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Private First Class Gunnar Mattson, NAHS Class of 2008

Gunnar shared the following in an email to Katie Bloom in October of 2010 (see pictures at the bottom of this page):

My name is Private First Class Gunnar Mattson from the North Attleboro High School Class Of 2008. I am writing to tell you about my unit's deployment in support of Operation New Dawn. I am writing to you from Forward Operating Base Kalsu in southern Iraq. My unit is the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army out of Fort Hood Texas, where I was stationed since January of this year. We trained hard up until we deployed on August 24th. We spent a month at the National Training Center in the middle of the Mojave Desert at Fort Irwin, California back in May and June. When we flew out of Fort Hood in August we first stopped in Bangore, Maine. I was glad I was able to spend my last hour in the United States enjoying a last breath of fresh, cool New England air.

I then left the U.S. borders for the first time in my life, making a quick pit stop in Germany, where I bought a small piece of th Berlin wall. We then flew to Kuwait City and took a police escorted bus to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, where we did more trainig for two weeks getting acclomated to the intense heat of the Middle East. The hottest temperature I saw there was 119 degrees. After that we flew to Baghdad, Iraq, some of us on a C-130 Air Force jet, and some of us on Blackhawk Helicopters. From there we convoyed down to our base, where we've been for about a month now and will be until around August 2011.

I've been really busy going out on missions with my platoon in our area of operation. My unit's mission is an advise and assist operation, helping the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police build up it's strength to take complete control over their own country. In Kuwait I saw all over the news that "combat had officially ended in Iraq and that all combat U.S. soldiers had left the country." I couldn't help but laugh, knowing that my unit was about to embark on a year long mission in Iraq, where the enemy, though a lot weaker in strength and in numbers than the past, still exists here and is still trying to harm us...trust me. When we're out on patrols in small villages and farm lands, we come across a lot of Iraqi children jumping and waving at us, most barefoot wearing old dirty clothes. We give them food, water, and candy. A lot of them ask for pens to write in their school books as well as soccer balls, which is the most popular sport here just like any country outside of America. The first group of kids I met here drank the water I gave them, then kicked around the empty water bottle using my orange cones I had set up as a goal. After witnessing first hand how these people live everyday here, I have developed a huge appreciation for being blessed to have had the opportunity being born and raised a U.S. citizen in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I am looking forward to completing my tour here and returning home to the states. I miss my family and friends a lot. After this deployment, I will also be looking forward to completing the three years I will have remaining for my term of service I initially enlisted for. Only God knows how long U.S. forces will be in Afghanistan. I wouldn't mind going there. I kind of wish I was there now helping my buddies who just deployed there from the Massachusetts National Guard's 181st Infantry Regiment. I keep them in my prayers as well as everyone else I've met along my journey, starting from my Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 2009.

If the Class Of 2008 holds a 5 year reunion in 2013, hopefully I'll be able to attend. I miss all my old classmates and the memories we shared growing up together.

Here's to the Class Of 2008...the best class there ever was. Also, I congratulate my younger sister, Ingrid Mattson and the rest of the Class of 2010 on graduating earlier this year. Another shout out for my mother, Ruth Mattson (Broughton), from the Class Of 1981 as well as my baby sister, Michelle, from the class of 2019. =) I love you all.

Click on the photo to see a larger version