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a letter from bill blender

Hello:

I met Jerry while we were at Ft. Benning last August getting ready to deploy to Iraq. I and Terry Hueser were going to do the recruiting part of the New Iraqi Army project. Terry's parents were Croatian, so I guess he and Jerry hit it off right away.

I think Jerry got a kick out of us being a lot older and still in the middle of it. We drank some beers and had a few laughs at Benning and when they caught up to us in country in Baghdad.

The picture I've enclosed is one Terry took while we were at the Al Rashid Hotel in late August of 2003. I thought you and the rest of the family would want to have it.

I asked Jerry why he was working this contract instead of some of the big dollar stuff he was qualified for. He said it was so "Joe" the soldiers could get home sooner. I think we were all there for pretty much the same reason. To bring our skills into play to help out the guys there and our country.

I know the troops he trained loved him. They thought it was really cool that he spoke the language and didn't need a translator. He had immense respect in his training company. Last time I saw him was at KTMB with his company. We were delivering new recruits and he was finishing up a training day. He always had a smile and a good sense of humor.

I was up at Mosul when I heard and Terry and I were devastated. I ran into Don Heath another of Jerry's teammates who was with Global Security. He was floored when I told him as he hadn't heard from Jerry by email for a while. Don's convoy hit an IED a short while later and he was shook up pretty bad. Last I heard, he ended up going home.

Well just wanted you folks to have the picture. I've had some masses said for Jerry back here in Illinois. I'm sorry for your loss. He was a patriot and hero.

Sincerely,

Bill Blender

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posted june 21, 2005

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