PENDLETON - Army Pfc. J.D. Lambert of Pendleton, after a six-month stint in Iraq, recently flew from Iraq to Kuwait, then to Germany and finally to Hawaii, where he enjoyed a two-week break with his wife, Lindsey.

But when it was time to head back to his unit in Iraq, the 1-27 Wolfhound infantry, there was a problem. Lambert had lost his plane ticket.

Although Lambert donned his Army fatigues and carried his military identification cards, Delta Airlines denied him access to his flight.

"It's like I was trying to fight to go back to war," Lambert said. "For some random reason, Delta would not print me up another (ticket) even with my uniform on and military ID."

Anthony Black, senior manager of media relations for Delta, said, "It doesn't matter what you are wearing or who you are; it doesn't matter if you are the president of the United States. You need to have that ticket."

After paying the $100 lost ticket fee out of his own pocket, Lambert was scheduled to fly today back to Iraq.

"I worry about J.D. being gone in Iraq," said his wife, Lindsey, who is studying in Hawaii to be a nurse. "I carry my cell phone everywhere with me so that I don't miss his phone calls. I send him care packages of his favorite food and cleansing products or simple things that remind him of home. If anybody wants to send care packages feel free; it's like Christmas for them when they get mail.

"Some days are easier than others. We just take one day at a time."

Anti-American sentiment is obvious in the Middle East, but Lambert is philosophical.

"Most of the (Iraqi) people are happy we are there, but no matter where you go there are going to be people that don't want you there. ... For the most part, we have good morale. There are days when guys get down and miss home, but you talk with them or just let them know you feel their pain and they bounce back," he said.

Relentlessly optimistic, Lambert said he never fails to see a glimmer of light and hope in a cave of darkness and despair.

"We have fun interacting with the children and training the Iraqi troops," said Lambert, who often works in blistering heat.

Lambert, a 2001 Pendleton High School graduate, is a competitor. He was an exceptional baseball player, a first-team all-league fullback and 2000 player of the year, the seventh-best wrestler in Oregon at his weight and played in the Oregon Bowl.

Now he is battling the opposition on a new field: the Iraqi desert.

Lambert can be e-mailed at: jdlambert32@hotmail.com. Packages, of just about anything "except pork and alcohol," his wife said, can be mailed to:

John D. Lambert

C. Co 1/27 inf 2 BCT 25th ID(L)

APO AE 09347-9998

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