It’s Saturday morning. The war has been under way less than 72 hours. Several of our troops have made the ultimate sacrifice, and we mourn for their families.
Overall, the news streaming back into America is good. The e-mail updates coming back from my son Ian are getting better. Yesterday on NRO, excerpts from four of Ian’s e-mails opened a window to what an airman in Kuwait was experiencing as war drew near and then broke out.
Here are three additional e-mails he has sent to his family and friends during the past 24 hours. The change in tone between the first and last e-mails is striking. As his dad, I can say that Ian has never experienced such dramatic whipsaws of emotion in his life.
The first e-mail he called “Mom.” It was sent to Louise early Friday morning, in response to her urgent e-mail asking for reassurance that he was safe.
hey mom… i’ve never been so scared in my life. they are launching missiles at us. but i am fine. i love you all. i want to come home. i haven’t gotten the mail yet; i dont really care. but dont worry… please dont worry. i’ll be fine. God is watching over me. i love you mom
The second e-mail that we received Friday morning (our time) went out to all his family and friends. It is called “Missiles.” It was uncharacteristic of Ian not to write a salutation. It began abruptly:
We are fully at war. It’s very stressful over here. Every time we have a “red alarm,” something is headed our way. It is in fact a missile that Saddam wasn’t supposed to have. The b******. The waiting is the worst. I have to be fast and accurate at getting my equipment [gas mask and chemical gear] on properly and helping my buddies. Then we have to wait until something horrible happens or we hear the “alarm green.”
It’s clear again and I have to send some A-10′s up to do some dirty work.
The third e-mail, received this morning (Saturday our time), reflects a total change in Ian’s emotions, as well as the good news coming from the battlefield. It is just addressed to Louise.
Hey Mom. I miss Kitty and Gal [nicknames of our dogs]. When I get home, I’m going to take a nap in the sun, on my bed, with Kitty right next to me and Gal on the rug. We haven’t had any alarms lately. I think this is because we’ve pushed so far north. Thank God. I’m working hard sending up planes in pristine condition with loads of munitions. The pilots are doing their jobs as well. They come back empty almost every time.
You know, I surprise myself. Whenever we had the warning that there was an incoming missile, I was the first to have my equipment on. I then was able to help some of the other guys who couldn’t get their equipment on because their hands were shaking so bad. While scared, I stayed composed enough to do what I had to do. I didn’t expect that from me. God is with me. I love you. I’m really homesick. I just want to come home.
Thanks for the prayers. I love you all.
Yesterday (Friday), Louise and I had an unexpected surprise. Over the noon hour, we were watching FOX News when a journalist with a videophone began reporting from a base in Kuwait with A-10 aircraft. And right there, before our eyes, our son came into view. As he worked on the plane, he remained visible during the entire two or three minute report. I laughed for joy. Louise cried for joy. The little graces in time of war.
— Gleaves Whitney is editing a book on the wartime speeches of American presidents, to be published by Rowman & Littlefield later this year. His 19-year-old son Ian serves in the Michigan Air National Guard, now deployed in Kuwait.