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Old Nov 12, 2003, 12:34 PM   #1
chaitanya
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Default A time for peace....


Everyday,watching TV and reading news I notice that at least one US soldier dies or is injured in Iraq.
Today 18 Italian soldiers,close to come back home
died in blasting bomb attack in their barracks in Nassyria-Iraq.

My heart goes to all families of ALL soldiers in Iraq,Americans and Italians,that suffers such losses.

God bless 'em all
Evil don't prevail,but it's an hard road to freedom and peace.

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A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late
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Old Nov 12, 2003, 01:00 PM   #2
Cream Tangerine
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Default Re: A time for peace....

That is such a sad picture...

I'll pary for all the people that died in their barracks. War should simply NOT BE.
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Old Nov 12, 2003, 01:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: A time for peace....

My sentiments exactly, CT. This is quite a picture. It speaks volumes. [img]graemlins/sad1.gif[/img]
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Old Nov 12, 2003, 07:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: A time for peace....

Agreed. Very sad indeed. There is no reason this should be happening this day in age. You'd think humans would have moved past this...
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Old Nov 20, 2003, 06:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: A time for peace....

[img]graemlins/sad1.gif[/img] i hope you dont mind me adding a prayer for all the poor turkish families who have lost loved ones in the horrible attacks this week, god bless all of them and lets hope all of this fighting will come to an end soon. [img]graemlins/cry1.gif[/img]
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Old Mar 05, 2005, 09:52 PM   #6
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Red face changed, or worse?

Since time has passed since this the last post, I'm wondering what really has changed, and in fact, have things gotten worse? Yes, I know there has been an "election"(Iraq), and yes, other nations have taken some tentative steps for an version of democracy. But only time will tell what the over-all outcome will be. But the last week has brought news that three souls weres slaughtered in Iraq, all from my state. While this is horrible enough, our (shudder) head of state tells the world that "all options are on the table" when it comes to advising Siria of what is instore for them if they don't stop occupying Beruit.
Where will this end? I know that this topic is very charged, but I really want to know what other people think. I respect others opinions, and don't comdemn or condone people on what they think on even these sensitive issues.
So, through your eyes, what's the deal?
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Old Mar 05, 2005, 11:44 PM   #7
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Im friggen scared that my 11 year old son will have to go and look for non exisitant WMDs and Ill tell you what they will have to come threw me to get him. Heres some terrible news According to the washington post Suicides in the Marines are up 29% and one of the most common injuries coming out fo Iraq are severe brain injuries . And I watched a show on Frontline about how many soldeirs are dealing with post tramatic stress disorders which some will suffer with those terrible memories of war for the rest of their lives. Not to mention the poor Iraqi people.Bagdag Iraqs capitol city which used to be a thriving city of 4 million people now gets 3 hours of electricity a day under American ocupation.
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Old Mar 05, 2005, 11:58 PM   #8
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here is atypical day

Mideast - AFP


Violence continues to plague Iraq

Sat Mar 5, 4:14 PM ET Mideast - AFP



SAMARRA, Iraq (AFP) - Seven Iraqi soldiers were killed in various attacks Saturday, security sources said, as a daytime curfew was imposed in the restive town of Samarra, north of Baghdad.


AFP Photo


Reuters
Slideshow: Iraq





Latest headlines:
Wounded Italian Reporter Recalls Ordeal
AP - 3 minutes ago
Iraq's National Assembly Due to Meet March 16
Reuters - 44 minutes ago
Story of Italian Hostage's Release Unclear
AP - 53 minutes ago
Special Coverage





The worst attack left five soldiers dead when their camp in Al-Duluiyah, north of the capital, was hit by mortars at about 03:00 am (0000 GMT) as the new army recruits got up for training, said Captain Assad Saddad.


Another soldier was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb blew up as they were attempting to diffuse it near the northern oil refining town of Baiji, said Captain Ali Yussif of the army.


He said nine suspected insurgents were arrested in a joint overnight raid with US troops in Al-Siniyah in the Baiji region.


A second roadside bomb in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s hometown, killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded three, according to police.


Three Iraqi policemen were also wounded in an ambush by gunmen in the village of Bir, east of Tikrit, said local police. A police officer was wounded in a similar attack in Baquba, said police in this restive city northeast of Baghdad.


Attacks against Iraq (news - web sites)'s fledgling forces have been relentless as the US military intensifies its efforts to train and equip Iraqis to assume more responsibility for the country's security.


