View Full Version : ‘Vipers’ return to OIF for rotation of forces

08-18-04, 06:48 AM
‘Vipers’ return to OIF for rotation of forces <br />
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing <br />
Story Identification #: 20048148515 <br />
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew T. Rainey <br />
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AL ASAD, Iraq (Aug. 14,...

08-18-04, 06:49 AM
Marines keep strong hold on position near Fallujah
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200481833339
Story by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Aug. 17, 2004) -- Marines dodged bullets and mortar fire to grab hold of key terrain south of Fallujah Friday.

The Marines of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment are keeping a strong position at Traffic Control Point 8 to deter anti-coalition forces from transporting munitions.

"This position is vital, so we're ensuring no enemy personnel are transporting weapons in and out of Fallujah," said Sgt. Fernando Rafael, a squad leader in Weapons Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

"We're just trying to keep the peace out here because this road is important," said Sgt. James Eldridge, a 24-year-old team leader with the company, from Lynn, Mass.

While TCP 8 is subject to random rocket attacks, the company is dishing out their own mortar assaults at enemy pockets in Fallujah.

"Our mission is to support the company, snipers and tanks with indirect fire with 60-millimeter mortars," said Cpl. Ronald C. Xaaa III, a section leader with Mortars Platoon.

"Weapons Company is helping out with 81-millimeter mortars - it can get busy," added Xaaa, a 24-year-old from Frankfurt, KY.

Rafael said that because of the AIF's lack of technology like night vision, enemy activity is at a minimum in the evening.

"It's only busy during the day because they can see us," Rafael explained.

Even so, engaging the enemy can be a challenge.

"The indirect fire from the enemy is the most challenging because they're out of range of small arms at times," said Capt. Timothy J. Jent, the 37-year-old commanding officer of Company K, from Sparta, NJ.

Rafael said his company will eventually rotate out of position, but they feel they have given their enemy something to remember.

"The Iraqis have definitely felt our presence because we haven't had too many enemy personnel attempt to come through our vehicle checkpoint," Rafael said.


Cpl. Ronald Mollohan III, a section leader in Mortars Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, keeps a close ear to radio traffic after shooting a fire mission of 60-millimeter mortars directed at pockets of enemy in Fallujah, Iraq Aug. 14.
(USMC Photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen) Photo by: Sgt. Jose L. Garcia



08-18-04, 06:50 AM
Najaf Fighting Continues Amid Peace Push


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi delegates delivered a peace proposal to aides of Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf on Tuesday, but the militant cleric refused to meet with them as explosions, gunfire and a U.S. bombing run persisted in the holy city.

The delegation hoped to win an agreement to end nearly two weeks of fighting but was kept waiting for three hours at the Imam Ali shrine, where some of al-Sadr's fighters have holed up. The group was not allowed to meet with the cleric and left Najaf after talking with his top deputy, Sheik Ali Smeisim.

Al-Sadr did not show up because of the "heavy shelling from the planes and tanks of the U.S. forces," said an aide, Ahmed al-Shaibany. But the U.S. military denied conducting operations during the meeting.

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Both the mediators and Al-Sadr's deputies described their talks as positive. Al-Shaibany said the delegation would return Wednesday to meet with al-Sadr himself. Delegate Rajah Khozi said she hoped the group would be able to return Wednesday or Thursday, but there were no immediate plans for such a trip.

The peace mission was organized by the Iraqi National Conference, a gathering of more than 1,000 religious, political and civic leaders that was extended late Tuesday into a fourth day because of disagreements over how to elect a council that is to act as a watchdog over the interim government until elections in January.

The delegation's peace initiative demanded that al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia disarm, leave the Imam Ali shrine and become a political group in exchange for amnesty.

"This is not a negotiation. This is a friendly mission to convey the message of the National Conference," said delegation head Hussein al-Sadr, a distant relative of the renegade Shiite Muslim cleric.

Qais al-Khazali, an al-Sadr spokesman, said the militants accepted the proposal in principle and were ready to negotiate its three points. "But there are no peaceful negotiations with the continuous fighting. I blame the Americans for interrupting the negotiations, because they didn't stop fighting."

The U.S. military said it did not conduct offensive operations. "We sat still during the entire time on purpose," said Maj. David Holahan, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

A journalist with the delegation reported that the sound of battle died down. But more than a dozen outgoing mortar rounds were fired from an area very close to the shrine, apparently by the militants.

