Excerpts from letters to his parents from Pfc. Moisés A. Langhorst of the Marines. Private Langhorst, 19, of Moose Lake, Minn., was killed in Al Anbar Province on April 6 by small-arms fire.
As far as my psychological health, we look out for each other pretty well on that. ... I've been praying a lot and I hope you're praying for the Dirty 3rd Platoon, because there is no doubt that we are in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
After standing in the guard tower for seven-and-a-half hours this morning, we went on our first platoon-size patrol from about 1200 to 1700. It was exhausting, but it went very well. I had to carry the patrol pack with emergency chow, a poncho and night vision goggles. That's what really wore me out.
We toured the mosques and visited the troublesome abandoned train station. The people were friendly, and flocks of children followed us everywhere.
When I called you asked me if Iraq is what I expected, and it really is. It looks just like it does on the news. It hardly feels like a war, though. Compared to the wars of the past, this is nothing. We're not standing on line in the open - facing German machine guns like the Marines at Belleau Wood or trying to wade ashore in chest-deep water at Tarawa. We're not facing hordes of screaming men at the frozen Chosun Reservoir in Korea or the clever ambushes of Vietcong. We deal with potshots and I.E.D.'s. With modern medicine my chances of dying are slim to none and my chances of going home unscathed are better than half. Fewer than 10 men in my company have fired their weapons in the 10 days we've been here.
While not always pleasant, I know this experience is good for me. It makes me appreciate every little blessing God gives me, especially the family, friends and home I left behind in Moose Lake.
More letters are found in the nov.11, 2004 op/ed page in the New York Times
thank you moises, ralph, dad
and all the men and women who have served