An attack on civilians in Baghdad left four Iraqis, including one woman wounded when a motorcycle rigged with explosives blew up in the Baghdad Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah, police said.


"Four people, including an old woman, were wounded, when a booby-trapped motorcyle parked in front of a restaurant and bakery exploded," police said at the scene.


The burnt wheel of the motorcyle lay on the ground and a man carried away the bloodied old woman dressed in a light blue gown.


The US military said Saturday that four of its soldiers were killed in action while "conducting security and stability operations" in the vast western Al-Anbar province without providing details or exact location.


This brought to 1,499 the number of soldiers killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion two years ago, according to a Pentagon (news - web sites) tally.


And the US military said that it has detained 400 suspects during a two week operation against insurgents in Al-Anbar.


Despite the end of major hostilities in Fallujah, US troops continue to conduct operations around the province's capital Ramadi and towns along the Euphrates river.


Seven Iraqi soldiers were also killed in different attacks Saturday said Iraqi security sources.


Meanwhile, Iraq's main political factions continued to discuss the formation of a new governing coalition more than a month after the historic January 30 legislative elections.


Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim met with Barham Saleh and Ruj Shawis, two senior members of the Kurdish alliance, which came in second in the election.





"They agreed to continue their contacts and meetings to try to convene the national assembly in one week," said Hakim aide Ridha Jawad.

The two side were locked in negotiations over a new cabinet and Kurdish conditions for their support.
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Old Mar 06, 2005, 10:26 AM   #9
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Post i hear you

Thanks for the news, Erik, as bad as it is. Before someone throws a stone at me for looking of the negative side of things, I'm sure SURE some good things are happening in Iraq. However, I share you foreboding about draft issues.
What I don't get is how the U.S. president expects a democracy in Iraq when it could very well end up a theocracy. Not only that, a theocracy that doesn't include all the faction of that religion. Talk about friction! How can that be called peace? I get the feeling the US president equates democracy with Christianity. I don't know what to expect anymore.
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Old Mar 06, 2005, 02:15 PM   #10
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this happened a couple of days ago.... I am sorry for the wounded & dead, I pray for all of the wounded and dead every day!
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...ly_shooting_dc

By Robin Pomeroy and Roberto Landucci

ROME (Reuters) - Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena, shot and wounded after being freed in Iraq (news - web sites), said Sunday U.S. forces may have deliberately targeted her because Washington opposed Italy's policy of dealing with kidnappers.


Reuters Photo

Freed Hostage Says She Was Target
(Reuters Video)




Latest headlines:
Iraqis Set Opening for New Parliament
AP - 12 minutes ago
Group Nominates Shiite Cleric for Nobel
AP - 1 hour, 9 minutes ago
Ex-Hostage Disputes U.S. on Iraq Shooting
AP - 1 hour, 26 minutes ago
Special Coverage





She offered no evidence for the claim that reflected growing anger in Italy over the conduct of the war, which has claimed more than 20 Italian lives, including secret agent Nicola Calipari who rescued her moments before being killed.


The shooting Friday evening has sparked tension with Italy's U.S. allies and put pressure on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to take a hard line with President Bush (news - web sites).


Speaking from the Rome hospital where she is being treated, Sgrena said the troops may have targeted her because Washington opposes Italy's reported readiness to pay ransoms to kidnappers.


"The United States doesn't approve of this (ransom) policy and so they try to stop it in any way possible," the veteran war reporter, 57, told Sky Italia TV.


In later comments to Reuters, Sgrena was less strident:


"You could characterise as an ambush what happens when you are showered with gunfire. If this happened because of a lack of information or deliberately, I don't know, but even if it was due to a lack of information it is unacceptable."


Bush promised a full probe into why troops shot at the Italian car nearing Baghdad airport Friday evening. Calipari died instantly of a single bullet to the head, doctors said.


The U.S. military says the car was speeding toward a checkpoint and ignored warning shots, an explanation rejected by Italian government ministers and the driver of the car.


A senior U.S. official, White House counselor Dan Bartlett, said the shooting was a "horrific accident."


"As you know, in a situation where there is a live combat zone, particularly this road to the airport ... people are making split-second decisions, and it's critically important that we get the facts before we make judgments," he told CNN.


Rome prosecutors have opened a second degree murder investigation into Calipari's death and Italy's justice minister has signed documents requesting information from witnesses.