The delegation, which had planned to be in Najaf only for a day, flew back to Baghdad to return to the National Conference.

The fighting in Najaf, especially near the revered Imam Ali shrine, where al-Sadr's militants are holed up, has angered many among the country's majority Shiite population and cast a pall over the conference, which had been intended to project an image of amity and inclusiveness on the road to democracy.

The meeting is being held under tight security and two nearby explosions rattled the meeting hall Tuesday, slightly wounding a soldier and a civilian security guard, the military said.

Several miles away, a mortar round slammed into a busy Baghdad commercial district, killing seven people and wounding 47, officials said. The blast charred cars and shattered the front of a barbershop on al-Rasheed street, leaving blood mixed with glass and metal shards on the road.

The mortar shell was not aimed at the conference but rather was a routine attack intended "to create chaos in the country," said Sabah Kadhim, a spokesman for the Iraq's Interior Ministry.

In volatile Anbar Province, a Marine with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action Tuesday during "security and stability operations," the military reported. The Marine's name was being withheld until relatives could be notified.

In eastern Baghdad, insurgents attacked U.S. troops with rocket-propelled grenades and bombs Monday, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding several others, the military announced Tuesday.

Al-Sadr militiamen also fought a series of gunbattles with British troops in the southern city of Basra, with one British soldier and one militant reported killed. Sixty-five British soldiers have died since the start of the Iraq war.

In the volatile city of Fallujah, a U.S. warplane fired a missile at a house, killing two people and injuring one, said Dr. Adel Mohammed Moustafa of Fallujah General Hospital. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

The 16-month-old insurgency, marked by car bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, sabotage and other attacks, has kept the country unstable and badly hampered reconstruction efforts.

But the latest round of fighting in Najaf, which began Aug. 5 after the breakdown of a two-month cease-fire, is presenting the greatest challenge yet to interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's fledgling government.

Clashes persisted even after the National Conference's eight-member peace delegation _ seven of them Shiites _ arrived aboard a pair of U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters Tuesday afternoon.

Explosions and gunfire shook the streets throughout the day and U.S. troops entered the flash-point Old City neighborhood, where al-Sadr's Mahdi Army is based.

A U.S. warplane caused an explosion in the huge cemetery, site of many clashes between U.S. forces and Shiite militants. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Thomas V. Johnson said the plane fired "one precision guided missile on a building in the cemetery where Muqtada militiamen with RPGs were attacking U.S. soldiers."

The U.S. military says the fighting in Najaf has killed hundreds of militants, though the militants deny that. Eight U.S. soldiers and at least 40 Iraqi police have been killed as well.

The fighting Tuesday killed three civilians and wounded 15, rescue worker Sadiq al-Shaibany said. Two of those were killed when gunfire hit the office of the Badr Brigades, the militant wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite political group that is not involved in the fighting, said Ridha Taqi, an official of the group.

The National Conference, originally scheduled to end Tuesday, was extended to Wednesday because of a dispute over how to elect members of the Iraqi National Council, which is to serve alongside the interim government.

The delegates were originally to vote on one slate of 81 potential members, which would have had to garner 65 percent of the vote to become part of the new council. However, some smaller parties felt they did not have enough of a voice in the makeup of the slate, organizers said. As a compromise, several slates will contend with each other Wednesday, with the top two moving into a runoff, where the winning slate will become part of the council.

"The most important thing here is balance, that there's balance at this critical stage that we are in," said conference chairman Fuad Masoum.

The final 19 seats of the 100-member body will be filled by members of the former U.S.-appointed Governing Council who were not included in the interim government.

In other developments Tuesday:

_An unmanned U.S. reconnaissance plane crashed, the military said. It was not known what caused the U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator to go down near a U.S. base in Balad, 50 miles north of the capital.

_Al-Sadr militants attacked U.S. patrols in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, sparking gunbattles Tuesday evening, U.S. Army Capt. Brian O'Malley said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

_In Basra, in addition to the clashes involving British troops, al-Sadr militants also attacked a pair of civilian cars reportedly carrying Britons, destroying the vehicles and wounding two people, police Col. Kareem Sadkhan said. He said those inside the vehicles exchanged fire with the militants, wounding one and a bystander.

Associated Press reporters Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Abdul Hussein al-Obeidi in Najaf contributed to this report.



