Rowing in Iraq
February 6, 2004
Diane F. Godorov, D.O. CPT MC, US Army
To my dear family and old and new friends,
My last letter brought many surprises to me. Friends in rowing passed it on to their friends in rowing and I heard from so many wonderful and supportive folks, I was amazed. FISA (international rowing organization) even contacted me for a small story about this rower and her erg in Iraq!
Since my last letter I have continued to be busy with doctoring our troops and humanitarian missions. I am amassing one great file of photos and concomitant stories, and a huge collection of buddies from all across the US. It is amazing how many folks I have met who have great stories to tell about previous wars, their experiences here presently, and their lives in general. Many people here go out of their way to help others and it seems that it gets passed along from soldier to soldier. It is a wonderful kind of taking care of one another. For instance, I was able to get foodstuffs to make guacamole and bruschetta for New Year's prior to going over to the big party at the dining facility.
Like any Jewish mother I have to mention my children Wolf-Ekkehard and Sieglinde. I cannot believe that I am the mother of an almost 18 year old and an almost 15 year old. They are both wonderful students with challenging classes and magnificent grades. Both were in their school holiday musical production, Wolf as the male lead I am told. Even his sister said he did well! Siggi will be advancing into the 10th grade in the Fall, and Wolf will be entering West Point, Class of 2008. I am very proud of both of my children.
Before I forget, more good news is that we are beginning to think about packing our stuff up here in Iraq and moving down towards Kuwait. We are told to pass on to all that the last mailings should be not later than mid February, both for packages and for flat mail. I have lived for mail and packages so this will be tough, but it is yet another step closer to home. I must tell all of you who have emailed, sent letters and have sent packages, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I have loved all the food and goodies you've sent to me, and the Iraqis and Bedouins more than appreciate your generosity. So thanks again and again for all of your support for troops, locals and me. I am not surprised that my friends are so wonderful and generous.
Contining about rowing... the erg has been well used here in Iraq, but now sits in it's box ready to be shipped home. As mentioned in my previous email, there are rowers all over. The doc/rower mentioned earlier, Aaron Jacobs, gave me permission to include his name, but some of you already knew to whom I was referring. In addition, I met another rower who rowed for UC-Irvine in the early 80's. I have permission to tell his story but not use his name, imaginge that from a rower! His story goes: the upperclassmen got together and gathered up his freshman 8 and cox. The new rowers were lined up from bow to stern and asked to brush their teeth with the same brush, using the same cup and water, spitting again back into the cup. Cox went first, then bow on up to stroke (my pal was seven man) who brushed his teeth, spit and drank the cup full of all! That seven man reconnected with his eight man here at FOB Speicher, as the stroke lay in our hospital recovering from an enemy wound. Rowers ARE all over and have a bond that is so hard to describe.
My humanitarian missions have been heartening and enlightening. I am know to the Iraqi's as "Doctora Diana" and to the soldiers who go as force protection as "Doc Combat". I have cared for many families and made friends with a few. All have been kind and friendly and most thankful for what we do for them. I have cared for camel herders and ridden their camels, been to the tank graveyard of the former Republican Guard base in Tikrit, been invited into homes for tea and flat round bread, seen the Tigress River from a village which has a sheik with seven wives and over 120 children! I have even seen the inside of a mosque. Oh the stories I can now tell.....
Please keep the email coming, I will look forward to hearing from all of you. I will also let you know as I am traveling, when I will get home, then when I am actually there. I will again say that I am not at all sorry I volunteered for this mission. I have seen and learned and experienced so much. Thanks to Wolf, I was able to bring my favorite movie of all time with me, Auntie Mame, with Rosalind Russel. In the movie Mame declares, "All of life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Not me!
Hugs and love to all,
Diane F. Godorov, D.O. CPT MC, US Army