EOD robot
There were several occasions during April where we escorted EOD so they could destroy suspected IEDs. The process is pretty simple. You put a few bricks of C4 on the IED and remotely detonate it. To safely get the C4 to the site, the EOD guys use robots like this one. The control device for these robots are really cool in a geeky kind of way. The future of warfare is owned by the geeks, mark my words.

The man in the passenger seat lay slumped against the dashboard, a massive wound to his head. Kirk pulled the body upright and cut his pockets open looking for ID. When he was done and let the body fall back against the dashboard, he said what was left of the man’s brain fell out of the opening in the back of his head and onto the ground. He could handle the guy with the brain and both the dead women, but it was the three-year-old-girl, he said, that got to him.

Roughly an hour earlier a convoy of fuel tankers and Humvees came to a halt a little north of our forward operations base when what looked like an improvised explosive device was spotted on the side of the road. Since the suspected IED was spotted mid-convoy, the vehicles were split, part to the north and part to the south, leaving the area around it open to avoid any of the trucks being destroyed. Our explosive ordinance disposal team was being called in and our quick reaction force (QRF) was going to escort them. I was in the QRF staging area that day, but I wasn’t on the mission. We were listening to the radio in a Humvee as one of the officers in the convoy was communicating with our headquarters about the IED when they started to take small arms fire. They took contact from multiple directions. Then the mortar rounds started to fall. The people that attack convoys and FOBs seem to have no end to their supply of mortar rounds, a common means of attack and the primary charge of the IEDs they leave for us like Easter eggs. Thankfully they don’t know how to aim them any better than they do their rifles.
       When our QRF made it to the scene, shots were still being fired, so they laid down suppressive fire the best they could. Even though this attack took place in daylight, there was much difficulty pinpointing the location of the enemy assailants. There was a building and a parked vehicle in the distance and the guy on the ground calling everything up on the radio was unsure if fire was being taken from these locations. Restraint was exercised and fire was directed toward less collateral damage-inducing areas.
       But to the north, another QRF also responded to this ambush, an active duty unit newly in-country. This was their first mission.
       Since the other QRF was on a separate communications net, the response attacks were not coordinated. This isn’t particularly important other than it’s anyone guess what the communication was like between them and their battalion leadership. They also spotted a vehicle, this one on the move apparently, but less restraint and less positive target identification was exercised.
       The vehicle was a white pickup, a small Toyota, one like most Iraqis stack their families into the back of, just as this family was. Everyone has these trucks in Iraq, it’s like the national vehicle It’s also the preferred vehicle of the ICDC and insurgents alike. I can imagine that the man driving it, most likely the father of those on-board, just wanted to get his family out of the area of the fighting as quickly as possible. I can also imagine that the other QRF got word that a fast moving vehicle was our attackers’ likely means of attack and escape, a completely plausible and reasonable possibility.
       From what could be gathered afterward, the Humvee gunships engaged the pickup with a SAW, M240B and a M2 .50 cal., or in other words, a shitload of machine gun fire. The truck contained six people. Two men, two women, and two young girls. As is the custom in Iraq, the men were in the cab as the females huddled together in the bed of the truck. Among the dead were one of the men, both women, and a three-year-old girl, apparently smothered to death by the two women’s bullet-riddled bodies, trying to shield the girl from the fusillade of gunfire, the tragic irony being that this ultimate protective act was the very thing that killed the girl. The man driving was still alive when CASEVAC (comprised mostly of members from my squad) got there, but he was probably on his way out. Matt, our platoon medic, a member of my team and a paramedic out of Poughkeepsie in real life, said the man had numerous wounds to his legs and a gunshot wound to the scrotum, an entry wound for a bullet that had no visible exit and was most likely lodged in his pelvis or abdomen. As Matt held a pressure dressing to the man’s bleeding thigh, he felt the shattered pieces of femur grind against each other. The only one who seemed certain to survive was an eight-year-old girl who had gunshot wounds in both of her upper arms. The man and the girl were medevac’d via Blackhawk, along with another girl from a separate location nearby who took a round through her cheek and leg. Stan and Kirk had the grisly duty of stacking the bodies in the back of a truck to be moved to the aid station at the FOB.
       As I try to fathom what it must feel like to be a poverty-stricken eight-year-old girl and experience the epic pain of having your family suddenly and violently killed in front of you, I have to pause and ask myself, Now what am I doing here again? I know this kind of thing happens in combat and I kind of expected to see it, but Jesus, the record is pretty bad so far. Since I’ve been in Iraq, in situations that my platoon has responded to, there have been three dead bad guys, two wounded civilians (one critically), and seven dead civilians, including four women, one three-year-old girl and one mentally-unstable homosexual man on a moped. Hell, if you count the suicide of the latter’s lover– an excellent two-for-one dead civilian deal– and the de-familied guy who got his balls blown off, who even if he lived, will wish to Allah that he was dead, that makes the tally 3 to 9, a 1:3 ratio of dead evildoers to innocent and ridiculously poor Iraqis who couldn’t care less who leads their country just so long as they are able to feed themselves. Now that I think about it, there have actually been more civilian casualties in our area, but these are the only ones that I remember right now. Thank god none of this carnage has been carried out by anyone in my platoon or even my company for that matter. My battalion has sustained only one casualty of its own so far, and there has been at least one engagement by another company that netted a few dozen dead bad guys, so the numbers are at least decent in that regard, but still, I’m having a hard time being okay with all the dead civilians. But it happens so often. It’s like we should have bumper stickers that read, “I ♥ Dead Civilians”.
       But let’s get back to the family in the truck who were killed. Like I said, I wasn’t with the QRF that day and didn’t see any of this first-hand and all the information I got was gleaned from the guys in my squad who were. Even though Matt said it was better that I didn’t see any of it, I wish I had been there, to bear witness I suppose. So tell me, why would I wish for this?

