Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another letter from #1 son!

Most recent letter is dated Dec 09, 2009. He had just received many of the packages I sent and he sounded very happy. He did make an odd request...a special kind of gun cleaner. Excuse me but shouldn't the USMC supply that? I might need to call that 1-800-mothers-of-america number and complain! I will see what I can do and I will send him anything his heart desires! Wierd requests will be honored by this mommy! January may bring some changes to his location so we are all a bit on edge about that. For now, as far as I know, all is well.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Letter from Capt. Burns 12-30-09

Good Afternoon,

Please see message below submitted by Capt Burns. This message applies to all families & friends of Marines/Sailors attached to A Co in Camp Leatherneck.

Dear family members of Alpha Company,

Two months down and five to go, and these two months have been VERY busy. Over the course of the past two months we distributed dozens of goats, hundreds of pounds of rice, beans and sugar to locals in the surrounding area who are in desperate need. The Marines and Sailors conducted dozens of patrols, interacted with countless locals while successfully executing six Shuras (an informal meeting) with the local villagers surrounding Camp Leatherneck all in an effort to build and gain the trust of the Afghan people. Additionally, we started to shift more focus on integrating the Afghan National Army (ANA) into our regular patrols in an effort to build the trust and faith of the locals that the ANA will be here to instill order and discipline long after coalition forces leave.
We are currently in the beginning of the rainy season here and the once fine “Moon Dust” has now turned in to the consistency of pudding throughout the entire area; recovering a stuck vehicle has become a very common occurrence. This would be the perfect playground for any 10 year old boy who likes to play in the mud.
A few weeks ago we received word that we would be relieved from this mission and after the New Year be reunited with our beloved LAVs. Although we have taken ownership of this current mission, we are LAR Marines and that’s where or passion lies. Our replacements arrived on December 26 and over the next few weeks we will be conducting our turnover. Details of what we’ll be doing are still being determined but until that time we will “Focus and Finish” on the mission at hand.

Please take time to look at, and search for 4th LAR. It is a website that contains raw footage from the military Public Affairs Office (PAO). I always welcome PAO to go out with us in an effort to show you and the world the great things your Marines and Sailors are doing here in Afghanistan.

Thanks again for all your support and on behalf of my wife Andrea and I; we hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season.

Semper Fi and Happy New Year,
Captain Ed Burns

Letter from the Commander #3

Good Afternoon,

Below is a message from the battalion commander:

Happy Holidays to our family and friends back home.

It's been a little over a month since my last letter. Since then, we celebrated Thanksgiving and are now getting ready for Christmas. Our Thanksgiving meal was surprisingly pretty good. Additionally, because we have local nationals (our interpreters) who live and work with us on a daily basis, many Marines have taken to the "local cuisine". Most, if not all, of the interpreters are "accomplished" cooks, at least in our minds. They make a delicious rice mix, with goat or sheep meat when available, and flat bread.

What have we been doing? 4th LAR is the southernmost unit in Afghanistan. We are in a very remote area consisting of predominantly farmlands along the Helmand river. Our daily tasks are patrolling the villages along the Helmand river in order to meet the people, get to know them, identify what they need and assist them in any way possible with improving their way of life. Essential services out here are basically non-existent. What coalition forces bring to the table, the Taliban do not. To date, we have done this very well. Your son/brother/husband/friend has done a superb job getting to know their area and the local people. At this point, local Afghans come to us when they have a problem and need assistance. This is what we want and speaks volumes to how well we're doing after only 5 weeks of operating in southern Afghanistan.

I know it's challenging for all back home to completely enjoy the holiday season while your loved one is deployed. I received an email from my mother the other day stating "this was the first time you've been away for Christmas and New Years"...(which happens to be my birthday). I had to laugh because...she's wrong (sorry Mom). In 1992 I was deployed for 6 months to the Mediterranean from Oct to March. My point is 5 to 10 years from now this deployment will be viewed as nothing more than a "speed bump" in the bigger picture of life. I ask that we continue to support our Marines and Sailors with positive thoughts and encouragement during this time of year; we too miss being with our families. The support and encouragement from home is appreciated and good for the morale of Iron Horse Marines and Sailors.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday.

Semper Fi,

LtCol Mike Martin

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Christmas PRESENT

Steven called Christmas morning. Both Austen and I got to talk to him. He also called Amber and Doug. Hearing his voice was incredible. The call dropped once but he called back.Thank goodness! He had just gotten back from a 2 day "adventure" (my word) and seemed to feel he might get some much needed rest. The mom in me could hear the weariness in his voice. He loves the letters and packages. I completely forgot to ask if there was anything he needed - oops. I'm sure he would have mentioned something specific. He will be writing a letter for me to read to all the Steele Canyon students who wrote to him. He appreciated the outpouring of kindness. I started to cry when I was talking to him but I knew that our time was precious so I sucked it up and then let it out after we hung up. I think it was a combination of relief and wishing he could come home. Remember you can send a motomail letter or snail mail. If you need the addresses just email me at
Merry Merry Christmas,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letter #2!

