Apr 04, 2017 at 11:46 PM

Iraq Journal Page 1

By Gordon Forbes

Its summertime now but we’re not at the beach. No Saturday night barbeques for the 74 marines of Alpha Company, 3rd Recon Battalion, based out of Okinawa. Nope. This is Camp Fallujah, Iraq. … Furnace days, blow dryer nights…walk outside and your eyeballs burn. The only thing that cools the heat is the sandstorms… Nothing breaks the monotony here except when someone close gets killed or burned up from an IED. And then you just get angry.

Welcome to my world. June 13th. 2005 Recon Diary


After watching the battle for Fallujah on TV, I knew I’d have to go to Iraq. It was the biggest ground attack of the war. Seeing the marines go door to door, building to building, I was amazed at the fighting intensity. When I spoke later to a young French freelance camera man in Baghdad who was briefly held by the insurgents right before the battle started, he told me there were many foreign fighters as well as Iraqis preparing to fight the Americans who had cut off all the escape routes out of town. Most of the civilians had been evacuated and some insurgents were among them. The Frenchman told me that among the more than 1200 dead insurgents were 200 Chechnya fighters. He confirmed media reports that there was evidence of insurgent drug use and when he explained their favorite tactic, I realized how tough fighting this war could be.

The Marines had a rule of engagement – ROE then that said they could not shoot military age males or anyone for that matter unless they were carrying a weapon. The insurgents understood that and stashed weapons throughout the city in safe houses. Then when they moved around in the open streets to change fighting positions or avoid pressure, they would not have to carry weapons in the open. The Marines knocked the hell out of the place. There are no more second floors in Fallujah. Tough love I reckon but the insurgents learned they can’t go toe to toe. The French guy was remarkably poised. Carried everything in a small gym bag. I would soon learn that was the way to travel when you’re a stranger in a strange land.

RECON DIARY: Life in Alpha Company

Nnnn…I feel like I’ve been drugged. Somewhere around 3:00 PM Baghdad time. I fell asleep on a couch in the Convention Center here in the Green Zone. a torn faux leather covered couch. I can hardly sit up, stuffed and semi-conscious. After sucking down more cold water and sitting up for awhile, I’m coming to.

I am totally coming to my wits end. We are in our 8th day of captivity inside the Convention Center, home to the Iraqi National Congress and the Coalition Press Office. We have been sleeping on cots, in the hallways, under the watchful eyes of Gurkha security guards and the impatient and apologetic protection of a frazzled press office that can’t seem to get us out of here. Eight days of one shower, no going outside more than fifty feet and lousy food. It’s county jail for sure.

Baghdad sounds like a shit hole with gunfire and explosions off in the distance. Flak jackets and helmets are required pretty much all the time.

My crew and I are living in a hall way at CPIC, the public affairs office at the Baghdad Convention Center. For the past four days, one shower, toilets that don’t flush. We are either shunted about or apologized to, depending on who’s talking. We missed our ride due to incompetence on Thursday night. Last night we were totally outflanked and beaten to the helo because we went to the wrong part of the airfield.

Eight days and thousands of dollars all the platitudes mean nothing. Like if was easy, anyone could do it. I want to go home. I miss my family more that I knew. Part of my fear is that I’ve needlessly endangered them by putting myself here. I have a picture of Kathy and me, Erica and Trevor and Alexandra. Nick is still in my mind as well. They are all I have, really, and seem to understand that better than I.

The first fear I have is on the first evening we are scheduled to leave Baghdad, LZ Washington. For about 15 minutes I couldn’t shake the terrible fears that I would be blown up, maimed or otherwise destroyed by an IED. Then I simply stood up and rechecked my gear and equipment. The fear went away but it lives in there somewhere. I think about it often but not for long.


I’ve been at Camp Fallujah less than 30 hours and already I am preparing to go into the field. I will start by working with 2nd platoon, even though SSGT Davis and his crew gave me a cool reception when I first met them back in the states. Davis has no use for media and let me know in no uncertain terms. Polite but Marine like.

I will do helo ops for the next four days out into the Sunni Triangle. I chose 2nd platoon primarily because I have enough experience to know that flying beats walking and I will come home every night to my new trailer hooch and air conditioning and hot chow. Nobody says much in 2nd platoon about flying but I ain’t stupid. They all prefer to fly too. This heat is ugly. Every day it’s at least 115 by nine AM. We all like taking showers and sleeping air conditioned.

