Spence Green

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I work at Lilt. In addition to computers and languages, my interests include travel, running, and scuba diving. more...

A Letter

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I took the occassion of Christmas break to clean my room. Aside from the various novelties acquired during an active childhood that required sorting, I discovered a number of letters. Among them was one dated November 8, 1990 from an Eddie Brewer. By some surreptitious scheme, this note had escaped similar cleaning operations mounted over the previous 16 years. How thankful I am that it did survive, because for the majority of that period I would not have attached any significance to its contents. But “reasoning about causes and effects is a difficult thing,” as Eco has written, so I now return to the letter. Evidently a school assignment had required me to compose letters to military men during the first Gulf War. One of these letters came into the possession of Mr. Brewer, a technician on the USS O’Brien. He wrote as follows:


I would like to thank you for taking the time to write. Every letter that is received makes life here in the Persian Gulf a little easier to endure.

My name is James E. Brewer, (Eddie), is my nick-name among others. I am an Electronic Warfare technician onboard the USS O’Brien DD 975 which is home-ported in San Diego, CA. My hometown is Natchez, MS, which is the oldest town located on the Mississippi River. I have been in the Navy for 4 years with 16 more years to [sic] I retire from the Navy. I am a sports nut with the desire to enter sport’s [sic] medicine when my career with the Navy comes to an end. I have 3 years of college working on a BA degree in education and athletic administration. This is a little about myself.

Pedestrian stuff thus far, I thought. Brewer then described his condition:

Everybody is asking how is it really over in the Persian Gulf. It is hot and dry. It is the largest beach I have ever seen. Let me explain that last statement. I took a tour in Abu Dubi [sic], UAE a month ago when the ship was in port for a short rest period. The tour was of the town of Abu Dubi [sic] and surrounding areas. I saw sand from the time I left the ship until the time I got back 6 hours later. The people in the area welcome us and our money with open arms. We are constantly made aware of terrorist attacks while in port and while at sea. Who knows when or how the shooting will start, or if it will start, so we are constantly on alert.

I was two months past my ninth birthday when I first read these words; presumably I did not bother to locate Abu Dhabi between rounds of Nintendo and bicycling adventures in the neighborhood. This very morning, though, I was over at the same port, watching the same water, infuriated by an southern wind, lash the same “beach.” Mr. Brewer completed his 16 years last November. Am I just beginning mine?

Written by Spence

March 16th, 2007 at 6:23 am

Posted in UAE

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