A Letter from the Front Lines
Hello, My name is Capt. Mike Southworth. I am a pilot in the Marine Corps. I recently flew Mr. Norris during his USO tour … His visit here means a lot to all the Marines, sailors, and soldiers out here. I know many of my Marines said that it helped boost their morale and helped them forget that they were away from their family and friends … So, thanks for the support and God bless!
Capt. Mike Southworth, USMC
Capt. Southworth’s letter was one of hundreds of letters from service members, their families and friends that actor Marshall Teague and I received over the last week since the completion of our USO tour of Kuwait and Iraq.
Chuck Norris in Iraq
I was scheduled to make this trip three years ago, but it was cancelled for ”security reasons.” Three days later Saddam Hussein was captured.
There is simply no way to thank all the USO personnel, Brig. Gen. Robert B. Neller, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, and dozens of others who provided us with the privilege (and safety) to participate in this mission of support. A special thanks to Gen. Robert Magnus, whose companionship was deeply appreciated and who recently penned one of the finest defenses of our troops I’ve ever read.
Four Days in the War Zone
For obvious reasons, I cannot list all of the places we toured, but I can tell you that we went farther into the Iraqi war zone than is generally allowed.
I’ve relived several moments over and over in my mind this past week.
I thoroughly loved the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstration (not a surprise there!).
I was honored to preside over five promotions and four reenlistments.
I will never forget the camp where we met the brothers, who served together, and the sergeant-major and his son serving together. Incredible!
I still pray for the six we visited in the hospital who had sustained injuries from IED attacks. Particularly moving to me was hugging one of those young Marines, who was riddled with shrapnel wounds from a suicide bomber.
Everyone there is very committed to the cause of freedom. There is no exception. We only spent four days there. Most are giving a few years. We didn’t lay our lives on the line. They do.
It is I who was blessed for visiting our troops. It is I who am still blessed for being a spiritual leader to ten platoons in Iraq.
Playing a Small Part in Our Troops’ Inspiration … and Humor
Even in the gravity of war, I was pleased to see that our troops could enjoy lighter moments, even using my name and face!
I still smile as I see the Special Forces who had named their vehicle after me. Other units not only adopted my image on their vehicles, but one even had the call sign of ”Walker.”
They told me four months ago one soldier said the only way he would reenlist is if the unit ”got Chuck Norris out here.” Standing by him, the soldier asked me to ”give him an arm bar” (twisting his arm) when he signed the paperwork. I’m a patriot, so I was happy to oblige!
Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Sapp and Chuck Norris
And a huge laugh erupted at an operations intelligence briefing that closed with the slide, ”Since Chuck Norris is here, everyone can go home tomorrow!”
Of course I had a little fun of my own. Like the time in Fallujah, after having breakfast with some Navy Seals, I left a little memento on the wall: ”Chuck Norris Fact: Chuck Norris was here. 11.2.06”
I am honored, humbled and proud to have played a small part in our troops’ inspiration … and even humor! If it puts a smile on their faces, count me in.
What Is Unpatriotic and Unjust
Of course we all know there is nothing funny about war. As much as anyone, I wish we could have brought each of them home to their families. (We did bring home with us a young Marine on emergency leave whose father was very ill).
I’ll be honest with you. I simply don’t understand how anyone could neglect the support of these fine men and women. It is not only unpatriotic. It is unjust.
The military is very close to me, because it turned my life around. Joining the military helped me get on the right path. I still believe it can help others too.
That is why I stand with the majority of Americans who say to all our service members, their families, and indeed all the veterans who have served this great country and the cause of freedom, we salute you! We support you! And we will continue to pray for you.
From a Mother’s Heart
This letter from a Marine’s mom summarizes well why I went to Iraq and why we all need to continue to support all of our military personnel.
I just received an e-mail from my son who is a Marine serving in Iraq. In it he tells me that he got to meet Chuck Norris and that he has pictures that he will be sending soon. He sounded so excited. Thank you for making my Marine’s day a little brighter in a very, very dark place and time and by doing so you have also touched this Mother’s heart.
With sincere appreciation, Thank you. Tammi Betz
You’re welcome Tammi. God bless you, your son, and all who serve.