I’ve been stewing over this dead family thing for a couple weeks now. I’ve been painstakingly mulling over in my mind the things these insurgents do and the things we, the US Army do and the unintuitive peculiarity of how the drive to be violent seems to precede the purpose to be violent and how rampant it is to meaninglessly develop one’s identity through injury, but frankly I don’t think I’ve figured it all out well enough yet to even kludge together a coherent line of thought. Introspectively, I’m blindly trying to sew together the absurd lateral progression one unwittingly goes through when pulling legs off grasshoppers as a child and how it is a precursor to compulsive sexual infidelity as a young-adult, among a million other uncoalesced thoughts. I’m unprepared at this time to write the Gödel Escher Bach of my own self-loathing.
       But what does any of this have to do with the dead family you ask? Well, nothing directly. It’s just another one of those things I’m having difficulty reconciling in my mind, I guess.

One of the gas mask canisters we found at the place we dubbed the “chemical plant”.

The family of the house we raided. The woman in the foreground is cryinq/praying while rocking back and forth.

This is Chris with Melissa, perched atop the Humvee known as Malibu Barbie, providing overwatch for the morning’s raid.

Apache Longbow
For a grunt, the sound of close air support is very comforting, here in the form of an Apache Longbow keeping an eye on things as we set up our perimeter for the morning’s operation.

Baath House
This is what used to be a Baath party office building located on Highway 1, not far from our base. It got hammered, as you can see, during the invasion, and continued to be used by assholes to fire on convoys due to its close proximity to the highway. A lot of units had made it standard procedure to fire it up whenever they passed it, but this drew the ire of the people who live behind it since that’s where half the rounds would land as they sailed through the open floors. On this day it was decided it would be flattened. It was my platoon’s duty to secure the site while the engineers did their thing, emplacing all the explosives. Once they were done and the notorious “Baath House” was felled, all that remained was the elevator shaft, much to the chagrin of the engineers.

