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US Army National Guard Spec. Scott P. McLaughlin, 29, of Hardwick, Vt.

      8-24-05
      Dear Church Members,
      I'm sitting in my room on my day off. Life in Ramadi is very different. Some people back at home say that the war is over and we're just here as Police and Rebuilding. But what I see here seems some different. We have mortar attacks all the time; a couple of weeks ago one of them took out the rear part of our dining area. Lucky it was just before chow time, but it still took out three of the workers there. Vehicles are getting hit with IEDs all the time. Two guys got shot a couple weeks ago. These snipers know where to get us through the vests. It is hard to tell who the bad guys are and sometimes innocent people get killed for simply not heeding warnings and getting too close to convoys of our vehicles in general, and they get shot up. It is difficult to stay positive here but with God's help it can be done. It is hard to see any good in us being over here, very easy to forget why we're here, but I know we are here for a reason and are trying to do good. I think it may be a long road to the end as far as casualties go but maybe things will start getting better after the elections. I'm pretty safe in the 88. I'm not out doing foot patrols or kicking down doors like the other guys, so don't worry much about me. I'm confident and feel pretty certain that God will see me through and bring me home. Those other guys need the prayers more than me although I would like some. I'm hoping to be home by the end of November, possibly the middle, for leave. Being here really makes me see life and how well-off we are in the United States. If only everyone could have such a reality check I think people would be better off, would appreciate what they have and and not take things for granted so much. Well, take care and I miss and love you all.
      Your soldier,
      Scott McLaughlin
      P.S. Please pray for Nicole and the children also. Thank you.
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