PUNISHMENT, APOLOGY


According to Italy's leading daily Corriere della Sera, the driver, an unidentified Italian agent, said: "We were driving slowly, about 40-50 km/h (25-30 mph)."


In a harrowing account of the ordeal, Sgrena wrote in Sunday's issue of her communist newspaper Il Manifesto that Calipari saved her life by shielding her with his body.


"Nicola threw himself on to protect me and then suddenly I heard his last breath as he died on top of me," she wrote.


Although Italy has denied paying kidnappers in past hostage releases, Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno told the Corriere that "very probably" a large ransom had been paid in this case. Newspapers spoke of sums of up to 8 million euros ($10 million).





"We need to get the guilty punished and an apology from the Americans," Alemanno said. "We are trustworthy allies but we must not give the impression of being subordinates."

Parliamentary relations minister Carlo Giovanardi also said he did not believe the U.S. version of events.

Italy is one of Europe's closest U.S. allies and Washington is keen to show it is taking the matter seriously.

Bush telephoned Berlusconi Friday night. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called their Italian counterparts over the weekend.

LAST RESPECTS

Thousands of people queued up outside Rome's huge marble Victor Emmanuel monument to pay respects to Calipari where his body is lying in state before a funeral Monday.

The national outpouring of grief and anger has put pressure on Berlusconi, an ardent supporter of Bush and his war on terror, to get answers from Washington on what went wrong before he addresses parliament on the matter Wednesday.

"All 57 million Italians who were united in the anticipation of Giuliana Sgrena's liberation have the right to know what happened," said Romano Prodi, the former prime minister and leader of Italy's center-left opposition.

Berlusconi has sent some 3,000 Italian soldiers to Iraq, a decision opposed by a majority of Italians and the opposition which is seeking to unseat him at a general election next year and weaken him at regional polls next month. ($1=.7568 Euro)
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Old Mar 06, 2005, 10:48 PM   #11
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Thanks for posting this,Nancy.

War is unfair thing.

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Old Mar 07, 2005, 07:02 AM   #12
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http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe...ena/index.html
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Old Mar 07, 2005, 10:04 AM   #13
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Default Italy

Not to be flippant, buy scratch off Italy from the places I want to visit, at least right now. I would love to eat the food, take in the sights, and soak up the culture. After reading "Under the Tuscan Sun" the itch to visit there has been growing. In the light of recent events, and as a U.S. citizen ,I don't feel I would be welcome in Italy.
" Italy is one of Europe's closest U.S. allies and Washington is keen to show it is taking the matter seriously."Oh, really? So keen that they haven't issued an apology, and for that matter, haven't addressed the issue in any meaningful manner whatsoever? Silence speaks volumes.
I have no clue (thanks to the closed mouths in Washington) as to what really caused the tradgedy involving the Italian journalist. I won't speculate, either. I want to be objective and open-minded.
On another front, the U.S. has fired another volley at the U.N. with the outragous nomination of John R. Bolton. A few years back Bolton said that if the U.N. disappeared it would be no big loss, or that it would make no difference (paraphrasing). I have to do some research on why the U.S. is at odds with the U.N.. I have my basic theory, but I need to substantiate my leanings. Now I just heard the admin. said Bolton is "perfect for the job". What agenda is he perfect for?
Curiouser and curiouser.
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Old Mar 07, 2005, 10:17 AM   #14
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I usually don't like posting political comments on boards, but my thoughts I feel go beyond political labels.

This is a war driven by the fear of the people. Somehow the cause is being masqueraded by words such as "terrorism" or "fight for freedom" when really it seems like there is suppression of the mind occuring. The power is granted to very few people- and also coporate entities that can act as a legal living body.

What's weird to me is if you ask several people "What is the war all about" you'll get several different answers. Doesn't that strike anyone as odd?

Needless death. Illness of the Earth. Is the end in sight?

I am reminded are the words of the Hopi elders. They are from one of the longest surviving nations in the world and have given many prophecies that have actually come true. This was one of their latest proclamations, a prayer for peace:
"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships? Are you in right relation?
Where is your water? Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community. Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river
Keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you
And celebrate.

At this time in history we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word "struggle" from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for."

