GI SPECIAL 3A61:
GET THE MESSAGE?
Anonymous, Infoshop News
Of KIA Targeted By Con Artists
March 07, 2005 Army Times
Con artists are
plying two Iraq-related e-mail scams, including one targeting
relatives of fallen service members, the Department of Homeland
Specifics of how the scams are
supposed to work are under investigation. However, they have
hallmarks of “phishing” expeditions, through which criminals seek to
gain personal and financial data via e-mail that can be used to
In one scam,
someone claiming to be a volunteer working with U.S. forces contacts
a relative of a service member killed in Iraq. The scammer then
claims to have known another service member killed in Iraq who was a
friend of the target’s deceased military relative. The scammer then
hints at needing help in obtaining funds held for him by the
deceased friend, and promises to provide more details when the
In another scam,
someone claims to be an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official
in Iraq who is tracking down funds looted from the Iraqi Central
Bank by Saddam Hussein’s son. The scammer lists ICE’s official Web
site, asks the recipient to confirm his e-mail address, and mentions
a need to discuss “a very important and confidential matter.”
These solicitations are not associated
with any ICE activities and no one should respond with any personal
or financial information, officials said.
Recipients should notify the ICE tip
line at (866) 347-2423.
NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK
OUT THE NEW TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth
- about the occupation or the criminals running the government in
Washington - is the first reason for Traveling Soldier. But we
want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the
resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or
inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to
become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed
services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help
you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what
you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a
network of active duty organizers.
And join with Iraq War
vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home
IRAQ WAR REPORTS:
SOLDIER DIES FROM
INJURIES SUSTAINED IN BAYJI VEHICLE WRECK
March 1, 2005 HEADQUARTERS UNITED
STATES CENTRAL COMMAND NEWS RELEASE Number: 05-03-01C
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA,
BALAD, Iraq – A second 1st Corps
Support Command Soldier is dead March 1 from injuries sustained
during a vehicle accident that occurred about 20 miles northwest of
Tikrit near the town of Bayji Feb 28.
The Soldier was evacuated to a combat
support hospital in Tikrit Feb. 28 to be treated for head injuries,
later dying as a result of those injuries.
March 1, 2005 By DAN HAUGEN, Courier
OELWEIN --- A Northeast Iowa guardsman
serving in Iraq is in stable but serious condition following a
roadside bomb explosion that killed another area soldier.
Spc. Seth Garceau, 22, of Oelwein, was
riding in the gunner's position of an up-armored Humvee when it was
hit by an explosive device. The attack occurred between Karbala and
Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
Rick, said he received a telephone call about noon Sunday about the
incident. "When you get that call, it's tough," Rick Garceau said.
"It's something you think you can prepare yourself for, but you
sustained several injuries, including head wounds, facial
lacerations, a crushed trachea and a compound fracture to his leg.
He also lost his right eye, according to his father.
Doctors spent 20 hours in surgery to
stabilize Garceau so that he could be transported from Baghdad to
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Rick Garceau said.
Seth Garceau graduated from Oelwein High School in 2001. He started
National Guard basic training the summer before his senior year.
"He was always
interested in heavy equipment," Rick Garceau said. "He thought that
would be a good place to get his training. He wanted to join, and
that's what he did." Seth Garceau also worked for several years at
Steve's Auto Body in Oelwein.
He left for his first tour of duty
with the 224th Engineer Battalion based in Burlington last year
after training in Texas and Oklahoma.
Three other soldiers from the company
were also injured in the attack: Sgt. Timothy Shay, 22, of
Muscatine; Spc. Justin Edgington, 23, of Burlington; and Spc. Dennis
Smutzer, 32, of Moline, Ill.
Retreat To Green
March 01, 2005 Max Blenkin, AAP
120-member security detachment in Baghdad – SECDET – are evacuating
their former base next to the unoccupied Australian embassy and
moving into the more secure Green Zone.
Army Chief Lieutenant General Peter
Leahy confirmed today the move was underway.
"The SECDET have already commenced
movement and they will be closer to the diplomats and I think that
movement is pretty well happening now," he said today.
It follows the
evacuation of Australia's three diplomats who in late January
relocated to the Australian headquarters on the American Camp
Ukraine To Pull Out
Troops From Iraq Starting March 15
Mar. 01, 2005 Associated Press, KIEV,
defense and security body has decided to order the withdrawal of the
nation's soldiers from Iraq, and the pullout will begin this month,
officials said Tuesday.
withdrawal will begin March 15, and 150 soldiers will leave Iraq in
the first batch, Defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko said.
Gritsenko had said
Ukraine's 1,650-member contingent could be completely withdrawn by
October, and would be reduced to some 700 troops by April.
Do you have a
friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or
send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly.
Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra
important for your service friend, too often cut off from access
to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and
inside the armed services.
Send requests to address up top.
Troops Still Forced To Use Deadly Vehicles In Iraq
March 01, 2005 By Robert Burns,
Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Budget
Committee on Tuesday that all
U.S. military vehicles in Iraq will be outfitted with the best armor
by summer. [Last winter these Pentagon assholes said that would
happen by Spring. Make the fuckers like Pace ride in the deadly
pieces of shit. Maybe that will get some results. Even better, tie
his scrawny ass on the hood.]
Until then some
will rely on the less effective add-on armor, which some soldiers
have dubbed “hillbilly armor” because it is an improvised solution.
[“Rely on?” What the fuck does that mean? We know what “less
effective” means. Dead or maimed for life.]
Pentagon For Failure To Focus On IEDs
March 01, 2005 By Robert Burns,
The Pentagon is not
trying hard enough to defeat the makeshift roadside bombs that are
the leading killer of U.S. troops in Iraq, the commander of American
forces in the Middle East said Tuesday.
Pentagon statistics show that over the
past two months, the homemade, easy-to-hide weapons have accounted
for a significantly higher share of U.S. battle deaths. In the
final 10 days of February, for example, at least 13 of the 22 battle
deaths were caused by roadside bombs.
Army Gen. John
Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate
Armed Services Committee “But I’m not satisfied that we have come up
with the solutions that we could if we really rolled up our sleeves
and looked at it the way it needs to be looked at.”
