“The following is recently discovered and previously unreleased correspondence between young U.S. Army officer, then First Lieutenant, Kimberly Royer Caruthers, and her mother, Joan Royer. The letter was written towards the end of Caruthers’s first tour during the “Great Narco War of the Americas,” Operation Verdant Grison. According to military records, Caruthers was stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Bravado in La Florida, Funza, Cundinamarca, Colombia just outside of Bogota. One of the early pioneers of Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Dropship operations, this letter provides insight into the mind and personal life of Caruthers, one of the great strategists and tacticians of the mid-21st century.” —-
Dr. Henry Morton
Director and Senior Historian
Project Raven – Conflict, Politics, and Love in 21st Century War (2000-2099)
North American Association of the Military Arts
I got your letter yesterday. Thanks so much! I think that was the first snail mail someone’s sent me in six years that wasn’t a Christmas card. And the last one was probably a letter you sent me during Cadet basic training. I know that wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like forever. I wanted to write you back, but dry notebooks are at a premium down here. I feel ancient using email and not sending a direct message or Skyping or, heaven forbid, talking to you on the phone. Do people still talk on the phone? Haha. I wonder if this is how Grandpa felt writing letters home from Vietnam. Jokes aside, we have real concerns about the enemy hacking into our signals for intel. Loose lips for the 21st century and all. Sounds weird, drug cartels wanting to listen in on how I miss my husband and dog and pepperoni pizza, but that’s the face of the Narco-war, I guess. They’ll take whatever info they can get to predict our next move. So I grabbed the supply clerk’s Toughbook and hammered out an encrypted email.
Speaking of my husband, God I miss Bryan. But I’m nervous, too. I remember you telling me at the wedding how young couples don’t simply change but they grow together. You get to a point where it can feel strange to be apart. I never really felt that at Benning. Bryan was starting grad school, and all I could think of was pushing through training and getting the hell out of there. But once we got to Bogotá it was different. I heard one of the Joes laughing about something, and he sounded just like Bryan, snort and all. I would have given anything in that moment to sit and listen to Bryan get excited about his data analytics thesis just so I could tease him to make him laugh. So why am I still so worried? I know the jungle has changed me and made me grow. And I’ve had to grow without him here. Or is he always with me? And has he had to grow without me there? We’ve talked through email as regularly as I could, but I’m terrified that once I get that chance to hear him laugh it’s going to sound different somehow.
There’s really not much else to say about how I’m doing here. I can’t go into specifics, anyway. The system reviews our messages for any info that might have an impact on operations and censures it. But we never review handwritten letters, so what’s the point? Still, we get dinged from higher if we trip the servers, so all I’ll say is that it’s miserably hot and muggy. No newsflash there for Colombia in July. The Soldiers are adjusting to things well. We’ve run into trouble occasionally with some of our personal micro-UAV scouts. Surprisingly, a device built by the lowest bidder and cranked out by the thousands every week doesn’t work well in torrential downpours. You’d think after Lockheed got the compact fusion reactor right they could have turned their attention to producing a replacement for these things. We can jump out of jets hovering six feet above the ground, but we can’t upgrade basic equipment that’s existed for almost three decades. My platoon saw a couple of dogs near our FOB and asked if we could train them to sniff for IEDs, like they used to back in the day, and ditch the bots. Everybody’s got jokes out here.
Jenny sent me pictures of the twins a few days ago. I can’t believe my little niece and nephew are a year old. Have I really been gone 15 months? I haven’t had a chance to talk to Dad about them, but he was copied on Jenny’s email. I’ve only seen him a few times now, and honestly, that’s a good thing. He has a solid team to watch his back, so he’s safe. I’d love to see him, but only my command and a few others know I’m our sister brigade commander’s daughter. I’d like to keep it that way. Yes, it’s been nearly 15 years since women entered the infantry, but let’s just say we still have miles to go with this integration effort. The last thing I want is people looking at me like I’m some nepotism case when I nearly killed myself passing OBC and Ranger School.
I promise I’ll write more soon. Just know I’m alive and doing the best I can to keep myself and my Soldiers safe. Dad and I will be home very soon and I cannot wait to see your smiling face. We’ll share a bottle of wine and war stories. Until then, I love you dearly.