Summer 2003

Jun 7, 2012 by

Sitting in Al Kut through the summer of 2003 was endless, and the sun in southern Iraq was a merciless god. By June the heat in southern Iraq was a physical enemy. Temperatures drove upwards of 130 degrees fahrenheit. 130 plus. Anytime we left our little operating base outside of Al Kut we wore full armor, carried all our weapons. We didn’t have a lot to eat to begin with, and the heat killed our appetites. We didn’t have much in the way of a laundry, so our uniforms became so crusted in the bleach white salt from our sweat they were almost brittle, you could smack your blouse or trousers against a wall and see flakes of salt break off. We did our jobs, but there was never an end in sight. We...

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A Proposition

May 23, 2012 by

This excerpt is, again, jumping around in terms of chronology. After Tikrit we ended up in Al Kut, in the southern Iraq province of Wasit. This would be the end of our time in Iraq, but it dragged… I have lots of stories about Al Kut, too many. Nastiness, like a detainee escaping Marine custody. I’d collected intel saying he was the one who had hired a hitman to throw a grenade at the police station, severely wounding one of the American soldiers. The motherfucker cost a soldier guarding the police station his legs. He wasn’t talking in the Iraqi jail, he just professed his innocence, so I ordered him moved to a more secure facility on the Marine base across the river at the nearby airfield. His escape and follow-up investigation with his...

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Tikrit – Where We All Nearly Died...

May 15, 2012 by

the box on the right was our toilet.    Taking Tikrit turned out to be pretty easy, it had been almost entirely abandoned. We rolled into a ghost town, the night after we rescued the POWs. So, the next day, we began to explore… The palace compound stretched for miles along the Tigris River. While exploring we came upon several locals fishing in one of Saddam’s private fish ponds. Just days earlier they would have been executed for fishing there, had they been caught. We were alone, just one truck, but even so they were scared at first. Johnny jumped out and started talking as soon as we stopped, and within minutes the Iraqis were laughing with Johnny, and effusively showing their gratitude for invading and overthrowing Saddam. They had caught several monster fish,...

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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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