11 Mar

Is It Better to be Lucky? [Reader Post]

                                       

One of my first meetings with Iraqis in early 2003 was at a town hall meeting in Al Dujayl. I was a medical service corps officer. As such, I wear a caduceus on my collar. We are sometimes mistaken for doctors by non-military types.

My interpreter and I were making our way through a crowd of Iraqis outside of the meeting hall. One man was very persistent. He actually took hold of my wrist and thrust a handful of papers in my face. I didn’t want to be late for my first meeting. (At that time, I was on US time, not Iraqi time.) My interpreter carried on a fast paced conversation with the man. As he did, I looked at the papers. They were yellow legal sized with two columns of Arabic on both sides. There were 7 front and back pages.

My interpreter told me that this was a list of people missing when Saddam imprisoned and murdered hundreds of people in this farming community. I spoke to the man and through my interpreter told him to keep the papers. I assured him that when we helped a new government takeover, we would need him and his evidence. We shook hands and I went to my meeting.

The more time I spent in Iraq, the more I learned about the things that had never been printed in our western media. It seems that in 1982, Saddam was leaving Tikit to travel south. As he was getting into his limo, a woman ran up and placed her hand on the side window leaving a colored hand print. Saddam immediately got out and got into another car. The caravan then traveled south to Baghdad.

As the convoy approached the highway section between Dujayl and Balad, Iraqis ambushed it. The car with the hand print was destroyed, but Saddam survived to carry out his vengeance on Dujayl. The mature date groves were destroyed. Many of the houses were totally destroyed to bare ground. I had noticed that there seemed to be two parts of the town an east and west. What had happened was that whole section was destroyed. Many people were murdered and some were taken prisoner.

The whole town was penalized. Instead of getting their food ration from Sal ah Din, the vendors were forced to go to Baghdad. The vendors were often robbed of the food supplies on their way back to Dujayl. I have no doubt the Sunni bureaucrats were tipping off their friends about the food and where it likely would be. Some of the food vendors were also killed and their trucks taken.

It was about 18 months later during my second tour in Iraq that I became involved in the Dujayl massacre. I was stationed in the US Embassy in Baghdad. After an exhausting day of shuffling papers and composing emails, I decided to go for dinner. As I was looking for a place to sit, I saw this attractive lady all by herself. So, I invited myself to eat with her. It turned out this young lawyer from North Carolina was part of a team gathering evidence on Saddam’s crimes. She was working with a team of lawyers dedicated to this effort. She was primarily looking into the Kurdish gassings and the Shia murders in the south. The difficulty that they were having is there was too much hearsay evidence and little eye witness accounts. (Saddam often killed whole families just for this purpose.)

I asked her about the Dujayl massacre. She had been told nothing about this event. I told her I could arrange Black hawk transportation to an army base near Dujayl. I could introduce her to local people who could find the eye witness to the massacre. Here team went and met up with some Civil Affairs soldiers I knew. One of the officers at the base had been a prosecutor of John Gotti. This young attorney had been taking notarized depositions from the local people for several months. He had no idea what to do with them, but he needed to gather the evidence because he felt duty bound.

The team was amazed with their good luck. They re-interviewed the people who had made the statements and secured their cooperation to testify in the criminal trial. The results of the trial are well known. The team later documented the gassing of the Kurds and the many of the murders of the Shia in the South, but the evidence obtained in Dujayl was rock solid.

All of us had some knowledge of the Dujayl incident. All of us wanted someone to do the right thing. Was it luck or a continuous effort to seek justice?

I wrote a comment for my local newspaper here in Colorado that addressed all of the left wing criticism of what we were doing in Iraq. I mentioned that this could have implications when we return home. It did and will continue. Good soldiers are seeking public office. Many are supporting the tea party efforts. LTC Allen West is only the tip of our impact to take our country back. I have even been elected as precinct chairman!

