Jocks to GIs: Michael Strahan

From: Michael Strahan

Sent: Monday, March 31, 2003 4:26 PM
To: daniel.elliott
Subject: RE: Hello from Qatar

Cpt Elliott,

Thank you for writing to me for this program with ESPN. When I was asked about this program I didn't know what to expect, but I was excited. Whenever you have an opportunity to talk to one of your heroes you take that opportunity and that is what I'm doing now.

I'm the son of an Army Major Gene Strahan. You can call me an army brat. I grew up in Mannheim, Germany and spent alot of time all over the United States. One stop on my fathers tour was Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. We were also stationed at Fort Bragg, NC where my father was in the 82nd Airborne Division.

After reading your E-mail it is amazing that someone would be so considerate for the welfare of others that may be married with children and also for others as well as your own neices and nephews. As someone here at home that grew up on military bases it is great to see that the commitment to country and the people of the world that my father believed in is being carried on by someone like yourself.
As a member of the New York Giants you have the opportunity to play the biggest and best sport in the country. Sometimes you take for granted the opportunities you do have. You sometimes forget that there are people out there who make sure that you are able to do what you do safely without fear. Alot of the time you are complimented on how tough you are and how hard your job must be and sometimes you buy into it until comfronted with the situation that we are in right now. What you and the rest of the troops are doing right now is beyond my comprehension. The desire, skill and training that it takes to hang in there in the conditions that you deal with is harder than any two a day practice any sprint and any situation that we have to go through.

Growing up I just knew my dad was in the military and that he loved what he did. In Mannheim he commanded the 1st Combat Equipment Company. I remember him jumping out of planes with the 82nd Airborne Division and I remember him spending a year away from myself and my five brothers and sisters when he was stationed in Korea. And as I saw it that is who he was and what he did. Because of his military background I learned discipline and about hard work. I also learned how to make a bed with tight corners and to polish boots(mostly his). My father was and still is the biggest influence in my life although he is now retired he and I still talk about everything going on in the military and we are both extremely proud of what you all are doing for us.

When it comes to my personal feelings on the war it is hard for anybody to say that they wish we were at war. But I know that it was necessary and warranted. With all the injustice that has been going on in Iraq over the reign of Saddam Hussein it was inevitiable that some solution would have to come. I realize that without the policies and leadership role of the United States none of us would be able to do and enjoy what we do. So I understand that there are reasons that we are at war, some we know about and some we don't. I think in most cases it is best we don't know about alot of the reasons because I don't think anyone here would be able to function the way that we are functioning now. So I applaud you, love you and appreciate you for all that you are doing for me, my family and the familys around the world that value and know what freedom is about.

As for the sentiment of the nation, I think that we are behind you. On ESPN yesterday it showed the applause given at the singing of the national anthem at ballparks around the country and that signified to me that we understand and that we are behind everyone of you 100%. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and there have been some that have not been the most supporting of the war in Iraq, but I think what was lost in some of those opinions is that even if you support the actions of the United States it doesn't mean that you necessarily wanted a war to break out. Again, I just want to say to you that we are behind the United States actions and the sentiment of the nation is positive with the mission that you are being asked to fulfill. You all definitely inspire us to be giving, unselfish and committed to helping others. Last but not least, BE SAFE AND GOD BLESS.

Thank you for protecting all of us,

Michael Strahan

P.S. Hopefully you are not a Cowboys fan.

From: daniel.elliott

Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2003 4:01 AM
To: Michael Strahan
Subject: Hello from Qatar

Mr. Strahan,

First of all I would like to say thanks for participating in this program with ESPN. When I volunteered for this program, I had no idea who I would get matched up with if I was selected. When I received word that it was you, man that is overwhelming. The force behind the New York Giants. I thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this.

I'm an Army captain. Last year I was in command of a 278 Ordnance soldier training unit at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. It was a non-deployable position. We receive young soldiers fresh out of basic training and train them on their technical skills required to perform their job out in the Army. Its like they come to us as a football player and we have to train them and give them the skills to be a line backer or lineman or running back. Most of these young soldiers were about 18 - 20 years old. We would train them and send them out to units around the world. When we began the build up of troops in the region in preparation for this conflict with Iraq, I knew that I was sending many soldiers out to those units and they would possibly be placed in harms way. I knew many of the soldiers knew this and many were scared and nervous. I use to spend countless hours in the evening walking through the barracks and talking to the soldiers. Trying to reassure them that they had received the very best training and were part of the most highly trained and best equipped Army in the world. I knew they looked up to me and trusted me but no matter what I said, I could still sense the fear that they were feeling.

18 months into my command an opportunity arose for me to volunteer to come to the middle east. I was selected and I had to give up command of my company. That was a very diifcualt thing to do. The greatest opportunity for any military leader is to command. I knew I would be putting my personal life on hold as well. I believed in the cause. I felt the sacrifices were worth it for several reasons. September 11th, I wanted to do something that would help ensure a safer world for my many nieces and nephew, I wanted to be here so some married guy with children would not have to leave his family, and no way could I stand sitting in the states and taking a backseat to watch. I felt it was my duty. I had to be here.

So now I find myself here in Qatar as part of Army Central Command's HQ's with General Tommy Franks leading the way. It all seems so surreal. I yearn to be farther north in Iraq but I understand that I am doing things critical to support the War in Iraq and operations in Afghanistan.

Last week I was watching the gruesome images of captured soldiers that were shown on Al-Jezeera television. They showed images that should have never been shown. I am so glad that they were not shown on US television. The first time I saw the images, they panned in on an Army vehicle and a soldier lying on the road next to it. As they panned in on the vehicle and the unit name on the bumper, it sent a chill down my spine. The vehicle was from an ordnance unit. I sat there and as they were showing the pictures of the dead bodies and captured troops I hoped that I did not see any of my soldiers that I had trained and molded. The reality hit home that some of those soldiers that I sat with at night in the barracks and talked to, may not return from this war.

What do you feel abut this war? What do you feel the general sentiment is towards the war from the American people? I had hoped that diplomacy would have worked but it didn't.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Deputy Director of Logistics
Building 110
DOL, The "Go To" Team