We are doing VCPs – vehicle check points – out on different roads in our AO. Using the birds is a way to throw a little twist in the Marines M.O.. Change approaches, never come out the same way you go in, avoid predictability. Rules of the road for all Special Operations Forces and Recon is high speed and ready for Special Ops but more on that later. 

Soon I will step onto hostile ground and I’m nervous. It comes and goes, emotional waves of mind fucking that invade whenever I let it. I seek out Captain Bahe, company commander. He’s a boyish looking guy, older than he looks…the last image of a Marine Grunt Company commander you would ever expect, which he was for three years before taking over Alpha Company.

He smiles at me when I tell him I’m scared. I ain’t smiling. “Everybody is scared. Wouldn’t be natural if you weren’t. I was the first time too but it goes away…if you’re’ lucky.” He’s fucking with me already but he’s also a calming influence. First Sgt Bell is nearby and tells me about the first time they all drove out of the Mec. These are men who understand my deal right now. And I appreciate it.

But still, confessing to fear is too important for me not to seek counsel so I take it to Gunnery Sgt John “Big Daddy” Croft as well. Every body loves this guy and instantly I know why. Company Gunny, Intel operations guy, former grunt…damn good man. Dyed in the wool Recon marine but accessible to his environment…He looks at me and asks me what music I have in my head. “Right now. Tell me.” Huh? “er…Born on the Bayou, some Ray Charles, a little Nirvana…” which is true. I’m remembering old school rock. Why not? I’m 25 years older than all of these young guys, even Gunny Croft. For some reason, since I’m going to be around for several months, Gunny Croft accepts me faster than he might other media. More on that later… 

Good song he says. Nothing wrong with being scared. If you start crying…he stops and grins. I can’t help you. But listen to your platoon Sgt and team leader…stay close to them.


T4 Big Daddy 04: there are three things that can happen on the 25;02 battlefield:// you can be killed, /// you kill your enemy, or three it’s a mutual kill and you kill each other. Or you wound or maim each other. ///37:32/// whenever you go out there you have to remember this is Iraq. , // this is no playground. This isn’t some place where you can just roll around and //enjoy a Sunday drive. 37:47 ///(see his face) every time that you go out, you gotta be ready because a man may come visit. And you gotta be ready to meet the man///that’s just how it is. 37:56 

Fucking with your gear is the greatest thing for going to war. It gets you present and takes your mind off danger. It’s more important at a time like this to plan what you are going to eat instead of MREs…I’ve stolen some boiled eggs from the mess hall, have packets of Gatorade and some instant soups… I think about my weight carry, what’s in my ammo pouches hanging on my 25 pound armored level IV-A ballistic vest. One young marine has already showed me how to snap my ammo pouches on correctly so they don’t fall off…even if they come unsnapped…The vest is supposed to stop multiple hits of a 7.62 bullet traveling at 2700 fps…that’s feet per second. If it’s an armor piercing round, forget about it. You’re dead.

The vest has a crotch cover for ballistic shrapnel that’s for frag like rocks and dirt. Any flying steel and kiss your balls good bye. Add on my camelback canteen, camera batteries and video tapes, knife, some snacks, med kit, helmet, gloves, goggles, whatever and I’ve added an extra twenty five pounds to my 25 pound vest, including the camera and an extra bottle of water. …Wearing all the shit puts me at 260 pounds with my boots on. …In 115° plus heat… new boy in school trying to move around and be in sync… In the heat, the plates trap the heat inside your vest, so you are higher than the temperature, especially if you’re moving. You figure it out. With your throat guard snapped on, it’s not easy. One of the reasons most units drive or fly here…walking very far simply degrades the fighting ability of the unit.

Anyway, getting onto the seven-ton trucks without a step ladder is going to be the first challenge for me. I have no acl in the left knee, torn cartilage in the right and all I can do is do as they do…When the corpsman, Doc Morey hands me my tourniquet which I will wear on the outside shoulder of my vest, he grins at me. If you’re hit, I‘ll use it and won’t have to waste one of mine saving you.

The doc turns out to be one of the most popular guys in the platoon. Morey is about 26, built like a brick shit house, 21st century style and totally aware. “Got water? Do you need anything?” Morey was a juggler in his earlier life before joining the Navy. Usually, before going out, as 2nd platoon jocks up in their platoon room, Morey usually juggles as a diversion. At night he uses chem. Lights, in the day glo-balls. All the men envy his ability and are in awe of even this small skill… Some, like Team leader Murphy, try to learn. But Morey does a few tricks and Murphy usually stops, then wanders off muttering, half in frustration, “Juggling’s gay.”