That statement was
the most direct public challenge to the Pentagon’s approach to this
Troops Have Enough
Half Won’t Re-Up;
28 Feb 2005 Action Center
Out of 10 Army
Divisions, part or all of 9 of them are either deployed in Iraq or
Twenty-one out of
33 regular combat brigades are on active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan,
South Korea, or the Balkans.
That's 63% of the Army's combat
strength. This means the Army is extremely overextended.
All four services
missed their enlistment quotas last year, and enlistments in the
Reserves, National Guard, and regular military are at a 30-year low.
Many current members of the armed
forces plan to get out as soon as their current enlistment ends.
According to a poll conducted by the military newspaper Stars &
Stripes, 49% of soldiers stationed in Iraq do not plan to re-enlist.
Straws In The Wind:
Money To Chase “Malcontents”
March 07, 2005 Army Times
spending plans, the Pentagon will almost double its budget for
apprehending military deserters in just two years,
from $2.3 million in fiscal 2004 to a projected $4 million in the
fiscal 2006 budget request.
By service, the proposed budget for
nabbing deserters in 2006 would give the Marine Corps $1.6 million;
the Army, $1.4 million; the Navy, $825,000; and the Air Force,
In other words, the
Marine Corps, the smallest of the four, spends the most to track
Meanwhile, the Army’s proposed $1.4
million deserter-pursuit budget for 2006 would more than double its
total this year, $615,000.
Bush’s Whore At
Pentagon Says Compensating Reservists For Lost Pay A Bad Idea
March 07, 2005 By Vince Crawley, Army
Times staff writer
chief of reserve affairs opposes plans to compensate some reservists
who lose income when mobilized, saying this would create inequities
among deployed troops.
Thomas Hall, assistant secretary of
defense for reserve affairs, said such a move would go against his
philosophy that reserve pay and benefits should be as closely
aligned as possible with those of active-duty members.
Meeting with defense writers in
mid-February, Hall said the National Guard and reserve have shifted
from being strategic Cold War backup forces to operational reserves
involved in regular deployments. This shift in emphasis makes
eliminating differences between reserve and active-duty benefits —
and not creating new ones — more important than ever, Hall said.
[This is babbling bullshit, that
has no meaning, just a smokescreen so Bush and the Empire can get
more victims for their Imperial Iraq Adventure as cheap as
possible. This is the same kind of double-talk Wall-Mart hands out
when their workers want a raise. Here’s the translation: “’Cause I
say so.” Oh, by the way, what do you suppose this assholes’
official U.S. Government paycheck looks like?]
have proposed bills that would direct the government to make up any
differences in pay for mobilized reservists whose military wages are
less than what they make in their civilian jobs.
But Hall, a retired Navy rear admiral, says
the Pentagon has found no widespread problems with reserve pay that
merits such a move. [Of course
not. Pieces of shit like Hall only find what they want to find. So
of course he hasn’t “found” a problem. Maybe 50,000 reserve members
need to pay him a visit, arms in hand. That might help him “find” a
“Our view has been that we need to
compensate equally guardsmen, reservists and active duty with the
same salary out of the federal taxpayers’ dollars when they’re doing
the same job,” Hall said. [Check
the way he sneaks in the line about “taxpayers’ dollars, as if
paying men and women called up from the reserves, losing their
incomes, and going off to Iraq to die or come home without arms,
legs, and eyes is some kind of insult to these “taxpayers” he’s
whining about. Everybody knows scum like Hall and his traitor boss
Bush keep cutting taxes on the rich every time they inhale and
exhale, and then they poormouth about not having the money to keep
deployed reservists out of bankruptcy. Payback for scum like this
is so overdue.]
Such supplemental pay, he said, could
result in a situation in which two E-5s — one on active duty, one a
reservist — are in a foxhole, talking about their pay.
The active-duty member might note that
he’s trying to make ends meet on about $45,000 per year. But the
reservist might say, “Well, I get $100,000 because you as the
taxpayer are paying the difference of what I got when I was a
civilian,” Hall said. “That creates a little bit of a problem with
that active-duty person.” [Only
in the deluded mind of Hall. The problem has a very simple
solution. Instead of twisting this into something the active duty
E-5 has to pay for, confiscate the fucking profits of Halliburton
and all the other war profiteers to pay the reservists. And let Mr.
Retired Rear Admiral Hall take a hit to his riches as well.
Guaranteed, the active duty E5 will stand up and cheer for that
one. What despicable trash these low life Pentagon ass-kissers
truly are. They have no honor, no truth, and no respect for anybody
who doesn’t eat with them in the Pentagon dining room.]
do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans,
are especially welcome. Send to email@example.com.
Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Commander Arrested In Iraq
Choking” Operations Officer
March 1, 2005 Associated Press
An Army Reserve commander from Hawai'i
has been arrested by military police in Iraq after allegedly
attacking a subordinate staff officer, officials said.
Lt. Col. Alan Ostermiller was
suspended last week by Brig. Gen. Joe Chaves, commander of the 29th
Infantry, pending the outcome of an investigation, Brig. Gen. John
Ma, commander of the Army Reserve's 9th Regional Support Command,
Ostermiller is commander of a unit
attached to the Hawai'i Army National Guard — the 29th Infantry
Brigade's 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry.
allegedly assaulted his operations officer at the battalion's
headquarters during an early morning briefing at Logistical Support
Area Anaconda, nearly choking the officer, the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported, quoting unidentified family
pulled off the officer and thrown to the ground before being placed
under arrest by military police, the newspaper said.
Ostermiller, who took command of the
100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, in July, is a 1982 Kamehameha
Schools graduate. He went
through the ROTC program at the University of Hawai'i.
The Universal Code
Of Military Injustice Strikes Again
(San Antonio Express-News, March 1,
An Air Force
sergeant convicted of having sex with a student at Sheppard Air
Force Base, Tex., wonders why the Air Force's top lawyer escaped a
court-martial despite pursuing affairs with more than a dozen women
over a decade, some of them his subordinates.
raises the old issue of whether officers get special breaks from the
military's 54-year-old justice system - what some cynics call
"different spanks for different ranks."