~Oraibi
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Old Mar 07, 2005, 11:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiliace
Not to be flippant, buy scratch off Italy from the places I want to visit, at least right now. I would love to eat the food, take in the sights, and soak up the culture. After reading "Under the Tuscan Sun" the itch to visit there has been growing. In the light of recent events, and as a U.S. citizen ,I don't feel I would be welcome in Italy.
" Italy is one of Europe's closest U.S. allies and Washington is keen to show it is taking the matter seriously."Oh, really? So keen that they haven't issued an apology, and for that matter, haven't addressed the issue in any meaningful manner whatsoever? Silence speaks volumes.
I have no clue (thanks to the closed mouths in Washington) as to what really caused the tradgedy involving the Italian journalist. I won't speculate, either. I want to be objective and open-minded.
On another front, the U.S. has fired another volley at the U.N. with the outragous nomination of John R. Bolton. A few years back Bolton said that if the U.N. disappeared it would be no big loss, or that it would make no difference (paraphrasing). I have to do some research on why the U.S. is at odds with the U.N.. I have my basic theory, but I need to substantiate my leanings. Now I just heard the admin. said Bolton is "perfect for the job". What agenda is he perfect for?
Curiouser and curiouser.

I'm really saddened to read this post,'cause Italians are NOT anti-american,altough a part of population is strongly against this (and all) war.

The tragical error of US troops (anyway I'm convinced that was an error),doesn't mean that Italians hate USA.

You are ALWAYS welcome in Italy.
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Old Mar 07, 2005, 12:45 PM   #16
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Post my thoughts

chaitanya
Thanks for responding to my post, although you pick one sentiment and leave the rest of my post ignored. I cast no aspersions on the Italian people. I commented on how I would feel. I agree that Italians are welcoming and genial, from what I have seen in the media, having never been there.
chaitanya, I haven't the time to review all your posts, so I don't know if you have been or lived in Italy. Have you been there? I would value a recommendation as to the time of year and a good location to frame any future trips. I don't favour the seacoast, and I like a semi-arid and moutain terrain.
Don't mistake my meaning here, as I am not retracting anything from my post that you quoted. I think American "stock" has dropped throughout Europe.
I give Europeans credit for distinguishing American politics from Americans themselves. That said, I would today feel guilty by association if I was a guest in Italy.With respect I gave thought and consideration to your somewhat curt and quick response. I hope you can do the same.
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Old Mar 07, 2005, 01:01 PM   #17
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No prob chiliace.
I'm Italian and of course I live here.
By the way I live on mountain side,near France,so I guess you'd like it !

For the rest,myself and most people here and in Europe knows well the difference between politics and people living 'real' life,as not all Italians 'plays
mandolin' (lol) or are Berlusconi's fan.....got it ?

So take your time and plan your trip to Italy lil bit later,ok ?

Let me know if you're coming in Northern Italy (Turin,Milan ecc.ecc.)
a splendid time guaranteed for all.
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Old Mar 08, 2005, 02:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaitanya
No prob chiliace.
I'm Italian and of course I live here.
By the way I live on mountain side,near France,so I guess you'd like it !

For the rest,myself and most people here and in Europe knows well the difference between politics and people living 'real' life,as not all Italians 'plays
mandolin' (lol) or are Berlusconi's fan.....got it ?

So take your time and plan your trip to Italy lil bit later,ok ?

Let me know if you're coming in Northern Italy (Turin,Milan ecc.ecc.)
a splendid time guaranteed for all.
((hugs)) to you Claudio, you are such a kind person
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Old Oct 02, 2005, 05:16 PM   #19
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Last Marine in Unit Mourns 11 Lost Friends By ANTONIO CASTANEDA, Associated Press Writer




HADITHA DAM, Iraq - Cpl. David Kreuter had a new baby boy he'd seen only in photos. Lance Cpl. Michael Cifuentes was counting the days to his wedding. Lance Cpl. Nicholas Bloem had just celebrated his 20th birthday.

Travis Williams remembers them all all 11 men in his Marine squad all now dead. Two months ago they shared a cramped room stacked with bunk beds at this base in northwest Iraq, where the Euphrates River rushes by. Now the room has been stripped of several beds, brutal testament that Lance Cpl. Williams' closest friends are gone.

For the 12 young Marines who landed in Iraq early this year, the war was a series of hectic, constant raids into more than a dozen lawless towns in Iraq's most hostile province, Anbar. The pace and the danger bound them together into what they called a second family, even as some began to question whether their raids were making any progress.

Now, all of the Marines assigned to the 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, based in Columbus, Ohio, are gone except Williams. They died in a roadside-bomb set by insurgents on Aug. 3 that killed a total of 14 Marines. Most of the squad were in their early 20s; the youngest was 19.

