Iraq: April 6, 2003
Jules Crittenden published a fascinating and well written post about what happened in Iraq, back in 2003. April 6, to be precise. I’ll give you the first couple of paragraphs, after that, go over to Jules’ place to read it in its entirety:
It was almost exactly a year after the fact that I met Larry Gwin. Joe Galloway had steered me toward him, when I told Joe I wanted to talk to local veterans of the Ia Drang battles for the 40th anniversary. In those days I pretty much just wanted to talk to combat veterans, people who knew about it. Larry, formerly of Alpha Co., 2/7 Cav, had 45 combat assaults behind him, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart, and had lived through a couple of the worst days in US military history. He was an investment lawyer downtown, and we met in the kind of place investment lawyers have lunch. When we had eaten and talked and raised a glass to those not present as Larry always sees to it that we do, we walked out of there into the sunlight, and Larry said, â€œSo, youâ€™ve seen the elephant.â€?
I knew what he was talking about. Itâ€™s an old pioneer thing the Vietnam vets picked up on. It was what happened when you realized the enormity of what you had undertaken and realized its potential to crush you without it even knowing or giving a damn that it had just done that. Iâ€™m nowhere near Larryâ€™s class in pretty much anything, but I thought about the towering black thing that blocked out the Iraqi sun that day, and I said, â€œYeah, I think I know that elephant.â€?
On the morning of April 6, 2003, I sat typing at my laptop inside one of the armored vehicles, its ramp lowered. The rear hatch framed the Mesopotamian farmland waking up outside more or less as it probably has most days for the last 6,000 years. It was peaceful. In the farmyards across the fields, there were roosters crowing, sheep baaing and dogs barking, having forgotten all the fire we laid down around here a couple of days earlier. Or maybe crowing, baaing and barking about it still. There were a couple of men in dishdashas over there out for a stretch, staring at us.
I was writing something about Michael Kelly, when one of the GIs came over to talk. The GIs never quite figured out that typing and talking are mutually exclusive activities. I was in the middle of writing about how Kelly and I had talked about our kids, and I was getting emotional thinking about it. I told the soldier, â€œSorry, Iâ€™m having a bad moment here. A friend of mine is dead.â€? He said he was sorry about that and walked away.
Read the whole thing.