PUSILLANIMOUS PBS PRUDES:
“Don't Ask”' Policy
(Miami Herald, March 1, 2005)
The Pentagon policy
on gays in the military, known as "don't ask, don't tell," isn't
working. It hurts recruitment, impedes retention and costs too
much, according to last week's GAO report that underlined the need
to rethink the 12-year-old policy.
Perhaps "don't ask,
don't tell" made sense at one time, relaxing the rule that banned
homosexuality in the U.S. military altogether. It makes no sense
today. The policy should be repealed, and men and
women who want to serve their country in the armed forces should be
allowed to do so without regard to sexual orientation.
Occupation Recruiting Stations To Close
3.1.05 By Farnaz Fazzihi, Wall St.
The constant attacks on recruiting
centers have hindered U.S. efforts to build a diverse force.
For example, the
U.S. initially planned to open six army recruiting stations around
Iraq, but continued violence forced several to shut down.
The two recruiting
stations in Mosul and Ramadi, which account for the bulk of Sunni
recruits, were closed most of last month.
The Baghdad station, which most
recently was attacked on Feb. 8, killing 13, hasn’t produced strong
numbers, U.S. military officials said, and the only reason the Iraqi
army has been able to hit recruiting goals is the large numbers
joining in the Shiite south.
Big Victory In
Ramadi: Dentist Killed
A protest took
place 2.28.05 in Ramadi, where medical staff and students were
angered by the killing of a dentist, Ahmed Abdul Rahman al-Qubaisi,
by American soldiers last week. (Anonymous,
March 1, 2005 By Jim Miklaszewski,
Correspondent, NBC News
BAGHDAD, Iraq -
A judge working on the special tribunal established to try Saddam
Hussein and other senior officials in his toppled regime was
assassinated Tuesday in Baghdad.
March 1 (Xinhuanet) & 2.28.05, Middle
Two bodies of Iraqi soldiers were
found close to the main road near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, police
said on Tuesday.
"The two bodies
were identified as bodyguards of a high-ranking official in the
Iraqi Defense Ministry," Colonel Hassan Ahmad from
the provincial headquarters of Salahudin police told Xinhua.
The two bodies were found Monday night
on the main road linking Tikrit to Baiji, north of Baghdad, Ahmad
Two Iraqi soldiers
were killed in a gunbattle south of Samarra, while an Iraqi soldier
and translator died in a mortar attack near Dhuluiya, north of
Baghdad, Iraqi security officials said.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE
Department Says Iraqi Puppet Government A Pack of Thieves, Thugs,
Torturers And Killers
March 1, 2005 WASHINGTON (AP)
rights abuses occurred under the interim Iraqi government installed
by the United States after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein,
including torture, illegal detention by police and forced
confessions, according to a State Department
The report said
that ``corruption at all levels of government remained a problem''
during the period and Iraqis continued to be victimized by police,
courts and others in authority.
Under the interim
Iraq government, there were reports of local police and other
government agents killing members of Saddam's Ba'ath Party, a
mother and daughter accused of prostitution and kidnappers of
police officers, the State Department noted. It cited a report by
Human Rights Watch that said ``torture and ill treatment of
detainees by police was commonplace.''
released Monday, did not address incidents in Iraq in which
Americans were involved, such as the abuse of prisoners at Abu
In the Iraqi judicial system, the
reported noted, defendants were generally given short shrift. There
were no jury trials; a defendant's guilt or innocence was decided by
a three-judge panel and those convicted were sentenced immediately
after the verdict.
War Crime Ordered
By U.S. Command In Hiyt City
01 March 2005 Aljazeera
The [U.S.] forces surrounded Hiyt
city, imposing curfew for the seventh consecutive night. Aljazeera
learned that the US forces had arrested many people
including the medical staff of the
Hit general hospital. [Criminal violation of Geneva
Tel Aviv Blast
Killed Elite Soldiers
01 March 2005 By Khalid Amayreh in the
West Bank, Aljazeera.Net
The Israeli press
has reported that three of the five people killed in the bomb attack
in Tel Aviv on Friday were members of an elite Israeli army unit
serving in the West Bank.
Jerusalem Post reported the elite unit was invited to celebrate a
party for one of its soldiers, and stood at the entrance to the
stage club when the bomber detonated the explosive device he was
Earlier, the platoon commander, Eran Cohen, told Army Radio (Gali
Tzahal) that virtually all the casualties of the bombing were
members of his unit.
"There were 13 of us
there. All the fatalities are from our unit. Many more were
wounded." Eran called the unit's soldiers "the best of the best,
Earlier, the Israeli media had reported that all those killed and
injured in the blast were civilians
"In the past five years
of this war, we have carried out virtually every single mission in
the [Palestinian] territories and underwent nearly every kind of
"In five years, none of
our troops were wounded. It's ironic that we were hit so hard in one
explosion on a Friday night in Tel Aviv. Just before a party," Eran
Israeli undercover units have assassinated hundreds of Palestinian
political and resistance activists during the Palestinian al-Aqsa
intifada against Israeli occupation, which started in September
[To check out what
life is like under a murderous military occupation by a foreign
www.rafahtoday.org The foreign army is Israeli; the occupied
nation is Palestine.]
“Poor, White And
Tuesday, March 01, 2005 12:39 AM
“Poor, White And Pissed”
Man, I really liked that one!
It hit a lot of nails on the head.
(most everything you print does)
I live in rural Georgia and these are
I did not grow up here and even though
I have lived here over 20 years I will always be an "outsider" but I
want to print this letter up and pass it around.
If the author will give me permission,
and the editor of the local paper will print it, I would love to
send it in.
Thanks for all the good works brother,
You get the thanks for all the terrific material you send in. T
Seven Days In
"I Don't Want My
Boy To Know His Daddy's A Killer"
The house, yet
another in a line of dozens if not hundreds, was blown apart by
Bradley and Abrams tank fire. "It's intense, that's about all
there is to say," said Spc. John Bandy, 23, of Little Rock, Ark.
"The determination these guys have against our forces, these
little bands of guys shooting at tanks, it's almost admirable."
