TO: All my Supporters, Campaign Staff, Contributors, Classmates, Volunteers, Friends and Family
From the notes below, you can see there were a lot of things going on this week far more important than an election in WV's 1st Congressional District. Please keep the young MP, her unit, and all our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and other dedicated public servants who risk their lives daily for us in your prayers. (Note Steven's observation, "The Good Lord definitely had a hand in keeping everything under control.")
Each of you has been an inspiration to me, and I'm so glad my children, Steven, Krista, Lisa, and Scott - along with my wife, Debbie -- prompted me to make this run. I have met so many wonderful people, many of whom will be friends for life. I'd like to thank each of you for your contribution, whether it was a financial donation, volunteer time, phone calls, introductions, door to door, advice, or stuffing envelopes. Everyone added value to the campaign, and I'm grateful.
As for this election, it's too important to not be involved. The health and vitality of our Republic depend on the quality of our elected leaders. Whether it is local, state, or national, they need our help. Please, stay engaged, get behind fellow Republicans -- and all candidates -- who will restore conservative, family values and common sense to government.
God bless you, your family, and may God bless America!
From: Steven WarnerSent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010To: Dad
Heard about the results today. Pretty bummed about it, but I'm really proud of you, the team you established, and the campaign you all put together. I can't thank you enough for running on my - and my soldiers' - behalf. The state, the country, and our military are definitely missing out on the best possible man for any public office. I'm still praying that the people of West Virginia see that someday.
Yesterday was pretty awful. I was on a patrol with one of the Troops responding to a suspected IED. Before we got there we were hit by another one. We were in the heart of the bazaar, nobody around. It was straight out of a movie - the whole thing was eerie as all hell. The IED hit the second soldier in the formation, a female E4 MP from my battalion in Bamberg (I was back around a corner, probably 60 m away). The shrapnel tore through her left leg, above, below, and at her knee, ripping meat and bone with it; she'll be lucky if she keeps the leg. From there, it only gets worse. We're in a completely urban environment where there had been small arms and RPG (Rocket-Propelled Grenade) fire all day long, and the only HLZ (Helicopter Landing Zone) we can find is a small graveyard next to a mosque. It has power lines running over top of it, so we have to go rig up our own demo to take down the poles. Clouds start moving in, it starts raining, the sun's long gone behind the mountain, and we are literally smack-dab in the middle of the most dangerous place in our AO (Area of Operations) - one of those absolute, worst case scenarios that you do everything in your planning process to avoid.
We get the MEDEVAC birds on the way, set up security, pop smoke, they confirm the LZ, come in for an approach - and they hesitate. They go to make another pass. Pop another smoke. The second smoke catches the small field on fire, and as the bird comes back the prop wash just spreads the fire like crazy. So now our HLZ, the only one in the area, is completely consumed by flames, we're getting pelted with dust and embers as the flames lap at our backs, trying to get this girl with half her leg missing into cover. Absolutely terrifying.
The brush fire keeps pushing out - and, thankfully, dying b/c everything's getting burned - as the birds move out for another look. At that point, they refuse to land and say they're going to drop a hoist. Which takes another eternity to rig up. I go making rounds to check security and watch for any incoming fire at the aircraft. Mentally I start preparing for movement to and securing of a downed Blackhawk. This thing will be coming back close enough for me to take it down with a slingshot.
The bird comes back in and hovers to hook up the hoist right above us. The thing's spewing rocks and embers and dust and water from the small stream - an absolute mess. I must have had my back turned for about 3-4 minutes, though it felt like 30, before I turned to look and see what was taking so long. I glance up at the Blackhawk hovering only 50 feet above us, and see her on the litter spinning out of control on her ascent up. I thought to myself that a perfectly healthy me would probably pass out from the violence of that spin, much less a girl who had, in our minds, just lost her leg and waited nearly an hour to get EVACed. How that helicopter did not get shot down, though, is a miracle in my mind. How she survived that spin was a miracle. That all of that happened and the doctors think they might be able to save her leg is a miracle. Despite the IED, we definitely had Someone divine pulling over watch for us.
After the MEDEVAC, we still have to get to the suspected IED. It's pitch dark at this point, 8% illum (with these conditions our night vision is practically useless), and all air support has been called off because of the weather. We're able to find it, blow it in place (turns out to be nothing), then start our egress back to the COP. That's a nightmare in itself. We have about 25 guys in all, trying to climb over walls and cross creeks to stay off the main roads, all while getting reports that ambushes were getting established all over the place. I must have busted my ass at least 8 times, fell off a couple 7-10' drops, and even thought I sprained my knee at one point (I hit the ground HARD... I was down for a couple minutes before I was able to recover).
We were only about 1800 m from the COP (Combat Out Post). Given the conditions, it took us about 3 hours. Another miracle that we made it back in one piece, no one else seriously injured (save a couple bum knees and ankles).
It was a helluva night, one that I hope I never have to experience again. As bad as it was, it could have been - and should have been - a lot worse. I honestly thought we were going to have our own real-life "Blackhawk Down" scenario. The Good Lord definitely had a hand in keeping everything under control.
So that was my last 24 hours. Paired with the last three weeks and the results of the election, I'm pretty worn out. Again, I'm sorry to hear about the election - I think I wanted it just as much, if not more, than you did. But, like you said, there's a reason behind it. I love you and can't wait to see you.
From: Steven Warner Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010To: Dad
We just found out that they had to amputate the girl's leg, just about a hand's length down from the hip. Definitely a blow to us all. It'll be a tough road for her - she was one of the more active Soldiers in the battalion, always in the gym, always working out. She's a tough kid though. If she can keep her head straight in the next couple weeks, I think she'll be an inspiration for a lot of people.
From: Steven WarnerDate: Thu, 13 May 2010 To: Dad
I talked to her company commander today and he said she's taking it pretty hard. No surprise there. I'm going get to Walter Reed when I get home to check on her.