brett V. Taylor, 27-year-old operations advisor to the Iraqi Army’s 2-1-7.

That cooperation was highlighted in a recent security conference held at Camp Hurricane Point, March 16. Commanders of eight local police stations met with officers of the 2-1-7 and local Coalition Forces to discuss the current security situation in Ramadi. Led by Brig. Gen. Khalil, the Ramadi District Police Chief, and hosted by Lt. Col. William M. Jurney, 1/6’s battalion commander, the conference began with a buffet style lunch of local cuisine to encourage camaraderie amongst the commanders. As the officers dined on kabob (ground lamb meat and vegetables with bread) and dolma (vegetables and fruit, stuffed with rice and meat), they were given an opportunity to discuss their individual situation, face to face, with their counterparts. Brought together by a common goal, the mixed group of Iraqi Army and local police commanders found it easy to be sociable during the occasion.

“They were all united by their desire for freedom….and the single purpose of their mission,” said Maj. Daniel R. Zappa, 34-year-old executive officer for 1/6.

Following the lunch, the commanders gathered around a conference table to discuss the overall security situation in Ramadi. The improvements in the city were lauded in the beginning, with commanders citing the amount of operations conducted, the number of insurgents detained and the amount of weapons caches found in the last six months.

“The mothers and sisters of Ramadi have hope because of our operations,” said Khalil. Operations were continued during the meeting, as the commanders geared their discussion towards future plans and problematic areas. Citing certain districts that require immediate attention, Khalil and his fellow commanders put into planning an operation to sweep and clear a populated area in central Ramadi known to be frequented by insurgents. As each commander stepped forward to volunteer forces for the sweep, the number of policemen involved grew to more than 500 by the end of the meeting. The movement for the operation was also handled easily, with many of the commanders sharing similar ideas on the execution and goals of the mission.

“I am very proud,” said Khalil. “These commanders are models for all other officers in Ramadi.”

With the plans being finalized and the pledged support of so many police, the commanders look forward to their upcoming operations.

“I am confident in our upcoming operations and I hope we get our desired results,” said Khalil.

Marines get it started
Although most of the recent success in Ramadi can be attributed to the recent rise in Iraqi police forces, assistance of the local populace and cooperation of the Iraqi Army, the starting point of successful security operations in the city traces back to the Marines of 1/6. From the very beginning of the deployment, the Marines in Ramadi have focused on integrating their Iraqi counterparts while continuing to put pressure on insurgents in an urban environment. To accomplish this, the battalion spear-headed a tactic that has become widely used in Ramadi and abroad.

“We were the first to move in force, establish an observation post in a key area of the city and turn it into a joint security station,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Luis H. Hernandez, 48-year-old operations chief for 1/6.

The tactic serves two purposes in the city and addresses both of the battalion’s focuses. The installation of observation posts throughout key areas of the city isolates and protects the population of the city from insurgents, and the integration of Iraqi Security Forces at each station brings Iraqi forces into the neighborhoods.Since their arrival, the Marines have emplaced numerous new security stations throughout their area of responsibility. In recent weeks, several new stations were built to respond to changes in insurgent activity and to assist combined operations with Iraqi Security Forces.

“The main reason for these new (stations) was to secure a permanent security position in the neighborhoods and further decrease the enemy’s freedom of movement,” said Hernandez, a native of Coral Gables, Fla.

With the construction of the newest stations and the continued operations from the many others, the Marines and their Iraqi counterparts have made their area of operations a dangerous place for insurgents. Maintaining a significant presence in every part of their battle space, the combined force has severely limited insurgent operations in the city.

“(Insurgents) no longer have the ability to move at will,” said Hernandez. “And when they do, we have made them modify the frequency and methods of their movements.”

The HO'S came to the rescue!!!

I was a little stressed about how I was gonna take on the move alone, but as always, my family came to the save the day! Or as we playfully nicknamed ourselves, The HO'S! (the Hancock, Hill, O'Sullivans)

We're all moved in and everything is in it's place. I finally have a date for the cable and Internet guy, the walls are painted, the floors refinished, I re-grouted the super gross bathroom tile until the old man can come home to re-tile it, I went for my first grocery run, and I figured out how to make my way to work on the local buses. Now I just have to get used to the sounds of our big empty house when I'm trying to fall asleep. (And our neighbors! haha) Ahhhh, the joys of home owning!