08-18-04, 06:52 AM
Marines mourn fallen leatherneck
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2004818372
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq (Aug. 17, 2004) -- The morning sun was beginning to heat the concrete here Aug. 17 when the Marines of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, gathered for something they hope they never would have to do - mourn one of their friends.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas B. Morrison, a TOW gunner with the battalion, was on the streets with Combined Anti-Armor Team Blue when the shrapnel from a roadside bomb ended his life Aug. 13. The Newville, Pa. native was 23 years old.

"Morrison had a contagious love of life," said Capt. George Nunez, of Miami, Fla., and Morrison's commanding officer. "During firefights he'd help Marines next to him having trouble. He'd flash a smile or say something to comfort them."

Morrison and his brothers in CAAT Blue had been through numerous roadside bombs and firefights together. August 13 proved to be something none of them expected.

"We thought it was going to be a normal mission. It turned out to be anything but," said Lance Cpl. Brian W. Lynch, Morrison's vehicle commander, of Hamilton, Ala. "I remember (Morrison) asked me once to speak at his funeral. I told him he was crazy."

Lynch spoke of all the things he wished he could have told Morrison before he died; all the things that now must go unsaid to his friend.

"If I could tell him something right now, it would be that he was a good friend and I love him," Lynch said.

One of Morrison's friends spoke of how he believed the young leatherneck's life was more important than his death.

"Some of the greatest people live the shortest lives and I think he was one of them," said Lance Cpl. Terrance G. Kilpatrick, a TOW gunner from Cleveland, Ohio. "It's not how he died, but how he lived that he'd want us to talk about. We should remember him and celebrate his life."

After the ceremony, many Marines gazed at the upturned rifle and bayonet stuck into sandbags with the ceremonial helmet and dog tags placed on it. Some embraced and consoled each other, remembering the passing of their comrade and friend. When the nature of their jobs requires them to lose one of their friends and go back to work a minute later, the ceremony offered them the rare opportunity to come together and remember how one of their friends died - and more importantly - lived.

Morrison is survived by his mother and father.


Marines from Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, grieve for their fallen comrade during a memorial service in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, Aug. 17. Lance Cpl. Nicholas B. Morrison was 23 years old when shrapnel from a roadside bomb took his life Aug. 13.
(USMC Photo by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes) Photo by: Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes


Marines from Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, grieve for their fallen comrade during a memorial service in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, Aug. 17. Lance Cpl. Nicholas B. Morrison was 23 years old when shrapnel from a roadside bomb took his life Aug. 13.
(USMC Photo by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes) Photo by: Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes



08-18-04, 06:53 AM
Marine Puts Iraq Into Song <br />
The Cincinnati Post <br />
August 14, 2004 <br />
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U.S. Marine Cpl. John Preston of Warsaw, Ky., was not impressed with the news coverage of the war in Iraq. So he did something...

08-18-04, 06:54 AM
GPS-guided cargo chutes touchdown after first combat drop in Iraq <br />
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group <br />
Story Identification #: 200481633417 <br />
Story by Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon <br />
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08-18-04, 07:34 AM
Marines picked Najaf fight without Pentagon's OK
Officers turned a firefight with cleric's forces into bloody eight-day battle, political stalemate.

By Alex Berenson and John F. Burns
The New York Times
August 18, 2004

NAJAF, Iraq -- Just five days after they arrived here to take over from U.S. Army units that had encircled Najaf since an earlier confrontation in the spring, new Marine commanders decided to smash guerrillas loyal to the rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

In recent interviews, the Marine officers said they turned a firefight with al-Sadr's forces on Aug. 5 into a eight-day pitched battle -- without the approval of the Pentagon or senior Iraqi officials. It was fought out in bloody skirmishes in an ancient cemetery that brought them within rifle shot of the Imam Ali Mosque, Shiite Islam's holiest shrine. Eventually, fresh Army units arrived from Baghdad and took over Marine positions near the mosque, but by then the politics of war had taken over and the U.S. force had lost the opportunity to storm al-Sadr's troops around the mosque.

Now, what the Marines had hoped would be a quick, decisive action has bogged down into a stalemate that appears to have strengthened the hand of al-Sadr, whose stature rises each time he survives a confrontation with the U.S. military. Just as seriously, it might have weakened the credibility of the interim Iraqi government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, showing him, many Iraqis say, to be alternately rash and indecisive, as well as ultimately beholden to U.S. overrule on crucial military and political matters.

