April 21, 2004
Thank you to the Spanish Army
When the 1/7 Marines came home from the An Najaf province last year, the Spanish Army took over. For the past year, they've engaged in humanitarian and peace-keeping operations in one of Iraq's holiest cities. Now, they are returning home - not by their choice but because of politics.
Last year, a couple of my friends - all Marine Corps Moms from Oregon - worked with me to send over 5,000 lbs. of school supplies to Najaf, Iraq to benefit the schoolchildren. We purchased and filled almost 700 backpacks with school supplies, and sent 50 teacher bags with classroom supplies. However, our Marines came home before our supplies arrived. With no one to receive the supplies and distribute them to the schools, we were stymied. But, Army Civil Affairs Sgt. Katie Utecht gave me an e-mail address for Major Pepe Perez Ucha, battalion commander for the Spanish Army in the Najaf province. Despite his responsibilities, he agreed to pick up our shipment in Kuwait City and transport it to Najaf. Without his assistance, the schoolchildren would not have been helped. He has worked very hard to ensure a better life for Iraqi children. Here is an e-mail I received last year that describes some of his activities:
My complet name is Mayor (Major) Jose Lis Perez Ucha. The e-mail addres is the best way to reach me. We are working a lot of rebuilding schools, and Social Affaires building. I want to tell you we are inagurated the school of Blinds and Deafs in najaf and the Orphanis. We visited the primary and secondary schools and Kufa and Najaf in order to fix it. We are about to buy two buses for the orphans to resolve the probleme of transportation of the children. Another day we organize a travel of 30 girls, these girls belong to the primary school which located in the city center of Najaf, 9 years old for Granada (Spain). These girls right now at Spain for touring and entertainement, eighteen days, to see amusement parks and Arabics monuments at Spain.
Best regards for all
It wasn't his choice to leave. And while he was there, he accomplished much good. Thank you, Major Ucha.
Aside from the military code of honour and their desire to finish the job, some Spanish troops said they were also sad to be leaving some of the Iraqi friends they had made in Diwaniyah.
Three soldiers manning the checkpoint at the entrance of the base were laughing with an Iraqi labourer who spoke to them in broken Spanish.
"I will miss these guys very much, I have gotten used to them," he said.
Posted by Deb at April 21, 2004 02:55 PM
Thanks for posting this -- I'll update my link.
Posted by: Fred Schoeneman at May 15, 2004 08:30 PM