Friday, January 26, 2007

Bay Area Husker ENews 1-17-07

Hey Bay Area Husker Fans!

A number of Husker related events happening this weekend including the Husker Gymnast team out here at Stanford for a meet. And a number of Huskers are participating in the Senior Bowl on Saturday.

Our shipment of donated clothing made it to Iraq. When it was all said and done we had over 150 pounds of warm clothing sent to Baghdad for Thomas O'Hara (see his latest article at the end of this email) and the Army Corps of Engineers to hand out to needy Iraqi families. Thanks again to all who contributed.

Some additional articles worth reading including one about Tippy Dye, and an annoucement about a Chamber Orchestra conducted by our own Emily Ray playing Eastern European Folk Music at a couple venues in San Jose. Enjoy!

Go Big Red (White and Blue),

Carl

P.S. Don't forget to save the date...Saturday February 25th is our Founders' Day event and you won't want to miss our guest speaker, Jamie Williams, former Husker and NFL Niners star! More coming soon!

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MOORE TO SHARE SENIOR BOWL EXPERIENCES...

Jay Moore will check in with Huskers.com throughout his week at the Senior Bowl.

Jay Moore is one of three former Husker Blackshirt defenders who will play for the North team in next Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Moore will share his experiences during the week in a Senior Bowl Journal. He will give Huskers.com readers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into all aspects of Senior Bowl week, including practices, meetings with NFL coaches and executives and the Jan. 27 game.

Moore will be joined in Mobile by fellow defensive end Adam Carriker and linebacker Stewart Bradley. All three players will be under the direction of the Tampa Bay coaching staff, led by Head Coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a former Nebraska player and assistant coach.

Moore will be traveling to Mobile on Saturday and will share the first installment of his Senior Bowl Journal over the weekend.

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NU GYMNASTS ATTEND STANFORD OPEN...(why watch the webcast when you can watch it live at Stanford!)

Junior Stephen T├ętrault and the Huskers compete at the Stanford Open this Saturday.

The No. 11 Nebraska men’s gymnastics team meets up with Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rivals No. 7 Stanford and No. 13 California this Saturday, Jan. 27 at the Stanford Open in Palo Alto, Calif. beginning at 9 p.m. central.

This is the third consecutive weekend on the road for NU, which enters the meet following an outstanding performance against Oklahoma and Air Force on Jan. 20. Last week’s contest was the second straight between the three programs after opening the season at the Rocky Mountain Open at Air Force and featured a huge improvement in Nebraska’s team score. The Huskers jumped from a 189.70 at the RMO to a 203.30 in Oklahoma.

Following this weekend’s competition, Nebraska will have competed against all four of its conference opponents, giving it a sneak preview at what it can expect from the MPSF Championships on March 31.

MATCH TO BE BROADCAST LIVE...

The No. 11 Nebraska men’s gymnastics team can be watched live this Saturday, Jan. 27 beginning at 7 p.m. (PST) thanks to a live webcast made available by Stanford, which is hosting the 15th annual Stanford Open.

The feed, which can be accessed by the link provided above, will cover all eight sessions of the Stanford Open, including the NCAA division featuring the Huskers on Saturday night. Viewers will need to be on a PC (not a Mac) and will need a high speed internet connection. Users will also need to download a specific software application, which should take approximately 15 seconds. Both the software application and the webcast are free.

For additional information about the 2007 Stanford Open, please click here.

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SCHMIDT NAMED MPSF GYMNAST OF THE WEEK...

This is Schmidt's first MPSF Gymnast of the Week award.

Lincoln – Nebraska sophomore T.J. Schmidt was honored as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Week on Tuesday following his remarkable performance against Oklahoma and Air Force on Jan. 20. The award is the first of Schmidt’s career at Nebraska.

Last weekend, Schmidt led Nebraska to a team score of 203.30 against Oklahoma and Air Force, setting career high scores on the pommel horse (9.00), still rings (8.95) and parallel bars (9.35). His performances on the pommel horse and parallel bars earned him the second and third event titles of his collegiate career, after he earned his first event crown at the Rocky Mountain Open on Jan. 12.