Anyway, as we drive out to the air strip, I have realized since talking to the captain and the gunny last night that it isn’t getting hit or maimed or killed that scares me…I’m more nervous about how to get into the truck or making a bonehead play or somehow otherwise acting stupid in front of these young marines. …I mean I’m supposed to be an experienced filmmaker – which I am – a professional …but Jesus Christ, people, this is a freaking war zone. Al-Anbar province, home to the IED…No take two here, no set up shots, no moving out in front to get that establishing shot…it’s too hot to run around, not to mention if I stick out, I can be shot…I have my place in the patrol line…that’s where I operate from…and you better take your own water, sonny, cuz there ain’t no craft service out here.

And everybody is watching everybody…one slip and you are the object of jest, maybe worse. Worse than summer camp or my first day working at the Olympics, worse then getting hit. The last thing I need to do is get somebody else killed or hurt because I do something stupid … 

Now that’s pressure.

I’m sitting across from Kosthielny as the helo idles on the air strip. His head bobs like one of those dolls with a wire neck…in fact the whole squad is bobbing as we sit on the run way, the rotors turning. After even a few minutes two or three guys are already asleep. I film abit but bobbing is bobbing…Kos stares but not at me, more like through me or wherever he looks. After ten minutes sitting on the deck, I make a move because it’s getting hot and I’m determined to stay hydrated. I motion to the aircrew and their ice chest, if I can swap my warm water bottle for a cold one of theirs…they nod and suddenly I’m ahead of the curve, a cold-water feast. Kos still doesn’t react. After I suck down my share, I offer it to him. He takes it. I offer it around. A couple of guys do, a couple don’t but this whole time capsule keeps me in the present. The engines rotate and even with ear protection, it’s deafening. The floor and bulkheads are covered with grime, and the smell of hydraulic fluid, aviation gas and crap from 35 years of operation is in my nostrils. 

Suddenly with a huge shudder, we move forward and lurch up into the air. Gunners lock and load and we head for our first insertion check point. It’s cooler in the air sort of and I alternate between looking out the window and rehearsing my movements upon insertion, check my camera and re run the briefing in my head. I’m following Murphy’s team this first landing so I need to follow the dude next to me, named Schmidt.

Getting dusted by a helo when inserted with Bravo Team, Second Platoon, Alpha Company 3Rd Recon Battalion wasn’t fun. Especially not in Iraq where today it was 115° by 9:00 A.M. Nevertheless, ten times a day or more, the marines of 2nd platoon, Alpha company will run off and on our chopper into a swirling, choking blizzard of grime, sheep manure, human waste and garbage. It happened everyday during our helicopter deployments into the Sunni Triangle.

The dust is everywhere, covers everything. The wind blows it. It isn’t sand. It’s dirt and sheep shit and human shit and garbage and filth, all in a powder that rises in the air with little provocation. This whole countryside is covered in shit.

Then there are the few times we landed in green vegetation where there was no dust because the ground was like concrete. Then all you had to do was not turn an ankle or twist a knee by stepping into the deep furrows hidden by the tall growth as you run across the concrete ground to the road.

It’s Groundhog day in Iraq.

We touch down, lurch, gate goes down, GO GO GO…down a slippery ramp and into a swirling dust cloud. We exit and I peel left, trying to follow my man towards the road. When the helo is gone suddenly there is silence…I’m at war. Running through a field, we climb up a small embankment to the road. Birds are singing. There are palm trees along the Euphrates River to the west and close by. It’s fucking hotter than balls and we have to move….Davis is command and control and he has his two four man teams on either side of him. 


(vo…) ///T66 28;04 There is a distinct possibility that when we’re out there that you could run into the individual that’s on his way to conduct a suicide bombing and landing right in front of him in a helo presents a target that is as good as he was gonna go and place his bomb. 28;24

As Sgt Murphy’s team sets up their first VCP, the only sounds I hear are birds singing. But nobody is listening. Everybody knows that each car is a potential rolling suicide bomb.


