Got this from a NH Guardsman: An open letter to the Soldiers and Airmen of the New Hampshire National Guard and the Citizens of New Hampshire whom they serve: It has been a trying spring for New Hampshires military and the local communities of several native US military servicemen. Since April, five soldiers and one marine have been killed in Iraq, bringing the number of fallen in the state to 18 since the start of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Our recent losses underscore the reality that we are STILL at war, fighting an unconventional enemy. We in the New Hampshire and Vermont National Guard felt the loss especially hard in March when NH Guardsmen SSG Jose Pequeno and SPC Richard Ghent were injured, and VT Guardsman SPC Christopher Merchant was killed, during an attack northwest of Ar Ramadi. It was the second time both Pequeno and Ghent were injured in an attack. SPC Ghent is home, recovering well and considering a career as a firefighter. SSG Pequeno suffered a severe head injury and remains at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has battled several serious infections and is now rebounding and hoping to be transferred to a VA Rehab facility in California. Hes doing well, said his wife Kelly recently. The doctors are very positive. I have Joses picture as my screen saver and I think about him everyday. I ask that you continue to keep him in your prayers. It may be a very long time before he returns to New Hampshire. If you want to get more involved in supporting Jose and his family, there has been an ongoing fund-raising effort in the North Country where Jose is the Sugar Hill police chief. The Bring Jose Home campaign has raised more than $25,000. The successful effort has prompted the creation of the North Country Public Safety Officers Benevolent Foundation, which could also help the families of other public safety officers in the future. For more information on the campaign, go to (link removed by CSM). You can also send Jose a message via a Web site that has weekly updates on his progress at (link removed by CSM) A year ago, in addition to SSG Pequeno and SPC Ghent, 26 more NH Army National Guardsmen also volunteered to deploy to Iraq as part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Based at Camp Ramadi, they served as part of a team of 3,500 citizen-soldiers representing 22 states. The NH team nicknamed themselves the Snowstormers. They have had their share of good days and bad, according to MSG Richard LaFlamme, who became a spokesman for the team by way of his folksy, upbeat emails to family and friends back here in New Hampshire. I have seen change here on the faces of Iraqi people working with us, he wrote in April. They are smiling more and we are getting along better. I dont believe complete trust will ever be there between us and them, but we can work together and work well. As of today all but 2 of the Snowstormers have returned to the U.S. The remaining soldiers have voluntarily extended their tours with the units sent to replace them. Many of those who have served will be returning to New Hampshire next week. Since they did not go as a unit, they are being released as individuals to travel home commercially. This means you wont see them getting a police escort to an armory as has been the case with redeploying units. 1SG Kandy Fredette was the last to return, after ensuring the 176 soldiers under her watch were taken care of. Fredette is the first female First Sergeant to serve in combat for the NH National Guard. More importantly, she has distinguished herself as a highly respected NCO in theater. The 2nd BCTs list of accomplishments has been significant. They have helped grow the Iraqi Army from one brigade to three, expanding its reach to include six outposts in Ramadi. They have coordinated with host nation engineers to begin the Haditha Dam Electrical Power Line Project, which will provide the citizens of Ramadi 16 hours of electricity a day. And they have recruited more than 1,100 Iraqis into the police academy. The progress, however, has come at a great cost. 80 2nd BCT soldiers have died and many more have suffered injuries. In July the New Hampshire National Guard will deploy 150 soldiers under the flag of our 3643rd Maintenance Company for a security mission in Iraq. They will spend three months at Camp Shelby, Mississippi training intensely before deploying to Iraq for a year. This past month has been a stark reminder that we must maintain a vigilant focus on training for the war fight. We must do everything we can to ensure our soldiers and airmen are the best prepared. We owe it to them. We owe it to their families. LTG Steven Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, attended a Regional Adjutant Generals conference here in Concord last month. He was not surprised to hear of the performance of our soldiers and airmen. Every place Ive gone in the last five years, Ive run into NH Guardsmen, he said. The Balkans, the Middle East it doesnt surprise me in the least that Gov. Lynch, when his civil capabilities were overloaded, called upon his citizen soldiers and airmen. The last 18 months have been the most intense period to date for the men and women of the New Hampshire National Guard. You have answered the call of our President and Governor. You have supported combat and air-refueling missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. You provided aid to victims of the Gulf Coast Hurricanes and assisted first responders in the aftermath of the devastating October floods in southwestern New Hampshire. Last month, you blanketed the state to help communities overwhelmed by record rainfall and flooding. I cannot be any prouder of each of you. Your service exemplifies the vision of our nations founders when they provided for a militia force in every state. You have my deepest respect and the utmost appreciation of the citizens of New Hampshire. Sincerely, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Clark, The Adjutant General, NHNG Sorry for the length. I removed the links so as not to violate any board rules. I thought it might be interesting to some as it gives a feel for how the war affects the home front. The bumber of killed and wounded certainly has had its effect on a small state like NH.