In the last two weeks, Schmidt has either tied or set career high scores six times, besting his own high scores on pommel horse and still rings each week. At the Rocky Mountain Open on Jan. 12-13, Schmidt tied his career high of 8.20 on the floor exercise and set then-top scores on the pommel horse (8.55) and still rings (8.65), which he again bested last week.

Schmidt’s consistent performance on the pommel horse paid dividends this week, as he debuted at 13th in the season’s first GymInfo rankings.

The Blair, Neb., native hopes to continue improving on his already stellar scores this weekend, as he and the Huskers travel to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Stanford Open on Jan. 27 at 9 p.m. central.

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NU BASEBALL/HSN ANNOUNCE RADIO SCHEDULE...

Fans can listen to Nick Sullivan and the Husker baseball team throughout the 2007 season.

Most Extensive Broadcast Schedule in School HistoryLincoln – The University of Nebraska Athletic Department and Host Communications announced Friday that nearly 50 regular-season games will be carried live on the Husker Sports Network this spring. The 49-game schedule will commence on Friday, March 2, as the ninth-ranked Huskers take on Iowa live from Deland, Fla., beginning at noon (Central).

Jim Rose and Randy Lee will form the regular broadcast team with Sports Nightly’s Lane Grindle a part of the broadcast lineup for selected games. The Husker Sports Network will carry all 27 Big 12 contests and 22 non-conference matchups, including games against Notre Dame, Stetson, Alabama, Wayne State, Nebraska-Kearney, Western Illinois, Northern Colorado, Creighton, Wichita State, North Dakota State and Coastal Carolina. The broadcast schedule, which also includes any Big 12 Championship and NCAA Tournament game the Huskers participate in, is the most extensive in school history.

“From a personal standpoint, I am thrilled about it,” Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson said. “One of the questions I get asked the most is which games will be broadcast, and to have nearly 50 games on the air this year is outstanding. The people at Host (Communications) are great to work with, and the relationship we have built across the state carrying Husker baseball games over the years is incredible. It is great for our fans because there is nothing better than listening to baseball on the radio.”

Beginning March 2, every Husker game will be produced by the Husker Sports Network, heard on Huskers.com and available to Husker Sports Network stations across the state. Nebraska’s non-conference midweek afternoon games will be offered to network stations, but are guaranteed to be available on Huskers.com.

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HUSKER SOFTBALL TEAM RANKED 15TH IN PRESEASON POLL...

Nebraska is one of five Big 12 teams ranked in the top 20.

The Nebraska softball team earned a No. 15 ranking in the 2007 USA Today/NFCA top 25 preseason poll, released on Wednesday. Defending national champion Arizona garnered 23 of a possible 30 first-place votes to take the top spot.

The Huskers earned the second-highest ranking of any Big 12 school, but the five league schools that earned a spot in the poll were all in the top 20. Texas A&M, the preseason favorite to win the league, came in at No. 13. Following NU was three Big 12 schools, Oklahoma (16th), Texas (17th) and Baylor (18th).

In 2006, the Huskers finished the season ranked 14th in the USA Today/NFCA poll with a 44-12 record. Nebraska returns six starters from last year’s team, including four players who have combined to earn a total of six all-conference awards.

NU returns every pitcher from last year’s roster and the infield must replace only one lost starter. The outfield was the hardest hit by graduation, as the Husker lost all three starters from the 2006 season to graduation.

Nebraska is scheduled to play at least 13 games against eight teams ranked in the preseason poll, including the Huskers’ Feb. 8 season opener against 24th-ranked Auburn.

AND THEY ARE ALSO PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN BIG 12...

The Nebraska softball team is the preseason pick to finish third in the Big 12 Conference in a vote of the league’s head coaches, the Big 12 announced on Thursday.

Texas A&M was selected as the preseason favorite to win the league for the second consecutive season. The Aggies claimed eight of a possible 10 first-place votes. Baylor was in the No. 2 spot with one first-place vote, while Oklahoma was picked fourth and garnered the final first-place vote.

