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Todd A. Wagner Iraq War correspondence

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2017-153-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains fourteen correspondence written by Sgt. Todd A. Wagner, USA to Rita Widder during the Iraq War. Also included is one photograph of Wagner in combat uniform taken in Iraq in 2003.

The correspondence mostly discusses the weather and conditions, explaining the incredible heat and dust and the living conditions, as well as how much he misses the comforts of home and his family, thanking Rita for helping him get through this experience through her writing and care packages.

He first wrote to Rita in March 2003 before heading to Corpus Christi, Texas where his unit's trucks were to be shipped out, then from Camp Virginia in Kuwait. By June 8 he left Kuwait and took a four week mission through Baghdad north toward Syria, explaining the harsh conditions and garbage in which the Iraqi people live. On July 6, he describes the mission specifically and mentions the dangers of being on the road, though they only travel during the day and attacks are usually at night.

On July 20, he tells Rita that he cannot send home sand because the government is concerned about chemicals used by Saddam Hussein on his civilians and that they sand may still contain those chemicals. He also mentions having visited Al-Asad and Tikrit, cases of malaria, and how much he misses his family.

On August 20, he tells Rita that he had a stomach virus. He then mentions the Iraqi people; how they do not have much but they have pride. He then sent a Christmas card with a small wreath ornament (not included).

On January 16, 2004 his patience wore thin and he says he is thinking about leaving the Army before his twenty year retirement plan. His enlistment was to end December 2004 at 17 years and he says he "just can't do no more. I feel that I have served my country and it is time to enjoy my wife and kids."

On soon returning home, he feared that everything will have changed. "I feel like my life has stopped, you listen to the same music because you don't know what is new, we get very little news about what is going on at home, you watch the same movies over and over. My favorite Smokey and the Bandit a classic. Now I have to go back home and everything will seem like it is going 100 mph.”

On February 10, he mentions the change in Iraq after about a year of war. “Last week we took a load of supplies to Fallujah just west of Baghdad. That was the first time I have left post since 29 Nov. Boy what a change as you head toward Baghdad. Roads are cleared of trash, they have painted some of the buildings. New road signs and most of all, more people walking the streets. I have seen more women out and they don’t have there faces covered. You can feel a sense of Freedom for these people. It makes me feel good knowing that I got to help. By no means is this country safe. We still hear of convoys getting attacked and people injured but it is getting better.”

The last piece in the collection is an Easter card that says he will see them soon.

Dates

  • 2003-03-24 - 2004-04

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Sergeant Todd A. Wagner, United States Army (b. 1968) was born in Canton, Ohio and attended Canton South High School. He met Amy K. Stuhldreher at age 17 (she was 14, mentioned in letters) and they married six years later on December 14, 1991. There 18th anniversary of dating is mentioned in the letter dated July 20, 2003. The two of them had at least two sons as Wagner mentions missing Amy and the "boys."

Wagner joined the Army National Guard in Dover, Ohio in 1987 and served with 18th CSB, 1485th Transportation Company. His time serving in Iraq, about a year, caused him to retire after twenty years (according to donor; one of his letters mentioned maybe retiring at seventeen years).

He wrote to Rita Widder, a friend, and her husband Frank who were "horse people" much like Wagner; a topic that is discussed in the letters frequently. After the war, Wagner returned to Ohio and was last known living in Navarre.

Extent

.1 Linear feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

This collection contains fourteen correspondence written by Sgt. Todd Wagner, USA to Rita Widder during the Iraq War.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged chronologically. One card and one letter are undated; the letter was placed in an inferred chronology, the card and photograph were placed at the front of the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Rita Widder.
Title
Finding Aid for the Todd A. Wagner Iraq War correspondence
Status
Completed
Author
Andrew Harman
Date
10/22/2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Contact:
Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States