Saddam stencil
Next to the Baath House was a complex of military buildings, also razed during the invasion. It was here that the engineers parked the flatbed tractor trailers that carried their massive bulldozers and where my security post for the morning was. A few of the buildings still stand, this one sans roof, and make good places for bored soldiers to take pictures of themselves. This is me and Wazina with an awesome stencil of Saddam behind us.

Socky paratrooper
Socky is now a paratrooper. Today he earned his Airborne wings with three day jumps and two night jumps.

bunker entrance
In the photo above, Kirk stands before one of the dark entrances to the underground complex.

bunker exit
Our exit from this twisted level of Doom.

lazy overwatch
Atop the bunker, lazily keeping watch. We could see for miles with nothing in sight. We prayed that someone would try to attack us because it would have been an excellent excuse to effectively use pretty much every weapon system we had with us.

binos view
The view from binoculars.

kids with tea
The kids who brought the tea and bread. Kirk on the left, Rubin on the right.

ICDC yardbirds
Some ICDC guys being less than completely useful

Ad Dujayl
Main street, Ad Dujayl, as viewed from the turret of a Humvee

Here are a ton of photos of the Hussein palaces in Tikrit.

King Jason al Tikriti, in the lobby of Uday Hussein’s former palace.


“Magical Arch”, artist unknown

Northbound on Iraq highway 1 on our way to Tikrit we came upon this magical arch
that will stargate you to ancient Sumeria where you can witness the beginning of human civilization,
a regional accomplishment the people of Iraq are very proud of. So proud in fact that they haven’t
really done anything since then other than rest on their laurels. People of Iraq, it’s time to get
a new schtick. We’re all very impressed by Hamurabbi and algebra and everything, but it’s time to
do the next insanely great thing. A cure for cancer or usable cold fusion would be cool, but I’d
settle for a fatwa denouncing jihadi’s beheading my countrymen and detonating car bombs. Or
maybe the secret to those tires that are supposed to never wear out. And by the way, I don’t think the arch was
working right. When we drove through it, I didn’t see any cradle of civilization, just a bunch of
absurdly poor people juxtaposed by ridiculous despotic wealth.


“Saddam, seated, deposed, defaced”, artist unknown

You know you’re getting closer to Saddam country when you start seeing these sort of things. Frankly I’m
surprised it’s still standing at all.


“Street Signs”, artist’s whereabouts unknown, courtesy of Saddam’s prison system
where when atrocities were carried out by peer-pressured young scared guards there shrewdly were no digital
cameras. Unless there was an infidel to be beheaded, then they’d roll tape because they knew no one
would care about that.

Nearly to Tikrit now.


“Welcome to Tikrit, Nevermind the Mess”, artist unknown

I’m curious what the oil decanter thing symbolizes. Maybe wealth, or bounty? It brings to mind the bible
story about the oil vessel that never ran out of oil. Maybe that’s what we’re doing in Iraq, looking
for something that will keep giving oil.


“Brigade Headquarters”, architect unknown

Before going to the palace complex, we made a stop at what is now our brigade headquarters.
I don’t know what this building used to be. I didn’t get to go inside, we were just dropping someone off.


“Welcome to Tikrit, Redux”, artist unknown

This piece depicts flowers that I am yet to see in Iraq. The red and green eight-point stars are a very
common design element in Iraq. I have no idea what they symbolize, if anything. Maybe Iraqis just like
eight-point stars. But the culture here is all about symbols, so they probably mean something. However,
I don’t think the yellow concrete pylons actually symbolize anything. But I did read once that there were
some people in San Francisco who worshipped a yellow concrete pylon in a public park.
I don’t think there are many yellow concrete pylon-worshipping San Franciscans in Iraq. So I guess they
probably don’t symbolize anything.


