<
>

Jocks to GIs: Jeff Burton

See previous e-mail between Jeff Burton and SSgt Robert Elom:
March 29-April 7


From: Elom Robert C SSgt 376 EOSS/OSA

Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 6:48 AM
To: Jeff Burton
Subject:Letters for the children

Jeff,

Jeff,

Outstanding job at Martinsville! I wish I could've seen that one, sounds like it got pretty hot there at the end. I'm glad you and Elliott got around # 20, hopefully you left a donut on his door when you went around him! The # 99 car looked good, that was a cool paint scheme. Thank you for the picture of the car, I have it saved as my computer background. Kudos to you and the Citgo team for your efforts to benefit the MDA. That's a great charity.

You're right! Things on the airfield don't get boring. If our allies aren't flipping their vehicles over, the host nationals are driving their vehicles under the wings of our airplanes, or parking their civilian airliners with their wingtips overlapping that of our own aircraft! Definitely never a dull moment. And you should see the way these people drive in the city. It can be summed up in one word....criminal! There seem to be very few traffic laws here if any. When we're allowed to go into the city, our driver is a Kyrgyz national, and we are at his mercy! Pretty scary.

My family is holding up pretty well. I got to talk to them today for a few minutes on the phone. Seems my youngsters are coming down with the crud. My wife Tina is one tough cookie. She really has done a tremendous job holding things together at home. Our wives really get the worse end of these deployments. Our home base authorized us a slightly bigger house, and with the exception of the help from a couple of neighbors and friends, she did everything herself. She's one of a kind, and I'm proud of her. She's also prior military, served 6 years in the Army.

Ok, now to get back with those cool kids. I'll attempt to write a little something back to each of them. They really made my day, and I'm so proud of each and every one of them. As I looked at each of them in their school picture, I realized a new purpose for being here, and that's so our children don't have to come back ten or fifteen years from now to do what needs to be done today. Well anyway, here goes. Your daughter Paige wrote first, so I'll start with her.

Dear Paige! Hi! My name is Robert. It was so cool to get a letter from you, and thank you very much. We are all safe, and are doing pretty good. We all miss home allot though. You'll be happy to hear that we have won the war, so hopefully we can all go home soon! Tell your best friend Liz that I said hello. And I hope someday to meet you too. I have a daughter that you could be friends with, her name is Mariah. Well take care Paige, and thank you again for your letter.
Your friend Robert

Dear Price! Hey! My name is Robert. Thank you very much for writing to me, that was awesome! I'm glad to hear that you are keeping track of us, you sound like a pretty smart troop! That's cool! We have won the war, so hopefully we can come home soon. Well Price, take care buddy. And thanks again for your letter!
Your friend Robert

Dear Tully, Hi! I'm Robert, and I was so happy to get your letter. You must be a pretty smart kid if you can play chess! I'll bet you can whip me in chess any day! I like hockey and baseball too. Sometimes I coach my sons little league team and we have lots of fun. Thank you again for writing to me Tully! You take care buddy!
Your friend Robert

Dear Vanessa, Hi! My name is Robert. I really enjoyed your letter. It was very nice to hear from you! You will be happy to know the war is over and some of us will be coming home soon, maybe next month. We are all pretty safe here, so don't worry too much about that. I just want you to be safe, don't get hurt doing those flips in gymnastics! I'll bet I can't even do a flip! If I could meet you guys someday, maybe you can teach me ok. Take care Vanessa and thank you again for writing to me!
Your friend Robert

Dear Ben, Hi there! It was very cool to get a letter from you! Thank you very much! I see that maybe someday you'd like to be in the Army. Well Ben, I'll bet you'd make a fine soldier. But you have to eat good, stay healthy, and study hard in school. I hope to see you in uniform someday Ben! Well, I promise to be careful just like you said, and thank you again for writing me a letter. Oh yea, and I like Star Wars too! May the Force be with you little soldier!
Your friend Robert

Dear Cameron, Hello! Well as you probably know by now, we have won the war! And we are all safe and sound. Most of us should be coming home soon. You don't have to worry about writing a letter to Saddam Hussein because he's lost! I wouldn't write him one either buddy! I think that is so cool that your great grandpa was in World War 2. He is a true hero to all of us, and tell him hello when you see him. Take care Cameron, and thank you again for your letter!

Your friend Robert

Jeff, I hope this makes those youngsters smile. I'm sure proud of them all, and they really made my day.
Good luck on Sunday. I'll be waiting to hear from my wife on how you guys do. I have a good feeling, this one belongs to us!

God Bless, and hope to hear from you soon.