As a reconstruction of the battle in Najaf shows, the sequence of events was strikingly reminiscent of the battle of Fallujah in April. In both cases, newly arrived Marine units immediately confronted guerrillas in firefights that quickly escalated. And in both cases, the U.S. military failed to achieve its strategic goals, pulling back after the political costs of the confrontation rose.

Fallujah is now essentially off-limits to U.S. ground troops and has become a haven for Sunni Muslim insurgents and terrorists menacing Baghdad, U.S. commanders say.

The Najaf battle also has raised fresh questions about an age-old rivalry within the U.S. military -- between the no-holds-barred, press-ahead culture of the Marines and the slower, more reserved and often more politically cautious approach of the Army. In Iraq, Army-Marine tensions have surfaced previously, notably when Marine units opened a major offensive in Fallujah this spring, vowing to crush rebels entrenched there before they, too, were ordered to pull back.

As they replay the first days of the Najaf battle, some commanders are wondering if a more carefully planned mission would have had a better chance to succeed.

"Setting conditions for an attack requires extensive planning and preparations," said Lt. Col. Myles Miyamasu, who commands an Army battalion that arrived to reinforce the Marine unit here two days after the fight began. "If you don't have those things in place and you attack, a lot of times it fails."

When the United States transferred power to the interim government in late June, both U.S. and Iraqi officials insisted that authority for major decisions on the use of force would be exercised by the new Iraqi leadership, in particular Allawi, a former enforcer for Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who defected in the 1980s and became leader of an exile political party. Senior U.S. military commanders stressed that while they retained command of their troops, the forces were there to serve the Iraqi government.

But in the battle in Najaf, at least, the Marines here say that they engaged al-Sadr's forces at the request of the local Iraqi police. They did not seek approval from more senior military commanders or from Iraqi political leaders, with the exception of the governor of Najaf.

The governor, Adnan Al-Zurfi, an Allawi appointee, refuses to confirm having given the green light, although U.S. commanders in Baghdad cited his commands repeatedly as the political cover for the Marine attack.



08-18-04, 08:08 AM
Immigrant grows into a U.S. Marine - and now a citizen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel[Tuesday, August 10, 2004 13:31]

Now no matter where he goes, Tsering Phuntsok will no longer be a man without a country.

Although he's felt like an American for a long time, on Monday he officially became a citizen of the United States.

In a special naturalization ceremony in Milwaukee, Phuntsok raised his right hand, took the oath of citizenship, and pledged his allegiance to the flag that he will soon be called on to defend as a lance corporal in the Marines.

For Phuntsok, 22, and his father, Dorjee Lendey, 44, whose heritage is Tibetan, it was a proud moment and the end of a long and frustrating journey.

"It means a lot to finally get my citizenship," said Phuntsok, who drove to the city with his dad from the family's home in Madison. Phuntsok had just arrived home this weekend after completing basic training at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

He expects to be deployed soon to Iraq, where he will be on foot patrol. U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) helped arrange the swearing-in ceremony after helping the family untangle a series of immigration bureaucracy snafus that had kept Phuntsok from becoming a citizen.

"I'm glad it's finally over," Lendey said, breathing a sigh of relief. He's spent the past two years trying to get citizenship for his son, only to encounter one roadblock after another. Finally, he said, he contacted Baldwin, who helped clear the way.

Baldwin thanked Phuntsok for his military service.

"Our thoughts will be with him and his unit in Iraq with hopes for their safe return," she said in a statement.

The family's American saga began when Lendey, a Tibetan who grew up in India, immigrated to the United States in 1992. At first he worked as a janitor in Chicago.

But when it came time to bring his wife and four children to the U.S. in 1997, he looked around for a city where he could get a better job and live in a better neighborhood with better schools so his children could get a good education and be safe. He settled in Madison.

In time, Lendey and most of the family became U.S. citizens. But not Tsering Phuntsok. At first it was a problem with his son's fingerprints and then one thing or another, Lendey said. There were phone calls, trips to the immigration office in Milwaukee, and a sea of paperwork that never seemed to be just right until Baldwin's intervention.

Phuntsok was 15 when he arrived in Madison. He went to Madison Memorial High School, where he played soccer and wrestled.

"He has a lot of energy and said he wanted to join the Marines," said his dad. "I said, 'No. Go to college for a year, and in one year if you still want to join, then it's OK.' "

So for a year Phuntsok went to Madison Area Technical College, where he took liberal arts courses. Then he joined the Marine Reserves.