“Stop Here or You Will Be Shot”, some soldier

I think my favorite thing about the military is the philosophy of succinct, concise communication. I
especially like how this sign looks as though it were made by cutting the words out of a magazine like
some psycho ransom note. “STOP heRE or yOU wiLL be sHOt! Ptht! Ack!”


“A Threshold/Entrance Thing, One That Gets Used”, architect unknown

We were already inside the perimeter of the base, but this is one of the entrances that brings you within
the walled area of the compound.


“A Threshold/Entrance Thing, One That Doesn’t Get Used”, architect unknown

This is another one of the entrances into the walled area, just not one of the ones primarily used.
I think these are really cool.


“A Palace”, architect unknown

This is one of the main palaces, I want to say Saddam’s, but I’m not sure. I also think this was
one of the ones that was fairly damaged that I believe is currently unused.


“Another Palace”, architect unknown

This is another one of the main palaces, one that I believe is still in good shape and I believe is being
used. We didn’t get to go inside it.


“Mosque?”, architect unknown

I know that mosques tend to include a big dome, but I’m still going to guess that this was at the very least
for some religious purpose. It’s taking all my powers of the force to not make fun of that tower. To the left
in the background is one of the palaces. This is where you are when you exit the chow hall.


“Palaces Overlooking the Tigris”

Once you exit the chow hall and walk a little to the left (east), you come upon this view. Here you are
looking south down the Tigris. The palace on the right is the same one in the picture of the mosque,
previously. (Made using Panorama Factory V5)


“View of the Tigris”

This is the view of the Tigris from north to south. If you scroll all the way to the right you can see
the same palaces as in the previous photo. (Made using Panorama Factory V5)


“View from the MWR Building”

After chow, we drove down to the MWR building and parked in the back. This is the view from the south
of that palace spanning from east to west. (Made using Panorama Factory V5)


“Bombed Out Palace”, architect unknown

This is a close up of the palace to the far right in the previous photo. I believe this is
the same palace from before that is damaged and unused.


“MWR Palace Entrance”, architect unknown

This is the entrance to the MWR building, what I believe used to be Uday’s palace.


“MWR Palace Entrance, again”

The same entrance, seen from directly in front.


“Relief Sculpture, Left”, artist unknown

To the left of the main entrance in the patio-like area is this relief sculpture.


“Relief Sculpture, Right”, artist unknown

To the right of the main entrance is this one.


“Relief Sculpture, Front”, artist unknown

This is another relief sculpture (or would you call it an engraving?) on the front of the palace. These
actually can be found all over the outside of the building. I imagine they tell some sort of story, but
it’s all lost on this ignorant soldier.



Upon entering the palace, you come first to this lobby-like area.


“Lobby, Left”

This is the view of the left of the lobby and the entrance to the gym.



What was probably once a dining hall is now a gym and weight room.


“Gym Ceiling”

Each room in the palace has different and intricate ceilings. This one reminds me of Mormon chapels.


“Lobby, Right”

In the lobby again, this is the view to the right and the entrance to the Rec Room.


“Screen, Wood, Carved”, artist unknown

On both sides of the lobby there are mirrors covered with these intricate carved wood screens.


“Rec Room”

This room, mirrored in size and location to the gym, is what most likely used to be a ballroom. There is
an area with banisters around it, most likely a dance floor, and to the side a bar area that is now a snack


“Rec Room, again”

This is the rec room again, but lengthwise with a view of the dance floor. It is now used as an area for
performances. Performance by whom, I don’t know.


“Rec Room Ceiling”,

Another snazzy chandelier with some fancy woodwork.


“Lobby Floor”, artist unknown

This is the inlaid design at the center of the lobby at the main entrance. Once again, the eight-point
star design. An affinity for stop signs perhaps?


“Lobby Floor II”, artist unknown

Another of the inlaid floor designs in the lobby. This one looks sorta Celtic-esque I guess.


