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9781469774800

The Book on Joshua: Love at War in Iraq

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781469774800

  • ISBN10:

    1469774801

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-03-06
  • Publisher: Author Solutions
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Supplemental Materials

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Supplemental Materials

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Excerpts

Part 1 The Girls of Serenity, Mercenary Munchkins, and Hala on My Mind, but First a Bitter Taste of War Chapter 1 Iraq, Salah ad-Din Governorate, Samarra Forward Operating Base, Evening, March 7, 2006 The Ranger combat team from Balad Joint Base arrived after dark. The timing was to lessen the likelihood of discovery by the al-Qaeda cell that the Americans were up to something. The forty-eight Rangers were distributed among three up-armored Humvees and six of the new Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicles (known as IFVs) that were faster, lighter upgrades from the 1980s' era Bradleys. These Stryker vehicles could zip along a good road at sixty miles an hour, leaving a stream of .50 cal. MG bullets in their wake. Three of these suckers had automatic grenade launchers up top, so we were going into battle that night armed to the teeth. The Rangers were no-nonsense professionals—all Clint Eastwood types as far as I could tell. At the pre-raid briefing I had found out why Fareed Tikara was assigned to go along—he knew the way to the farmhouse and could get us there in the dark. The Ranger captain, Cartwright, had no problem with me tagging along after our CO Jacobs explained my key role in uncovering the terrorists' kidnapping plot and massacre location. Captain Cartwright haughtily informed us that his unit had several fluent Arabic speakers and they knew all about human intelligence extraction. I understood that Fareed's role was reduced to navigator and my presence a reluctant courtesy. After the meeting broke up, I decided to initiate peace talks with Fareed, since I hated the idea of rolling into combat with a man who detested my very existance. I chose my words carefully and assumed a humble posture. But in truth the arrival of our crack unit and the brisk, business-like meeting gave me a shot of confidence that things would go as planned. I wasn't a Lone Ranger tonight after all. It was me, no longer a virgin soldier, who set this parade in motion. I felt like goose-stepping over Fareed if he showed me any attitude. But this was Hala's father and had to be respected as such. "Mr. Tikara, I just wanted to say how sorry I am for the trouble I've caused your family." Fareed peered at me as though appraising my sincerity. I met his eyes initially but then dropped my gaze to the ground. When Fareed spoke, it was in the quiet tone befitting his nature. I didn't have to bend to hear him though. "You have no idea, Specialist Martin. I have lived in fear for them ever since you Americans came to my country. We live in a prison and can't go about freely without fear of reprisal. Now, you have taken my innocent daughter away from me. You have given her notions that are contrary to our culture. You may think Americans have a modern view, but you are rude guests in a foreign land. You want to change us by force, and you're surprised that there is resistance! God is in our lives and our government; there is no separation as in your country. We must obey the dictates of Allah and the Great Prophet." I looked up and met his eyes again. "But that's what the jihadists say, Mr. Tikara. You sound like you're on their side. The dictates of Allah, following to the letter Fatw?s that are cruel and intolerant, taking the sword to unbelievers instead of accepting different paths for different people. I take none of this lightly, and I don't take your daughter lightly. She freely chose a different direction. I'm really surprised you work for us, given your strong feelings." Fareed was struggling to contain himself; I could see that. Who occupied the moral high ground in this argument was uncertain. But one thing for damn sure: Hala and I didn't fornicate—we made love. "I work for you people because we have to survive this time of occupation. I am responsible for my family. We do what we have to do to survive. Americans live a pampered life and don't understand the struggle of people in poor lands." "But Iraq could be a rich land, a fair land. You have lots of oil." "Yes, oil is here, and your American companies want it. Oil is trouble when a few people want to control it for their family's wealth alone. Our new government must work that out. It is hard for me to have faith, but the Koran teaches us that faith is everything good." "Listen, Mr. Tikara, I have faith too and come from a religious family. I believe in God and in one God for all. I respect Islam." "But you did not respect my daughter!" "I disagree with you there, but what else is there to say?" I almost told him Hala's last words to me about needing to listen to our fathers, but I didn't want to encourage the old man. Hala was a rebellious soul before I met her and would probably be a pain in the butt for her parents all her born days. If I was her father, I would celebrate her high spirits and inquisitive mind. But I wasn't a father. That was surely to come, and I might feel differently then—not quite as tolerant, not quite as certain. At least we were talking, even at loggerheads still, and I wanted to get an inkling of how Fareed viewed tonight's mission. "You heard what I heard at the briefing, Mr. Tikara. What do you think?" I could see him change gears from grinding rage to the thoughtful reserve that more typified the man. "I hope, Joshua, it may bring a little peace and some boys home alive to their parents. It has been a bad day in Samarra and a bad couple weeks for my country."

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