2004-11-28 Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder
FALLUJAH, Iraq - Capt. Sean Sims
watched artillery shells fall and explode in a blast of sand and
rubble, close enough to hear but too far to see what they hit. It
was Sims' first daylight look at the rebel-held city of Fallujah on
Monday afternoon, just hours before he would lead his men deep into
A Marine Harrier jet screamed
overhead. A Mark-19 automatic grenade launcher nearby let loose -
bomb-boom-boom - sending grenades to burst in the distance.
As commander of Alpha Company, of the
1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2, Sims drew a mission the U.S.
military had sought to avoid since the start of the Iraq war:
house-to-house fighting in an urban landscape that gave rebels many
places to hide, significantly offsetting the superior firepower of
U.S. troops while risking civilian casualties and vast property
destruction. It would be the most intense urban combat for U.S.
troops since the 1968 battle for Hue, in Vietnam.
Sims' men would win
the battle, yet no one would feel like celebrating. Killing the
enemy, they learned, was sobering. More so was the loss of friends.
Sims would not come
Before his men left the Forward
Operating Base near Fallujah that morning, battalion commander, Lt.
Col. Pete Newell, gathered them in a circle. "This is as pure a
fight of good versus evil as we will probably face in our lifetime,"
Alpha Company was heading to the
city's eastern corridor, the Askari neighborhood, from where they
would turn south into industrial districts and finally hook back to
the west, running for six bleary days with almost no sleep.
Although most of the city's 300,000
residents had fled, intelligence briefings suggested the Askari
neighborhood - home to many former officers in Saddam Hussein's army
- had been turned into one big bunker, with car bombs, booby traps
and snipers' nests.
None of the young
American men had ever set foot in the town, shared a cup of tea with
a resident or seen the ornate blue domes that topped the mosques.
After Sims took in the view, soldiers
of Alpha Company scrambled to a road overlooking Fallujah. Then
sniper fire began and the battle was joined. Some soldiers emptied
their M-16 clips, some yelling, others laughing as return sniper
fire pinged off the Bradleys and pavement around them.
"Lord, I have to say a special prayer
now," the 32-year-old Sims said in the soft-spoken accent of his
hometown of Eddy, Texas.
He hustled up a berm to the road to
link up with the Task Force 2-2 reconnaissance team.
Crouched down on his right knee, Sims
watched the insurgents' mortar rounds land, and a minute or two
later he heard the retort of U.S. artillery. A few hundred yards
away, the outskirts of Fallujah rose out of the desert in a warren
of sand-colored houses.
Satellite images after recent
airstrikes showed dozens of ensuing explosions that probably
resulted from roadside bombs.
"Everybody realizes that it's
something that will affect the rest of our lives, in terms of seeing
that type of combat," Sims said a few days earlier. "When the first
bullet impacts, you know the eyes of the world are going to be on
Near Sims, a sniper lay on his belly
with a rifle scope pressed against his eyes. A five-man insurgent
team was scampering in and out of the buildings of Askari. One
rebel appeared to be carrying mortars.
More bullets flew by, and the mortar
rounds grew closer. Capt. Kirk Mayfield, of the recon team, yelled,
"Everyone behind the truck."
Standing next to his Humvee, Mayfield
screamed for U.S. mortar strikes on the five-man team. After the
ensuing rumble, a voice called over the radio: "Can I get a battle
"An assessment?" the reply came.
"There is no more building."
Sims laughed to himself.
Sniper shots zipped by, pinging off
"Where is that sniper? Here it is,"
Mayfield barked, turning to a gunner behind an automatic grenade
launcher. "Blow him away."
The red-hot streak of another bullet
whizzed past. The gunner shot round after round, with explosions
echoing across the town, then pulled a pair of binoculars to his
face and announced, "He is not there anymore."
Sims called over to his men, "Let's
go," and they went scrambling back down the dirt berm.
At about 7 p.m., he lined up his
vehicle behind his First and Third platoons as they braced for the
Sitting in the back of Sims' Bradley
Fighting Vehicle, Corp. Travis Barreto, from Brooklyn, leaned over
and tried to get a glimpse through one of the small rectangle
windows at the back of the truck.
A truck pulled up carrying a rocket
with about 350 feet of cord attached to it and 5-pound blocks of C4
plastic explosives spaced out every foot down the line. With a
small whoosh, the rocket flew forward and a wall of flame shot up.
Roadside bombs planted by rebels exploded, one after the other.
"You know we're going to destroy this
town," said Barreto, 22.
"I hope so," replied the soldier
sitting next to him.
Phosphorous shells came next,
releasing bouncing white orbs of smoke. The gunner on top of the
Bradley began firing 25 mm high explosive rounds, filling the cabin
of the Bradley with an ammonia-like smell. Barreto looked outside
the window again and could see only smoke and flashes of light.
The U.S. artillery shells were coming
in "Danger Close" - the thin line between uncomfortably near and
Insurgent AK-47 fire rang off the
sides of the Bradley. Explosions sounded to the rear, but it was
impossible to tell which belonged to roadside bombs and which were
As the hours passed, soldiers tried to
grab a few minutes of sleep, slumping their heads on the next
shoulder. Each time they began to drift off another explosion would
jolt them awake.
Large concrete barriers and parked
cars blocked in the road in some places. The big M1A1 Abrams tanks
lined up and pounded the obstacles with 120 mm shells, shaking the
Sims followed his platoons, which
moved a few blocks at a time, one in front of the other, before
stopping. The rear hatch of the Bradley lowered amid yells of
"Dismount! Dismount!" The soldiers, having ridden in a tight,
sweaty box through the battle - their knees cramped and aching - ran
out, then slammed to their knees and took cover beside a wall. Then
came "Go! Go! Go!" and the men busted through the front door of a
house and, waving their rifles, cleared rooms before storming
Sims parked his vehicle with two
others in a blocking position on the road outside before following
to the rooftop, where his soldiers set up a lookout.
With bullets whizzing, Sims and his
men crouched down with the third platoon and assessed the battle.
Barreto, acting as a guard, crouched next to Sims with a dazed look
on his face.
"It's weird how we can be looking at
the rooftops and there's no one," he said, "and all of a sudden
they're shooting at us." An AC-130 airplane flew overhead, shooting
its cannons in a low roar.
