"Dear Any U.S. Person."

That may seem like a strange way to start this story, but that's because it's not really a story at all - but a letter to thousands of American people.These Americans already know who they are, but let me introduce a few of them to you - Marilyn, a secretary and mother of two from San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; Meghan and Christine, two sisters ages seven and eight, from Pittsburgh; the entire staff of the Stanford, N.J., Red Cross; Carol, a student from Mount Union College in Ohio; Gerry, a Vietnam vet from Denver; and of course a lot of generous people from our unit's home state of Utah, like Mickela, Krista and Brandon, fifth-graders from Adams Elementary; and Jenny, a 10th-grader from Alta High School.

All of these people make up just a small portion of those who sat down to write "Any Servicemember" letters to the men and women of the armed forces.

The list goes on and on. Because so many people, without knowing anyone personally stationed in the Middle East, wrote these letters giving us words of encouragement, we were able to persevere through many harsh conditions here.

The first couple of months were extremely hard. I don't think there were many of us who ever lived through weather that hot and humid before. Thankfully, it began to cool off, but we had other weather conditions to endure - like blinding sandstorms that swept across the desert with no warning and with such force it brought all work to a virtual standstill.

An endless supply of Kool-Aid and iced tea mix from people like you made it all the more bearable.

Like many of the people here, I thought the worst was behind us after that, but there was still more in store. The holidays are always hard when you're away from family and friends, but that feeling was intensified as we spent our Christmas here.

We may not have been in the United States, but we weren't forgotten. More packages addressed to "Any Servicemember" continued to arrive - these with cookies, candy canes, small artificial Christmas trees and a host of other holiday ornaments. It wasn't home, but because of your generosity, we were able to decorate our dorm rooms and tents to make it through more trying times.

Your words of encouragement and support continued to give us comfort as we drew closer to the United Nations deadline for Iraq to pull out of Kuwait. Now our waiting in the gulf is over; we're fighting with Iraq, but your support continues.

This will be our biggest hurdle to overcome now, but I know we can do it. Mainly because we have that support. It's people like you who realize that sometimes force has to be used to ensure a peaceful world.

In your many letters, you've toldus that America owes its servicemen and women an enormous debt. But that goes two ways, because we couldn't be doing what we're doing, if it weren't for your backing.

You have supported us through all these months, and for this, we are eternally grateful. We won't let you down. Our objectives over here are clear; our cause is just. We are right and we will prevail. America and her allies will not back down.

With your continued support, those objectives will be reached as quickly as possible.

Please understand that while we'd love to answer everyone who has written to us, we are extremely busy and may not be able to. But I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you very much for those letters and may God bless you all.

Although I'd like to sign this letter with my own name, I'd be doing a disservice to the thousands of other airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines here, because we all feel the same way. This letter could have come from any one of the thousands of servicemembers here, therefore I'll sign it appropriately . . .


Any Servicemember