“Lobby Ceiling I”, artist unknown

The lobby had a lot of really interesting recessed ceilings with very intricate and detailed designs.
God, I’m using the word “intricate” way too much. Sorry. I know I really suck at describing stuff like this.


“Lobby Ceiling II”, artist unknown

Another recessed ceiling, this one in pastels and even more, um, intricate.


“Lobby Ceiling III”, artist unknown

Another recessed ceiling. I gotta tell ya, I haven’t been real impressed by the chandeliers. I think I’ve
seen this one at Home Depot actually.


“Hallway, Pillaged”

If you go up the spiral staircase and continue going straight, you are brought to this hallway. On both
sides along the hallway were square pillars with a diamond-shaped inset toward the top that must have once held something
of value because whatever used to be there was missing. Maybe soldiers who thought they were Indiana Jones (or
Lara Croft) made a stop here during the initial raid. This part of the palace gave me the creeps for
some reason. It felt like the entrance to a tomb or something.


“View from Internet Room”

If you continue up the spiral staircase and walk past an overlook of the lobby, you come to a room that is directly
over the drive-up to the main entrance. Here there were several computers, Playstations and TVs. I emailed
my mom from the computer in the foreground.

"Hi mom.  In Uday's palace.  Have a nice view of the Tigris.  Still looking for the bathroom
with the solid gold toilet and silk toilet paper.  Was going to pee in the pool, but was closed
today.  Made a joke to the girl behind the snack bar that I wanted to pee or poo in the palace,
even if it meant doing it on the floor, but she told me this wasn't Uday's palace, that this palace
belonged to the soldiers now.  Why does no one get my sense of humor, mom?  Will try to steal some
jewel insets out of walls for you.  Love you."


“Palace Rear, viewed from the South”

When you exit the palace and walk to the parking area in the rear, you have this view of the Palace. This is
the same spot I stood to take the continuous shot of the pond area to the south. This part of the palace
is accessed from the creepy hallway and is currently used for offices, a small library and a lot of local
merchant areas. The pool is also accessed through here, but was closed today. Notice the laundry hanging
on the balcony. Soldiers always know how to add a classy touch to everything.


“Rec Room, Exterior”

This photo– taken from the same spot as the last panoramic shot– is the exterior of the ballroom/rec room.


“Relief Sculpture, Infantry Style”, artist unknown

This is a close-up of the relief sculpture on the rear-exterior of the ballroom/rec room. The thing that
kept going through my mind was if the person who did all this carving did it out of love for the Husseins
or because he had an unfortunate talent and did it to spare his family from being slain and/or raped by
Uday. The fact that this particular piece is so military in flavor especially makes me think about
how many times this part of the world has been overthrown. If you figure the Sumerian civilization
was here, through to the Ottomans and all the warring peoples inbetween, this is a place that has pretty
much never known peace. Would this palace survive over the centuries? Sandstone by a river
bed? Not likely is my guess. And here I am, standing where was once the domain of the dictator du jour,
and now I was the arm of the new sheriff in town. Of course my cause is righteous so I guess I’m supposed
to see the overthrow of Iraq for what, the twenty-fourth time in less than a century as a good thing. This
relief depicts soldiers with uniforms and weapons that belong to an army that we just trounced. I feel sad
when I think of these guys trying to find pride in being soldiers, as I am of proud of being a soldier, but
who were really just being betrayed by a despotic ruler who cared more about his cheesy palaces and fantasy
art-filled bachelor pad apartments in Baghdad than his own people. And now here I am, part of the most
recent conquering army that isn’t exactly led by William Wallace. Oh well.


“Professionalism, Vigilance, Pride, Lethality”, some soldier

As we leave, we are reminded of values that will help us in the world outside the safety of these walls.
I like the message, but I’m not a big fan of painting messages directly onto what would otherwise have
been a sorta nice building. Oh well. That’s all I can think to say for almost everything here. “Oh well.”