The third platoon reported that the
house next door had a jumble of wires leading to a propane tank.
Fearing a booby trap, Sims got on the radio and called for a tank to
level the building. The call came back: the road was too narrow.
Well, Sims said, blow a hole through a wall and drive through it.
"It's difficult terrain," Sims yelled
over the noise around him. "We're having to move deliberately
through the rubble."
He took another look around the
rooftop, then scurried back downstairs and into his Bradley.
Mortar rounds began to fall, at first
far away, then closer and closer as unseen insurgents walked their
mortar fire forward a few feet at a time. Sims' Bradley was stuck
between two other vehicles, but to veer off the road would risk
hitting a mine or bomb. Another mortar fell, and its shrapnel
tattooed the side of the Bradley and rattled those sitting inside.
"Kill those b-------, kill those motherf------," someone screamed in
No one said another word.
Thirteen hours after the push began,
Sims and his men looked gray and worn. Dirt was beginning to cover
their faces and uniforms. Their ears ached. After two hours of
sleep on a concrete floor of an abandoned house, their eyes were
"At first, last night, when we came in
and heard all the AK-47 fire we freaked out," said Sgt. Brandon
Bailey, 21, of Big Bear, Calif. "But now as long as it's not coming
right at us, we're fine."
Later, Bailey said it felt like the
enemy was coming from every direction.
"So we just went ape shit with the
cannon, shooting everything," he said.
How many people did they kill? Bailey
shrugged his shoulders.
Sims' temporary headquarters was a
mostly empty house. It stood on the north side of Fallujah's main
road which, like all east-west roads there, was given a woman's name
by military planners: Fran. On the other side stood the beginnings
of the city's industrial district, where more insurgents lay in
Tanks were parked up and down Fran,
and ordnance disposal teams were already identifying the homemade
bombs - Improvised Explosive Devices, in military lingo - that lined
the road. They were densely packed, but with no one to detonate
them, the bombs sat idle as Army trucks rolled by.
Inside the house, the family that fled
left handwritten verses of the Quran on the doorways, a tradition
intended to keep homes safe. Baby formula was scattered around and
a kerosene heater was stored in a utility closet. A painting of
Mecca, Islam's holiest city, hung on the wall in the front room.
Bullet holes pocked the walls of the
house. Its windows were shattered. Pieces of plaster and concrete
were strewn about. A solider defecated in a stairwell, and the
stench grew with the morning sun.
Staff Sgt. Jason Ward was sitting
outside the house in his M-113 armored truck - a square box on tank
tracks used to cart casualties off the battlefield.
Ward, from Midland, Texas, had a
deeper accent than Sims, a square jaw and a blank _expression. He
was chewing on a Slim Jim. Ward said he'd ferried at least 10
injured soldiers the night before.
"It's been very intense," he said.
"For a lot of our younger soldiers, it's overwhelming."
He wore a bracelet with the name
"Marvin Sprayberry III" etched on it, just above "KIA" and "True
Sprayberry was Ward's best friend. He
was a good man. He was killed on May 3 when the vehicle he was in
rolled over during a firefight. That was all Ward had to say on the
Resting in a Humvee nearby, 1st Lt.
Edward Iwan was scrolling down a flat blue computer screen, mounted
to the dashboard, that showed the location of every Army and Marine
unit in Fallujah. Iwan, Alpha company's executive officer, noted
that his men were deeper in the city than any other unit.
"It's a fairly complex environment,
like we thought it would be," said Iwan, 28, of Albion, Neb.
"Cities are where people die.
That's where you take most of your casualties."
Iwan looked out through the Humvee's
window at a thicket of buildings in every direction.
"There are 8,000 places to hide," he
said, shaking his head.
Across the street, a long row of
shops, once home to mechanics and carpenters, lay in ruins. Tin
cigarette stands leaned on their sides, pocked with bullet holes.
Sims was on the roof of the house,
sitting against a wall, his legs crossed at the ankle with a map on
his lap. A little past dawn, after an hour or two lull, the
shooting started again.
A reporter offered Sims a satellite
phone to call his family. No thanks, he said. He wanted to talk
with them when he got somewhere quieter. He had an infant son,
Colin, whose brown hair and small ears, which poked out on the
sides, looked just like his father's.
Sims wondered aloud if the bullets
flying by were aimed at him. During the next couple minutes,
several ricocheted off the roof near him.
"OK, that's a sniper right there," he
said with a small grin as his men grabbed their guns and crouched so
only the top of their heads showed above the roofline.
Sims picked up the radio and called in
an artillery strike to "soften" the sniper positions. His call sign
was Terminator Six.
Barreto moved his rifle slowly,
scanning the cluster of houses nearby. "He's somewhere from my 11
o'clock to my 3 o'clock," he muttered.
Spc. Luis Lopez, 21, was too short to
rest his M14 sniper rifle on the roof, so he created a step from a
metal box containing a child's Snoopy sneaker.
The company radio squawked with
sightings of snipers and everyone adjusted their aim: a circle
window to the southwest, a rooftop to the southeast, a crevice in
the wall to the southwest. With every new location, the men
clenched their triggers and shell casings flew up in the air. The
sniper rounds stopped. And then, they began again.
"He shot right at me," yelled Barreto,
ducking. "He shot right AT me."
Those soldiers who weren't on sniper
rotation sat on the roof with their brown Meal Ready to Eat packets,
finding the main meal - bean burrito, country captain chicken, beef
teriyaki - and dunking it with water in the cooking pouch, which
smelled of cardboard and chemicals.
They talked about
Steve Faulkenburg, the battalion sergeant major, shot in the head
the night before. What the hell was he doing out there, they
asked. Directing traffic, trying to get a truckload of Iraqi
National Guardsmen out of the line of fire. The tough 45-year-old
was from Huntingburg, a small town in southern Indiana where there
are cornfields and a population of about 5,500. There's a
Victorian-style downtown district there with brick-lined sidewalks
and streets named Chestnut and Washington. Thousands of miles from
home, he'd fallen dead, in the dark, on a street with no name.
