Saturday, July 08, 2023

My Memory of the War in Iraq 20 years later: July 2023

 “From: Whitehead Col Michael

  Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2003 8:08 AM

  Subject: I saw history being made

  On July 9, 2003 at 9:21 in the evening I saw history being made.

  I was walking from the Palace to visit one of our new portapotties lined up on the road when I saw a large convoy, a string of headlights, positioned to enter the front gate: the Polish Army had arrived at Camp Babylon. This in fact was the Division Headquarters, the advanced party of a 2,000 man plus contingent from Poland. I called my friend, [COL] Bill Faulkner (from Tampa) over, and pointed the sight out to him. "This is history being made," I told him, and he agreed. We watched as the vehicles pulled in, twisting through the terrorist barricades, and I thought of how exhausted they must feel, having completed the 12 hours drive (in this heat) from Commando in one day.

The ruins of the city of Babylon in the foreground, with one of the palaces of Saddam Hussein, where I slept for 3 months, in the distance.

  Bill, a devout Christian, pointed to a piece of the black land to our front, and said, "According to the Bible, this is where the Tower of Babel was built." We are in Babil province, another spelling for Babel. He continued, "Isn't it strange that the Headquarters for this Multinational Division of twenty nations is right here?" I agreed. This was a strange and special moment. I saw history being made.

  Two nights before, Lee Ermey, the actor who was a Marine Drill Instructor and then played one in Stanley Kubrick's Movie "Full Metal Jacket," came to Babylon to give us a talk. He has been here all week traveling throughout the sector to talk to Marines in the field. He spoke to us in the Mess Hall before a packed house. He began the speech as he began the Movie, with his Opening Speech to the recruits, which I am sure he gave hundreds of times when he was a Marine DI. The worst profanity I have EVER heard in my life, on or off the screen, came out of his mouth in the movie.


“Sir, yes sir," We shouted in unison.


  "SIR, YES SIR” We shouted again.

  The Marines, of course, ate all this up. The soldiers and sailors in the audience enjoyed it, too.

  A common saying overheard here from soldiers, sailors or Marines who don't want to do a particular task, "And what will they do if I don't do it: shave my head and send me to Iraq?"


Excerpt From

Messages from Babylon

Michael Whitehead

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