I am sending Walts medals to his mother. They went to Japan. During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, service members have been more likely to transmit their messages home as emails. But there are exceptions. In early March , coalition forces began to gear up for Operation Anaconda, a major assault on Taliban and al-Qaida strongholds in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Before advancing into what would become one of the worst firefights of the Afghan campaign, year-old Sgt. Josh Harapko, with the 10th Mountain Division, neatly handwrote the following letter to his mother.
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First I want to say I love you so much. You were always there for me even though I would never talk about my problems.
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Second you gave me the options to be a man giving me slack in the rope to try to make the right decisions. No matter what you always believed in me, no matter how much of a punk I was to you. We are leaving for Bahgram to flush out Taliban soldiers from the mountains.
This is the biggest battle of the war on terrorism. We already sustained 30 casualties and one KIA.
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Tell Aunt Joyce I said hi and I love her. I Love you and Miss you. Take care your always in my thoughts. If you have a letter or letters originals, photo-copies and scans are all accepted to share from any conflict, including emails from Iraq or Afghanistan, send them to Andrew Carroll at P. Box , Washington, D. For more information, go to www.
Harapko survived combat in Afghanistan but died almost exactly one year later, on March 11, , when the Black Hawk helicopter he was flying in crashed during a training mission at Fort Drum, N. Shortly before he died, he decided to give his mother the letter he had written in the uncertain hours before Operation Anaconda. She cherishes it as his last letter home. Play Video: Heidi Harapko, sister of Sgt. Joshua Harapko. He recently donated his entire collection of , war letters to Chapman University in Orange, Calif.
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