"Friendlies coming up, friendlies
coming up," other soldiers yelled as they climbed the stairs to the
A building a few blocks away quaked
with fresh explosions that sent ashes falling like snowflakes.
Flames shot into the sky.
The radio squawked: "OK, I've got an
injury to sergeant ... and I'm unaware if it is a gunshot wound to
the groin or a shrapnel wound to the groin."
Another report came in: A second
sergeant had been shot. The soldiers on the rooftop with Sims
paused, shook their heads, then turned back to the fight.
When they got bored or scared of being
on the rooftop, some of the men - young and with an awkward day's
stubble on their upper lips - went outside and around the corner to
see the Fat Man. "Hey dude, we're going to see the Fat Man, wanna
come?" they said.
Their boots crunched hurriedly across
the rubble outside the house and then slid down a muddy hill of
trash and feces.
The Fat Man lay in his own blood. He
was an Iraqi insurgent who'd hidden in an alley next to a garbage
dump waiting for the Army to come by. A couple 25 mm high explosive
rounds, shot from a Bradley, blew off his left leg, leaving a stump
of bone, and, from the looks of it, punched a hole through his
midsection. Two or three others died with him. A group of
insurgents managed to drag the others away, but the Fat Man was too
big. His arms were still splayed back from where his comrades tried
to pull him through the narrow alley.
Some of his guts - perhaps an
intestinal tract - were splattered on the wall. His eyes were open,
peering out from his dirty face and scraggly beard, staring at the
heavens. A traditional red-and-white checked Arab keffiyah
headdress was wrapped around his waist, and a bag with slots for RPG
rounds - all empty - lay on the ground next to him.
The Fat Man was the first dead person
that many soldiers had seen. They grew solemn as they leaned over
his body and peered into his eyes, but never too close, never close
enough to touch his skin or take in too deep a whiff of death.
Joshua Franqui, a big kid with a tooth
missing from the bottom of his smile, grew up in Augusta, Ga., and
had never been farther than Louisiana before he signed up with the
His uniform was stiff with sweat and
dirt, and he'd become quiet over the past few days. No one asked
why. Maybe it was all the noise from the gun he manned from his
Bradley's gunner seat: the M242 25 mm "Bushmaster," a weapon capable
of shooting 200 high explosive rounds a minute.
Maybe it was seeing what his "25
mike-mike" did to human bodies.
A buddy walked up and asked, "Hey,
Franqui, how many kills you got?"
Franqui looked down, the smile
slipping off his face.
"I don't know, man," he said.
"Sometimes they sort of vaporize when we hit 'em."
Franqui was standing in the front room
of the house where he and his First Platoon mates had been catching
off hours of sleep for the past couple days. They'd urinated in the
corners and defecated on the floor.
Many of the men wore skull and
crossbones patches sewn onto their vests.
But Fallujah was not the place for
bravado. It was constant, pounding violence, the sort that left the
heat of passing bullets on a young soldier's face, and the crack and
boom of RPGs ringing in his head.
On Tuesday, about eight men from the
platoon had been trapped on the roof of a schoolhouse, with RPGs
thudding into the walls and bullets coming down on them. A Bradley
shot smoke rounds, and the soldiers jumped off the roof to escape
Soldiers didn't discuss it when
sitting around and sharing cigarettes.
Resting against his SAW machine gun -
a large gun with a tripod that weighs more than 16 pounds - Spc.
Sheldon Howard, 20, listened as his platoon commander gave orders to
move out in a few minutes. Dark rings formed below his eyes. Dirt
showed in thick bands across his forehead when he took off his
Howard, who wore
glasses and had a round face, grew up near a Navajo reservation
outside of Farmington, N.M., and usually didn't speak much.
"I'm tired and I
don't want to be here," Howard said. "I don't want to take all of
this back with me, but I probably will."
Picking through a box of MREs, Sgt.
Scott Bentley, 22, said he didn't mind killing insurgents in
Fallujah because it would keep them from coming up to his base north
of Baghdad. "I'm tired of my buddies dying," he said.
Bentley, of Philadelphia, allowed that
the past few days had been rough.
"Every place we take a roof, the RPGs
come flying," he said. At times, he said, he and his men were "just
kind of spraying and praying."
The lieutenant walked in and said it
was time to go. Howard hefted up his weapon and jogged outside to
his Bradley, the one with the number "16" written on an orange tarp
hanging off the back of the turret.
The vehicle began taking fire almost
immediately. Its 25 mm gun roared.
A group of fighters darted from one
house to the next, launching RPGs, which were exploding all around.
Spc. Arthur Wright watched out of the
porthole-like windows of the Bradley.
"They killed somebody," he yelled.
"There's body parts all over the streets. Yes! Yes!"
The back of the Bradley lurched open,
and the men scrambled toward a house where insurgents had fled.
A shotgun blasted the front door, a
kick and then another shotgun blast. Smoke filled the house.
"Don't touch anything," said Sgt.
Isaac Ward. "They may have deliberately broken contact to lure us
M-16 fire rang through the next room.
Howard ran that way, only to find soldiers staring at an open back
The soldiers went through the door and
down an alleyway, scanning the roofline for movement. Gunfire
started a couple blocks away.
Ward wiped sweat from his eyes.
"They've got this shit figured out,"
he said. "They're running around the back of a house as we bust in
through the gate."
Outside, the bodies Wright had seen
were lying in the street.
One of them had been run over by a
Bradley, leaving a mound of meat and bones in the sunlight. A large
green bag lay next to the remains.
Howard took out a camera and clicked a
Bentley ran over to grab the bag. He
gave it a yank, and an arm rose out of the pile, but the strap would
not give. With his friends looking on, Bentley pulled harder and
harder, and the arm flapped in the air. Another soldier joined in
the tug of war, and the arm leapt up, disgorged from its body, and
Bentley fell back a little, bag in hand.
"F------ Hajji," he muttered, using
grunt slang for Iraqis.
Inside, a stack of $100 and $20 bills
was covered with gore. Bentley flipped through quickly, and counted
about $800 in all.
Back in the Bradley, Wright asked if
Bentley would get to keep the money. No, said Sgt. Randy Laird. It
was being put in a plastic bag and handed over to an intelligence
officer. Laird, a 24-year-old from Lake Charles, La., with dirty
blond hair, paused.