Moving weekend wasn't too bad. We were in a super time crunch to move, repaint and clean our old place, and try to unpack so I could repack for my trip to Annapolis the following Monday. I couldn't gather up any "Man hands" as we were calling it so I got a few movers for a few hours and with the Old Man's help, we were done in less than five hours!

We almost lost him in our see of boxes!

He was a bit ambitious here...

Oops! He lost his footing!

Taking a well deserved break!

As you can see, he was a big help with the mattress.

All Done!!!

We caught his back seat driving habit in action!

He decided to take over and drive himself!

We made it to our new home!

The rest of the weekend was go, go, go, go, go! My sister really put it best. To read about our weekend, click on the links below.

The Mis-Adventures of Captain Poopy: Moving Day Part One

The Mis-Adventures of Captain Poopy: Moving Day Part Deux

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

We're Walkin for Preemies!

My wonderful sister is part of a Tampa Bay area team that is walking in the March of Dimes: WalkAmerica Walk. She is raising money to help other families, like her own, that go through the difficulties of pre-mature child births.

Her personal goal is to raise $1000.00 and her team is shooting for $5000.00. Please click on the link at the end of this post to donate and support other babies like my nephew and the March of Dimes!

You probably already knew this, but our little Poops was an earlybird. He was born 6 weeks premature, which may or may not have had something to do with the preeclampsia I developed at the end of my second trimester. For those of you who are new here, you can read my story here. Well this April, the March of Dimes is holding its WalkAmerica walk, which also happens to coincide with Poops' first birthday! How fitting, right? Even though ten months has passed, his prematurity is still very fresh to me and so is our experience in the NICU. I have a very dear friend who is going through it all right now with her baby boy who was born just a couple of weeks ago, at 30 weeks. So this walk is very near and dear to my heart. If I could spare any baby and any parent from the experience of an early delivery, I would do it. It's scary as shit. But for now, this is what I can do. I can raise awareness and raise money for an organization who can help figure out why this happens to our babies and fix it. The funny thing is, when I was in middle school and high school, we always used to walk in this walk because it started at the elementary school right down the block from our house, and the route wound right through my neighborhood. And even though I walked every year, I never got it. It was just a fun walk to me. But there were probably mothers and fathers and babies who walked the walk because prematurity touched their lives, and many of those may not have been as lucky as we were with Poops. He came out virtually unscathed! I know everyone has a cause that they blog about and you all have to read about, and this one is mine. Mostly because I never though this would happen to us and I would give anything for it not to happen to anyone else. But also partly because being proactive in this fight will help me heal. So, if you're in the Tampa Bay area and you'd like to join our team, please, join us! But if you'd like to sponsor us instead, I would so love you forever! I have set up a lofty goal for myself ($1,000) and for our team ($5,000). The button on my sidebar will take you straight to our team's web site so you can donate or join our team, The NICU Vets. Everyone who donates will be placed on my sidebar.


To donate, click here! Walking for Preemies!

Monday, March 19, 2007

An update on the Old Man (and his Old Lady)

Homecoming is fast approaching, YAY!! I've talked to the Old Man every day (for a week!) and he's doing pretty good. He's definitely ready to come home and super excited about the house. I've shown him pictures of the progress and he got a laugh out of his "mini-me".

He said that work is going OK and his Marines are doing well. Time has been going by pretty slow now that they're back from rotation. He's managed to lose a few pounds (not that he had any to lose to begin with) by running (what seems like) a hundred miles everyday and eating (what sounds like) the the smallest amount of food possible. Then he continued to talk about the amazing Falafels he eats all the time! Hopefully he has talked to everyone by now. He can check his email and he can get mail for just a few more weeks so don't forget to send Easter presents!!

