View Full Version : U.S. Marines Ordered to Relinquish War Booty

04-12-03, 07:27 PM
Saturday, April 12, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq Since they arrived, U.S. Marines have been doing their own kind of looting grabbing Iraqi pistols, rifles, uniforms and pictures of Saddam Hussein.

On Friday, they were ordered to dump what they took or lose their rank.

"You did not conquer ... this country. Get off your high horse," Lt. Col. Michael Belcher told his officers. "You took some thugs and ran them out."

The commander of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, reminded his soldiers that the Iraqi people allowed U.S.-led forces to oust Saddam Hussein. They deserve respect, he said, and that means no looting.

There will be no "'I won this country back. I can take what I can get,"' Belcher said.

Then he pulled out a pile of booty already confiscated: a picture of Saddam with a bullseye drawn on it, ammunition magazines and Iraqi uniforms.

Stolen tear gas canisters particularly infuriated Belcher, who worried that a Marine might fire off a canister to disperse unruly crowds in the city.

"It's chemical warfare," Belcher said.

Soon, a group of quiet Marines glumly gathered to toss their booty onto an ever-growing pile.

They threw in Kalashnikov rifles, gas masks and sacks of bullets.

One Marine dropped an assault vest filled with ammunition clips.

Another put in a rocket-propelled grenade round.

Lance Cpl. Randall Taylor, 19, of Texarkana, Texas, came out of his Humvee carrying two Iraqi grenades he had hoped to use before leaving.

"I was gonna throw these," he said, smiling like a shamed child.

Other Marines were angry.

"You don't have to give that up, do you?" Pfc. Michael Lara, 19, of Raymondville, Texas, asked as a colleague added a helmet to the pile.

Some Marines plotted to smuggle home smaller things a pistol, Iraqi military patches ripped from uniforms, small pictures of Saddam.

They had been warned before against collecting war souvenirs, but some Marines had been rapidly collecting huge caches.

At first they took small things knives, perhaps a pistol or two. But as they stumbled upon large armories filled with nearly every type of weapon in Iraqi's arsenal, they became more brazen, taking rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

A bartering economy emerged based on weaponry and cigarettes. One Marine offered an Iraqi sword for a pack of hard-to-get smokes. He was turned down. Hiding a military patch is one thing. Smuggling a sword is altogether different.

Cpl. Jesse Schutz, 21, of Omaha, Neb., happily surrendered two Kalashnikov rifles and swords a few days ago so they could be run over by a tank and destroyed.

"It just isn't worth it," he said. "I can go back to Wal-Mart to buy a gun instead of stealing it from a country."



04-12-03, 08:02 PM
" A bartering economy emerged..."

Yep. They're Marines, by God!

04-12-03, 08:55 PM
I didn't know that once you had gotten some booty that you could give it back... ;)

Marines should be allowed a certain amount of "mementos" that they may aquire. LOL There should be a list!

(Something tells me, there very well may be a list of appropriate items that one may 'secure').

Semper Fi

04-13-03, 12:42 PM
Add these to the list of "prohibited mementos".




Midnight sweats.

Guilt feelings.


Latent diseases.

Lost innocence.

Unexplained tears.


Attacks of rage.

If they cannot ban the entire list of "mementos", they shouldn' be able to pick and choose which ones to prohibit.