- Posted February 5, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on
Grunt Face War Dog
I reclined on my olive drab cot in Kuwait circa 2004. I was a nineteen-year-old U.S. Marine infantryman with the specialty of platoon radio operator. There were Christmas lights strung between the poles that supported the yellow circus tent. The quasi punk-rock band "Green Day's" then new album "American Idiot" was howling on my compact disc player, I found myself enjoying a moment of peace in irony. We had recently learned that we would be leaving for Fallujah Iraq soon, there was supposed to be a shit-storm brewing and a deployment that started bound for Singapore aboard Naval Ships had turned into this, waiting for a real battle.
We trained in Hawaii early 2004 before deployment and at the time I believed the war would be over soon. My father had been an embedded reporter for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 so I had followed the news and it was obvious to me that we were heading for something intense by the time we had arrived in Kuwait. I looked around the tent at the smiling faces and wondered who it would be, to get wounded or worse? In short months it would be many of them. The Christmas lights strung between the yellow support poles reminded me of home in September 2004.
Our Platoon Sergeant was a black Marine from Virginia, he called us together and said, "Listen up, nobody is going to die in no fucking Iraq." The Staff Sergeant was a Desert Storm Veteran and very wrong but I found the notion of surviving a horrific battle comforting. In a month the violence began, I reclined on an old shop bench, my radio chatter oozing reports of war, friends would be stuck in houses and I listened to it come over my handset clipped to the strap on my body armor. The first one died on the last house of a block we were clearing, he had carried the radio before I replaced him. I awoke near dawn having slept in a real bed inside an Iraqi house we had moved into. The day before the house had been packed full of Marines, the next day more than half had been wounded and one killed. I recall remembering where I was as the morning goggles adjusted, I have never left that bed.