T67 Murphy 09;30;48 //We’ve been hit by IEDs./// the only other option is to not go and that’s not an option. //it’s always in the back of my mind but we still got a mission to do so we gotta just focus on that and try to do the best we can. 31;11

Although they say chances of getting hit by an IED are low, out here on the road, you never know. Walking up to a car at a road check point in the Sunni Triangle can take some getting used to.


T4 Big Daddy 04: 23;29/// it does not matter if you’re a cook, baker, candlestick maker, it really doesn’t matter because on an improvised explosive device he doesn’t care who you are. 23;43 ///It doesn’t matter if you love Iraq or hate Iraq. It’s going to take your life.

VCPs are a touchy thing. Anyone could be carrying an IED or armed insurgents…usually if the vehicle is full or there is more than one person in it, that’s a good sign, there are no bombs on board. But white Nissan pick ups, orange and white taxis and Blue Bongo trucks are make up a high percentage of the killing machines employed out here. And you never know…Until a few months ago, you could automatically shoot orange and white taxis on sight…but things have changed.

I think to myself: IEDs and suicide bombers, another contribution to the world from the birthplace of civilization. Cynical? Yes. But standing on roads in Iraq day after day where every white truck or orange and white taxi or Blue Bongo pick up is a potential bomb, I understand how cynicism is an inevitable by-product to avoiding disappearing into a fine red mist.


T67 stevens 15;18///you never know what car’s gonna have a bomb in it but you can sort out the fish from the sharks so to say. ///T44 Stevens, 0415;42 Look for wires coming out of gas tanks, look for springs loaded down, one guy driving, single driver, he may look stressed out, sweating a lot, nervous. All the signs that’ll help us keep alive. 15;58

Sgt Stephens is team 2 leader. –their team call sign is Spartan. It fits…Stephens is hard, sarcastic and one of the toughest guys in the platoon, after SSGT Davis. Its not to say that tough is a badge of ignorance. On the contrary, Stephens is constantly examining anything that comes his way, including me and what I’m doing here. When I interview him, he reminds me of a question I had asked him two months before and how he didn’t understand it then but understands it now. For a guy who does not seem to particularly like me, he has a quality that all good operators have: curiosity. Along with his competitive nature, this makes him a wizened team leader at 31 or two years age. He came up through the grunts, which in the Marine Corps is the still the elite fighting unit. A man can spend years in the grunts and rank comes slowly. And you better get it right when you address a Marine NCO. Corporal, Sgt, Staff Sergeant, Gunnery Sgt, on up. And never, NEVER call a Marine NCO “sarge.” Look and listen.

Stephens has a leadership style that is understated. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Stephens’ is not to be messed with physically or that he would not hesitate to fight anyone when aroused, large or small, if he felt disrespected. But I rarely ever hear him raise his voice to his marines although there is no doubt he is in charge. His manner alone is enough to get his point across. The reason I call him tough is not that he is a mean guy or type A, it’s because he knows what his job is and nothing else matters here. He can use insight and sarcasm or vulnerability to make his point.

When Millbrandt, a notorious and likable hambone, is jiving by the trucks one morning while we are out in the field, Stephens walks by… “Hey Millbrandt,” he says unassumingly, “you like to act, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” says Jeff, grinning.

“Well,” snaps Stephens, “try acting like a marine.” And Stephens walks away. The men quietly get back to business.

The message is obvious. Stephens is a solid, dyed in the wool Marine. Any era, any war. As he tells me from time to time, it’s his misfortune to get this one where killing the enemy isn’t always the mission. When I jokingly tell guys we should do a re-make of Platoon, the movie, the guys tell me Stephens should play the part of Barnes. But he’s cooler than that. Actually, he’s smarter than Barnes and not psychotic. He’s more like Sgt Saunders in Combat.

If Stephens is Barnes, then Garret is Elias. He too is a former grunt. Team call sign Force 21. He is relentless in his team preparation before the op but is totally relaxed once he reaches the field. He seems so calm sometimes that I ask his driver, Millbrandt about it. Millbrandt just grins. Can’t worry out here, bro, he says. Besides, this is the fun part.

Garret and Murphy and Stephens are the 3 team leaders with years of grunt experience. Murphy is this gentle giant who seems shy but actually is the drollest wit in the platoon. Murphy is also a big man. He’s fast on his feet, literally and figuratively.