"They were like a family. They were the tightest squad I've ever seen," said Capt. Christopher Toland of Austin, Texas, the squad's platoon commander. Even though many did not know each other before they got to Iraq, "They truly loved each other."

All that is left are photos and snippets of video, saved on dusty laptops, that run for a few dozen seconds. As they pack up to return home by early October, the Marines from Lima Company including the squad's replacements sometimes huddle around Williams' laptop in a room at the dam, straining to watch the few remaining moments of their young friends' lives. Some photos and videos carry the squad's adopted motto, "Family is Forever."

In one video, Lance Cpl. Christopher Dyer, who graduated with honors last year from a Cincinnati area high school, strums his guitar and does a mock-heartfelt rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon" as his friends laugh around him.

In a photo, Kreuter rides a bicycle through a neighborhood, swerving under the weight of body armor and weapons, as Marines and Iraqis watch and chuckle.

Each video ends abruptly, leaving behind a blank screen. Some are switched off as soon as they start some images just hurt too much to see right now.

___

The August operation began like most of the squad's missions with a rush into another lawless Iraqi city to hunt insurgents and do house-to-house searches, sometimes for 12 hours in temperatures near 120 degrees.

On Aug. 1, six Marine snipers had been ambushed and killed in Haditha, one of a string of cities that line the Euphrates, filled with waving palm trees. Two days later, Marines in armored vehicles, including the 1st Squad, rumbled into the area to look for the culprits.

Like other cities in this region, Haditha has no Iraqi troops, and its police force was destroyed earlier in the year by a wave of insurgent attacks. Marines patrol roads on the perimeter and occasionally raid homes in the city, which slopes along a quiet river valley. Commanders say insurgents have challenged local tribes for control and claim Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, once had a home here.

Since their arrival in February, the Marines had spent nearly all their time on such sweeps or preparing for them, sometimes hurrying back to their base to grab fresh clothes, then heading off again to cities that hadn't seen American or Iraqi troops in months.

The intense pace of the operations, and the enormous area their regimental combat team had to cover an expanse the size of West Virginia caught some off guard.

The combat was certainly not what the 21-year-old Williams had expected.

"I didn't ever think we'd get engaged," said the soft-spoken, stocky Marine from Helena, Mont. "I just had the basic view of the American public it can't be that bad out there."

In some sweeps, residents warmly greeted the Marines. But in others, such as operations in Haditha and Obeidi near the Syrian border, the squad members met gunfire and explosions. In the Obeidi operation in early May, another squad from Lima Company suffered six deaths. Williams himself perhaps saved lives, once spotting a gunman hidden in a mosque courtyard, said Toland, the platoon commander.

The night before the Aug. 3 operation, an uneasy Toland couldn't sleep. Instead he spent his last night with his squad members talking and joking, trying to suppress worries the mission was too predictable for an enemy that knew how to watch and learn.

"I had concerns that the operation was hastily planned and executed, with significant risks and little return," Toland said.

The road had been checked by engineers and other units, Marine commanders say. But insurgents had been clever hiding the massive bomb under the road's asphalt.

Several Humvees first drove over the bomb, but the triggerman in the distance apparently waited for a vehicle with more troops. Then, as the clanking sound of their armored vehicles neared, a massive blast erupted, caused by explosives weighing hundreds of pounds. It threw a 26-ton Amphibious Assault Vehicle into the air, leaving it burning upside-down.

The blast was so large that Toland and his radioman, Williams traveling two vehicles ahead and not injured thought their vehicle had been hit by a bomb. They scrambled out to inspect the damage, but instead found the blazing carnage several yards down the road.

A total of 14 Marines and one Iraqi interpreter were killed.

___

There was no time for grieving not at first. There was only sudden devastation, then intense anger as the Marines pulled the remains of their friends from the vehicle.

Then there was frustration, as they fanned out to find the triggerman. Instead, they found only Iraqis either too sympathetic toward the insurgency, or too afraid, to talk.

Although the bomb had been planted in clear view of their homes, residents claimed they had seen nothing of the men who had spent hours digging a large hole several feet deep and concealing the bomb.

It was a familiar and frustrating problem.

"They are totally complacent with what's going on here," said Maj. Steve Lawson of Columbus, Ohio, who commands Lima Company. "The average citizen in Haditha either wants a handout, or wants us to die or go away."

