Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Day 333 - Changing of the Guard

An historic 70 percent of Iraqi voters turned out to vote in their most recent election.

According to Jack Kelly’s commentary today in the Washington Times, the first person to vote in Babylon in the Iraqi parliamentary election was 65-year-old Jasim Hameed, who is wheelchair-bound.
"I'm here at this early hour because I want to challenge the terrorists who want to kill the democratic process in Iraq and I want to encourage the healthy people to vote," Mr. Hameed said. Because Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, threatened to kill those who cast ballots, Mr. Hamid was risking his life.

In a communique issued election eve, Mr. Zarqawi vowed to "ruin the democratic wedding of heresy and immorality."

The threats were not idle. The police in Babil Province caught two brothers with 72 mines and improvised explosive devices who planned to plant them on the approaches to the polling stations, reported an Iraqi correspondent on the scene.

Despite the threats, turnout was so great, the hours for voting had to be extended in many places to accommodate people waiting in line.
Be sure to watch the video of Iraq’s election posted by blogger journalist Michael Yon.

(According to the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office, less than NINE percent of Arkansas voters cast ballots in the statewide special election held last week!)

One military recruiter posts a particularly good list of other things our soldiers have helped to accomplish. (I’ve saved this one in the sidebar under "Reference Helps.")

Finally, here’s a timely reminder from Some Soldier’s Mom, the blogger mother of an injured soldier, encouraging us to include wounded warriors in our Christmas card lists. It's still not too late to zip off a few words of encouragement!

Here's the address...
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
But before you sign off, take a minute to smile while reading about War News Radio, a weekly half-hour show broadcast on the Swarthmore campus station, and podcast over the Web, where it draws as many as 3000 listeners a day. The show’s stated aim is to “rediscover the voices of real people” in Iraq.

Interviewed by The New Yorker, editor Amelia Templeton, a senior history major, estimates that she has spoken with twenty-five Iraqis over the past year, and now, as she said the other day, “it’s a bad idea to ask me about Iraq unless you plan on listening for a while.”
(Full story here.)

Today’s Wayne update brought to you by the letter K.