Dearest Family, Friends and Veterans of the Golden Dragons,

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas on behalf of the 855 deployed Golden Dragons and Sappers. I can’t help but share the melancholy feeling you are having right now as you bear this time of year without your beloved Soldier. The reality of our sacrifice may not go unnoticed by the average American, but I can tell you they cannot comprehend exactly what you are feeling. Having been deployed three of the last four Christmases to Iraq, being a father of three girls, and husband of a lonely wife, the feeling is profound.  We endure the unendurable. Our common bond of shared sacrifice as brothers in arms and as families of Soldier’s in harms way makes us special. We belong to something bigger than ourselves. No Golden Dragon is ever alone…everyone has a Ranger Buddy…everyone has a brother… we are forever Family.

As this holiday nears, I owe you some hard facts and perspective. Hard facts up front; over the next week, the Golden Dragons will settle in from transition and occupy their new base of operations in Forward Operating Base TAJI, just a short drive North of Baghdad. Simply put our mission will be to provide security and stability to the Iraqi People. Your Dragons will receive their equipment and organize for that mission by the New Year. Their equipment is absolutely spectacular. The Stryker Combat vehicle is the envy of every combat commander in Iraq. Frankly, there are no better equipped Soldiers in the theater.  We received the latest in body armor before deploying. This new body armor fits better, provides better side protection and is 7 pounds lighter! Our Strykers received a series of  Retrofits that increased its force protection and capability. During the last two weeks our Soldiers tested every weapon, every vehicle and polished their critical skills prior to movement north – they are ready. 

As for the perspective, you may have heard there is a change in Iraq. This change has reduced the attacks in some places. In some places this change has improved the security for not only the population but for our Soldiers. This change has commonly been referred to as the “Awakening.” What we are seeing is the population is taking up arms against the terrorists and providing security to their roads and towns. Neither optimism nor pessimism should define our outlook. Certainly we are skeptical. We are very realistic that this tenuous state of affairs can break down without notice, however it is a change. We will move forward  in our mission and the security of our men will always be paramount.   

I want to reassure you that there are no better men in uniform. I’ve come to the realization that the reason these men are what they are …is because of you. Embedded in them are Family values. The same values that are intertwined within in our profession of arms also known as the Army Values. Both Family values and Army values are inseparable.

Lastly, we live through you. Your experiences, your joy, time itself is seen through your eyes. The window by which we see is through mail, email and a phone call. Sometimes an encouraging word from a familiar voice brings one home. I will encourage each Dragon to contact you. God Bless You and Merry Christmas.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Boccardi
Golden Dragons – “The Right of the Line”