The Huskers are coming off a runner-up conference finish in 2006. Last season, Nebraska finished 44-12 (13-4 Big 12) and recorded the third-best winning percentage in school history. NU finished the season with a No. 14 national ranking, the second-highest among all Big 12 schools, trailing only Texas, who advanced to the Women’s College World Series.

Nebraska returns a total of six starters this season, including four players who have earned all-conference recognition. Senior right-hander Ashley DeBuhr is one of the top returning pitchers in the league. DeBuhr, who is poised for a superb senior season, was a second-team all-conference and all-region selection as a sophomore in 2005 and earned first-team All-Big 12 and All-Midwest region honors in 2006.

Joining DeBuhr as returning All-Big 12 players are fellow seniors Devin Porter and Jamie Waldecker and freshman Crystal Carwile. Porter enjoyed a breakout 2006 season and was rewarded with second-team all-conference recognition. Waldecker also garnered second-team All-Big 12 accolades in 2006 and she was also a second-team all-conference player as a freshman in 2004.

Carwile had an outstanding freshman season, leading the Huskers in home runs and RBIs, while ranking among the league leaders in several categories. For her efforts, she was tabbed a second-team All-Big 12 selection.

With a solid core of returning players, the Huskers biggest challenge this season may be getting production from a talented, but young group of underclassmen. Of the 15 players on the 2007 Nebraska roster, 10 are either freshmen or sophomores, including four newcomers who have never played at the Division I level.

The Huskers have won a total of six Big 12 titles in the 11-year history of the league. Nebraska boasts a league-high three regular-season titles and has also added three tournament crowns. A fixture at the top of the league standings, Nebraska has finished first or second in the Big 12 regular-season standings five times and a total of six times in the Big 12 Championship.

Nebraska kicks off the 2007 season Feb. 8-11 at the Paradise Classic in Honlulu, Hawaii. The Huskers begin their Big 12 title quest on March 24 at Baylor.

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DEBUHR NAMED TO PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR WATCH LIST...

Ashley DeBuhr went 26-10 with a 1.50 ERA in her junior season of 2006.

Senior right-hander Ashley DeBuhr was one of 50 players named to the preseason watch list for the sixth annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association announced on Tuesday.

The 2007 preseason watch list is comprised of 50 players representing 33 schools and 11 conferences. The ASA will announce the 25 finalists on April 4. A list of the 10 finalists will then be released on May 9, with the final three finalists announced on May 23. The National Player of the Year will be selected prior to the start of the 2007 Women’s College World Series.

DeBuhr is the first Husker to appear on the preseason watch list since Peaches James and Nicole Trimboli in 2004. A native of Beatrice, DeBuhr is poised to make her last season as a Husker her best.

A second-team All-Big 12 and all-region selection in 2005, DeBuhr was dominant in 2006, earning first-team All-Big 12 and All-Midwest region honors. Last season, DeBuhr posted career-best numbers, including a 26-10 record with a 1.50 ERA.

DeBuhr also posted 304 strikeouts after striking out 335 in her junior year. DeBuhr’s back-to-back 300-strikeout seasons are a first in school history, as only one other player in NU history has struck out 300 batters in a season (All-American Peaches James’ school-record 394 strikeouts in 2004).

While ranking among the league leaders in nearly every category, DeBuhr was also among the nation’s best in several pitching categories, including 23rd in wins, 22nd in strikeouts per seven innings and 44th in ERA.

One of only three pitchers in school history to toss a perfect game, DeBuhr finds herself in the top 10 of six different Nebraska career pitching records entering her final year. DeBuhr has a chance to enter the top three in several categories, including strikeouts, where DeBuhr needs 278 strikeouts to surpass James as the Huskers’ all-time strikeout leader.

In addition to her dominance in the circle, DeBuhr emerged late last season as a threat in the batter’s box. She finished the season with a .267 average, one home run and eight RBIs in only 30 at bats. Building off of last season’s finish, DeBuhr is expected to see many more at bats while enjoying a more prominent role in the Husker offense in 2007.

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FINDING A LITTLE PIECE OF HISTORY...From the L.A. Times...

