Iraq, United States and Tableau Lewis discussed on This is War

This is War
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An all male unit at the time. So we got away with a lot of stuff that usually you wouldn't get away with in a mixed gender unit. We'd be out in the middle of field, all of our gun set up and you got Cami netting. Next thing you know guys running by in just a flak jacket, that's it just a flak jacket on just screaming with his flak jacket, his M16. sprinting across the gun line. That's that's our day out there. They also listen. To the radio and with not a lot of information coming from the top. The news from the BBC seemed to suggest that without the support of the international community, the invasion might be scrubbed, hearing it back like hearing it at the time. It's very difficult to believe few people in the US thought in their hearts that there would be no invasion of Iraq. And it was probably the case in the hearts of the marines as well. But Lewis maintained the belief that they might one day just get orders to pick up their things and go home after all. That's what happened when they were scrambled into Afghanistan, eighteen months before the feeling for me in a lot of other guys that I was talking to the time, we didn't think we were going there until we heard the bombs hit on south one hill until I woke up that morning heard the bombs and the distance, then I knew we were. We were going to war. It was on shock and awe then was a two way street for Luis Garcia, but as a battery. Just over the Iraq, wait border. They started getting orders and joined in with the initial bombardment. If you've never seen a howitzer operation, it is truly something to behold five or six marines coordinate the setup and firing toting endless line of massive, two and a half foot long projectiles, and loading them charging with gunpowder aiming firing and repeating at peak speed and coordination. Their only minutes at most between valleys training makes the coordination, second nature, so exhausted and in the dark and overnight. The bombardment can continue. The told us that we going to be moving out. We're going to be moving closer to the border. I think we got one fire mission before that in a fire mission telling us basically where we need to put our rounds from the position we were in. So somebody must have tried to jump a little bit early on the Iraqi side because we got one fire mission, and then we left. Remember and we just kind of fired all night. I remember that we are just firing these long range freakin rocket propelled rounds with these big charges. I remember sitting out there seeing you'd see the the rounds coming out of the gun, and then you see a little light in it almost looked like some Star Wars stuff. The way it was just fallen and you see the rockets start falling than it would just disappear. So I don't know what we were shooting at. We were never told, but we did a lot of firing that first night while everybody was crossing in Iraq. So they basically had everybody go in and then we kinda came up the tail after that night. I remember we left kind of more towards the morning time. It was still dark, but it was starting to get light out. As the United States more seemingly unopposed toward Baghdad in the first dizzying days of the war in Iraq. Loose had the sense that this was not going to be a fair fight or a long war along the route. They were sometimes beset by people surrendering in the distance. They could see the pickup trucks. The Iraq army was using to recapture execute deserters, but there was nothing that could be done for it. The invading force continued to push through passing the carnage they'd wrought the night before or that had been visited upon Iraq by the first push of marines toward Baghdad and we drove by like a van. So what these guys were kind of doing their filling up road blocks and stuff with civilians and they were firing out of the top. So I don't know if whoever boo, that bus up knew that there was civilians, don't even know. They're civilians in there, but it out the front of the bus. There's somebody was trying to get out. And they didn't make it so half of the skies hanging from his entrails out the front of the bus off of a piece of broken glass and like kinda hitting the ground. And then I remember driving through the side of the bus, and somebody was trying to get out through the window and see in the windows too small and seen the fuck and look on that burnt skeleton. You could see a grimace of somebody that was like wailing in pain. And that just I was like, holy, fuck, man. I don't wish that upon anybody. There was a guy that was on the road and he had been run over so many times that he looked like catch and pudding assuming way I could put it like everybody was running the sky over and we, we call them putting because it some ran out in the middle of the road and got killed and the rest of the US military decided to run over that day to make him unrecognizable. This shit. You don't see when you're twenty. Eight years old or you're driving down the street throughout the big push as he drove past each shock-and-awe Tableau Lewis vacillated between gallows humor, intense national pride and the nagging realization of his part in that and the conflict that all of that stirred within him. It wasn't killed, not at all. Not that he didn't feel as if he were immune from guilt, but so often guilt is tied directly to intention and his intention was to do his job and serve his country still. It wasn't as if he felt exonerated. Only that he knew he had to get through each grueling, our in the desert until it was time to go home. It wasn't until much later that Lewis was able to take stock of his experience. So it was kind of just like a conflict in my head. You knew you had the fight because that's the only way the these people don't stop shooting at you unless you shoot back out them. So if you wanna die, you don't have to fight, but it's even to this day, you know, like the morality of the whole. Oh situation that I even took part in is in question in my head because I don't know how many people are killed. I didn't directly shoot anybody when I was there, but I guarantee I pulled the the string on that artillery cannon, how many times and those one hundred pound bombs were going somewhere. It was the gravity of it. The creeping realization that there was a larger costs than just combatants. He didn't want to die, but he was a marine and understood that that might eventually be his lot. But the way the war had spread to civilians on both sides of the conflict, the loss that would have to be endured by the people at home with something he was still having trouble shaking and contact with living Araki's only added to his ambivalence and we put our guns away and they told us that we're going to be a provisional rifle company. We're going to be going out doing patrols and just doing peacekeeping inside the certain sector of Baghdad that eleventh marines got tasked with their. Sending us out on day and night patrols into Baghdad which wasn't too bad because at that time people loved us. So we would be patrolling the city in remember specifically, one lady flag me down. She stopped me and she had some bread and she had some food and drink, and she came out and gave us all stuff. And I remember looking at the sergeant at the time I was corporal, like man's is cool and use. Like, you know, we don't wanna be rude and we ate the bread in this lady. All she was concerned with win is the power coming back on bombs are going off everywhere, and these people just want their power back on and we couldn't answer that question. But everybody kinda loved us when major combat operations ended. And Lewis made his way home. It was more of the same parades and congratulations. But at arm's length, his family was happy to see him home safe. And when they heard he would reenlist as his contract ended, they took the news as well as could be expected. What was tough for him though was trying to reintegrate socially. This invasion was unlike anything most people had seen in their lifetimes and having come up in a world without major US deployments that also were so well covered. People wanted to get a better sense of what was going on. This wasn't like Desert Storm. There was a two front war going on that by the middle of two thousand and four was clearly Morphing into something more than just retaliatory strikes in response for September. Eleventh and people were interested or so they thought they were asking him what it was like. But they were asking the way you might ask a stranger, how they're doing with the expectation of a one word answer that cemented their belief that everything was just fine. It

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