About Randy Fritz

Randy recently retired from the Army with the rank of Colonel. His military specialty was environmental science and civil affairs. Randy has completed his doctorate of management and has become involved in local politics.
This entry was posted in Allen West, Hearts & Minds, Middle East, Politics, The Iraqi War, War On Terror. Bookmark the permalink. Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
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17 Responses to Is It Better to be Lucky? [Reader Post]

  1. MataHarley says: 1

    Thank you for off the media record insight, Randy. I always look forward to such details as only those who have been there are privvy to.

    I personally want any future candidate to be extremely military savvy. Not just by lip service, but by experience. A POTUS is also a Commander in Chief after all. It doesn’t mean I demand a lifer/soldier who believes all cures are military posturing. That runs to the other extreme. But right now, I think we are running on military strategy “light”, and need a better balance in future POTUS offerings.

    I wish you an abundance of good fortune in your local political endeavors, and hope you rise soon to the status that affects the rest of us who don’t live in your state.

    And oh, yes… look forward to more reader posts submitted that may give the rest of us more insight to the inner workings of foreign policy reality.

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  2. Randy says: 2

    Thanks Mata, I got more than a little irate when the information I posted on a thread was considered “alleged” rather than truth. Those soldiers I went to war with had an extremely high level of motivation. They went with injuries that should have kept them at home. One man mobilized even though he had suffered a heart attack only 6 months earlier. We accomplished a lot, but conflicts with USAID and the State Department minimized our efforts. I still get several emails from Iraqis every week keeping me up to date with my “Iraqi family”.

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  3. Nan G says: 3

    Randy, that was a terrific post.
    I remember using a ”mass graves in Iraq” web site to follow what was constantly being uncovered with regards Saddam and his son’s sadisms.
    The idea that Saddam took out 1/2 of a village and destroyed the date orchards comes as no surprise after some of the other things I’ve read.
    It was more than luck that you got together with that group of lawyers.
    Kudos to you for using an accidental meeting to benefit the people of Iraq.

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  4. Zac says: 4

    Wow Randy! Thanks so much for the insight. Its better not to be forced to listen to the MSM water this type of information down, but unfortunately to get away from it is easier said than done. A few of us saw the denying your experience on FA the other day; some people are so bias about things they don’t understand I don’t understand why… I just left the conversation shortly after that happened.

    The MSM for the most part feeds ignorance. For that reason, this story is one that deserves a sequel, it didn’t feed ignorance; it enlightened.

    Yes we need a warrior in the white house, I believe Allen West could be just that.

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  5. Randy says: 5

    @Zac:
    While this is not a sequel, it does add a human interest to the story. I met a man in 2006 who had heard about my efforts in steering the legal team to Dujayl. He showed me a family portrait. It included his parents, brothers and sisters. On the day of the massacre, he had been away. When he returned, 11 of his family had been either killed or taken off to prison. Years later, his sister had been released from prison with crippling ailments. No one knew if she was alive or dead during all of that time. The family portrait was a scan and photo shop of the last photos of his family. That is all he had to remember them by. Everything else was destroyed of confiscated by the government.

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  6. Skookum says: 6

    A simple honest report that was awe inspiring, you have accomplished something that professional journalists can only dream about. They stagger about in the mire of a propaganda filter and half-heartedly produce lies that can only fool the weakest minds among us.

    You were a part of history Colonel; we here at FA and more than a few Iraqis appreciate your service and dedication.

    An honest writing style from the heart will defeat the treachery and lies that are being thrown at us in a continuous barrage by the Left; please consider describing these experiences as a regular contributor, it means a lot to us. Thank you for your service and your effort to bring us the truth. Well done Sir, well done indeed.

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  7. Old Trooper 2 says: 7

    As a Follow On Mission, I was Deployed due to United Nations Res 688 to Kurdistan As Provide Comfort kicked off and No Fly Zones were established in the North and Southern Watch was established in the South to deny the Saddam Hussein Regime the use of aircraft to murder the Kurds. Refugee Camps were secured by elements of My Unit, the 3/325 Airborne Battalion Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy.

