22 January 2008 (ON PATROL)

 

SecretLast night, we were given some additional information about the IED strike on 1/27 and the raid we conducted after. We didn’t really learn anything new about the actual attack, but we were told why we stayed on the objective all night and why LTC Boccardi insisted that 2nd platoon continue searching. Unfortunately, I can’t go into details about what was covered in the briefing. I will say that we didn’t like what we were told, and it raised a lot of questions.

Patrol Brief

Patrol Brief (L to R) Spc. Almazan, Lt. Schardt, AB

We did another patrol through 14th Ramadan today. It was just the usual patrol. We walked around the village, talked to some of the people who live there, got swarmed with kids begging for everything. Some of those older kids really irritate the shit out of me. I’ve said it before, but I’m amazed at how they demand that we give them anything and everything that we have.

One kid out there today, I’d guess he’s about 16 or so, comes walking up to me and said, “Mista, you give me that pen.”

I didn’t even have a damn pen on me today. When I told him I didn’t have one, he argued with me, and then kept demanding more shit. This kid walked away, but came back only a few minutes later and demanded that I give him “that pen.”Patrol in Ramadan #1

Pens, pencils, paper, boots, my whistle, chocolate, candy, chem-lights, my camera, my glasses; they want it all. We show them that we don’t have what they’re asking for, and they look us up and down, and then motion for us to open our pockets to show them.Kids in Ramadan #3 Another boy came up and asked for my camera.

I was annoyed by this point, and I just said, “No.”

“Yes!” he replied.

“No.”

He held out a #2 pencil, that we had just given to him, and motioned that he wanted to trade my camera for the pencil.

I shook my head no, and he pulled out a toy cellular telephone and made the same motion.

I waved him away with my hand and walked off in the other direction.

As I walked away from the teenage boy, a little girl approached me.

“Mista, give me pen.”

I showed her that I didn’t have any pens today.

“Chocolate?”

“No chocolate,” I said, as I patted my pockets to make my point.

“Watch?” she asked.

I was like, what in the hell?

Another one of the little con-artists wanted one of my chem-lights. At first, he thought they were toothbrushes in new plastic wrappers. I had three of them on me, and he kept saying, “You three, me none.”

Finally, the little bastard went to SFC AB and tattled on me for having three “torches” when he didn’t have any. AB looked at him and said, “Umm, okay.”

AB is hilarious with these kids. I can’t really explain it, but it’s some funny shit to watch. He talks to them as if they can understand him, but he says some funny shit because he knows that they don’t. They usually nod or laugh, and that makes it even better.

Kids in Ramadan #2

I’m not totally heartless. Scenes like this one, make me want to give these kids everything extra that I have.

We finally moved toward the edge of the village where our Strykers had stopped, and we met with the local CLCs again. They were all standing around Lt. Schardt and our interpreter. I’m glad there weren’t any suicide bombers among them, because it would have made a juicy target.

After a few minutes, a woman got the PL’s attention and started talking to him. She was complaining that the CLCs were not being paid. She also complained that they were being attacked at night when we weren’t around. I didn’t hear all of the translation, but from what I got, she was pissed. I joked with Leo and AB, “she sounds like an army wife to me.”

“Yeah, but they’ll probably kill her for talking,” AB replied.

From what I understand, Muslim women in Iraq are not to speak to a man, unless they are spoken to first. We are instructed to only speak to Muslim women if an Iraqi male initiates the conversation.

The women here seem to handle most of the manual labor. It almost seems as if there are young girls and old women. There is no in-between. In the rural parts of this country, these girls don’t get to be young women. They marry young, which I think it around 13 or so, and then they start working themselves ragged. By the time they are in their twenties, they look pretty ragged.

NOTE: A law was proposed in Iraq in 2014 that would allow girls as young as 9 years old to be married. It apparently was not voted on in 2014, but it had been proposed, and many expected it to pass.

I can’t imagine living the way these people do. I would never want women or girls in my family to live this way. What do they get in life? What do they have to look forward to?

In other unrelated news, I received a package in the mail today. I got some bed sheets and some grill utensils. I’m excited about the sheets, but I’m almost afraid to use them. They are ivory colored, and I’m afraid that they’ll be filthy the first time I sleep in them. Iraq dust is on and in everything. There is a gritty brown coating all over the place, including out beds.

I hate this country.

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