Dear Juniper Berry:

I just wanted to drop a line back to my family, friends and communities of Middle Village and Maspeth from the “Sand Sailors” of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. It remains a solid 120F in most parts with an occasional spike upwards from there especially out in the remote desert areas. Even the camels have had it! I have been able to enjoy reading up on the news back home as my Mom, Helen Strobel has been faithfully mailing the local papers from Queens that include the “Juniper Berry” provided to her by a good friend from Trinity Saint Andrews Lutheran Church in Maspeth, Donald Steinmaker a member of the JPCA.
I really enjoyed the recent article on John Duddy as I have followed his rise since attending his first professional fight in the Bronx with my brother in-law Tom McLaughlin and sister Nancy of Middle Village who never miss John's fights. We have a lot of boxing fans here in the Battalion and so I recruited some new fans for John. All the New Yorkers here have enjoyed reading the Juniper Berry keeping up with the local news and of course our neighborhoods history. We have not had any rain or flooding here though and I hope my basement is drying out in Maspeth, again…

Those of us here at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait were fortunate as our new 2008 Chief Petty Officers conducted a “911 Ceremony of Remembrance” followed by the ceremonial raising and lowering to half-staff the colors at 15:46 (3:46PM) local time coinciding with the first strike on the Towers at 8:46 Eastern time. The flag ceremony hosted by our Navy SeaBees was exceptionally moving and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy.

While everyone here is looking forward to returning home, we especially as Navy Reservists, the “Citizen Soldiers” of the Armed Forces are especially pleased that as of July 25, 2007 Congress has approved veterans and current members of the Armed Forces out of uniform the “Privilege” to salute the American Flag. I have encouraged my Sailors to do so. When they salute when others can not they will appreciate the “Privilege” and the “Responsibility” we as United States Navy Sailors have been given by those we serve.

Thanks to all the local organizations that keep us in good supply with great stuff every day!

Coming Home – Soon!

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Strobel, USN
Navy Expeditionary Logistics Group