    Humanitarian Aid Missions followed as well. Operation Provide Comfort came under the authority of the US European Command (EUCOM), headquartered in Vaihingen, Germany. Some US allies contributed to the operation, including the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Australia. Britain deployed 40th and 45th Commando Royal Marines and air transport assets to help protect refugees and to deliver humanitarian aid. The British used the name Operation Haven. France deployed transport aircraft and special forces, the Netherlands deployed troops from the Netherlands Marine Corps and an Army Medical/Engineering Battalion, and Australia contributed transport aircraft and medical, dental and preventive health teams (under the Australian name, Operation Habitat. Operation Provide Comfort ended on 24 July 1991.

    Numerous US Medical and Civil Affairs Units were involved and the genocide in Northern Iraq was halted. Refugee and Re Settlement Camps were established and safeguarded. However nothing changed in Iraq in other locales until Operation Iraqi Freedom removed the Baathists and Saddam from power commencing on 20 March, 2003.

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  8. Randy says: 8

    @Skookum: Thank you for your encouragement. I hope to do as well as you!

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  9. Randy says: 9

    @Old Trooper 2: OT2 you likely saw the evidence of the gassing of the Kurds. I really liked the Kurds I met. They were fierce and brave. None of the compounds guarded by the Kurds were ever attracted during the Shia/Sunni terrorist incidences of 2004-2006. While I was in the Kurdish area, I introduced them to fried green tomatoes. They loved them. I get an email from my friends every spring when the first green tomatoes are ready for picking!
    OT2, did you escort any of the Kurds to Guam? Was that part of your operation?

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  10. Old Trooper 2 says: 10

    @ Randy, Civil Affairs Units did the Re Settlement to Guam Mission. My Mission was threefold.
    *Secure Refugee Camps and Continuity of UN Humanitarian Aid for Refugees
    *Protect UN Personnel from Iraqi Regime Intervention
    *Insure that the Kurds did not Infiltrate to Turkey and Initiate Conflict along the Border there.

    The Kurds were a delightful group of folks to work with and very appreciative of the effort that was made to assure their survival. That Mission was far more satisfying than the KFOR Missions that came later for me.

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  11. another vet says: 11

    @Randy: Too bad we couldn’t take some of the know it alls who are in a state of denial about what was going on over there to the memorial we went to in Balad. Of course, they know so much, it probably wouldn’t convince them anyhow. When you were at that first meeting in Dujayl, one of locals told those of us pulling security a story of how he was 4 years old when his father and uncle were taken away by Saddam’s henchman and he never saw them again. But hey, he was a great guy especially to the one you are referring to on the Farrakhan thread.

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  12. Randy says: 12

    Tom,
    There are too many atrocities to talk about. Uday was a insane, He had people pick up young girls off of the street as they were going home from school. The raw disregard for life or any civilized respect for people was missing in these guys as it is in most of the Islamic countries. If we accomplished anything in Iraq, we show the ordinary people that we were quite different than they had been told by their leaders. That happened through interaction of soldiers like you with them.

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  13. another vet says: 13

    @Randy: It was funny how a lot of them thought Americans were like what they saw in the movies that is all we did was have sex, do drugs, and kill each other.

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  14. Missy says: 15

    Oh shoot, I could have used that original Soviet AK-47 bayonet with the steel scabbard, I would have even paid $16.00,but then I’d have to figure out what to do with it.

    Loved your story Randy and believe every word of it as I have always believed everything you have shared and thank you for all that you have done in the name of our country as well as what you do for our country now. We certainly can’t have to many Randys! I also love all these tough guys with the great big hearts, you followed your heart and I think someone bigger than you was the guiding force.

    It’s also outstanding that you continue to share e-mail correspondance with Iraqis, must have made a positive impression on them too. Good to have people like you and Tom representing the United States of America!

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  15. Wordsmith says: 16

    Thanks for sharing this. I am hoping to see more future posts like this from you, Randy, relaying to us some of your personal experiences and involvements while in Iraq.

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  16. Randy says: 17

    @Wordsmith: Thanks! My posts are likely the opposite end of what OT2 and others saw.

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