Thus ends our tour. Thank you. Come again. Watch your step.

Camel Spiders are fucking gross. This thing literally made Dan jump up onto a cot. I can’t blame him.



Look at the fangs on that thing! Nasty.

The kids in town would use sling shots to knock these falcons out of the trees, then pluck their flight feathers to keep them as pets. Ray liberate five of them and nursed them back to health. Three of the five survived. Once they could fly again, Ray released them.

Ray and a kestrel

Our first stop this morning was to sift through the rubble of a former air defense artillery site to find any leftover fuses. Most the ordnance exploded when the site was destroyed, but the fuses that screw into the nose of the shells contain a small amount of explosive and can be dangerous, articularly to all the kids that play in the area. “This goes against everything we learned about UXOs.”, Matt remarked. What he meant was our training taught us to not mess with unexploded ordnance, ever. Here Matt holds up the tungsten sabot core from an armor piercing round.

In this photo you can get a pretty good idea of how these armor-piercing sabot rounds work. I’m no ordnance expert, but you can see how there is a rod-like round in the core with a plunger-like disc which is probably what makes it propel into the target on impact. The inset is what the fuses we were looking for look like.

120mm mortar
“Holy shit! A mortar round!” Thank god there was no fuse in the round (observe hollow screw-in point), but still pretty disconcerting to happen upon. This would make one hell of an IED. (What CNN calls “roadside bomb” we call “improvised explosive device”, or “IED”.) We didn’t touch this one, we just marked it and left it for the EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) guys deal with.

Everywhere we go, we get mobbed with kids. They are impossible to get rid of. What makes it really complicated is they commonly have really cool shit to sell sometimes. In this photo Matt is buying a Benchmade automatic, a knife that sells for $180 in the PX, here he is buying it for thirty bucks. They mob us, annoy and insult us to no end, they have stolen knives, pens, and sunglasses right off our vests, they have stolen cameras and GPS devices out of Humvees, and they basically make it impossible for us to do our jobs. Later in the day I would whack one of these kids in the shin hard with an Asp baton in an attempt to get him to go away, but itwouldn’t work. His response was basically, “Dude, that really hurt. Why’d you do that? I’m not gonna leave you alone.” I got in a staring contest with another kid– and lost. Just like the detainees we commonly deal with, they know how to posture, they have the macho front routine down pat, they even know how to take a beating, but they will flip into abject apology mode in an instant if it suits their purposes. If they’re not shamelessly begging us for food and water, they’re spitting at us. I’m no sociologist, but this behavior seems endemic of Arab culture.

Our next two stops were to a couple of the poorest families in the area. We dropped off some food for them. This was the second of the two stops. None of the men were there when we came by, so very little organization was present on how to disseminate the goods. The children disputed bitterly.

At this location there were four families living in an abandoned set of buildings. In the seventies these buildings were a clubhouse for the town’s semi-pro soccer team. But after some of the people in the area attempted to assassinate Saddam (one of his body-doubles actually), he decimated the town. The soccer field was destroyed and the clubhouse was converted into an air defense artillery site. These families were using the buildings to house a group of water buffalo and about a dozen cute little snot-nosed ankle-biters.

Captain Compassion
This is our company commander. He is an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. He is the kind of guy that uses terms like “broad” and “fella”. In my humble opinion, he is the only sane man in our command structure. We trust him. And he’s no dummy. He made sure to take his helmet and sunglasses off before offering an open packet of Pringles to this girl because, you see, the civil affairs guys were snapping pictures of everything he did.

my artsy photo
A girl behind a tree and a caricature of an oppressor both eye me warily.

Iraqi girls
Little Iraqi girls.

my National Geographic-esque photo
Somehow the youngest ones are taught how to look like poster children for Amnesty International.

