Saturday, November 15, 2014

10 Year Fallujah Reunion/Cali Vacay

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the famous Battle of Fallujah in the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom).
The first Battle of Fallujah was in April of 2004, and the second Battle of Fallujah was in November of 2004.
Straight from Wikipedia:

The Second Battle of Fallujahcode-named Operation Al-Fajr (Arabic,الفجر "the dawn") and Operation Phantom Fury—was a joint American, Iraqi, and British offensive in November and December 2004, considered the highest point of conflict in Fallujah during the Iraq War. It was led by the U.S. Marine Corps against the Iraqi insurgency stronghold in the city of Fallujah and was authorized by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Interim Government. The U.S. military called it "some of the heaviest urban combat U.S. Marines have been involved in since the Battle of Huế City in Vietnam in 1968."[14][15]
This operation was the second major operation in Fallujah. Earlier, in April 2004, coalition forces fought the First Battle of Fallujah in order to capture or kill insurgent elements considered responsible for the deaths of a Blackwater Security team. When coalition forces fought into the center of the city, the Iraqi government requested that the city's control be transferred to an Iraqi-run local security force, which then began stockpiling weapons and building complex defenses across the city through mid-2004.[16] The second battle was the bloodiest battle of the entire Iraq War, and is notable for being the first major engagement of the Iraq War fought solely against insurgents rather than the forces of the former Ba'athist Iraqi government, which was deposed in 2003.

My husband Nick was part of the second battle (Operation Al-Fajr).
He was with 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, Golf artillery battery turned provisional rifle company.
Along with fighting in this historic battle, he also did security for the Iraq elections that year in Mudayasis, Iraq. 
It's one of the most life changing events in my husband's life, and it's a time that he talks little about.
For as long as we've been married, I've learned bits and pieces about his time in Fallujah through stories from friends, reading warrants for awards he received, and on occasion, he'd tell me a light hearted story about his time there.
I know it's a battle that turned, my then 21 year old husband, into a battle hardened man.
He wears medals on his chest from that battle that Marines do double takes at when he's in uniform.
I know questions burn in their minds on how/where/when he got those awards.
I'm his wife, and I still don't know the full story.
But I do know that I'm proud of him for all he's done up until this point in his career, and I can tell you he is one of the most humble men I know.
He'll never brag or boast about his "time at war" like some Marines do (most of whom have never done anything in war).
In fact, I know he's great because of the stories I hear from the great men that he worked with and fought beside in this battle...they'll brag and boast about Nick all day long...
I guess that's how you know you're respected...
When others want to talk about your accomplishments more than you do.

Nick never attended his 10 year high school reunion, nor did he give it a single thought.
High school was merely a point in his life he had to get through to become a Marine, and he really didn't care to go back to the small town in Alabama that he grew up in.
Small town = Big drama
When he found out that 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton was hosting a 10 year Fallujah reunion, he didn't hesitate to buy two tickets to California so that we could attend.

A perk to being back in Texas is being able to ask my mom to come and watch the kids so that we could go on our little mini vacay to California!!!!

The reunion was well executed and thoughtful.
The guest speaker was General Natonski (ret.) who was the commander of forces during the battle of Fallujah.
He told stories of heroes during that battle, and told stories about what it was like in Fallujah during that time.
He talked about sitting on a roof top in the city and watching a jet drop bombs on a building across the street filled with insurgents and demolishing it.

This is a photo of Nick, me, and General Nicholson.
General Nicholson was originally supposed to be in General Natonski's position in Fallujah, but he was injured by an IED blast in Iraq, and was medevac'd to receive treatment for his wounds.

Col Frasier (ret.) and Nick.
Col Frasier was Nick's Commanding Officer in Iraq.
He also wrote Nick an glowing recommendation letter for his MECEP package, and I can't say that his recommendation letter didn't have something to do with us being here in College Station today.

California will always be my second home. 
The sunshine and beauty of Southern California can't be beat!

I love going to California because we have so many close friends there!!
My best friend Kim, graciously opened the doors to her home to us so that we could crash!
She even let us have her Tahoe for the weekend whenever we needed it!
That's friendship right there!

Nick and Kim's son, Logan cuddling.
Kim's husband is currently in Iraq, so her boys really enjoyed having a dude around the house.

Of course we couldn't leave beautiful California without going for a run in the gorgeous weather!

Kim and I walked through some of the model homes in an new subdivision in Orange County.
I found my perfect OC home!

Lastly, we met up with our good friend Mike to have a drink!
Mike and I were recruiters together, and he took great care of me while I was pregnant!!!!

We're so thankful for him and we love him...if you can't tell by Nick's

We had such an amazing time in California!
Every time I go visit California, I am reminded of just how blessed we are as a family to have gotten to live there for so long.
What's even better is that this time, we got to come home to Texas!


  1. Look at you, repping the Aggies on the plane! What an amazing event and a reunion that really means something. Glad y'all got a nice little mini vacay!

  2. Your husband (and you!) rocks. Seriously. So glad you all got to enjoy this vacation away that meant so much to your husband.


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