Fighting for good cause


The following is excerpted from letter that was sent to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

I spoke to my wife the other day and she read the letter you wrote to me over the phone. I am honored that you would take the time out of your busy schedule and numerous responsibilities to write to me about my military deployment to Afghanistan. I sincerely appreciate your kind words of praise and appreciation. I was heartened to hear your words citing the burden borne by my family. As a Marine Corps Squadron Commander here in Afghanistan, I continually remind the Marines that the true burden of our deployment here is shouldered by the families back home, particularly mothers with children whose husbands are gone for months.

After 20 years in the service, I know who has shouldered the burden of our military deployments and they do not get enough credit for it: the families back home. It was good to hear you mention the stress on families.

My squadron here is one of two Marine Corps Reserve helicopter squadrons in Bagram, Afghanistan, that is attached to a large Combined Joint Task Force. In this Task Force are representative units from all the services and many Coalition countries. There is a diverse cross-section of people from all walks of civilian life. These Marines are the modern citizen-soldiers who have put down the plow and picked up the sword and answered the nation’s call. I think most of us feel privileged to be able to be here. Everyone remembers 9/11 and where they were. It is good to be a part of the nation’s response to that day.

Today is the anniversary of 9/11. Three years ago, I stopped at Ralphs on my way to work to get a cup of coffee and the woman who makes the coffee told me she heard that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. When I got to work at Fire Station 7 in West Hollywood, I was expecting to see a picture of the World Trade Center on the television. Instead I saw a picture of a low-profile building on fire: the Pentagon. The other firefighter standing next me and I looked at each other in disbelief. He said what we were both thinking: “This means war.” I knew that it would affect me in a different way than it would most others, but I felt fortunate to be in a position to serve if needed. I still feel that way, as do all of the deployed servicemen and women out here.

Since you took the time to thank me for my service, let me also take this opportunity to thank you for your service to the citizens of Los Angeles County. What you and your fellow supervisors have done for the county and its citizens is remarkable. It is great to be able to come home to our wonderful state and to Los Angeles County and to know that we live in a community that works so well. From my vantage point at the interface of good and evil, home is looking more amazing all the time. We are so lucky to live in such a great country.

Our spirits are high and our motivation is good. We have fabulous support from everyone at home. The efforts of the Coalition Team over here are bearing fruit. I am very proud of what these young men and women are doing and am continually amazed at the high quality of these fine Americans serving so far from home.

Thank you for your kind words of support and for your work in taking care of my home community.

Lt. Col. Rick Mullen

Commanding Officer

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 769

Combined Joint Task Force 76

Bagram, Afghanistan