Writing Center
Spring 2007 Edition

An Nasiriyah

Eric Stein
Expressive 1010 Voice
Professor: Alice Kane

It was March 23, 2003, and in two hours the sun was going to peak over the horizon of the dusty landscape. I leaned my head on my rifle in a futile attempt to sleep. I tried to sit as close as I could to the large exhaust pipe of the AAV for warmth. I never thought this country could be so cold. Movies such as Three Kings made it look like a toaster oven at all times. The sounds of helicopters and jet aircraft streaked the sky and the loud thunderous booms would echo in the desert followed by orange and yellow beams of light which would expose the area where land meets sky. We crossed the Kuwaiti/Iraqi border in the cover of night, and I couldn’t help but think proudly of myself for being one of the few and proud Marines to have the opportunity to invade a hostile country. I felt like a Viking warrior. 

The volley of runaway Scud missiles shot across the sky, like shooting stars, only to be intercepted by Patriot missiles from our south. The sun was up now but for some reason the temperature stayed the same. Out of the barren desert a small boxy skyline of a city was defined by the black smoke that could only be caused by burning vehicles and gasoline. Our company was given the name, Task Force Tarawa, to honor the Marines who fought and died on Tarawa during WWII. Many of us felt the name was a bad omen, but I didn’t give into the superstition. We sat silently in the belly of the AAV, like Trojans in the infamous wooden horse. Our objective was to take the bridges over Saddam canal and within the city to secure the route northward to Baghdad. What seemed to be hours passed by, and I started to feel frustrated with the time. “What the hell are we waiting for,” I screamed.  Looking back I cannot imagine being excited to put myself in harms way, but I was. Since there were assortments of rockets and explosives inside the vehicle we all sat on top of the AAV to smoke our cigs and bullshit about what they were going to call this war. 

Suddenly the vehicle’s squawk box opened up with chatter. The vehicle started rolling forward and we all cheered as if there was no possible way any of us would be killed in the ensuing battle to come. Keeping my rifle in the ready position, I desperately looked for a target. I didn’t want to come out of this empty handed. Hell, the war was only going to last a week or so, or so I thought. We neared the first bridge and the thick smoke of a burning T-57 Russian tank choked and blinded me. The three vehicles in front of mine jolted forward, and I could see we were going straight into the city’s interior. In an instant the sound of enemy automatic gun fire pierced my ears and turned my temporary excitement into instant fear. The AAV in front of ours without warning exploded into flames and I felt my eyes glaze over with the color of purple from the percussion. I am a twenty-year-old Marine with combat training; I was now a scared seven-year-old kid.