Since leaving for Kuwait in mid-February, Jared Oakes family has received limited correspondence from their son, but have been receiving some information from his battalion.
Feb. 27, 2003
"Mom & Dad
"Hey guys, I don't have much time to write this ... send stamps for me. If you want to send any packages, I need them. And if you send a package, send either sterno's or a camp stove that runs off any type of fuel. And instant coffee. Gotta go ... will write.
"Love you, Jared"
The day before, the Oakes received information from Jared's battalion.
"The battalion is doing good. All arrived safely, but nobody has email access or phone access because of the extremely poor living conditions that currently exist.
"Please keep pushing info to the spouses to be patient and understand that their loved ones just don't have the ability to send emails or call home. They are writing though, and in about a week these letters should start arriving in the U.S.
"Please let the spouses know to send their Marines baby wipes, non-perishable food, Gatorade packets, AA batteries, pictures, etc. We all appreciate this stuff. We've eaten nothing but MRE's [Meals Ready to Eat] so far. For the first five days, we had no hot meals, no electricity, very little water, and no toilet paper. It is expected, though, because our camp is literally just being built.
"We have almost nothing, but they are working on it. Please send baby wipes whenever possible, these are the key to life here."
On Feb. 23, Jared Oakes wrote his family a letter from his base camp in the Kuwaiti desert. They received the letter on March 14, some 19 days later. He wrote the letter on his second day at Camp Coyote, some 30 kilometers (less than 20 miles) from the Iraqi border. These are excerpts from that letter.
"It sounds like there will definitely be a battle. I still have hope though."
He said that the tents have wood floors and that they were installing lights in the tents as he wrote the letter. He said that they would soon start doing basic infantry training. He said that they have very little there.
"We don't have sh**, except a whole lot of sand, one tree and a poorly constructed burlap walled stall that we can use to get naked and pour water on ourselves. As you can see, I have a hint of bitterness."
He also alluded to something his mother had feared.
"We will be among the first ground troops in though, that's why we are staging so close to the border."
He ended by saying he was going to sit there and play the harmonica that Jasmine gave him prior leaving.
"I'm already getting decent. I love you lots and miss you, Jared"