Your friend
Robert


From: Jeff Burton

Sent: Monday, April 14, 2003 1:20 PM
To: Elom Robert C SSgt 376 EOSS/OSA
Subject: Letters from kids

Robert,

Well the CITGO team had a good weekend at Martinsville. We qualified 10th and finished 4th. I'm pretty happy with our effort this weekend. Jeff Gordon took the pole and the win but the race got exciting at the end. With like three laps to go, I'm not sure exactly what happened but the No. 97 spun and while that was happening the No. 20 was trying to block myself and the No. 38. There was some contact and Elliott Sadler and I ended up passing him for fourth and fifth respectively. There was definitely some good racing.

I'm sending a photo of the car from this weekend. We had a special paint scheme for a charity event CITGO is having to benefit MDA in May.

It's really not as hard as most people think to go from the racetrack to the highway. It's a different atmosphere. On the track you are driving with 42 guys you know and on the highway you are driving with thousands of people you don't. Needless to say I drive the speed limit.


Sounds like you stay pretty busy over there. I'm glad you have the opportunity to catch up with your family often. Isn't email the most amazing thing? I can't imagine what it must have been like for our troops in the other wars waiting for the mail to arrive. I'm sure email is a huge benefit to all our troops and their families.


Now for the fun stuff. My daughter Paige and her first grade class wrote you a bunch of letters and took a picture to send to you. I've also included that photo, Paige is in the second row, second one in from the left. I am getting an address for you and will send you all the original letters but I wanted to email some of them to let you know that our children are supporting our troops as well. I'm typing them verbatim which is why there is a lot of phonetic spelling. I hope you enjoy them.

"Hi, I am your pen pal's daughter Paige. Me and Liz are best frends. I hope you are safe and I won't to mete you. I hope you win the war."

"Hi my name is PRICE. I's going great over here. I'v ben getting alot of imvmasesh (I think this is information) about the war. Good luck for wining the war. Next time will you peas tell me your name."

"Hi, my name is Tully Patrick Moyer. I like to play chess. I also like to play baseball. I'm 7 years old. My favorite color is red. I was born in Moutain View, California. I like to watch the stanley cup playoffs. When I play baseball, I like to play catcher. My favorite baseball team are the braves. My favorite hockey team are the flyers. I play baseball, chess, and basketball. Hope you are safe."

"Hi my name is Vanessa Lucy Dane. I hope the war ends soon. I like to do gymnastics. I go to school and i'm in 1st grade. I hope you are safe. I was born in morsville, North Carolina. I hope you come home safe and sound. and I hope you see your family soon. I hope you like my letter. I hope I get to meet you one day."

"Hi I'm Ben do you like mail? I wish I was in ame like you. Be cafle in the war. I like star wars. May the force be with you. to solger."

"Hi my name is Cameron. I like watching the news and what they are doing in iraq. If I had to right a letter to sodom hosane I wouldn't but if I did I would just leav it blank. My grate grandpa was in the world war-2. I wish I could learn about you and that are safe and that you stay safe untill the war is over. I wonder how long untill the war will stop. Cameron Love."

I hope you enjoyed these. There are more but I'll save them so you can read them later. I hope all is going well for you and your family. I'm headed out fishing this weekend for our Easter break. Hopefully we catch something. From my family to yours I hope you all have a Happy Easter and we'll talk to you soon.


Best regards,


Jeff


From: Elom Robert C SSgt 376 EOSS/OSA

Sent: Friday, April 11, 2003 8:28 PM
To: Jeff Burton
Subject: RE: Hello

Jeff,


Things are really looking up in Iraq. Like you said, the statue of Saddam came down and his own people had a hand in it, so we must be doing something right. I think now that the Iraqi people are seeing more American military in Baghdad than Iraqi military, they aren't so afraid to show their true feelings about how they've had to live for so long.


With any luck we'll have broken ground for a Wal-Mart there by early summer!


I guess you'll have to come on over here and teach our Dutch allies how to drive, or at least how to recover from a spin. We had an interesting night, one of the Dutch Security Forces guys hit a slightly raised manhole cover with the left side of the pick-up, apparently going fast enough to make the front end come off the ground, brought the truck back down on the right side wheels, and after a series of swerves, managed to land the truck back over on it's left side, shattering the driver side window, and beating up the door and fender pretty bad. The speed limit is only 12 mph on the flight line, but this nut was in access of 35 mph. No one was injured though and the mission never missed a beat.

I can't imagine being a professional race car driver trying to maintain 12 mph! That would be torturous. I'll bet you guys have a hard enough time trying to keep 55 or 60 mph on the highways! I'm glad I drive a Ford diesel, it's hard to pretend I'm at Daytona in that beast. Which is a good thing for me and my marriage because my wife hates when I drive too fast. She's come pretty close to having lawyers on the phone over that once or twice!


