Darkness

Apr 27, 2012 by

Darkness in war is a combatant, and it switches sides at random. The Iraqis didn’t have night-vision equipment and we did, so in that way the night worked for us. But night-vision only lets you see if there is at least some ambient light or illumination from an infrared beam, and there are nights in Iraq so dark opening your eyes doesn’t change a thing. The IR beam from the night-vision goggles is narrow, focused, and limited to a very small area wherever it is directed. Even with technology, the Iraqi night is an uncertain friend. On one of those nights a few days after the sandstorm we bivouacked on the shoulder of the highway.  The fuel trucks had finally caught up with us and LtCol Mundy decided to have the entire battalion fuel up throughout...

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Sandstorm

Apr 20, 2012 by

This excerpt happened prior to the rescue of the POW’s, so it’s a little out of order. J.E. On March 25th one of the largest sandstorms in Iraqi history covered half of the country, halting our advance on Baghdad. I don’t know how it affected the Army’s progress, but the entire First Marine Division was stopped just south of Ad Diwaniyah. There’s no way to adequately describe an Iraqi sandstorm, let alone a legendary one. Me and the team were focused on interrogations, so we didn’t notice the dust roll in at first. But the sky turned red in the middle of the day, and by 1500 (3pm) we realized the weather was unusual. The dust got progressively worse, and the sky became darker and darker. The landscape, what we could see of it,...

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April 13th – The Rescue

Apr 13, 2012 by

From the time we crossed the Kuwait/Iraq border with Third Battalion/Fifth Marines on 20 March 2003, Human Intelligence Exploitation Team Three (HET 3, callsign Jesuit 3) had driven with almost no sleep, fought alongside the grunts, and slogged through dozens of interrogations for almost three weeks. On 11 April we rested for a day after taking the Azimiyah Palace. There were six of us, plus our two linguists; 1st Lieutenant Nate Boaz, SSgt Matt Leclaire, SSgt Randy Meyer, Sgt Chris Kieffer, Sgt Jason Jones and myself, Sgt Joel McCollough. Ra’ad was our volunteer linguist from Kuwait, and Johnny Nano was our contractor linguist – an Iraqi refugee from Detroit.  A lot of conflicting accounts of the rescue appeared in the media in 2003, I’ve never read a completely accurate one, and I don’t claim this...

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First Interrogation

Apr 9, 2012 by

Before you read this post, I’d like to reiterate my earlier disclaimer. Not everything in this memoir is true, and some of it is intentionally distorted or altered. This memoir is intended to relate my impressions and thoughts on combat and the war in general. It is not a detailed or literal account of exactly what happened in the war. In other words, sometimes I make shit up for literary effect. enjoy, J.E. My first interrogation was the next day, or the day after, I’m not really sure. It was a junior militia fighter who gave up all his information to direct questioning. No waterboarding needed, no real technique applied, there was no time to do either, anyway. We had Marines advancing and we needed information. Force protection was the priority, which meant finding out...

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