(Editor's note: This is a letter from First Lieutenant Jed Fisher, currently serving as a United States Army platoon leader in the First Armored Division in Iraq. He has spent his whole life in the Palmerton/Carbon County area, and "misses it dearly." Jed has been emailing home and shares what his life is like in the Maysan province in southeastern Iraq. This will probably be his last installment as he will be leaving soon to come home, for which we are thankful and relieved, and we are grateful for his valiant service to his country.)

Dear Everybody,

It's been a long year but we're finally coming home soon. A little over two weeks for me, and then I'll be homeward bound to old El Paso.

Our collective morale has been steadily climbing, although we know once back in Texas we'll have considerable adjusting to do. Expectation management, they call it. I think it's impossible to leave for a year and return without any friction whatsoever - and I think most of my troops agree with this.

We know there will be some challenges but most of us now know that it's time to get on with the rest of our lives, whether it's continued military service or using the GI Bill, or finding a good job as a Civilian.

All of us are coming home as legitimate combat veterans - we've either been blown up, shot at, or had some rockets land near us.

"Combat Veteran" is a title which we may not think much of now - but I'm sure years from now we'll share our stories at the VFWs and American Legions with the generations of brave Americans that have proudly served before us.

Aside from the dangers and hardships here, we've also been able to contribute so much to this province - we've built more than five schools, supplied garbage trucks, built transformer repair facilities, rehabilitated sewage treatment stations and helped provide friendship to a population in desperate need of help. We have plenty of things to be proud of, and I'm plenty proud of what we've accomplished.

I'll be able to take leave in June, so hopefully I'll be able to catch up with friends and family back in Palmerton and Scranton.

Take care everybody and hope to hear from you soon!

Jed