Showdown - Part 7 (True Americans)
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Listening to Traffic - "Dear Mr. Fantasy" ...play us a tune, something to make us all happy, do anything to take us out of this gloom...
Jarhead Dad sends this story from the Christian Science Monitor about his son's unit and bonds between warriors:
For GIs, Camp Fallujah is a family affair
By Scott Peterson
<...> Pulled out of an ambush with a bullet wound below his left knee - and now sitting on a stretcher as surgeons pluck it out - Lance Cpl. Lucas Lytal takes his strength from the handful of family photos that marines drew from his pockets and laid on his bare chest.
"That's my wife and family - they have been with me every minute," says Corporal Lytal, holding up the pictures for a visitor to see. Moments later, he holds the 7.62mm slug extracted from his leg, and smiles.
Family is everywhere in Camp Fallujah. Marine tattoos - its hard to find a gun-bearing lad or lass in this base without one - include the classic "Mom" inside a heart.
Haircuts are free - and short. There is jocular jostling, and the telling of war stories, and language as salty as it comes. And there is the kind of bonding that you find among GIs, who have endured much together.
That bond was evident beside the stretcher of Cpl. Eugene Koushnir, whose 19th birthday was marked with an in-and-out bullet wound to the back. He was carried in with a "Happy B-Day" sticker on his forehead, vowing to return immediately to the fight, to kill more militants.
His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Giles Kyser from Dumfries, Va., was there to give encouragement. He kneels down and places his large hand on his grunt's shaved head. "We've still got your spot, Warlord," Colonel Kyser says, eliciting a smile. "I'll keep it open."
Then, there's this piece (again, from Jarhead Dad) from Time about the Marine's in battle and the changes at Fallujah:
...The Marines sprint away from the building as the first tank round thunders in. Soon after they trot past the rest of the company, the whole group starts to take fire. "I can hear yelling and talking to the north," a Marine tells Captain Bradley Weston, the company's commanding officer. A bunch of Marines jump up and fire back in the general direction of the noise.
Others lay down white phosphorus to mark the area where the insurgents' fire seems to have come from. A tank pumps in more tracer. From the roof of an unfinished building, Marines blast the target with machine guns, providing protective cover. The rest of the Marines pull back, running across a field and over to bushes, urged on by yelling noncommissioned officers (NCOS). They expect the insurgents to harass them all the way back to their base. One young man falls and lies prone on the ground, his head pressed down as if afraid something might hit him. His hands shake uncontrollably.
Chachi, a member of Easy Company's intelligence unit who asks to be identified only by his nickname, turns to me as we run for cover.
"Having fun?" he asks, making clear that he is. "This is what it's all about."...
The rest of the story has more to do with the Marines great fighting spirit, eventhough the Fallujah pull-out smacks of Vietnamization. You should read the whole thing. Again, I'll state that I think that Fallujah is being handled incorrectly (politically instead of militarily) and that I hope I'm wrong and the Belmont Club is correct.
Showdown (Marines in Fallujah) Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six