Besides, he said, who would want cash
with all that blood on it?
Sgt. Dave Bowden laughed.
"It's just a little bit of Hajji
blood," he said. "What's the problem?"
Despite heavy gunfire outside, Laird
popped open the Bradley's rear hatch a few inches for fresh air.
Alpha Company was pushing through southern Fallujah, a maze of
factories and empty buildings they called Queens. Hardcore
insurgents were rallying there, some of them swimming across the
Euphrates river to join the fight.
A pack of Marlboro Reds, one of the
last good packs of cigarettes left in the platoon, was passed
around. There was no moon in the sky, the crescent having
disappeared a few nights before.
The battle had pushed 72 hours
straight, and the soldiers had gotten, maybe, seven hours sleep.
Wright began to talk about his past in
a jumble. He'd joined the Army after the state of New Jersey
sentenced him to probation for marijuana possession. His mom was an
administrative assistant at a hospital in Harlem.
The Army made him a supply clerk. He
hated it - passing out notebooks and pencils while others went out
on field exercises. So he'd asked Sims if he could switch with a
guy who was leaving the infantry unit. He got his wish. The two
were close - when Sims heard Wright wasn't getting care packages,
Sims called his own wife, a school teacher, who got a class to adopt
him. Wright would walk into the captain's room, sit down and talk
about "girls and what I want to do with my life."
Touching his hand to his gaunt face,
Wright's voice softened.
"I've gotten so skinny since I've been
in Iraq," he said. "I mighta lost 30 pounds."
In the glow of his night-vision
goggles, hanging off his helmet, the high cheekbone of his ebony
face glistened with sweat.
Throughout the week, most of the
soldiers had moments of confession - in the back of a Bradley, lying
on the ground just before closing their eyes, taking a break between
Their voices came out of the darkness,
tired and usually directed at no one in particular. Some were sweet.
The men missed their girlfriends and wives, and they took their
pictures out of notebooks to look at them one more time.
Some stories were
hard. One guy talked about guard duty in Kosovo one day and getting
angry about being there, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of
nothing. He saw a mentally ill child who always came to the gate,
asking for candy. The soldier told him to come over, and then he
punched him as hard as he could, over and over, just to see if the
kid would come back the next day. When he did, the soldier beat him
After that story,
Laird told the soldier he was a coward and an ass.
Laird's father committed suicide when
he was 12, and Laird dropped out of school when he was 14. He spoke
often about his son, 2 1/2 year-old Brayden, who was back at home in
Germany with his mother.
"Every time he sees somebody in
uniform, he thinks it's daddy," Laird said.
Brayden would run
up to soldiers and hug their legs, thinking he'd found his father.
"I'm sure after a while, he'll understand that I killed people, that
I've seen dead bodies," Laird said. "It's emotional now when I see
a war movie because I know what they're going through. Especially
when guys in full dress uniform go to a mother and say her son is
dead and she falls to the floor. It makes me think about my mom
getting that call."
Sitting a couple men over on the bench
of a Bradley was Bowden, whose father was in the 82nd Airborne
Division and who grew up knowing he'd join as soon as he turned 18.
His father later became a sheriff's deputy at the Pike County, Pa.,
sheriff's department, and his mother got a job at a local factory.
"When people say
that war is the most terrible thing, they ain't wrong," Bowden said.
"The things it does to people. You think that killing people for
your country is cool, but when you do, it just numbs you."
last October because he knew his unit was headed to Iraq and he
didn't want them to go without him. "I remember every face I see
out there, every moment out there," he said. "I can't forget it. I
can't make it go away."
Standing in the rubble, the soldiers
gathered the AK-47s and RPGs left by the group of fighters who'd
The house, yet
another in a line of dozens if not hundreds, was blown apart by
Bradley and Abrams tank fire. "It's intense, that's about all there
is to say," said Spc. John Bandy, 23, of Little Rock, Ark. "The
determination these guys have against our forces, these little bands
of guys shooting at tanks, it's almost admirable."
He took a long drag from his
cigarette. Bullets were in the air. Artillery shells whooshed by,
on their way to punching a hole in some building or person.
A sofa survived the shelling, and some
men were sitting on it, taking a breather. They could see into the
next house through holes in the wall.
The cat and mouse pursuit, insurgents
flitting from one spot to the next, a step ahead of heavily armored
vehicles and the infantry, made the men angrier.
Increasingly, they turned to Laird, a
forward observer for the artillery, and asked him to pound a house
with 155 mm shells.
"We trained to fight a country with
armor on a field," Laird said. "These guys shoot at us, drop their
weapons and become a civilian again."
The men picked up their weapons and
jogged to the next house. Spc. Fredrick Ofori was in the lead. A
24-year-old from Ghana, whose family moved to New York looking for
work, Ofori's face was drawn tightly, without emotion, as usual.
His lithe, compact body showed muscle at every movement.
Wright teased him about not going out
to clubs back in Vilseck, about not throwing down drinks with his
buddies and picking up women. "That is your life," Ofori would
respond. "It is not for me."
Ofori said more than once that getting
a Combat Infantryman's Badge meant little to him. The ribbons, he
said, were for talking, and he was here to fight so he could go
He respected the
insurgents, he said, for their willingness to fight to the death.
The streets outside were littered with
dead men, their corpses left for cats and dogs to gnaw on after the
sun set. The sight of bearded insurgents, eyes open, lying in
gutters was no longer a novelty.
Walking through the house, Ofori
turned his gun toward a doorway. Shots rang out. A fighter in the
room had been waiting with a grenade in hand. He'd probably been
listening the entire time as the men sat on the sofa next door,
their voices wafting through the holes in the wall.
When he jumped forward, he didn't
scream "Allahu Akbar" - God is Great - as insurgents often did. He
moved in silence, until Ofori's fire blew him back. Ofori looked
down for a few seconds and walked out of the room. The soldiers
behind him went inside to ogle. "Damn, look at Hajji," one said.
Walking into the garage, Ofori found a
dead fighter lying on the ground next to a pickup truck outfitted
with a machine gun.