Steven sent another short and sweet letter. As usual, he makes it sound like summer camp - takin' care of his mom I think. He really appreciates the motomail letters and pictures you can attach. He didn't mention the 9 packages I sent but I'm sure he got them. He did mention he wanted more homemade cookies from Amber. She recently sent him more so he should be a "happy Camper" soon. It is so great to get any information and then...the big feelings hit! What a ride this is. I don't like it but I am so proud of Steven! I watched a homecoming on the news tonight. Marines that had been gone 7 months where Steven is. I imagined Steven walking up the steps with a big smile on his face and being "attacked" by all of us! I have to keep that picture in my mind.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More pictures from far away

Steven emailed Amber a few more pictures. I'm so happy to see them and yet they made me cry! He looks good to me. I will refer to his fellow Marines as "the campers" because it helps me not to cry! Humor is good and I mean no disrespect. Since they are at Camp understand.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Christmas bag

I received the Christmas bag full of letters from students at Steele Canyon High School where I teach. A co-worker of mine had all of her students write to Steven. There are over an hundred letters! I know Steven will be amazed to get this bag full of love and support! It made me feel so good to know so many people love and support my son and they don't even know him! I am sending it off today. I hope it makes it by Christmas but even if it doesn't, he'll love it! Thank you Steele Canyon performing arts students!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas cheer

Steven talked to Amber. He wants some Christmas lights to make the camp seem more Christmas-y! If you have any spare lights around please send them so he won't be so sad on Christmas! Thank you! I also have to give a huge thank you to Joan Gerner and the performing arts students in her classes at my school. Each of them wrote a letter to Steven. She has collected all of them in a Christmas pillow case and I will send them in the next few days!I wish I could see his face when he gets THAT package. It will take him weeks to read them all! That HAS to cheer him up. It makes me so thankful for wonderful friends and thoughtful kids!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

He called Amber again!

Amber got a call and she said Steven was exhausted from 4 days "out and about". He was about to go on a watch so he wasn't even bothering to go to bed! He started talking about when he gets home and how good his own bed will feel! I know how good my bed feels after a day or two away from home in a decent hotel!If I could send him his bed - I would! I am so glad he calls Amber and I am kind of hoping that maybe he can make a phone call home around Christmas time. Right now we can't communicate back and forth so coordinating such a call seems impossible. I am going to keep the hope alive for that call to happen. Thank you for keeping Steven in your thoughts! I know it helps! I appreciate all the support I receive on Steven's behalf. I'm hanging in there.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I got a letter!

I got a letter from Steven that he wrote on November 13. He sounds really good. It's a short letter but it does my heart good! So the snail mail is taking about 2 weeks currently. I'm happy about that. I will be sending another package tomorrow.
He signed the letter, "your son". precious!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Facebook group

Update from Steven's CO

Battalion Commander Deployment Message

Family and Friends of 4th LAR,
After a long trip from Camp Pendleton, California, the Marines and Sailors finally arrived at their “final” location in Afghanistan and taken responsibility for operations in the southern Helmand province. Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion turned over the battlespace to 4th LAR after successfully establishing themselves as the southernmost Marine Corps unit in Afghanistan. They did a superb job over the 4+ months they were here and set the stage for 4th LAR to follow.
As I stated in my first letter a few weeks ago, the conditions down here are austere. Some locations are better than others, but they all bring their own unique challenges. I suspect the “bragging rights” will be interesting as to what unit had it the toughest during this deployment. The more austere, the better, at least for most of us – it builds character. The bottom line is we will all have a better appreciation for the finer things in life upon our return to the United States.
The US postal service seems to be working well; packages are taking about 2 weeks to be received. Mail is always a morale booster, so keep those packages coming especially with the holiday season right around the corner.
On 10 November, we celebrated the Marine Corps 234th Birthday with a quick formation and cake cutting ceremony where the oldest Marine got the first piece of cake and then served the youngest Marine his piece. On the following day, we were fortunate enough to have sirloin steaks flown down to us which we prepared on the grill. It was delicious!
Your Marine/Sailor is working hard and familiarizing himself with the area, the people, the weather and everything else associated with our mission. As always, I appreciate your support and sacrifice and look forward to sharing our accomplishments with you as we begin operations down south.

