Letter from an American Soldier in Iraq with Good News-Truth!



Summary of eRumor:

This widely circulated email goes beyond the headlines from Iraq and talks about some of the successes from the standpoint of a soldier with an engineering division.

The Truth:

This email started circulating after the cessation of hostilities in Iraq in 2003 and during a time of criticism of the U.S. handling of the aftermath of the war against Iraq.
While we cannot vouch for all of the details in the letter, we have confirmed that it is authentic.
It is not a hoax.
We contacted Major Rydbom’s wife who verified that her husband and the letter are real.
She cautioned that there are some versions of the letter circulating that have been altered from the original and include commentary that was not from her husband.

Last updated 7/26/03

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

This is really quite a different story from those you read or hear about
 in the
 news these days. Listen to what is being said by an Army Major who is in
 Iraq and seems to have a pretty good handle on the situation.

 It has been a while since I have written to my friends at First Lutheran
 Church about what’s really going on here in Iraq. The news you watch on
 TV is exaggerated, sensationalized and selective. Good news doesn’t

 The stuff you don’t hear about? Let’s start with Electrical Power
 in Iraq. The day after the war was declared over, there was nearly 0
 being generated in Iraq. 45 days later, in a partnership between the
 the Iraqi people and some private companies, there are now 3200 mega
 watts (Mw) of power being produced daily, 1/3 of the total national
 of 8000 Mw. Downed power lines (big stuff, 400 Kilovolt (Kv) and 132 Kv)
 are being repaired and are about 70% complete.

 Then there is water purification. In central Iraq between Baghdad and
 Mosul, home of the 4th Infantry Division, Water treatment was spotty at
 The facilities existed, but the controls were never implemented. Simple
 chemicals like Chlorine for purification and Alum (Aluminum Sulfate) for
 sediment settling (The Tigris River is about as clear as the Mississippi
 were in short supply or not used at all and when chlorine was used, it
 metered by the scientific method of guessing. So some people got pool
 water and some people got water with lots of little things moving in it.
 We are slowly but surely solving that. Contracts for repairs to
 facilities that
 are only 50% or less operational are being let, chemicals are being
 delivered, although we don’t have the metering problem solved yet (It’s
 been 45 days).

 How about oil and fuel? Well the war was all about oil wasn’t it? You
 bet it
 was. It was all about oil for the Iraqi people because they have no
 income, they produce nothing else. Oil is 95% of the Iraqi GNP. For this
 nation to survive, it MUST sell oil. The Refinery at Bayji is at
 75% of capacity producing gasoline. The crude pipeline between Kirkuk
 (Oil Central) and Bayji will be repaired by tomorrow (2 June). LPG, what
 Iraqi’s use to cook and heat with, is at 103% of normal production and
 the US ARMY, at least 4th ID, are insuring it is being distributed
 ALL Iraqi’s.

 You have to remember that 3 months ago, ALL these things were used as
 weapons against the population to keep them in line. If your town
 misbehaved, gasoline shipments stopped, LPG pipelines and trucks
 stopped, Water was turned off, power was turned off.

 Now, until exports start, every drop of gasoline produced goes to the
 people, crude oil is being stored, the country is at 75% capacity now,
 need to export or stop pumping soon, thank the UN for the delay. ALL LPG
 goes to the Iraqi people EVERYWHERE. Water is being purified as best
 they can, but at least it’s running all the time to everyone.

 Are we still getting shot at? Yep Are American Soldiers still dying?
 about 1 a day from the 4th ID, most in accidents, but dead is dead.

 If we are doing all this for the Iraqi’s, why are they shooting at us?

 The general population isn’t. There are still bad guys, who won’t let go
 the old regime. They are Ba’ath party members (Read Nazi Party, but not
 as nice) who know nothing but the regime. They were thugs for the regime
 that caused many to disappear in the night and they have no other
 skills. At
 least the Nazis had jobs they could go back to after the war as
 managers, engineers, etc…these people have no skills but terror. They
 simply applying their skills….and we are applying ours.
 There is no Christian way to say they must be eliminated and we are
 so with all the efficiency we can muster. Our troops are shot at
 everyday by small arms and RPGs. We respond and 100% of the time, the
 Ba’ath party guys come out with the short end of the stick. The most
 amazing thing to me is that they don’t realize that if they stopped
 at us, we would focus on fixing things and leave. The more they shoot at
 us, the longer we will stay.

 Lastly, Realize that 90% the damage you see on TV was caused by
 IRAQI’s, NOT the war. Sure we took out a few bridges from military
 necessity, we took out a few power and phone lines to disrupt
 communications, sure we drilled a few palaces and government
 headquarters buildings with 2000lb laser guided bombs (I work 100 yards
 from where two hit the Tikrit Palace), he had plenty to spare. But, ANY
 damage you see to schools, hospitals, power generation facilities,
 refineries, pipelines, was ALL caused either by the Iraqi Army in its
 throws or the Iraqi civilians looting the places. Could the army have
 prevented it? Nope. We can and do now, but 45 days ago the average
 soldier was lucky to know what town he was in much less be informed
 enough to know who owned what or have the power to stop a
 1,000 people from looting a building by himself.

 The United States and Britian are doing a very noble thing here. We
 our necks out on the world chopping block to free a people. I’ve already
 talked the weapons of mass destruction thing to death, bottom line, who
 cares, this country was one big conventional weapons ammo dump
 We have probably destroyed more weapons and ammo in the last 30 days
 than the US Army has ever fired in the last 30 years (Remember, this is
 country the size of Texas), so drop the WMD argument as the reason we
 came here, if we find it GREAT, if we don’t, SO WHAT? I’m living in a
 “guest palace” on a
 500 acre palace compound with 20 palaces with like facilities built in
 half a
 dozen towns all over Iraq that were built for one man. Drive down the
 and out into the countryside 5 miles away (I have) and see a family of
 10 living in a mud hut herding two dozen sheep, Then tell me why you
 we are here.

 Respectfully, ERIC RYDBOM MAJ, ENGINEER Deputy Division Engineer
 4th Infantry Division