Check out the link to this article about one of college football's early stars who became a very successful multi-sport coach and Athletic Director, 'Tippy' Dye...many of you will remember that 'Tippy' has a little Husker history intertwined in his life too. I've added a few excerpts from the article to pique your curiosity! Thanks to Duane for sending this along.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dwyre5jan05,0,3625275,full.column

Bill Dwyre:

Finding a little piece of history

January 5 2007

CAMPTONVILLE, CALIF. — Here in Gold Rush country, a land of tall trees and taller stories in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, an elderly man walks a circular road near his home twice a day. Always, he walks with a cane. Often, he wears a red cap that says, "Ohio State, Big Ten Champion, 1950."The cap is in good shape. So is William Henry Harrison Dye, 91, better known as Tippy.

FOR THE RECORD:College football: A story in Friday's Sports section on 91-year-old Ohio State legend Tippy Dye twice referred to a "Roger and Mary" as part of his still-active life. It should have said Roger and Penny. Roger is his son-in-law and Penny is his daughter. Mary is Tippy's late wife. —

It has been a while since Tippy Dye has been in the news, almost 33 years since he retired as athletic director at Northwestern and headed off to Florida and the golden years with his beloved wife of 64 years, Mary.

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His name was Tippy Dye and the years were 1934, '35 and '36. He was 5 feet 7, 135 pounds, wore No. 50 and played offense and defense as the Buckeyes shut out the Wolverines all three years. Dye's three straight were viewed as an especially significant feat last fall because Ohio State's quarterback, eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, was about to match that accomplishment. Smith did exactly that in the Buckeyes' 42-39 victory that day, a victory that set up Monday's national title game against Florida.

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When Dye went to Washington, he had decided that his eventual goal was athletic administration, and after a short stay as athletic director at Wichita State, he was hired in 1962 as the AD at Nebraska.There, his mandate was to turn around a football program that had, for years, been embarrassingly bad, with only two winning seasons in the previous 20. Dye hired a football coach from Wyoming named Bob Devaney and, well, you know the rest.After Nebraska, Dye had seven more seasons as athletic director, holding that position at Northwestern until 1974, when he and Mary headed for Florida.

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Forgot to add this to the last email. The Conductor, Emily Ray, is the wife of our chapter historian, Mike Ray.

The Mission Chamber Orchestra: Eastern European Folk Festival

Two performances filled with the allure and vibrancy of Hungarian, Czech and Russian folk music!

Concert Details

Event: The Mission Chamber Orchestra: Eastern European Folk Festival
Program:
Shostakovich Cello Concerto no. 1 in E-flat major
* Lawrence Granger, cellist
Dvorak Serenade, op. 44 in D minor
Kaulkin Letter to Hungary (U.S. Premiere)
* performed by MCO with the Monta Vista High School Chamber Orchestra

Conductor: Emily Ray
Soloist: Lawrence Granger, cellist

Two Performances, Jan. 27 &28:
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Time: Concert at 8:00pm**
Location: San Jose City Hall Rotunda, 200 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose
** Pre-concert lecture at 7:15pm and a 15 minute post-concert question and answer session.

Tickets: $20 general, $17 seniors & students, $5 children under 12

Sunday, January 28, 2007
Time: Concert at 2:30PMLocation: Monta Vista High School, 21840 McClellan Road, Cupertino
No pre-concert lecture for Sunday's concert but there will be a 15 minute post-concert question and answer session.

Tickets: $15 general, $15 seniors & students, $5 children under 12
Tickets:
Advanced ticket purchases available online:
http://missionchamber.org/cat_season.php

Advanced ticket purchase is recommended.
Tickets purchased at the door are subject to availability.
MCO Phone: 408-236-3350
Website: www.missionchamber.org
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NEWS FROM THE HOMELAND...

* Wesleyan Prez Gets Nearly $1 Million To Go Away

Not a bad retirement deal. Controversial, but not bad.

http://nebraska.statepaper.com/vnews/display.v/A
RT/2007/01/18/45af9f29ba51e

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OLD PENNY POSTCARDS...a great trip down memory lane...

