This picture was taken sometime during April 2003. I was with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade, “The Spartans,” and as a young corporal, spearheaded the invasion into Iraq, and stabbed into the heart of Baghdad.
Well, not me personally, mind you, but my brigade led the charge.
I think my brigade commander at the time was a little nuts, and may have decided to go into Baghdad and just stay. Fortune favors the bold, right?
Some of my battle buddies from my company took one of our mechanic vehiles to help take down Saddam’s statue in that famous scene.
At any rate, I was in a mechanized Infantry platoon, attached to a tank company. It was the Army’s first real foray into the world of “combined arms;” my platoon was attached to a tank company, and one of that company’s tank platoons was attached to my parent company.
There was one point where I was staring down the barrel of an M1 Abrams tank during the Battle of Baghdad. I was pretty sure I was going to die. I glad I didn’t sh#t myself.
My company ended up holding a government building which was Iraq’s version of the United Nations. It was a popular target during Desert Storm, and even had a room with pictures which showcased the building getting bombed, and the rebuilding of it.
Behind this building was what appeared to be an office building which was 20 stories high. My squad was dispatched to clear that building; even though there was a wall separating the two, it was a weak wall.
Really, the office building was within the larger compound, and there was also a small medical center in the front of the office building off to the side. It was somewhat underground; I eventually came to the conclusion that the office building was where the politicians’ aides and assistants would work while the real political figures could hold their meetings and such in the other building.
By the time we got there, the medical center had been ransacked; there were bottles of pills everywhere, but no real medical supplies. The office building had also been turned upside down, desks were no longer in their proper place, papers and charts were strewn about the hallways. Every super-locked door, which got our hopes up turned out to be a bathroom. I’m not even kidding.
But in every room we went, yes even the bathrooms, Saddam was everywhere.
I mean his picture hung in every room. In the “UN” building, there was a giant mural of him defeating the combined armies of Desert Storm; it’s an interpretation, I guess. We even found a pile of pictures just in case someone lost theirs?
I don’t think I’ll ever understand the mind of a dictator, so I decided that I’d like to burn one of the pictures; it was almost poster size really. This wouldn’t be my first time destroying the man’s picture; earlier in the invasion I climbed onto a roof and kicked down a large billboard type picture. I think it was in the town of An Janaf, but I cannot say for certain.
I asked my buddy if he’d take a picture. Of course, he agreed.
The camera was a disposable one with 35mm film in it, digital cameras and cell phone cameras were not all that prevalent in 2003. I babied that film all the way home, made sure that it didn’t go through any x-ray machines or other scanners.
The picture couldn’t have come out any more perfectly.
Oh sure I have plenty of other pictures, including one which made the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, but this one, to me, tells the story of my invasion experience.