Although a person needs only a green card to join the armed services and fight for the United States, becoming a citizen means a lot to Phuntsok and his family.

"I am from Tibet, and we lost my country to the communist Chinese long before I was born," Lendey said. "Becoming a citizen gives a sense of pride and belonging.

"It's important to have a country to call your own. If something happens to him over there, God forbid, we don't want him dying without a country."





08-18-04, 09:00 AM
Iraqis Give al-Sadr Ultimatum

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi forces are giving loyalists of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search) hours to lay down their arms before they storm the holy shrine where about 3,000 of al-Sadr's men are holed up.

The impending battle comes as Iraq's National Conference refused Wednesday to send a second delegation to Najaf to try to end the clashes between al-Sadr loyalists and U.S. troops after al-Sadr rebuffed the group.

Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan said Iraqi forces were fully trained for a potential mission to oust the militants.

"We will teach them a lesson they will never forget," Shaalan said of al-Sadr's militia. "In the next few hours, they have to surrender themselves and their weapons."

Speaking to the Arab-language television station al-Arabiya, Shaalan said that U.S. forces would not enter the Imam Ali shrine (search) if an operation was carried out.

"There will be no American intervention in this regard. The only American intervention would be aerial protection and also securing some of the roads that lead to the compound. As for entering the compound, it will be 100 percent Iraqis," Shaalan said.



08-18-04, 11:16 AM
Marines, sailors return to the home front


MIRAMAR ---- Cpl. Kip Maddox gently bent over and kissed his unborn baby girl, still stowed away safely in his wife Jamie's swollen womb. It was one of the first things the tall, blond-haired corporal did Tuesday afternoon after returning from Iraq, right after embracing his wife and 3-year-old son, Aiden.

"I'm just glad to be home," Maddox said with a large smile across his tanned face. His daughter is due to be born Sept. 11.

Maddox is one of about 200 Marines and sailors who returned Tuesday to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station after a six-month deployment in Iraq, said Maj. David Luckey. The returning troops are assigned to various units of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and I Marine Expeditionary Force, he said.

Holding American flags, welcome home signs and even video cameras, about 200 family members, friends and fellow troops greeted the Marines and sailors after their plane landed at the air station.

Bear hugs, long embraces and smiles were commonplace as the crowd of family and friends meshed with the returning Marines and sailors.

For many of the returning troops, this was their second deployment to Iraq, said some family members before their loved ones arrived. Linda and Peter Kingston said their son, 1st Lt. John Kingston, has served twice in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's hard because he's an intelligence officer; we have to guess what he's doing and where he's doing it," said Linda Kingston. "I've kept up with the news, but I can't help but be concerned."

Peter Kingston said the war is a worthy cause despite the danger it posed to his son.

"It's much better that (the war on terror) be fought there than somewhere in the United States," he said.

Sandy Wilson said she is pleased to have her husband, Col. Gary Wilson, back home after a second deployment to Iraq. Wilson also participated in the 1991 Iraq war.

"It's a very complex environment," the colonel said of Iraq while enjoying the shade of an aircraft hanger with his wife. "It's not something that is going to be resolved overnight."

He said that the Marines' and sailors' return Tuesday was the start of a "big turnover trend," and that more troops would be rotated out to Iraq.

For Lt. Col. David Wargo, it's understandable why more personnel would be needed in the war-torn country. Standing with his wife and family, Wargo said that he is happy to be home, but that more work needs to be done in Iraq.

"The average Iraqi still blames us for their instability," Wargo, a senior intelligence officer, said of what he observed during his deployment.

He said the real enemy of the Iraqi people is a combination of insurgents, former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and hired guns, who fire portable missiles, rocket-powered grenades and machine guns at American troops.

Contact staff writer Jennifer Kabbany at (760) 631-6622 or jkabbany@nctimes.com.



