Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Must Read

I came along this story, Steel Curtain Unmasked; The Story Behind the Battle for the Western Euphrates, written by Bill Roggio at He goes into great detail describing Operation Steel Curtain in the Al Anbar province of Western Iraq, and because I was there, I can vouch for its accuracy. You can read the entire article here and I encourage you to do so.

Not long after I returned from Operation Steel Curtain, I wrote several pages...mostly as a release of emotion and stress. I thought I would include exerpts here as it seems fitting...

Walking down the narrow streets of the city, put us at great risk. There were choke points at every intersection. I was not afraid of a head-to-head shootout. Our enemies were not inclined to engage in a direct firefight with the Marines as the odds were severely not in their favor. It was the invisible fighter that we all feared. The IEDs. You cannot fight several hundred pounds of explosives hidden in a wall connected to a pressure plate beckoning your foot to cross its path. You simply do not have a chance against this invisible enemy. If I was going to die during this battle, I prayed that at least I would be able to fight those who would try and kill me. Even after I returned from the operation, I found myself avoiding any gravel, freshly unearthed dirt or anything that looked out of place within my path. It became instinct; a mechanism of survival.
Personally, this operation was a real eye opener for me. It was the first time I witnessed men being shot, shooting at men myself and being exposed to the sights and sounds of warfare. Much of what I feel and will eventually write, might sound very foreign to the outsider. The story of war is best told by the war fighter and his story is often either not understood or misinterpreted by those who were not on the battlefield with him. I believe that this is why so many people are reluctant to speak of their wartime experiences…it is a foreign language to those who have not been there. This next thought may prove to be hard for some to understand. I feel that to be successful in combat, you have to lose or at least be able to subdue your fear of dying. I don’t know if I made a conscious effort or if my fear of death just naturally subsided.
“When it’s your time…“ . I heard the grunts say this more times than I can remember. To them, it was a trite statement; a mantra that they claimed kept their head in the game. I of course knew that my fate was not in the hands of some cosmic clock absent of any plan. As they did, I understood that my life may end on this battlefield. Unlike many of them however, I understood that if I were to die there, it would be because my life was taken by my God and that I would spend eternity with Him. I did not completely lose my fear of death, but I had an understanding of death that many of my brothers-in-arms could not understand.
There were many times during this battle where I honestly believed that I could quite literally be walking into my grave. Bingo and I were called upon to search cars, potholes and crawl spaces; all of which could have very easily been our last. I was afraid. I was very afraid. I was afraid that my wife and children may never see me again. I was afraid that my remains would be flown home to my grieving family in a flag draped casket. I did not have a selfish fear of my death. I feared death for the grief that would undoubtedly follow. I feared death for the sake of my wife and the sake of our children. I am perfectly at peace within myself if my life is required for the cause of freedom for I know my fate. I know what lies in store for me after I am dead. I am not eager to die but I know where I am going when I do die. This is what kept my head in the game


Barb said...

To say that one doesn't fear would be silly - Fear is a great motivator. It's you ability to put that fear in perspective, and control it to still do your job that makes you effective. In those times when Bingo is dragging you forward, it must be an interesting mix, though.

Anonymous said...

Pain is God's way of telling you that you are still alive.

Fear is God's way of telling you to pay attention.

No more complicated than that, really.

Cheers & thanks for sharing that.

Anonymous said...

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