Next stop, the local mosque. So here’s a little religious conundrum: A Sunni mosque in the center of a Shiite Town in the center of the Sunni Triangle in the center of a predominantly Shiite country.

civil affairs
We hung around the mosque area for a couple hours while the civil affairs and psy ops guys did their thing.

Strike a pose, buff style. That’s Matt on the M4 and Anthony on the M240B along with his newly buffed-out Mossberg 500 (collapsible stock, pistol-grip pump). Mark, that’s your sling on his Mossberg.

It seems as though there is a marriage everyday in town. Today the celebratory gunfire was very close and a bit excessive. “Hold your fire, men! It’s celebratory fire!”, our commander barked. Everytime someone says ‘celebratory’, all I hear is ‘celibatory’. Then the ICDC came on the scene– right in my sector of fire! Moments later a shiny new car drove by covered in all color of ribbons trailed by a bus full of singing revelers.

After we were done hanging around the mosque, we secured the town police station while our commander attended a meeting there. The same kids always know where to find us. They are insufferable. They now know elaborate curses in both English and Spanish, most involving them pimping out your sister and mother while you are sucking a dick because you are a piece of shit. Here a kid shows his push-up prowess. “Schnow!” (rhymes with “now”), means “Do push-ups” in Arabic. Anthony gave him a dollar for doing enough to pass an Army physical fitness test.

free Iraqi medical clinic
People will also use the soldiers as their free medical clinic. Here, Matt puts a clean bandage on a guy’s foot who recently got stitches for a gash.

You my bitch!
The children of Iraq have a very special message for you: “Fuck You! Gimme water, Mister! Gimme you sunglasses! You my bitch!”

Anthony was probably the top-performer of the day. He got the IV working when we were having trouble with it (he ended up putting it in the guy’s hand) and he stayed on top of things throughout the entire process.

The short video clip was taken on accident. I meant to take a photo, but the camera was accidentally set to take video. I was using someone else’s camera that day. This scene haunts me. (JCH, 2012)

I debated about whether or not to include this image. I think about this face often. This was the first dead guy I’d ever seen. When we first came to the scene one of the guys with us who has had “combat lifesaver” training told me he was done– no pulse, no breathing. So we focused our attention on the other two men. I never checked for myself. I was too quick to take that soldier at his word. I often wonder if I tried harder– if I tried at all– if I could have saved this guy. But I didn’t. With the very reluctant help of a few other soldiers we got him onto a poncho and onto the hood of our Humvee to move him closer to the main road so he could be picked up. We bungled getting him onto the hood and partly dropped his body in the process. I think that’s how he got those two parallel cuts on his brow. Postmortem, as there’s no blood.

For years I didn’t want to share this photo because I felt that it was too graphic or in bad taste, but his face is young and was probably about my age, and it’s a face I can’t get out of my head. He doesn’t really look dead to me. Maybe that’s why I thought I could have saved him. It looks like he had a recent haircut. He’s a stranger to me, but he’s very real and very human. Shot by his own countrymen as punishment for working with us, the Americans. It was a barren and desolate place. The walk he took down that gully was his last. What a shitty place to die. (JCH, 2012)

Firing the .50-cal at the abandoned truck.

Blowing up the abandoned truck and almost the dog.

before explosion
One second before the explosion, dumb little doggie doing dumb little doggie trot.

Dumb little doggie totally unaffected by dumb little explosion.

dog runs
Dumb little doggie’s genius moment: “Um, I guess I won’t go that way. Ruff!”

stearing column
They say you get an erection when you have a spinal injury. This truck’s defiant stearing column made me think of this.

A couple locals watch with us.

local home
Their lovely home. Be glad I didn’t take a photograph of their shit trench. I make light of the living conditions here, but to honest it saddens me to see people live like this.

destroyed mosque
Arab on Arab crime involving detonating a case of Whoopass. Some of the locals look on as we survey the damage.

EOD:mosque damaged
EOD investigates. They conclude, Yup, the mosque is definitely damaged.

All hail Willy!

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