08-18-04, 12:30 PM
Fahrenheit 9/11 is Having "Devastating" Impact on Military Morale, Says Soldier Deployed Overseas

Soldier Says "Young and Impressionable" Soldiers Just Returned from Iraq Deployments Are "Being Made to Feel Ashamed" of Their Service

The National Center for Public Policy Research has posted online an e-mail received from a soldier, Spc. Joe Roche of the 1st Armored Division, who says Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 is "making the rounds" among soldiers at U.S. military bases overseas and is "shocking and crushing soldiers, making them feel ashamed" of their service in Iraq. The letter has been published online by The National Center without abridgment. The full text can be found here. Some excerpts:

"Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11, is making the rounds here at U.S. bases in Kuwait. Some soldiers have received it already and are passing is around. The impact is devastating. Here we are, soldiers of the 1st Armored Division, just days from finally returning home after over a year serving in Iraq, and Moore's film is shocking and crushing soldiers, making them feel ashamed. Moore has abused the First Amendment and is hurting us worse than the enemy has. There are the young and impressionable soldiers, like those who joined the Army right out of high school. They aren't familiar w/ the college-type political debate environment, and they haven't been schooled in the full range of issues involved. They are vulnerable to being hurt by a vicious film like Moore's."

"Specialist Janecek, who is feeling depressed because a close family member is nearing the end of her life, just saw the film today. I saw him in the DFAC. He is devastated. 'I feel ****ty, ashamed, like this was all a lie.' Not only is he looking at going straight to a funeral when he returns home, but now whatever pride he felt for serving here has been crushed by Moore's film. Specialist Everett earlier after seeing the film: 'You'll be mad at **** for ever having come here.' And there are others. Mostly the comments are absolute shock at the close connections Moore makes between the Bush family and the Bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia. 'Bush looks really really REALLY corrupt in this film. I just don't know what to think anymore,' is a common comment to hear. Some of these soldiers are darn right ashamed tonight to be American soldiers, to have been apart of this whole mission in Iraq, and are angry over all that Moore has presented in his film."

"Right now, just days away from what should be a proud and happy return from 15 months of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom, your U.S. soldiers are coming back ashamed and hurt because of Moore's work."

"I sometimes want to be mad at my fellow soldiers for being susceptible to Moore's distortions, but I can't really blame them. These are good Americans, who have volunteered to serve our country. Nothing says they all have to be experts in Middle Eastern issues and history and politics to serve. That would be silly. ...But this is, of course, the vulnerability that Moore has exploited."

"I wonder how damaging and shocking a Moore project would have been in the 1940s making such a video of Franklin Roosevelt."

Spc. Joe Roche serves with the 16th Engineering Battalion of the 1st Armored Division. He and his unit were deployed in Iraq for 15 months. An archive of his e-mails can be accessed at www.nationalcenter.org/RochePage.html online.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, conservative/free-market think-tank established in 1982 and located on Capitol Hill. It can be visited at http://www.nationalcenter.org online.



08-18-04, 01:42 PM
Fear amid the yellow ribbons

Heathcote Road on a summer day is a postcard from home as a young soldier at war might like to picture it.

Barefoot children in bathing suits tiptoe down the sidewalks en route from one backyard pool to the next. Neighbors at their chores keep watch over them, as if each child was his or her own. Lazy spurts from sprinklers, brilliant in the sun, drench the lawns, the sidewalks, and the yellow ribbons on the trees.

Almost every tree or front door on this Lindenhurst street has a yellow ribbon attached to it.

They are gestures of support for the Heathcote Road boy in Afghanistan, Anthony Amador, who joined the Marines last year right out of Lindenhurst High School. He was 28th in his class of 500 but decided that the country needed him more than he needed college.

"I tried to talk him out of it. I offered him a new car," said his mother, Linda Amador. She is a clerk-typist for the Lindenhurst school district. Her husband, Artie, works as a school custodian and part-time UPS driver. "But he knew what he wanted. You couldn't change his mind." Anthony has been over there since May.

Everybody on the block knows Anthony, the high-spirited son of Linda, the girl who grew up in the same house Anthony did, where her family settled in the 60s. The Jensens, the Youngs, the Tyries, the Mullinses, the Duffys, the O'Briens all watched him grow up. He was a little rambunctious in childhood, they say, and then he matured in adolescence, and then he joined the Marines. "A sharp kid," says George Mullins, one of the neighbors. "Thoughtful kid."

It was Loretta O'Brien, sometime after the big 80th birthday party her family and her friends on the block gave her last month at Molly Malone's in Bay Shore, who thought of getting everyone to put up the yellow ribbons for Linda's son. She called April Flowers on Route 109, and Peggy Jensen went down to pick them up, but the owner, Christine Spaulding wouldn't let her pay for them. She made her take a dozen big yellow bow-clusters and promised as many as needed.