Spare time is hard to come by over here. We work 12 hour shifts, which isn't bad because most of the folks that work out on the flight line maintaining the jets put in an easy 14 to 16 hour day. A typical night shift for me starts at 6pm, usually get off around 7am, sleep until 2pm, go to the gym for 2 hours of PT, wash up, eat chow, then right back to work to start over again. Somewhere in there I'll have to stay up a couple hours after work to do laundry when I need to, because the best time to wash clothes is early in the morning, or very late at night.


Fortunately it doesn't stay all that busy when we're on duty, so we're able to chat it up with our families via email quite a bit during slack time.


We have a couple of pool tables and games and such, and I think we'll have a mini-movie theatre in a huge dome tent opening up pretty soon. I don't think it's quite ready yet, but it should be soon. I would ask for a track and some go-karts, but I don't think our tax-payers would appreciate it very much! Our leaders try pretty hard to keep us entertained, but I suppose they have to draw the line somewhere!


Well, guess I'll let you get on the road. Good luck to you and the Citgo team on Sunday in Martinsville. I feel like this one belongs to us!


Tell your family "thank you" for their patriotism and support. It makes it all worthwhile for us.


Your friend,
Robert


From: Jeff Burton

Sent: Thu 4/10/2003 9:34 AM
To: Elom Robert C SSgt 376 EOSS/OSA
Subject: Looking forward to the weekend

Robert,

We are really looking forward to Martinsville this weekend. It looks like rain on Friday so we will probably start according to points. I believe that puts us in 22nd. It's been raining here all week long, it certainly doesn't feel like spring. Of course I'm sure you're enduring pretty, hot temps right now!

The kids do keep me busy and I always make time for them. I think that's really important. I completely agree with you, being a father is one of the greatest things in the world and I wouldn't trade it for anything. By the way, my family wanted me to tell you and your family hi and that they are behind you too.
Sounds like your job keeps you busy. What do you do in your spare time? You mentioned they have rec centers there. What types of things are available besides TV? In my spare time I spend time with my family, workout and go fishing. Pretty basic things but sometimes slowing down is the best thing I can do. When we are at the racetrack we are keeping up with the war by watching TV in our lounge. It looks like things are progressing over there. Yesterday I saw the statue of Sadaam being toppled in the main square of Bagdhad, that was pretty cool.

You guys are doing a great job, keep it up!

Well I better get going, I need to begin my drive to Martinsville ... in the rain. Take care and have a good weekend.


Best regards,


Jeff


From: Elom Robert C SSgt 376 EOSS/OSA

Sent: Tues 4/8/2003 3:42 AM
To: Jeff Burton
Subject: RE: Talladega

Jeff,


Don't worry about Talladega, we'll get em next time! Those things happen, and like you said nobody was hurt and everyone gets to race again next Sunday, Lord willing. I just wish I could've watched it.


Time is something we have a lot of, but TV's are scarce. We have a couple of recreation centers in the camp that have one TV each, but it's usually already occupied by the time I get to it. I always have good old NASCAR.COM, and ESPN.COM to help fill me in though.


I bet you have a lot going on there, plus those youngens keep you a mighty busy too. I know mine do when I'm home! I wouldn't trade it for anything though. Along with serving this outstanding country, I think being a dad is one of the greatest honors God could bestow upon a man. Putting the two together could quite possibly qualify as the greatest challenge as well. My father, retired Master Sergeant Ennis R. Elom, did it for 26 years, and I could only hope to be half as good at it as he was.


Hearing about ya'lls fans flying American Flags and banners in our support really makes everything worthwhile for us. It's a fine feeling for a soldier to know that he or she has their country's support, no matter if we're fighting for our freedom, or someone else's. For awhile there a few of us thought about the troops returning from Vietnam who were blessed enough to make it back, and the things they faced from their own countrymen. But thanks to patriots like you, the other drivers, and those NASCAR fans, we all feel good about coming home to a warm welcome and we thank you very much.


We fly jets 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our shop tries to maintain a five on, two off schedule when we have enough people. We have an education center here that should be getting CLEP tests in soon. When they do, I'll be among the first to jump on that program. One of the best things the Air Force has to offer is the college education opportunities. It's virtually free of charge now, so my excuse bag is empty!


Well Sir, I know you have things to do and lots of other fan mail to read. Thank you again, I really appreciate it. My family says to tell you and your family hello and God bless. Please tell your brother Ward ( He just cracks me up when he talks!) and the other guys hello for me.


Good luck to you next week, as always I'll be rooting for you! Take care.


Your friend,
Robert