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In 2005, a veteran trying to return to civilian life is plagued by his experiences during the war. View table of contents...


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Submitted:Jul 20, 2012    Reads: 14    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


Monday, April 5, 2004:

At eight in the morning, a squad of ten US Marines stormed a warehouse in Fallujah, Iraq. There were only two doors into the building, a service door and a man-sized door at the back. The Marines were going to storm in through the rear entrance, while two other squads of Marines guarded the main door, to prevent anyone inside from escaping.

In order of command, the squad consisted of Staff Sergeant Juan Lopez (born August 19, 1972 in Tucson, Arizona), Corporal William Parker (born December 19, 1974 in Rochester, New York), Specialist Tim Young (born June 17, 1978 in Waycross, Georgia), Private First Class Alan Hall (born November 1, 1977 in Tacoma, Washington), Private First Class Dashad DuPont (born February 6, 1980 in Richmond, Virginia), Private First Class Luiz Cruze (born September 9, 1981 in Dallas, Texas), Private William Cooper (born March 29, 1982 in Sylvan Beach, New York), Private Fred Soam (born December 30, 1983 in Charleston, South Carolina), Private Jim McCall (born July 18, 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts) and Private Robert Jackson (born September 26, 1985 in Buffalo, South Dakota). They were somewhat less diverse racially than they were in terms fo geographic origin. Young, Hall, Cooper, McCall and Jackson were White, Parker, DuPont and Soam were Black, and Lopez and Cruze were Hispanic. They ranged wildly in height, from DuPont's intimidating 6'4" to McCall's comparatively puny 5'6". Five of the ten men were Protestant, but McCall, Lopez and Cruze were Catholic, Parker was agnostic and Cooper was an atheist.

Lopez ordered the men to breach the building. Young kicked in the door and stormed in, soon moving out of the way. The others heard two loud rifle shots. Then, they moved in, one by one. Upon entering, they discovered that they were at one end of a wide hallway that stretched down the entire side of the building. Lying facedown at the opposite end of the hall was an Iraqi insurgent. Young had shot the man twice through the chest, killing him instantly. An AK-47 lay beside the man.

There were three doors in the hallway, excluding the one that they had used to enter the warehouse. One was right across the hall from their entrance, one was about in the middle of the hall, and the third was way down at the end of the hall, about where the body was.

Lopez tapped Parker, Hall, and Cooper, before pointing down the hall to the most distant door. He then directed Young, Cruze, and McCall to the middle door. Lopez, DuPont, Soam, and Jackson were left with the first door. Lopez pumped his arm twice, and all three groups opened their respective doors and charged into the hidden room. Parker, Hall and Cooper burst into an empty bathroom. Young, Cruze and McCall burst into an office. Inside, a middle-aged insurgent grabbed a revolver off of his desk, but Young dropped him with a shot to the side of the head. Lopez, DuPont, Soam and Jackson burst into a room filled with crates, boxes, and six insurgents, all armed. One fired a burst from an AK-47, but Lopez put three bullets in him with his M16A4 rifle, killing him. Another insurgent grabbed an AKS-74u that had been sitting on top of a pile of crates, but Jackson fired his M4 carbine. The bullet struck the insurgent in the left arm, passing through his arm and into his chest, through his lungs and heart before exiting just below his right armpit. He dropped to the ground, dead. DuPont fired a long burst from his M249 SAW, killing two more insurgents, but the fifth insurgent fired a Makarov PM pistol, hitting DuPont in the left shoulder. Soam fired his M16A4, killing the man that had shot DuPont with a round to the head. The sixth insurgent emerged from behind a stack of crates, where he had been hiding. He fired an antiquated Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle. Soam dropped to the ground, and Lopez fired his rifle three times, missing twice and hitting the insurgent in the right arm once. The insurgent ducked behind the stack of crates, but Jackson had a clear line of sight on the insurgent. He fired a three-round burst from his own rifle, hitting the enemy three times in the back, killing him. Lopez, Jackson and DuPont looked at Soam. He had been hit in the throat and had bled to death inside of thirty seconds. The bullet had severed the chinstrap to Soam's helmet, and it had fallen off. Something in the helmet caught Jackson's eye. Upon removing it, he saw that it was a Polaroid photograph of Soam in his dress blues standing with a middle-aged couple and a young woman cradling a baby. Jackson remembered that Soam had showed the rest of the squad that picture before. The older people in the photograph were his parents. The young woman was Soam's wife, and the child was Soam's baby boy. Jackson didn't envy Soam's wife, who would soon receive the dreaded letter, nor did he envy the baby, who would grow up having never known his father.





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