Survey at end of story
It has been 10 years since U.S. forces invaded Iraq, launching a war that would lead to thousands of Iraqi and U.S. deaths and cost the country billions of dollars to wage. But for the troops on the ground March 19, 2003, was all about controlling fear, following orders and surviving.
In those early days of the war, the ground troops worried about chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s forces might use. They endured weeks without showers or hot meals. They spent hours riding through the desert in cramped military vehicles, sometimes pausing to engage in bloody firefights.
But amid the suffering and fear the troops also felt amazement at their role in history. And they felt a deep responsibility for changing the lives of the average Iraqi citizen.
The State newspaper asked some veterans who were there in the early days of the war to share their thoughts about that time.
“It’s like time stopped,” Field said. “You don’t want to hear what you just heard. That was a punch in the gut.”
Maj. Don Little
Little had told the man about his fiancée. When the man learned the unit was leaving after a week at the checkpoint, he gave Little a wedding band.
He still wonders what happened to the man and girl. “I probably never will know. I just say a little prayer and hope things worked out well for them.”
Maj. Charlie Barrett
He also shudders at the memories of the brutal summer heat. There were no trees, no showers, and water was being rationed. Nighttime temperatures would be above 100 degrees. Flies swarmed around them. “You could swing your hand through the air and 10 flies would fall in front of you. Miserable probably doesn’t even begin to describe it.”
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