As for me, I'm back from my week long business trip and about to head off to Philly for another at the end of this week. I got through my midterm papers, but school just hasn't slowed down. The house is coming along really nice. We're all moved in and getting settled. I'll post pictures on here of the progress and the move soon. Basically, it's been homework, house, traveling for work, homework, house, travelling for work, homework, house, work.... Soon it'll be homecoming party!, homecoming party!!!!, homecoming party!!!!!!!!!!! Just a few more weeks! :)

Oh, and the blog's been a little slow lately. I don't have the Internet at home and it's KILLING me!!!!

Hope everyone is doing well! Keep praying for our Marines safe return!!

A letter to the 1/6 family and friends from the Chaplain

Dear families, former members, and friends of 1/6,

The weather out here is beginning to change and the dry, warm season in quickly upon us. As you know things have been quite, but mostly due to the Marines being active. The young men have remained steadfast in their missions to the point of giving the bad guys little room to wiggle. As you have also heard, one of our big elements of success is working with the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police. While I am no expert to illustrate the ins and outs of this success, I am qualified to say the Marines have done a great job of partnering up with these guys. Yes it has taken, learning the language, cleaning up after them, and a ton of patience. However these guys are pulling it off and the IAs and IPs are taking control of some once tough territory.

For those of you of faith, we have been focusing most of our services around who we are as God’s children and what it means to be sinners. While this may seem a bit dark, my belief is if we know our sins, then the cross will mean all that much more to us. Soon Easter will be upon us, and we will be ready to embrace God’s gift of salvation through the risen Savior. This is my most exciting part of the season.

With all this being said, while the men continue strong, they are also smelling the home cooked food and the fresh lemonade. Continue to pray for us, keep the good news coming, stay close to each other, and soon we will be home ready to take you out for a fine dinner.


Chaplain Jamie

Friday, March 02, 2007

Now that the Old Man found God...

(which is a wonderful, wonderful thing!!) I Moto mailed him to make sure he doesn't do this when he comes home.

Man tries to cash $50K check from God

Kevin Russell found out its not easy trying to cash a check from God. The 21-year-old man was arrested Monday after he tried to cash a check for $50,000 at the Chase Bank in Hobart that was signed King Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Servant, Hobart police Detective Jeff White said. Russell was charged with one count attempted check fraud and one count intimidation, both felonies, and one count resisting law enforcement, a misdemeanor. He could face prison time.Police were called to the bank after Russell tried to cash the check, which was written on an invalid Bank One check with no imprint, White said. Russell had several other checks with him that were signed the same way but made out in different dollar amounts, including one for $100,000.Russell struggled with police as they tried to detain him, White said, and then threatened police as they transported him to the Hobart Police Department.Ive heard about God giving out eternal life, but this is the first time Ive heard of him giving out cash, White said.No court date has been set for Russell. He was being held Wednesday at the Lake County Jail on a $1,000 bond.

Story from Yahoo!

(Just teasing, but this is a funny story! Oh, and for the record, this guy isn't Catholic)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

An update on the Old Man

It's been a while since I've talked to the Old Man, but just so you know, he did relay a message to me through a friend of ours that he's OK. He returns from rotation soon and thank God for that...I'm BUSTING to tell him that we signed for the house!!!!!

Order your 1/6 t-shirt!

I'm not sure who, but someone 1/6 related has designed a few t-shirts for us! There are adult sizes, women cuts, and toddler tee's.

To see the designs, prices, and more info, Click here!

Leave a comment or send me an email (through visiting my profile) if you're interested and I'll give you the info on how to get them. Your order and money must be in their hands by March 8!

U.S. soldiers, Iraqi police unite to redeem Ramadi

All Things Considered, February 22, 2007

U.S. troops fought a six-hour gun battle with insurgents in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, Thursday. For years, Ramadi has been wracked with violence. Much of it was destroyed in the fighting, and many residents fled. Now American and Iraqi forces are starting to take back the city.

Ahmed Majid cooks kabobs in his open-air shop in western Ramadi. Children dart in and out.

"Five months ago, you couldn't do this," Majid says through a translator. He went to Baghdad to hide, but when that city's security deteriorated, he came back to Ramadi. The translator says, "He said the area's really nice now."