"I went around to the doors," said Mrs. O'Brien, who raised four children in her house, starting 54 years ago, and who is probably best remembered beyond Heathcote as the crossing guard at Wellwood and Hoffman for many years. "And I'd say 95 percent of the houses have a yellow ribbon now."

It's not to say that everyone on the block is gung ho about the war in Afghanistan, where 120 American servicemen have died since 2002, or the war in Iraq, where more than 900 Americans have died. "To me it just says they have respect for my son and what he's decided to do," said Linda Amador. Anthony, she says, was set on becoming a cop until Sept. 11, when he decided "he wanted to join the Marines to protect America."

She is not even sure how she feels about the war, except that she wishes her son were not in it.

What she knows of his whereabouts is meager. "There are mountains. He says he feels bad for the kids," she says. The children of Afghanistan are growing up with nothing. "He's not allowed to tell me what he's doing or where he is. I get a phone call maybe once a month."

She watches television, but hasn't made up her mind about which presidential candidate will get her vote. Mainly, she worries. She startles at the sight of a mailman. She seems at first terrified at the approach of a reporter who comes to talk about the yellow ribbons.

"I'm basically afraid all the time," she says.

On Thursday, when there were news reports of a helicopter down and a Marine killed in Afghanistan (a report that turned out to be incorrect), she walked up the block barefoot with a cigarette in one hand and a cell phone in the other, a deep squint in her eyes as if she were looking straight into the sun, though Heathcote Road on a summer day is deeply shaded by the half-century old trees. She was between calls to and from a network of fellow Marine mothers, all trading information and consolation.

She stopped to talk to Peggy and Ray Jensen and Peggy's aunt, Vera Young, whose nephew John Duffy, an Army enlistee, is just back from Iraq after six months. She waved to Mrs. O'Brien, who was getting into her daughter's car to go out for lunch. The kids of Heathcote - little clusters totaling 20 or so today, though a generation ago neighbors remember there being almost a hundred in that cohort - come and go about their day's childhood business.

Linda Amador took it all in in her way, but she was not really there.

"You have to excuse me," said the mother of the Marine, walking back to her house past the kids and sprinklers, over the cracked old sidewalk and the big, looping, brand new yellow ribbons. "I have to make some phone calls ..."



08-18-04, 03:04 PM
Police chief in Najaf deals with attacks on his family

By Michael Georgy

NAJAF, Iraq — Militants had just kidnapped and dragged his ailing 80-year-old father through the streets. They also beat his brothers until they collapsed. Forty of his men were killed and several were beheaded.
It's tough being the police chief of Najaf — the Iraqi city that is sacred to millions of Shi'ites and a battleground pitting Shi'ite militia against U.S. Marines and Iraqi police and national guardsmen.

"They told me that I could go in the place of my father," said Chief Ghalib al-Jezairy who is high on the militant hit list. As he spoke late Monday night his father was still being held.
The stress and exhaustion showed on the face of the man who is trying to keep morale high in a police force facing thousands of supporters of firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Many are holed up inside the sacred Imam Ali shrine in anticipation of a major U.S. offensive.
But they still have time to roam the streets, some hoping to fire assault rifles or rocket-propelled grenades at Iraqi police officers, who say they are in dire need of more flak jackets and heavier weapons.
"What they did to my father was inhuman. He is a dying old man. They beat my brothers until they fainted," Chief al-Jezairy told reporters as the sound of mortars being fired could be heard in a nearby cemetery that has turned into a battle zone.
They beheaded one of his relatives and Sheik al-Sadr's Mahdi's Army militants have gouged out the eyes of some of his officers and boiled them in water, he said.
"Do Iraqi police behead people?" he asked. "This is barbaric. They enter people's homes, and they kill the relatives of policemen.
"Thirty minutes ago, someone else was slaughtered," he said at the concrete Najaf police station where a fresh batch of detained men were being processed.
The police lot was occupied by impounded buses used by the Mahdi's Army, a militia bent on removing U.S. forces from Najaf and the rest of Iraq and ousting their Iraqi allies.
High barricades of earth-filled bags attached to wire mesh are used to try and keep the Mahdi's Army and suicide bombers out of the station. The smell of munitions cordite was still fresh in the air hours after a nearby attack.
Hundreds from the police force have been killed across Iraq in bombings, shootings and beheadings. The police force has been struggling with security along with other Iraqi forces since the Americans granted sovereignty to Iraq on June 28.
Few police cars are seen far away from the station.
"Many police have been beheaded and burned," Chief al-Jezairy said of a force that is on the receiving end of every size of mortar bomb and armor-piercing grenades, as well as machine-gun fire.
A few days ago the police captured about 300 militants. But more and more Iraqis are signing up for the Mahdi's Army, hoping to become martyrs in a country where young men facing high unemployment have few options.