Thanks to Gordon Mickleson for sending this along. After going to the website, click on Nebraska and see if you can identify some of the old photos in these old postcards. You can also click on your home County to view more postcards!

http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/special/ppcs/ppcs.html

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HUSKER IN BAGHDAD - NUMBER 6

Here is the latest from Thomas O'Hara (from Omaha) who is stationed in Baghdad...
Again, sorry it as been so long since I have last written. I was shooting for a bi-weekly email, but this is the first effort since Christmas.

NEW YEAR – RENEWED EFFORTS

As you can tell by the evening news and national dialogue, things have been very busy around here. In the last few weeks there has been a renewed focus on the efforts here – no so much to convey the reality on the ground – but to feed the debate stateside.

Some of the delay in my writing has been due to support to the steady series of congressional visits from many who have chosen to make the 6000 mile journey for a few hours in Baghdad. While it is important to see the issue here first-hand to understand it, many troops shake their heads realizing most of these trips end up being nothing more than a few rushed moments in the International Zone, split between photos ops with arranged meetings with troops or to sit in a chair next to any Iraqi leader. This posturing is a far cry from a north to south understanding of the progress and challenges. Some of the less popular visitors have had to have people ‘recruited’ to appear at these gatherings. This show is something that some of the harder Soldiers shake their heads at and I am sure will be fodder for thousands of individual Soldier emails home. The mess hall talk is already part ridicule for those who have since rushed home to get on TV and claim to have seen the mission here ‘first hand’. You can’t fool Soldiers – God love’em.

Jump into a convoy; spend a few nights in a downrange forward operating base; meet a local village leader and you might gain credibility in these hero’s eyes that you are truly looking to learn what you’re not hearing in the news. Otherwise, take your photo and get back home – you’re using assets we need to get the mission done. That is what they will tell you.

In Washington they call this ‘the silly season’. It’s the time many leaders use the pulpit to position themselves for the upcoming year and try and out-do each other with sound-bytes. That’s unfortunate – if there was ever a time for the dialogue to be serious, it is now.

However, in all honesty, most of the delay of these reports was due to the relative calm which has fallen in the last few weeks. Despite the outcry following the execution of Saddam, the pirate video by militants, or the U.S. President’s announced new policy here – things have been ‘relatively’ quiet. However, much like not jinxing a pitcher throwing a no-hitter or perfect game, you hesitate mentioning things like ‘inactivity’ in an environment like this for superstitious fear of angering the “War Gods”, as some call them, and regretting those comments later.

What ultimately inspired me to take a moment and write this email now came from an unexpected event. This week, here at the Gulf Region division, a concert by Groove Alliance, a band from Boston, played for our local Iraqi nationals and GRD personnel. The harmony discovered during that performance was moving. It was a very energetic two hour program of cover songs from the past few decades with horns, base, keyboard and multiple vocals. It was a real treat and departure from the daily norm.

Somewhat smitten with the beautiful female vocalist for the band, many of the Iraqi males (ok, and some of us U.S guys) developed a quick admiration for our visitors. One of the Iraqis was so moved by the concert he asked to come onstage and sing his own song. The band, acknowledging they had no idea how this would go, obliged. What started out as an awkward performance, from the heart, hindered by language and sung a cuppella (since the band did not know what he was going to sing) slowly brought all those attending together in song. Various translators in the crowd whispered interpretation of the words to their neighbors which basically stated his story of hardship from the south, his appreciation for the concert, the lovely singer, and the friendship he now has with those here trying to help. The base and drum player, obviously skilled at impromptu jam sessions, developed a quick background rhythm to compliment the song. In the end, the entire group -- band, audience, and singer -- were harmonizing together. None of us knew were it was going, at times we did not know the words each other was using -- but we were all determined that it was right. It became a metaphor for this entire mission here.

There is a culture forming here that is willing to try, succeed and fail without fear. Unfortunately, just when the message from the liberators should be that of encouragement, the message conveyed from many of our stateside leaders is quite the opposite. It is scary how our national dialogue is now of results – or else! Ironically, it is starting to sound like the rhetoric from the regime we just removed from here.

