Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sad News

I've often felt (both prior to deploying and since getting hurt) that I just don't give a damn about Iraq--they should all just be lined up and shot. Regardless of all the good things we did, and are doing; regardless of the good iraqis I met and worked with; regardless of how much I, and for the most part, all service members feel about what we're doing.

And then I get to thinking about the friends I made, the people that I worked with. The fine men whose lives were affected by the simple act of going to work--most of the soldiers in the Iraqi Army have to hide their identities from their friends and neighbors to protect their families from retribution. The kind of cowards we were fighting had no problems killing the wives and children of these soldier who were simply trying to make Iraq a better place to live. How many of us would be willing to risk the lives of our families for something like that? We all like to say we would, but until you're put in that position, you just never know.

Major Kareem, my counterpart, the guy who looked just like Eugene Levy, was just such a man. His house (where his family, brothers and their family, parents, and nieces and nephews all llived) was frequently the target of these attacks. They would not be scared off, and he just worked harder to try and give them a more secure home. Frequently, he would stay at work for weeks on end, sleeping in his office, so that he couldn't be followed home. Major Kareem was the best of the best--He flat didn't care what tribe you belonged to, whether you were a sunni or a shia, or even if you were an Arab. If you were dirty, he was going after you. He took my getting wounded personally, and because of that, they caught the bastard who planted the IED the next day--after he and his boys dismantled the town where I got hit. I often had to reign him in during operations, because he was being too aggressive in his methods, and getting over-extended. But he always got the job done. We saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and he was my friend. He often would stop by the FOB with a basket of fruit from his orchard--oranges, pomegranate, grapes--whatever was in season. Not as a bribe, just as a gift from a gentleman farmer--all he ever wanted to be. I visited him in the US hospital in Balad (the same one I would be in months later) after he was injured in a truck bomb attack where he stood his ground with a pistol as insurgents attacked his headquarters. I even drove him home from the hospital in my truck--an act he asked for the honor of repaying once I returned to Iraq.

Because of his tenacity, character, and loyalty, I recommended him for command of the whole Iraqi battalion in our area of operations. He was eventually given the job, (we had to get rid of his politically connected, and utterly worthless, boss). MAJ Kareem was given the job, and recently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. A few days ago he was killed by a suicide bomber in the Old Baqubah Market. I don't doubt that he was doing his job, looking for shitheads, being a warrior. I will miss him dearly.

Goodbye, Ra'ad (Major) Kareem


I want to go back, right now, just to be with his family and his men. And to find and kill the sons of whores who planned and resourced this attack. And their families.

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