08-18-04, 04:26 PM
08-18-2004 <br />
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Memo To CO 2-146TH ARTY (81st NG BDE) From One Of Your Grunts <br />
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I am not sure how to start this, as so many others have written to you concerning the 81st Bde. We all know the...

08-18-04, 08:05 PM
Issue Date: August 23, 2004

Americans open their hearts, wallets to aid war’s wounded

By Karen Jowers
Times staff writer

When retired Navy Capt. George Kraus was recuperating from knee surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington last October alongside troops who had been wounded in Iraq, he was shocked at the seriousness of their wounds.
“I knew I would never forget,” said Kraus, a retired pilot living in Montclair, Va. “You pray to forget, then you pray that you never do forget, because we owe it to these people to help relieve some of their suffering.”

Kraus is determined to do just that. Each week since March, he’s driven to collection points set up in his local area to pick up eclectic donations of CD players, rolling luggage and backpacks, prepaid phone cards, weightlifting gloves, and bathing suits for pool therapy.

And each week, he drives to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., or to Walter Reed to drop the stuff off.

His volunteer connections at the two hospitals let him know what’s needed, and a local newspaper prints a list each week with information about collection points. Since March, donors have contributed 170,000 minutes of phone-card time and 4,000 items of clothing, luggage, electronics and movies, he said.

Through an affiliation with the local nonprofit Azalea Charities, Kraus is one of many conduits for comfort items going to the troops.

Whether it’s individuals dropping off $10 phone cards to a military or VA hospital, or Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban personally raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for military families, Americans are ensuring the wounded are taken care of.

It’s making a difference, said Marine wife Rene Bardorf, who volunteers at Bethesda. She and other spouses help get donations to the Marines on the wards and to their families.

She recalls a young Marine blinded after receiving serious injuries in Iraq. “He was so bored, and asked his mom for a DVD player,” Bardorf said. “He asked for the movie ‘School of Rock,’ and the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation bought it. He had to have played it at least 15 times. He couldn’t see it. But he played it over and over again.

“Many, many people ... are helping,” she said. “Sometimes we’re overwhelmed with stuff.”

Thus volunteers have links with various organizations to help with specific requests from the wards. Besides the law enforcement foundation, others helping out include the Marine Corps Association, the Marine Corps League, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Fisher House Foundation.

The Wounded Warrior Fund gives backpacks to each service member coming to Bethesda with such items as sweat suits, underwear, socks and personal CD players with headsets.

“The Marine Corps has been great taking care of Marines, but it can only do so much,” Bardorf said. “That’s when we have to step up and help. All the organizations that the Marines have always been able to count on are still there.”

Bardorf is also part of a three-month-old effort to help wounded Marines that reaches far beyond Bethesda. Along with Marine wife Karen Guenther and three other Marine wives, Bardorf set up the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund after they realized a lot of wounded troops’ expenses are coming out of the pockets of Marine families.

As of Aug. 6, they helped more than 25 Navy and Marine families.

“We give them grants to use for food, transportation, lodging, however they see fit,” Bardorf said. “We also know they are missing work, and have child care expenses.”

In addition to those in military hospitals, they’ve helped some who have gone to the VA for recuperation and rehabilitation.

“We hope it will grow into something much larger so we can assist beyond the initial hospital period,” she said.

Basketball mogul Cuban has set up a fund to give financial grants to families of troops killed or seriously wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since April 2003, the fund has given $700,000 to 35 families, with Cuban matching donations dollar for dollar.

The Sanders family, of Plymouth, Minn., decided to raise money for the Fisher House Foundation, which builds comfort homes near military and VA medical centers for lodging by families visiting wounded troops. The foundation is waiving lodging fees for families visiting troops injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, and, if there’s no room at a Fisher House, picks up the tab for lodging at the installation guest house or a local hotel.

In June and early July, the family offered to prepare home-cooked meals and deliver them. In return, recipients wrote 31 donation checks to the Fisher House Foundation totaling $6,785.

“My wife and I feel that in time of need, everybody should sacrifice,” said Jim Sanders. “Military families are really sacrificing. And we really aren’t.”