Leadership, mentorship, must involve patience and tolerance. A strong arm for sure -- but with an open hand, not fist, at the end.

There is good news from Iraq. Sadr’s top deputy was arrested – that is in addition to more than 400 members of his militia. Word came today Sadr is also ending his boycott of the Iraqi parliament. Things are happening.

Unfortunately the relative quiet has ended. Last night came the news in which we lost 13 American heroes in a helicopter crash north of Baghdad. In an instant, the bar of sacrificed is raised.

Today started Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muharram). As one of the four sacred months of the year, fighting during this time is looked down upon as a sign of respect for Islam. Considering Al Qaeda and the insurgents claim to represent Islamic ideals, but fail to demonstrate any recognition for the peaceful tenants of that belief, there is not too much optimism that they will change their tactics for Muharram either.

SABOTAGING THE INFORMATION BATTLESPACE

A lot of the stateside debate has been in the president’s decision to add more troops to Baghdad. The shallow and self-serving political diatribe of critics has failed to address the other important parts of the current plan. Foremost absent in the dialogue, the Iraqi focus on all militias –Sunni AND Shia (even those under Sadr) as criminal elements is a huge difference than before. Also, the agreement to allow our combined US/Iraqi forces to stay and hold these areas after we secure them is similarly significant. Additional construction, investment and jobs program, supported by the government of Iraq is a third crucial piece. These are all essential elements but they counter the simple sound bytes by those politicians jumping out of our foxholes here and running to the podium to deliver their chorus of “let’s take our toys and go home.”

The divisive self-service rhetoric of a U.S. presidential campaign starting a year earlier than it should is more damaging to our effort than an IED. The shallow analysis and endless chatter on talk radio and nightly news inspires more enemies than any militant video. We are losing the information war mainly due to friendly fire from our own ranks. How do you stop the bleeding when the battle wounds come from inside?

Sectarian militias and thugs have claimed this information battle space as their own. Stemming from the bombing of the Al-Askari Mosque in February 2006 by Al-Queda, these renegade elements have done their best to polarize the national dialogue, and our newsmakers only help the cause.

Newsweek had an article on “the next generation of jihadists” – where is the article on the next generation of engineers and politicians? I guess that headline isn’t as sexy.

Outlets rushed to air over and over again footage of Saddam’s hanging, but we can’t buy air time for footage of significant construction projects or success stories.

I am totally confident this war would already be won if the coverage of it wasn’t only focusing on the enemy’s side. We would be winning the war if the media would help.

The only thing more frustrating than the constant negative focus is the growing sloppiness of journalism today. The number of unattributed quotes to unauthorized spokesperson is now a mainstay in most stories. Back in the day, reporters would use legitimate unattributable information to find the people who should be asked these questions and get the quotes from them. Now they just take a good sound byte, or possibly make them up, and then file their report with an unnamed, un-authorized (and probably uninformed) quote from an nameless source. Often this results in organizations fending off rumors and untruths fueled by interested outside their efforts and not focusing on the true efforts at hand.

Woodward and Bernstein? No…today’s journalism culture is more Abbot and Costello.
Interestingly, the media is now acknowledging we are losing the information war —something the military has charged for awhile. However, their coverage does not take ownership that the conveyers of the message are equally responsible part of the problem.

The media being wrong, and part of the problem, is not new to this effort…

In 2003 the drumbeat was the march to Baghdad would be prolonged and we would be engaged with battling the republican guard for months. Contrary to the naysayers, Baghdad fell April 9, 2003 -- 21 days after efforts began.

That negative rhetoric was followed with the chorus that we would not be able to reorganize any semblance of an Iraqi government to begin reassembly – unfortunately to the critics the first Governing Council of Iraq was installed in July 2003.

After nearly a year of slow and steady progress building a framework for the Iraqi government to build upon, all the talking heads predicted a bloody transition from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Interim Government of Iraq. Pundits predicted Baghdad would be on fire at the expected transfer of June 30, 2004. Both the bad guys and media were wrong as the transition not only occurred without elevated violence, but occurred two days earlier than expected, June 28, 2004.

