Category Archives: Hearts & Minds
Retired Army Ranger captain, Blake Hall:
His name was Mohammed; we called him Roy to protect his identity while he accompanied my platoon of scouts and snipers on combat patrols in Baghdad from December 2006 to September 2007. Roy, a mere teenager at the time, was our interpreter — and a highly skilled one. He questioned insurgent leaders we had captured; he served as my eyes and ears among the local population; he was like a younger brother to me and the scout team leader responsible for him. Roy died in a house bombing in Diyala province in January 2008 along with sixAmerican soldiers from the platoon that replaced mine in Iraq. I cry every time I write that sentence, just like I cried the first time I spoke with his mom.
There are those who have stepped forward for us and answered a call to duty that so few of us have ever faced. There are many who will deal with the memories of battle and of loss without noticeable issues; unfortunately, there will be others who suffer from wounds both psychological and physical, some of these will battle with addictions to alcohol and illicit drugs, while they continue to patrol a narrow path between life and death. These are the ones who put their lives on the wall, while we and our Liberals, who rarely show an inclination to serve, have lived in relative comfort and safety back here in the United States, for these last ten years.
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.
The country that became Williston Lake before the Peace River Damn was built in 1968. Now this mountainous lake, with depths up to 145 meters has tested the steel of many men. Sometimes the lake wins, but with the right attitude, you can survive almost anything.
Capt. Daniel Coleman, the executive officer with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group and a Denver native, is thanked by the children during the most recent Iraqi Kids Day at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Nov, 5, 2010. Coleman served as the … Continue reading