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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First Fight

Mar 29, 2012 by

The first real action Three/Five saw was south of Ad Diwaniyah, around March 23rd or 24th.  I wish I could remember how far south, but things were blurry and both time and distance were distorted. I had never been in the infantry, like most of the other guys on my counterintelligence team. I had been an intel geek for five years and had never done serious time in the field. After the debacle of the border crossing and the first couple of days of the war, HUMINT Exploitation Team Three (HET 3) had sorted itself out and we were back in our assigned trucks. Me, Matt, Jason and my linguist Johnny Nano were with the rear element while Nate (1st Lt Boaz) commanded the forward truck, driven by Randy with Kris and Ra’ad in...

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What War Is

Mar 23, 2012 by

    Your first war is filled with things you’ve never done, never seen, never heard, never smelled. It’s a different continent, and everyone who goes there feels like the first white man in the Congo.  It’s the world after you fuck your first girl; you were a virgin, and now you’re not.  That first morning after you’re not sure what’s changed, but there is something fundamentally different, even if it’s not visible and no one else can see it.  You know something has changed. Some think war is an experience – something bad that happens to you like a father that slapped you around too much but then you grow up and move on.  War isn’t a time period in life, it’s the end of your old life and the beginning of life after,...

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Crossing

Mar 18, 2012 by

Crossing into Iraq in that never-ending convoy felt like being caught in a river’s current, we flowed across the border in an inevitable stream of war machines. In the afternoon light of the desert we poured through breaches in the berms and tank trenches on the Iraq-Kuwait border, passing long-abandoned UN border posts standing a useless watch. Further on, as darkness fell, we began to pass the GOSPs.  Saddam had ordered them set on fire, so we drove through the jets of flame spewing from the earth.  At the closest we maybe got within 200 meters of a GOSP on fire, maybe as far as 400 meters. That may sound like a long ways away, but the heat was so intense it felt like my face was melting. The hot air blasted through the open...

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