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January 08, 2005

God is in this place

USMC Captain Shannon Arnwine is a Supply Sgt. serving at Camp Fallujah. Here's an e-mail he sent to his parent in Sonora, Texas:

Hey Mom and Dad,

I am doing well. It was good to hear your voices yesterday. Thank God for technology. Y?all had said that you might have a letter of mine printed in the paper, or read at church. I would like at least the people in Sonora to understand what is really going on over here, not what they hear on the news.

My first taste of the Middle East was when I landed at Kuwaiti International. I thought: What a dirty, hot, disgusting place. The wind was blowing extremely hot, and when I arrived on station here at Camp Fallujah, it was even worse. How could God be in this place?

Then I met the people of this land. They stunk. They were uneducated. We have to constantly watch them because some are thieves. I thought again: How could God be in this place?

If you watch the news, especially CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC or CBS ? they all show you the death and destruction that is happening over here, soldiers and Marine dying daily ? one would think that we were losing this war.

Just like the Vietnam War, the public thinks we are losing. But just like the Vietnam War, we in truth are winning. We have won every conflict, every skirmish, every firefight, but the media wants the great American people to believe this is a losing cause. It isn?t.

Today, I was able to go to church. It was held at the base theater. With a laptop computer, a projector, two speakers and a microphone, the chaplain played some praise music. I sat there and watched ? watched the Marines, soldiers and sailors walk in and greet each other, all different ranks from a Navy captain all the way down to a Marine private, and all perfect strangers but all brothers and sisters.

As I listened to the music, I began to notice an awesome presence. I have been in a church where I felt the presence of God, but not like this. I fought back the tears, can't have the young warriors see a Marine captain cry. Overtaken by his presence, I began thinking about all the info y'all see on the news and what the newspapers tell you about this place.

I was wrong. God is in this place. The beginning of life, so close to the land of milk and honey, and what is it? A war zone. Rockets, mortars, small arms fire, IEDs; how could this be? Is this where it all began?

This is why we are here. These people are good people; they are our brothers and sisters. They were so brutalized by Saddam Hussein?s regime that, when I walk by them, they cower from me. Yes, some are thieves, but they try to steal out of necessity. These people need us and want us here; they have told me this themselves.

Because we are here, they have jobs again, they get paid, they put food on their tables, their schools are open and children are learning, their hospitals are open and working, their infrastructure is up and running. Do you see this on the news?

We are helping our neighbors. These young Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen are doing wonders over here. I am in complete awe of them.

This cause that we are fighting and dying for is a worthy cause; what we are doing over here is the right thing to do.

You have paid with your own flesh and blood. Shane Folmar died a hero, on his feet, facing the enemy. He gave his life so that this battle would be fought here, not at home.

God bless you all and God bless America. Pray for us. Semper Fi.

PFC Folman, also from Sonora, was eulogized by his brother Marines following his death on September 24, 2004 as a result of hostile action in Ramadi. Here's what they said about this fallen hero:

"We come here to seek closure and try to understand why a friend, a fellow human being has been lost," said Lt. Col. Randy Newman, commanding officer, 2/5. "We try to understand and respect the fact that he was dedicated to his duties, executed them as a Marine flawlessly and paid the ultimate sacrifice because he understood his call to duty here in Iraq."

Folmar, a Senora, Texas, native, was known through his platoon for his sense of humor work ethic and always striving to improve himself.

"Shane was a good friend, with a great personality," said Lance Cpl. Jose Osornia, a rifleman with Company F, 2/5. "He would never complain and he could always make you laugh. His platoon and company will miss him."

While Folmar's peers recalled the man, his commander remembers the Marine.

"He never complained, he never fell out and he never quit," said 2nd Lt. Robert Jones, a platoon commander with Company F, 2/5. "He never wanted to let anyone down, that was the type of Marine he was."

Folmar was killed doing his duty by advancing and engaging the enemy, and he will be remembered as a true warrior.

"When he died, this Marine was taking the fight to the enemy," said Cpl. Widener, a squad leader with Company F, 2/5. "He would never let up, he would never quit, he was a true spirited warrior. We will continue the best we can, but it will be hard to fill his place. He will be deeply missed by me, his squad and platoon."

Photo by Lance. Cpl. Graham Paulsgrove

Pfc. Timothy Shane Folmar will never be forgotten by his brother Marines. Here, Sgt. Ryan Schulze, 2/5 Marines, F Company, pays his final respects during a memorial service held Sept. 28, 2004 at Combat Outpost.

Posted by Deb at January 8, 2005 07:56 PM

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I just realized that there isn't much coverage of the war in Afghanistan either. How is the United States doing in that place? I understand there are still some hostilities. If you look on a map you can see Iraq and Afghanistan border Iran like two pieces of bread making Iran the filling. Are we getting ready to squeeze Iran? It looks like we could do so, at least from the map, but I don't know much about the quality of Iranian soldiers or the mountains...

Posted by: unkown at January 8, 2005 10:24 PM

What a beautiful and moving picture....

Posted by: Rae at January 9, 2005 05:14 PM

I just wanted to let those who can help a fallen marine's mother, her name is Callie Folmar. Her son was Shane Folmar. Her former husband received all of Shane's benefits and did not share. She is without a decent home, no heat, no bathroom, no food most of the time. She works at a store called Alco in Sonora, Texas but does not have any benefits. Please can someone help her.

Posted by: Debbie at February 2, 2005 05:47 PM

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