Experts said the first elections would fail. They did not -- and there was a 58 percent turnout for the first election Jan 30, 2005 (a participation level the U.S. hasn’t seen in a national election since the Johnson era)

The drumbeat continued that this rambling wreck of an alliance would not be able to draft any type of collaborative constitution. To their surprise, the first Iraq construction was ratified Oct 15, 2005.

They said the second elections would fail. Not only did they also not fail, or fall under the cloud of widespread sectarian violence, but were even more successful than the first. The Sunni sect, those who boycotted the fist election, learned more progress was available by ballots rather than bullets and turned out as well Dec 15, 2005.

Now the media and national dialogue is determined to make the criminal/political war here a bonafide ‘civil war’. In addition, both the media and political leaders are attacking the latest plan by the forces here and the commander in chief more so than the actual enemy.

I wonder what will be the focus of the western media in the months ahead – The campaign in Iraq in 2007, or the US campaign in 2008.

I guess in the end, no one will win a Pulitzer for a good news piece.

THE REAL NEWS FROM THE INSIDE

Today, when you walk through Kuwait – if you’re American – they point to you and the surrounding area and they tell you “your city, your city.” It is a broken English way of saying we are welcome there. Kuwait citizens appreciate the American sacrifice from the early 1990’s. While we don get the opportunity to interact with all Iraqis because we are still in the midst of this struggle, the seeds of similar appreciation is also here. Need an example? (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16356220/ )

Following the Iraq appeals court decision to uphold the decision to execute Saddam, there was an immediate chorus of international reports prejudging how the Iraq government would handle the process.

While the world court of public opinion was decrying the execution – a lot of the criticism was from those who disagree with capital punishment in general. As far as many of the critics judging the informality or mob-mentality of the execution, I would submit what are they comparing it to? (any other evil dictators been dealt punishment on a world stage by a democratically valid judicial system lately?)

Following the execution, my Shia and Sunni colleagues mentioned the swift government action was a good message for the other tyrants in the Middle East.

To many Iraqis, the pirated video of the execution is the only blemish on the otherwise organized legal proceedings of the Iraqi government. The international questioning of its existence is worthwhile – but where is the similar disgust for the similarly leaked/posted Al Qaeda video of our Soldiers being blown up or shot? Frustration over sensationalism misrepresented as news should apply for the good guys as well as the bad guys.

The media focused on the Sunni reaction to the execution of Saddam. It should be know that many Shia are equally upset about those shouting “Muqtada” and creating a circus of the event. According to those I talk with, no true Iraqi wants their society to be represented by extremists. Imagine if the world judged all of America by our polarizing organizations?

Iraqis also are a little defensive when the world accuses their legal system as ‘rushing’ through the process. Swift action is a part of this culture. They do the same in their other efforts. Muslim belief typically buries the dead within three days. Saddam was buried 24 hours after his execution in Awja, near Tikrit. This is their way.

I don’t think those the U.S. would be too tolerant of others judging our actions. We don’t own the corner on pride.

NOT SO LONG AGO

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment…

It is you wedding day. You’ve been planning for this moment for months. You’ve just been pronounced man and wife. As you leave the ceremony, a group of men come up and take your wife from your hands. You know she is being taken to please those of privilege – Saddam’s sons, or others. You know she will either have to comply, or you will never see her again.

Or you are simply a young attractive woman standing on the corner in Baghdad. Those same men decide you are the pleasure of the day. If you’re lucky, you’ll only be used for a few days and leave with your life and a token gift, maybe a stereo, for your sacrifice. If you fight, you won’t be seen again.

You are an Iraq family and in the middle of the night, for reason unknown to you, your father and other male adults disappear without explanation and are never seen again.

Imagine a government using industrial chipper-shredder -- what we use in the states to chew up leaves and branches from a storm –to interrogate, torture and kill someone for information, revenge, or simply entertainment.

Imagine attending a government function, and because someone told Saddam you disagreed with him, to have your named called, escorted out of the room and then never heard from again.

