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Family Holidays

Guide to planning seasonal celebrations

Voters' Voices

Jobs, the economy and the 2004 presidential election

Holiday Movie Preview 2004

Multimedia slide show with capsule previews of upcoming films

Standardized Testing 101

A primer for parents

Deadly Weapons in Dangerous Hands

Special report about weapons of mass destruction

Losing Ground

Special report: Wetlands' demise ripples across nation

Iraq: After Saddam

Continuing coverage of the conflict in Iraq


Friday, April 30, 2004
Story behind soldier's photo reveals pride for Iraq work





and Gannett News Service
Learn about Tomahawk
cruise missiles
Beyond smart bombs: High-tech weapons explained
Meet U.S. commanders directing the war
Learn about Iraq's most powerful men
Case against Saddam
Suiting up for chemical war
Saddam's rise to power
Key U.S. diplomatic players

WASHINGTON - They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Well, here are several hundred about a picture in Wednesday's Washington Post of a woman in the National Guard who just returned home after a year of service in Iraq.

She is Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Goodwin, 43, of Upper Marlboro, Md., whose 547th Transportation Unit was welcomed home Tuesday in a ceremony at the Washington, D.C. Armory.

The picture showed Goodwin, in tan camouflage fatigues, her sergeant's stripes on her collar, with her hands clasped just below her chin, with her head tilted back, eyes squeezed shut and tears streaming down her face. It begged the viewer to find out more.

Goodwin, a 13-year veteran of the Guard and Army Reserve, is the mother of one daughter, a junior at Frostburg State University in Maryland. In the picture, she doesn't look old enough to have a daughter in college. Her husband David, 42, is a Washington firefighter and a 20-year veteran of the Army Reserve. His unit has not been sent to Iraq, yet.

Sgt. Goodwin holds a master's degree in psychology. When she isn't driving an Army truck across Iraq's rocky, dusty and dangerous landscape, she is an administrator with Head Start - the early childhood education program for disadvantaged youngsters.

So the Goodwins, it is easy to see, devote nearly all of their lives to public service. And they do it with open hearts.

Goodwin, like anyone being shipped to a war zone, says she was apprehensive when she found out her unit was being sent to Iraq.

``But my unit is like my family. And if my family was going, I was going,'' she said. ``We knew we were going over there to do a job we were trained to do. So we went together and we came home together. And we got the job done.''

That job, at first, was to transport food, water and equipment to supply troops in the field. Her unit's motto: ``You Call, We Haul.''

But as the fighting escalated, the task shifted from strictly transportation to providing security for troops on the move and escorting private contractors delivering mail to U.S. soldiers. The unit relocated a combat support hospital to Baghdad and backstopped the 82nd Airborne on a search-and-destroy mission. As they went, they often came under rocket, small arms and mortar fire.

On one mail run, a truck struck a remote-detonated mine, killing one soldier and injuring two more. It was the unit's only fatality.

In sum, Goodwin's unit logged more than 564,000 mission miles, aided 1,200 combat missions, took part in raids that captured 600 prisoners and helped deliver 1.4 billion pounds of mail and packages from home.

Now for the picture: What prompted Goodwin's tears?

``We were singing a song that was our unit's spiritual song,'' she said. ``It is called `I Won't Complain.' It says that while there are rough times, there are good days, too. And the good outweigh the bad. I got caught up in it.''

Goodwin said she led her unit in the song at Sunday church services in Iraq and it brought back a flood of memories. Oh yes, she is a pastor at the True Way Deliverance Church and has been for 20 years.

Now that she is safely home, how does she feel about her service? In a word, ``proud.''

``We had a job to do and we did it. But the work goes on to help Iraq find its freedom. We're there and we should be.'' she said. ``We (in the United States) had to fight for our freedom. They have to do it, too.''

Goodwin was asked if Iraq ever will be able to establish a stable, democratic government.

