Snore attack doesn't foil Iraq invasion


In a few weeks, we will hit the five-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. So today, to clear my conscience, I have a horrible admission: I nearly screwed up the invasion.

Because I snore so loudly.

Back in 2003, I was an embedded journalist. This was a program the military put in place as a practical joke.

President George W. Bush said: "Man, I'm sick of journalists."

Vice President Dick Cheney said: "Let's start a war and send them out with the Marines."

"Yeah," Bush giggled. "They can be there when they find the weapons of mass destruction."

At least, that's the rumor. I'm not sure whether it's true.

Anyhow, I was paired with Richard Johnson for a series called Portraits of War. He drew sketches of the Marines and soldiers; I wrote stories.

The project was turned into a book, which still is available at fine garage sales in my neighborhood.

During the invasion, we rode in a truck with 15 Marines. After crossing the border, the Marines spread across the sand, providing convoy security.

I was in the truck, sitting on a crate of ammunition and explosives. I can't tell you how safe and secure you feel in a war, sitting on explosives.

It was late, and we had been awake for 24 hours. Being a professional journalist, trained to observe every detail, I fell asleep. Rich shook me: "Stop snoring! You're going to wake up the Iraqis."

I stayed awake, and the invasion continued in secret. Except for the live TV coverage.

We reached base camp, and the Marines dug a hole for an outhouse. They put a two-seat toilet over the hole. Basically, you sat back-to-back. As a general rule, that's the dividing line between a civilian and a Marine. A civilian freaks at a two-seat toilet; a Marine doesn't even notice.

Me? I'm not a big talker on the toilet. But what do I know?

The whole experience was surreal. I lost 25 pounds over three months. I like to blame the heat. But it probably was the lack of Big Macs and beer.

The Marines are amazingly smart, heroic and resourceful, which was obvious when our truck got trapped in a land mine field. A sergeant got us out by digging under the landmines, using an Official High-Tech Piece of Marine Equipment called a plastic spoon. I'm a big fan of plastic spoons that get you out of a land mine field.

Legal note: Please do not try this at home, unless you are really good with spoons. Second legal note: I'm not sure if a spork, like the ones at KFC, would work.

Before we left, the Marines gave us a plaque. Marines being Marines, they decorated it with an explosive. Nothing says love like explosives.

"How are you gonna get that through airport security?" somebody asked.

Oops! They replaced the explosive with razor-sharp wire. Ah, those were the days. Saddam Hussein's statue had fallen, and Bush was about to declare victory aboard an aircraft carrier.

An editor gave me one final instruction: "Ask your Marines what they think now that the war is basically over."

Five years later, I'm still waiting for the answer.

Contact JEFF SEIDEL at 313-223-4558 or