Having heard of the incident, the New
York Post wrote a headline calling Ofori a "Coney Island Hero."
His mother told the newspaper, "he
doesn't like that Army food."
Later in the day, an RPG tore through
the torso of Lt. Iwan, the company's executive officer, ripping his
body apart. He was 28.
The day before his men pushed into
Fallujah, Capt. Sims went through a "rock drill" with Task Force
2-2. The platoons' leaders stood around a sketch of the city,
fashioned in the dirt with rocks for houses and the tips of
artillery shells for mosques. Code names such as Objective Panther
and Objective Lion marked schools and mosques to be taken.
Six days later, sitting with a map of
the city in front of him, Sims no longer spoke in military lingo.
His friend, Lt. Iwan, was dead. The
fight had creased Sims' face, bleared his eyes and turned his voice
"It's tough. I don't know what to
think about it yet," he said slowly, searching for words. "All of
this will be forever tainted because we lost him."
A reporter offered him, again, a phone
to call his family. Sims thought about it, and said no. He wanted
to get through the fight first.
A CNN crew came by, accompanied by an
escort from Task Force 2-2's headquarters. They wanted to see houses
where there'd been fighting, and they were taken to the one where
Ofori killed a man the day before.
One of the reporters asked Ofori to
talk on camera about killing the insurgent in the first room. He
said all he'd agree to do is point to where it happened.
The fighter Ofori found by the pickup
truck had been nibbled on, probably by neighborhood cats who always
went for the softness of the lips first. With his lips eaten away,
the man's teeth were frozen in a joker's grin.
Most of the First Platoon soldiers
stayed outside. They'd already seen the dead and didn't need to see
The men then loaded up in their
Bradleys and, with the tracks crunching the concrete below them,
rumbled down the street.
Sims took a group of men to clear a
house so they could set up an observation post on the roof.
Inside, a group of rebels was
waiting. They'd slept for days on dirty mats and blankets, eating
green peppers and dates from plastic tubs.
Gunfire raged when Sims and his men
came through the front door. Two soldiers were hit near the
shoulder and were rushed out by the men next to them.
Crouching by a wall outside, Laird
screamed into his radio, "Negative, I cannot move, we're pinned down
right now! We have friendlies down! Friendlies down!"
He crouched down on a knee, sweating
and waiting for help. A line of troops ran up, taking cover. They
shot their way into the house.
They found Sims lying on the kitchen
floor, his blood pouring across dirty tile. An empty teapot sat on
concrete stairs nearby. A heart, drawn in red with an arrow through
it, adorned a cabinet.
Someone grabbed a radio: "Terminator
Six is down."
"The b-------," Bentley said. "We've
got a blood trail leaving the building, going into the next house."
A group of soldiers ran out the door,
looking for revenge. Others gathered blankets.
They couldn't lift Sims' body, so they
called in Howard, who lugged the squad's heavy machine gun but whose
broad shoulders were sagging from the news.
Once Sims was laid on the floor of a
Bradley outside, six soldiers and a reporter climbed in, slowly at
first, trying not to step on the body. Someone outside yelled at
them to cram in, if they had to step on Sims' body, do it, god damn
it, do it.
Gunfire was pounding back and forth.
The hatch closed. The soldiers stared
at each other. The soldiers stared at the ceiling. The soldiers
stared at the hatch. The soldiers stared at anything but the mound
on the floor.
Wright was sobbing and shaking.
Howard had tears streaming down his cheeks.
The Bradley dropped
them off at another house, where the platoon leaders from Alpha
Company had gathered in a courtyard. Their commanding officer and
their executive officer were dead.
An airstrike with a 2,000-pound bomb
was ordered. Men huddled around each other, hugging those who
couldn't stop crying. They passed out a handful of cigarettes.
Ofori had no tears on his face. He'd
been looking at the ground for 10 minutes.
Sgt. Isaac Ward walked up to him, put
a hand on his shoulder and said: "We have work to do now. We'll
talk about this later. Get ready to go."
Artillery and mortar fragments flew
over the courtyard wall.
It was Bowden's 22nd birthday.
"I had to help put him in the body
bag," Bowden said. "When we took the blanket off him and saw his
face, all these thoughts ran through my head — I'd just seen him in
Laird and Ward rode to a house a few
streets away, where Marines had taken up camp. They climbed some
stairs, jumped over a wall and stayed low as the bullets flew by.
Looking out over the houses, Laird called in artillery and gave
coordinates for the 2,000 bomb.
Smoke covered the horizon, and with a
boom, a mosque's minaret disappeared. Buildings burned.
Spc. James Barney, who drove the
Bradley that carried Sims' body, stood by the vehicle outside,
talking to himself. "We need to just finish it, level the whole
damn city," he said. "I'm tired of this place, I'm tired of this
Saturday night, the men rested for the
first time in seven days, sleeping on a patch of dirt just outside
the city. They huddled beneath tarps, close to each other for body
heat. When they awoke, they walked around looking at their Bradleys
and the deep gouges on the sides from AK-47 fire and shrapnel. One
caught fire after an RPG hit it, and its crew was sorting through
charred ammunition boxes and pulling out bullets that hadn't cooked
off. An RPG destroyed the protection plate on the side of another,
and in daylight the soldiers could see the tip had been an inch or
so from exploding into the cabin.
Their uniforms were almost brown with
dirt and sweat. Several had blood on their pants.
The 1st Infantry
Division's commanding officer, Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste, came
by, his uniform clean and neatly pressed. He
moved quickly from one vehicle to the next, talking in a low tone
and shaking hands.
The soldiers looked at him with sunken
eyes and said little.
A few days later, Laird and some of
the guys were given a few hours at camp near Fallujah to get some
chow-hall food and take showers. They sat at the table, with TV
news about Iraq in the background, and ate without talking much. A
discussion of Sims tapered off. The men who had killed the captain
had gotten away.
"Being in our track and smelling him —
I'm glad I never saw his face," Ward said of Sims.
On his way out,
Laird turned and said he'd been thinking about his son.
"I don't want my
boy to know his daddy's a killer," he said. With that, he picked up
his gun and walked out the door.
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