Dear Cadets of Monty Tech:
Greetings from Baghdad, Iraq. I’m 1st Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones, US Army, and I was in your shoes not long ago. I graduated from Monty Tech in 2001 from the house carpentry program. When I was a student, there was no junior ROTC program, but if there was, I would have joined.
You all have made two very important decisions so far: First, to attend such a fine school and, second, to choose to participate in an organization that stands for greater good and to do so during a time of war.
I am currently an engineer branch platoon leader in Iraq. Our platoon does many things — from conducting raids of insurgent homes to our main mission, route clearance. The enemy’s most dangerous weapon is the improvised explosive device or IED. These are bombs that are placed on the side of the road and set to go off on innocent civilians or American convoys as they drive by.
Each day, my platoon and I patrol the streets of Baghdad looking for the IEDs. Once we find one, we either blow it up or disarm it. Never a dull moment. There have been a few times the IEDs have found us before we found them. But don’t worry — our trucks have enough armor on them to survive most blasts.
Life isn’t always great, but one thing that keeps my soldiers and I going are the wonderful letters you all sent. We give you heartfelt thanks for all of the kind words.
Hopefully, I will get a chance to visit the junior ROTC program when I come back to my hometown of Westminster. Good luck to all of you, and if you decide to enlist in the military or join an ROTC program in college, it will be one of the hardest and most rewarding decisions you ever made.
God Bless America.
1st Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones US Army Baghdad, Iraq
On Wednesday, two days after this letter was received, a vehicle carrying Jones and another soldier struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad, and the Defense Department announced yesterday that they had died from their wounds.
from the Boston Globe