In a war where intelligence is the most valued asset, the Marines say few local people will divulge "actionable" information that could be used to locate insurgents.

Some Iraqis apparently fear reprisal attacks from militants. Many just want to stay out of the crossfire. Others hate the Americans enough to protect the insurgents: Marines say lookouts in cities would often launch flares as their vehicles approached.

In this region ruled by Sunni tribal loyalties, few voted for the new central Iraqi government, and many suspect the U.S. military is punishing them and empowering their longtime rivals, the Shiites of the south and the Kurds of the north.

"From a squad leader's perspective, the intelligence never helped me accomplish my mission," said Sgt. Don Owens, a squad leader in Lima Company from Cincinnati, who fought alongside the 1st Squad throughout their tour.

"Their intelligence is better than ours," Owens said.

___

The first night after the attack, Williams couldn't sleep. He stayed near his radio, listening to the heavy sobbing of fellow Marines that punctured the night around him.

He thought of his best friend, Lance Cpl. Aaron Reed, a 21-year-old with a goofy demeanor and a perpetual smile, now dead.

A world without his second family had begun. The young men Williams had planned to meet up with again, back in the States, had vanished in a matter of minutes. He was alone.

Yet from a military standpoint, it was important to press on to show the enemy that even their best hits couldn't stop the world's most powerful military. The Marines were ordered away from the blast site, to hunt insurgents, just one hour after the explosion.

They stayed out for another week, searching through dozens of homes in the nearby city of Parwana and struggling to piece together intelligence about who had planted the bomb.

"I pushed them back out the door to finish the mission," said Lawson. "They did it, but they were crying as they pushed on."

As word spread back in the United States that 14 men had been killed, the Marines on the ongoing mission couldn't even, at first, contact their families to let them know they had survived.

___

Marine commanders say the large-scale raids in western Anbar province have kept the insurgency off-balance, killing hundreds of militants and leaving a dwindling number of insurgent bases in the area.

They say the sweeps are critical to beat back the insurgent presence in larger cities such as Ramadi and Baghdad, where suicide bombings have been rampant.

But, among some Marines and even officers, there are doubts whether progress has been made.

The insurgents lurk nearby capable of launching mortars and suicide car bombs and quietly re-entering cities soon after the Marines return to their bases on the outskirts.

"
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Old Oct 02, 2005, 05:17 PM   #20
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"We've been here almost seven months and we don't control" the cities, said Gunnery Sgt. Ralph Perrine, an operations chief in the battalion from Brunswick, Ohio. "It's no secret."

Even commanders acknowledge that with the limited number of U.S. and Iraqi troops in the region, the mission is focused on "disrupting and interdicting" the insurgency that is, keeping them on the run and not controlling the cities.

"It's maintenance work," said Col. Stephen W. Davis, commander of all Marine operations in western Anbar. "Because this out here is where the fight is, while the success is happening downtown while the constitution is being written and while the referendum is getting worked out. ... If I could bring every insurgent in the world out here and fight them all day long, we've done our job."

For Williams, the calculation is much more visceral and personal.

"Personally, I don't think the sweeps help too much," he said quietly on a recent day, sitting in a room at the dam, crowded with Marines resting from a late mission the night before.

"You find some stuff and most of the bad guys get away. ... For as much energy as we put in them, I don't think the output is worth it," he said.

Williams, a Marine for three years, has decided not to re-enlist.

Instead, in these last days in Iraq, he thinks of home and fishing in the clear streams of Montana. He hopes to open a fishing and hunting gear shop once he returns and complete his bachelor's degree in wildlife biology. He looks forward to seeing his mother, his only surviving parent, and traveling to her native Thailand this fall.

He said his "best memory" will be the day he leaves Iraq. His only good memories, he said, are of his friends:

Of Dyer, 19, an avid rap music fan who would bop his head to Tupac Shakur. He played the viola in his high school orchestra and had planned to enroll in a finance honors program at Ohio State University.

Of Reed, his best friend. He was president of his high school class from Chillicothe, Ohio, and left behind a brother serving in Afghanistan.

Of Cifuentes, 25, from Oxford, Ohio. He was enrolled in graduate school in mathematics education and had been working as a substitute teacher when he was deployed.

"I think the most frustrating thing is there's no sense of accomplishment," Williams said. "You're biding your time and waiting. But then you lose your friends, and it's not even for their own country's freedom."
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