``The commander in chief says it's possible and I support that. It won't happen in a month, but all things are possible,'' she said. ``... There's always hope.''


Back to top
General: Iraqi troops improve
The top U.S. general in Iraq said Wednesday that once Iraqi government forces take the lead in the war, the insurgency can be defeated and the American troop level reduced.

| USA TODAY | Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | 11:40 pm

Parties waging a polite battle to control Najaf
In this city, the holiest in Iraq to the country's Shiite Muslim majority, political rhetoric is heating up. But unlike in some places in Iraq, the debate here isn't focused on religion or historic ethnic divisions, and there's little violence.

| USA TODAY | Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | 11:34 pm

In Iraq, the question is: To vote or not to vote
A recent survey by the International Republican Institute found that 80% of Iraqis say they will probably vote this weekend. But unrelenting insurgent violence, the specter of post-election sectarian strife and confusion over complex ballots threaten to snuff out democracy before it can take hold.

| USA TODAY | Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | 11:17 pm

Politics popular in Shiite areas
In Basra and other parts of heavily Shiite southern Iraq, people are embracing politics.

| USATODAY.com | Thursday, January 20, 2005 | 11:51 pm

Lengthy ballots, ad blitzes contribute to confusion
Less than two weeks before Election Day, many Iraqi voters still are unsure about some basics, such as: Who are they electing?

| USATODAY.com | Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | 11:44 pm

Sunni leaders urge talks with insurgents to end 'stalemate'
Moderate Sunni leaders are urging the United States and Iraqi governments to change course and seek a cease-fire and negotiations with insurgents.

| USATODAY.com | Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | 11:46 pm

Female Iraqi candidates risk lives
Members of Congress who traveled to the Middle East over the weekend got a harrowing lesson on the high price of democracy.

| USATODAY.com | Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | 10:57 pm

U.S.: Elections will be credible
The Bush administration will consider the results of Iraq's elections credible even if most Sunni Muslims minority don't vote on Jan. 30.

| USATODAY.com | Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | 10:57 pm

2 Iraq cities, separated by politics, await election
Sadr City and Fallujah illustrate both the hopes and risks of Iraq's march toward democracy.

| USATODAY.com | Tuesday, January 11, 2005 | 10:58 pm

Polling places planned in Iraq's problem areas
The Iraqi Election Commission plans to set up polling stations in problem areas in Iraq despite insurgent attacks.

| USATODAY.com | Monday, January 10, 2005 | 11:03 pm

Court-martial begins for Abu Ghraib figure
The court-martial of Army reservist Spc. Charles Graner, the man portrayed as the ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal in Iraq, is set to begin Friday at Fort Hood in Texas.

| USATODAY.com | Thursday, January 6, 2005 | 11:47 pm

Iraqi expatriates fear being left out of elections
Iraqi-American groups say disorganization and overly stringent requirements are plaguing an ambitious effort to allow expatriates worldwide to vote in Iraq's Jan. 30 elections.

| USATODAY.com | Thursday, January 6, 2005 | 10:48 pm

Allawi: Elections will go on
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on Wednesday rejected growing calls for postponement of the national elections set for Jan. 30.

| USATODAY.com | Wednesday, January 5, 2005 | 11:15 pm

Fallujans reluctant to return
So far, Fallujans are not lining up to return to what's left of their devastated city.

| USATODAY.com | Wednesday, January 5, 2005 | 11:13 pm

Congress expects $100 billion war request
Congress expects the White House to request as much as $100 billion this year for war and related costs in Iraq and Afghanistan, congressional officials say.

| USA TODAY | Monday, January 3, 2005 | 11:30 pm

More contracts steered to Iraqi firms
The U.S. government is shifting more reconstruction contracts toward Iraqi companies as violence makes it harder for American contractors to work.

| USATODAY.com | Monday, January 3, 2005 | 11:00 pm

Iraqi election candidates crave coverage
As Iraq moves toward elections scheduled for Jan. 30, the media campaign is intensifying.