These are the tales of life under Saddam. While the sectarian thugs are trying to bring this type of evil back to Iraq, they are being fought by the honorable protectors of democracy slowly standing up here. These are the people who remember a crueler time and don’t think hecklers at hangings is the worst thing that can happen.

CONSTRUCTION NOTES

Regardless of the dialogue in the west, the reality here on the ground is our work continues.
In the last few weeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division completed 38 construction projects and started 23 new projects in Iraq from Dec.29, 2006-Jan. 12, 2007.

Six of the projects completed – totaling $531,000 - were small water projects in Erbil Province. The projects – Shewa Ziarat, Baspishtian, Hawidan, Keshke, Kawartian and Aqubani Saru - consisted of construction of wells, ground tanks, supply of generators and pumps, and expansion of the distribution system. The projects are capable of serving 12,000 residents in the Province
Two of the new projects started during this period are the $4.9 million electrical rehabilitation of a low voltage network in the Wazeriya-Ghazalyia neighborhood of Baghdad Province, and the $1.7 million Al Ghadir low voltage electrical network in Karbala Province. Each project will bring power to approximately 45,000 homes.

The completed construction of the Rumaytha Electrical Distribution in Muthanna Province provides additional electricity into the municipal grid system that will improve the livability of the local population of Al Rumaytha.

The completed construction of the ED-300 Samawah, Underground 33kV Feeder Lines in Muthanna Province will feed power to the new Mehjid and Rumayatha Substations, the local distribution grid network and eventually to surrounding homes and businesses.

The completed construction of the ED-300 Mehjid 33kv Substation in Muthanna Province provides services as the distribution center of electricity throughout the impoverished city of Mehjid.

The completed construction of the Rumaytha 33/11kv Substation in Muthanna Province serves the dual purpose of being the termination point for a 33kv line originating at the Old Rumaytha 132/33/11kv Substation, and being the distribution center of electricity for the impoverished city of Rumaytha.

The electricity may not be where we would like it to be in Baghdad, but the power is with the people.

There may not be enough hospitals yet to serve everyone, but more Iraqis have been inoculated than ever before.

There may not be enough schools yet, but there are more students in school than ever before.

CLOSING

God bless those we lost this past year, this past week, and since this effort began. May God ensure we are allowed to finish this effort to make their sacrifice not in vain.

Thank you all who continue to stay in touch and help convey the story that is not getting out. In addition to the now 1,018 people on this distribution list, I know more get this simple account forwarded to them in the mail, and others read the entire series on the Army Engineering Association web site at: http://www.armyengineer.com/husker.htm

Recently I passed the mid-way point on this current tour and am now realizing there is much more I want to get done than days left to do it. That said, I hope to not take as long to write again.

Special thanks to the kids at the Hillcrest Christian Middle School Honor Society from Jackson, Miss., who sent care packages of clothing, snacks and toys for Soldiers and Iraqi children. Your actions as well as those from similar school groups across America to support the troops AND their mission here helps show that the future for both countries is in good hands.

We just updated the Gulf Region Division Web site at www.grd.usace.army.mil. We will be adding print, photo and video coverage of construction efforts as quickly as we can.

You can read much of the construction in Iraq in the latest issue of ESSAYONS FORWARD, the field magazine of the US Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq at: http://www.grd.usace.army.mil/news/Essayonsforward/index.html (Note: it is a large .pdf to download, please be patient).

You can follow the progress here in Iraq on the Multi-National Force in Iraq web site at http://www.mnf-iraq.com/ There you can sign up for weekly emails/newsletters, view AFN broadcasts and video of real progress stories and send messages to the heroes here in Iraq. This is the news that should be getting out.

If you know of someone who you know was looking to receive these, and is not, have them contact me. The views expressed in this email are those of the sender and do not necessarily reflect that of the Department of Defense, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.

Go HUSKERS, Go Cubs!

Essayons!Thomas A. O’Hara IIIChief Public Affairs OfficerGulf Region DivisionU.S. Army Corps of EngineersBaghdad, Iraq
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