When Murphy runs by me one time getting to the helo, it’s 115 degrees and his long stride leaves him two feet off the ground. Everyone digs him. His humor is so funny, most people can’t respond before Murphy has walked away. Like all comedians, no marine ever laughs too hard at their comrades’ jokes, even when they are hilarious. So naturally, I’m laughing out loud while everyone else sort of wonders what I’m laughing at. In fact, marine humor is some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever heard. Can’t repeat a lot of it on a family show but when they find a weak spot, they bore in like killer whales. I will end up stealing some of their best lines. So I’m a television producer. Sue me.

The fourth team leader is a young corporal named Razzazan or something like that. Team call sign Suicide. He’s Iranian first generation native born American. First name Hamid. You wouldn’t know it from looking at him or talking to him. A New Yorker all the way. They call him Razz for short because nobody else can pronounce his name either.

The kid is 22, smart and serious about his job. Razz sleeps with one shoe on and the other foot bare and really worries about germs so naturally the entire platoon jeers him. But he doesn’t care. He loves French fries but refuses to eat them with his fingers which bugs the other guys who never let up on the germ thing. Razz is classic duck: everything just slides off his back, except his nose for the mission. The kid lives to make contact. He’s as good a team leader as any of them. Watching him interview civilians we encounter, he is patient through the lies and I’m amazed at his insight into each person’s personality. He thinks like an old Gunnery Sgt.

Team Suicide is the shortest team in the platoon, literally, the Smurfs of 2nd platoon. They reflect Razz’s leadership personality, wild in fun, disciplined in work, young and wickedly funny and all hunters of men. MacLaughlin is a serious Mormon and champion wrestler who rarely swears but is well respected by everyone and holds his own in any battle of wits. And he is sharp as a tack. Luis Alanniz calls himself Super Mexican or variations of that and although he is not a Recon marine, he is a radioman/com munications specialist assigned to Alpha. His big dream is how to get the Marines to pay for all the children he is going to have.

The last guy may be MacLaughlin’s evil twin, John Reynolds from Arkansas, one of my favorite guys. He can be wildly funny, but if you show him a family picture, he is totally respectful. He can be legitimately sincere and hustle you later. This guy is shrewd, a cross between a Carney and a stockbroker. Trades guys for crackers and cheese, always on the hustle for knowledge and fun. One eye droops so he looks like he’s spacing out sometimes but he’s quick to make things happen.

All the team leaders are attentive but demanding of their men. They listen but they lead…They have collectively the best insults, they prepare their teams casually but thoroughly and the result is every single guy in each teams thinks he has the best team leader.

To all of these Team leaders, honor and doing it right matter the most. There will be no friendly fire incidents for this platoon for as Murphy says, the last thing he wants to do is go home after shooting some little girl.

These marines defy the stereotype of knuckle dragging killers. Don’t get them wrong. They love that knuckle dragging, thug killer image, but it’s more to shock the naïve outsiders than who they really are. Davis, Big Daddy and the senior NCOs keep the youthful grandeur to a minimum. Sure, they want to fight and kill bad people. And insurgents are bad people. But murder in wartime is not part of Alpha’s plan, no matter what happens. The anecdote to losing control is leadership and training. But these marines are simply hungry to join the pantheon of Marines from Guadalcanal to Vietnam. They’re scared to die but they want to count coup on their enemies and measure their own worth as warriors. …These guys will not suffer post stress syndrome.

There is one other thing all Recon marines and former grunts in this company share as well: back and knee and shoulder injuries. Carrying guns and ammo and food and water and walking and running miles over rough ground take a toll. This is a hard life, bro. Not for the faint hearted. I am subtly informed: if you can’t take the pain, get the fuck out.

The architects of 2nd platoon are an odd couple. Captain Hawk, who looks like, well, it’s hard to describe him exactly and platoon Sergeant Staff Sgt Davis. Davis is the architect of this platoon’s work ethic and buttoned down approach. There will be no peace signs or tough guy sayings on helmets in this platoon. It’s a regulation from above but Davis wouldn’t do allow it anyway. Like Stephens, Davis is tough, competitive and ballsy. His rage is professional and part of his aggressive nature. He’s from Rhodesia, raised in South Africa and loves the Marine corps. The only thing he loves more are his wife and family. Davis is smart and has ambition for other things beyond the military. Meet up with him on a dive trip or in a bar and you’d think he was a fun surfer type…

And while I find I can mess with him on most things, he draws the line for every one on platoon discipline. It’s a job, man. And Davis does his well. Davis is the Mac man of 2nd platoon. One night he walks into a room at our firm base deep in the bowels of Sunni land and announces with a gleam in his eye: “I am the coolest mother fucker in Faloudja.” And means it.


