Reflections, Ten Years On

Feb 14, 2013 by

The ten year anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq is in a few weeks. Below are a few thoughts describing what we were going through as the invasion neared. J.E. On St Patty’s Day, 2003, myself and the five other members of HUMINT Exploitation Team Three, assigned to support Third Battalion/Fifth Marines, were in position north of Logistical Support Area Grizzly, just a few hundred meters south of the Iraq-Kuwait border. The day before we had taken the last showers we would have for about the next month. A few days earlier we’d made a last quick trip to First Marine Division headquarters, Camp Commando outside Kuwait City, to touch base with our chain of command, pick up last minute supplies like extra ammo and MRE’s, use the internet, and maybe get a...

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Riding

Jul 8, 2012 by

Again, an anecdote out of chronological order. We were in Tikrit in 2003 and me and Johnny Nano accompanied a sit-down between Brigadier General Kelly and some local tribal sheiks. Senior leaders.  Enjoy.   Joel   We feasted standing up, as normal. We all stood around a huge table laid out with bread, rice, yogurt, and various goat dishes. The general, his officers and the tribal elders rubbed elbows. Johnny and I ended up talking to the tribal sheik’s son, the ‘emir.’ The elders were discussing their bullshit, making promises that would never be met, so Johnny and I sat down with the emir. Johnny lit up, he was in his element. There was no real information to collect, so I could give a fuck about what happened. He bullshitted with the emir for...

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Celebratory Fire

Jun 28, 2012 by

For the majority of the summer of 2003 HET Three was in Al Kut on a tiny, postage stamp-sized base on the eastern side of Tigris, just north of the city. We were remote, the main Marine force of Third Battalion/Twenty-Third Marines (or simply 3/23, a reserve unit with a lot of guys out of Louisiana and the mid-west) was on the western side of the Tigris on an old Iraqi air base. They were at least forty minutes from us. We were on our own. The extent to which we were alone was made perfectly clear the day Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed. We had a satellite dish, courtesy of excellent scrounging in the Al Kut bazzar with Johnny), so we had a few english channels, Al Jazeerah, and of course Al Manar...

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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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