So what's changed in Ramadi? American forces are getting out of their fortified base at the edge of the city. They are setting up small outposts in the neighborhoods, and patrolling with Iraqi police.

Ramadi Mayor Latif Ayadah says through a translator, "They started looking at locations for police stations that had never seen police in the past.

"The spreading of police in neighborhoods? eradicated the terrorists in those areas, mostly, and they are fearing the police."

Ayadah knows more than most that Ramadi is far from being pacified. He was late for this interview because a car bomb injured his nephew.

But there are signs of progress. Small businesses are opening, adult literacy classes are attracting hundreds of residents, and children are returning to schools.

Young boys spill out of the Al Adel Boys School in western Ramadi. They cluster around American soldiers and talk about the fighters who once controlled this neighborhood.

"They'd tell (us) don't come to school," the boys say in Arabic. "They'd just scare us. They'd force us to go home and not go to school. They used to threaten us with guns."

A key figure in the early efforts to stabilize Ramadi has been Col. Sean MacFarland, a wiry and laconic West Point graduate.

MacFarland spent time in the Balkans. It was there he learned a key tenet of counterinsurgency warfare — cooperating with local leaders.

"The most important thing in a counterinsurgency is to separate the people from the insurgents. And we went about doing that by looking for who the local leaders are. Every place is different. In Baghdad, you have elected leaders. Out here in the tribal areas, it's the sheiks."

When MacFarland arrived last year, some of the sheiks were aligned with Al Qaeda. Many were neutral. But the tribes were vulnerable — caught in the middle of the bitter fighting.

When MacFarland started setting up small outposts, the sheiks asked for help.

He agreed to set up police stations in their areas, but only if the sheiks would provide 100 men to serve as police elsewhere in the city.

Last year there were roughly one hundred police patrolling Ramadi. Now there are about 4,000. And where there were once four outposts, there are 24, where Americans and Iraqis live together.

But there still are parts of Ramadi where Al Qaeda and other insurgents remain strong, including the city center and the eastern edge.

Maj. Scott Kish, a civil affairs officer, rides toward the city center in convoy of Humvees.

"We're going down what we call MSR Michigan ? what the local Iraqis call Main Street."

It is a long and lonely stretch of urban misery. Many of the high-rise buildings are vacant. Some are partially collapsed from shelling. All are pockmarked with bullet holes.

But there are signs of color and life. A fruit stand. Then a mechanic's shop. A small playground. Children sit on swings and watch the convoy pass.

Kish says, "You see some benches in there. You see some slides. Kids playing. So that's a good thing. The bus stops are going to get repaired here in the next three weeks."

The convoy pulls into Outpost Virginia, a fortress trimmed with razor wire and topped with camouflage netting.

Maj. Daniel Zappa walks into the operations center, and points to a cluster of pins on a map. They show reports of possible roadside bombs in the eastern part of the city.

For U.S. troops here, Ramadi is a constant cat and mouse game. The Americans ply the roads in massive armored trucks called Buffalos, to disarm roadside bombs. The insurgents respond with more ingenuity.

The insurgents launch mortars and rockets at the American outposts before melting into the night. American drones circle the sky. Infrared cameras try to capture the silhouette created by an insurgent's body heat.

Into this world heads a patrol of Iraqis and American troops. They're off to talk with a source, a teacher who monitors Al Qaeda and insurgent movements.

They load their weapons and pull on their armored vests.

They walk into a city at war.

They hear gunfire, but radio back that no shots reached them. "But there is contact northeast of our position," they say.

It is a sign that the fate of Ramadi is far from certain. And there will be a high price in taking back this city.

That price has already been paid by Sgt. Joshua Frazier. Just 24. He was killed by a sniper at a marketplace in the city center.

His rifle, helmet and combat boots are set in a stand in the front of a room where Marines are holding a memorial service. A Marine stands to remember his squad leader.

"Sgt. Frazier wouldn't want us all to be thinking about the loss of a couple of days ago. Or thinking about today ? but instead, that we should be out on the street patrolling, doing what we do best."

A few of the Marines wipe their eyes. Then they all file quietly out of the room.

To see the story on Click here!