T66 Davis 44;00 ///I don’t dwell on the fact that people may be killed out here. I don’t sit here and go oh my god somebody may die. 44;12 //I focus on how to avoid that. /// 44;50 and they’re always ready to fight at a moment’s notice so that they – we won’t be the platoon that’s caught with our pants down. 44;58

Davis is curious, well versed in current events, articulate and does not come off as a jar head except for his haircut…or if there is a disciplinary action. But when I ask him if it bothers him that some of his guys don’t like him, he keeps cleaning his pistol, then pauses and stares at me with a blank expression. “I get paid the same whether they do or not.” He wipes the barrel down. This conversation is over.

The fact is these guys also talk cars, music, electronics, girls, pop culture, politics and sports like every other person their age. They are America’s husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers. Strangers in a strange land, they’re good men who trust each other in a place where that’s all you can count on. They are smart, dedicated, strong individuals who want to kill bad people.

Big Daddy explains it thus: the sheep dog and the wolf…T55.

27;01 Well, we’re the sheepdog because //It’s our job to protect the herd. The wolf he’s an independent operator he can strike when ever he wants he can do whatever he wants he’s not held to any rules 27:22 //but as far as us we do have rules and regulations and I’ll tell you something every warrior society has a code that it follows// just because we suspect that someone’s doing wrong we don’t bust a cap in their ass 27:46 //but we can quickly escalate ///it’s a hard job here to try and rebuild a nation how many years did it take for the united states of America to be built after the revolutionary war and they came up with a constitution 28:02 people want instant gratification they want a constitution like they can go on the internet and cut and paste it does not work like that the constitution is written in blood 2810 and you know what? it’s our job here to come to this country and try and root out the terrorists that are trying to prevent this government from coming up with this constitution, to prevent this government from saying you know what here’s a taste of democracy 28:26 so we do follow rules so yeah /// we’re the sheep dog of the bunch, do we play by rules yeah but it’s all common sense rules that doesn’t mean that if someone brings it on us we’re not gonna bring ten times more on top of them, they can IED us they can shoot rockets at us 28:46 they can shoot mortars at us, they can flip us off they can say all the bad shit in the world that they want to in the world, but they will not fuck with us 29:00\

///29:40 the thing is this the wolf plays by his own set of rules/// he makes his own set of rules he makes his own standard the sheep dogs /// he’s the protection of the group 29:53 that’s what our existence is protection of the group ok so therefore we have to be held to a standard the wolf he doesn’t,/// now is there a little bit of wolf in the sheepdog, yes there is but the thing is ///we’re held to rules 30:09 we’re held to rules and regulations/// and you know aht it’s more internally on ourselves we hold ourselves to this not someone give us a piece of paper saying here here’s the guidelines of how you’re supposed to act ok but the as far as the wolf the wolf can do what he wants to the sheepdog he has discipline, sheepdog has more discipline 30:37

No other media has attempted it on this level. When the New York Times reporter and photographer come by, they stay only two days and leave, angry they couldn’t show the interpreters’ faces as they interviewed suspected insurgents rounded up in a night raid. . It didn’t seem to matter that taking their pictures might endanger the terps’ lives. Nobody here in Alpha Co trusts the Times or any other news outlet.

A CBS camera crew spent two days here with Alpha. One of the young marines tells me that when they tried to get him to talk shit about stuff, he wouldn’t do it - or so he said. Who knows? A Navy SEAL instructor I knew once told me: Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see. He meant in the SEAL community but it’s good advice in a war zone or anywhere else where the truth struggles to be heard.

Inside 2nd platoon, I am accepted and treated as well as any non-marine stranger 30 years older than everyone else can be. Guys give me tips on how to get by in the field. To 3rd Recon’s credit, the battalion headquarters and Captain Bahe have given me free run of the place. But I am an outsider. I have a camera, I could be a mini-Geraldo lying in wait, ready to make a fool out of all of them at a moment’s notice, or record a war crime or ruin a career. I will always be…separate. And SSGT Davis keeps it that way in 2nd platoon, at least at first. If he keeps his friends close, he keeps his enemies closer. My jury is still out but things are improving. The fact is, after two weeks, we are still feeling each other out.

Posted in Journals.