Semper Fidelis,

LtCol Mike Martin

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Steven is doing well

Steven called Amber and she commented that he sounded "really good". He has received our packages and appreciates all the goodies. Amber's cookies even made it. Even though I would love to hear his voice or get a letter, knowing he is ok is the most important thing! Amber is fantastic at keeping us updated. Thanks Amber!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Email from Steven's commanding officer

This is the end of a letter we received from Steven's commanding officer.

Our next stop is Afghanistan where we’ll be for approximately 7 months. This will be a challenging period for all of us. Because of the unique skill sets of 4th LAR, our location will be very austere and I suspect our operational tempo to be high …. meaning we’ll be busy. Communication with family back home may be challenging for us. We will do our best to keep you informed. My guidance to everyone is – no news is good news and when you hear from your loved one that’s great news.

I intend to provide you with monthly updates at a minimum and more if time permits. I appreciate your support and understanding.

Semper Fidelis,

M. S. Martin

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's really sinking in now

I am coming out of my denial and really "getting it" that my baby boy is at war. It makes my stomach hurt to think about it. Day to day is going well and it doesn't do any good to dwell on sadness or fear. Austen is such a great son and great company. Amber is such a sweetie too and we are all sticking together - the entire family - during this really challenging time. I got a massage tonight which I really needed. I still haven't heard from Steven but I'm sure he's very busy. I wish I could see his smile when he gets all the packages that have been sent his way. I look forward to a letter from him - THAT will make me feel better!
Hug everybody

Saturday, November 7, 2009

He called!

Ok so he called Amber. I'm ok with that. :) She said he sounds good. He is just training and learning the ropes. One week down and many more to go.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Holding up

So it's 10:06pm here and 10:36am in Afghanistan. Funny how even a little thing like knowing what time it is where Steven is helps me feel a little connected. I am doing well even though I may be a bit manic working so hard at staying busy - but it is working for me so far. I just miss my Steven so much and I really want to hear something from him SOONER than later. Thanks for all your support. Oh and guess what!My mom said Curves is going to send a care package a month to Steven! I wonder if he'll get a Curves pedometer? Just kidding - I think it's awesome!He might even like one of those! I am overwhemed by all the support! Austen is hanging in there as well. Ask him the time in Afghanistan - he knows too!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

More care package info

There is a web site,, that gives very specific information. It is vital information. Too much to write here. Hope this helps.

mailing address

For security reasons I have deleted Steven's mailing address. Call me if you want it.


Ideas for care packages

Hi everyone,
I started talking to a Marine in Target,(I know, wierd), anyway, he gave me some good ideas for care packages. The following list contains some of his "top picks":
Baby wipes - lota and lots
Foot powder
body powder
beef jerky - lots and lots
trident gum
Irish Spring soap
powder shaving creme (they have such a thing and I found it at Target)

I am sending a package in the next day or so.
I am also trying to stay busy because I feel the sadness wellning up. It's more like irritable for now.
Thanks for all your thoughts
THE mom

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

He's off

Hi All. As far as I know Steven left this morning at 5am. He had 2 delays which really made things even more difficult for all of us. I don't want him to go but I didn't like the push-me pull-you thing the Marines had going on. I know his motomail address is up and running. Keep him in your thoughts!
with love,
THE mom

Sunday, October 25, 2009

the send off

Well, we went up to Pendleton for family day. We got to check out his "ride" aka Light Armored Vehicle. We ate lunch. Then we ALL came home. It turns out, Steven gets to sleep in his own bed for one more night. So he just stopped by before 7pm, dropped off his truck for safe keeping and I held my son and tried really hard not to cry. I failed. He is such a strong and amazing person. He told ME I could do it! Sheesh! I wrote him a letter last night saying all the things I wanted him to know because I knew I would cry today! Finally, I told him to play nice with the other Marines in the Sandbox. We laughed and hugged some more. It is very surreal.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Camp Leatherneck

Hi everyone,
this is where Steven will be stationed. I think snow and cold will be the main feature! Maybe we can send blankies and beanies! I will post his mailing address soon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

To watch or not to watch

Hi everyone. I was just watching the news about the unstable Afghan government. It made me mad and even more anxious. I am not sure if watching the news will be of any use to me. I have the feeling it will make me nuts, and yet I feel like I have to watch. Your thoughts?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Steven is home

Steven is home on leave before he deploys. I am so excited to spend time with him. I am also dreading his departure. How does a mom let her son go into harms way? I know it's his life to live. I love and support him 100% percent. I have been through many emotions since I first found out he wanted to be a Marine: sadness, anger, frustration and then finally acceptance. I decided to write this blog to share my journey as a mom through this most difficult time.