| USATODAY.com | Sunday, January 2, 2005 | 10:57 pm

Gas shortage fuels resentment in Iraq
Buying gasoline in Iraq is a serious undertaking. Determined motorists get up before their dawn prayers to join 2-mile-long lines. Sometimes they don't get to fill their tanks until evening. A black market is thriving.

| USA TODAY | Wednesday, December 29, 2004 | 11:47 pm

Soldiers saw giant tent as inviting target for insurgents
Soldiers at the Forward Operating Base Marez near Mosul, Iraq base had long complained of feeling defenseless in the fabric-covered hall, which lately has been the target of mortar and rocket attacks almost daily.

| USA TODAY | Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | 11:42 pm

U.S. contractor pulls out of Iraq rebuilding project
A Virginia company this week became the first large contractor to withdraw from the multibillion-dollar Iraq reconstruction drive, saying work there was too dangerous and costly.

| USA TODAY | Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | 11:35 pm

Mosul attack showcases insurgents' intelligence
The implications of the audacious suicide attack in the center of a heavily guarded U.S. military base in Mosul go beyond a failure of base security.

| USATODAY.com | Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | 11:11 pm

Mosul blast hits U.S. hard
A massive lunchtime explosion struck a flimsy mess tent filled with soldiers Tuesday at a military base near Mosul. It was one of the deadliest attacks yet against Americans in Iraq. Mlitary spokesmen in Baghdad and at the Pentagon said 19 U.S. soldiers were killed.

| USA TODAY | Tuesday, December 21, 2004 | 11:45 pm

Soldiers who led invasion must return
Continuing insurgent attacks have forced the United States to boost its force in Iraq toward 150,000, its highest level yet.

| USATODAY.com | Sunday, December 19, 2004 | 11:08 pm

Chaplain, others look to lift Christmas spirit in war zone
Across Iraq, military chaplains will enter makeshift chapels on the morning of Dec. 25 and pray for peace on earth in a land where peace continues to be in short supply.

| Gordon Trowbridge | Marine Corps Times | Sunday, December 19, 2004 | 6:41 pm

Troops can't beat deals at PX
Flush with hazardous-duty pay and tax-free earnings, U.S. troops in combat zones often have more money to spend than things to buy. That's where the PX, or post exchange, comes in, providing a taste of home if only for the time it takes to eat a bag of Doritos.

| C. Mark Brinkley | Army Times | Thursday, December 16, 2004 | 11:22 pm

Army spending billions on new armored vehicles
The Army said Wednesday that it is spending $4.1 billion to armor all military wheeled vehicles in Iraq by June.

| USATODAY.com | Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | 11:23 pm

Air Force boosts number of supply flights
Roads have become too dangerous for American convoys, the top Air Force general said Tuesday.

| USATODAY.com | Tuesday, December 14, 2004 | 11:32 pm

Army Guard now says its Iraq troops figure was inaccurate
The Army National Guard said Monday it had given USA TODAY an inaccurate count of the total number of Guard troops in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003, but still could not provide a precise count.

| Dave Moniz | USA TODAY | Tuesday, December 14, 2004 | 10:29 am

Fair vote possible in Anbar, top Marine says

The U.S. military believes Iraq's rebellious Anbar province can be brought into national elections scheduled for January.

| Gordon Trowbridge | Army Times | Sunday, December 12, 2004 | 11:05 pm

U.S. military preparing restive Iraqi province for elections
The top U.S. officer in Iraq's rebellious Anbar province believes the region can be settled and brought into national elections scheduled for Jan. 30. Anbar, a hotbed of insurgent unrest, stretches from west of Baghdad to the Syrian border and poses perhaps the toughest challenge to the U.S. mission in Iraq.

| Gordon Trowbridge | Army Times | Friday, December 10, 2004 | 9:09 pm


© 2003, Gannett News Service