Thursday, February 03, 2005

"Thank you for making this day possible"

On his website In the Red Zone, Steven Vincent includes an e-mail written by Lieutenant Colonel Scott Stanger, who took part in security operations for the Iraqi January 30th elections.
We dismounted from our vehicles and were instantly mobbed by about 200 kids. The kids were all over the place playing in the streets while their parents voted. The kids walked with us for about 2 miles while we were talking to the adults. I have never seen anything like it. People everywhere wanted to talk to us and thank us. This is what it must have been like when the Allies liberated Paris. Iraqis of all ages wanted to shake our hands and thank us for allowing them to vote. The kids were proud to tell us that their parents voted. Adult after adult wanted to thanks us for making this day happen. When the Iraqis voted they dipped their fingers in indelible purple ink so that polling officials could tell who had already voted. When we walked the streets the Iraqis would hold their purple finger up in the air as a mark of pride. They were very proud of their purple finger. The Iraqis statements to us were all the same; "Thank you for your sacrifices for the Iraqi people", "Thank you for making this day possible" The United States is the true democracy in the world and is the country that makes freedom possible", God blessed the Iraqi people and the United States this day", " We have never known a day like this under Saddam", "This day is like a great feast, a wonderful holiday". I shook more hands today then I have ever in my life. If you missed a hand they would follow for a mile to get a chance to shake and say thanks. It was nothing like we expected or have ever seen. The Iraqi people were strong and brave today. The Iraqis stoic to danger, faced fear, and went out and voted. Then after they voted the Iraqis stayed on the streets to celebrate by singing dancing and trying to shake the hand of any American that they could find.

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Spend January 30th with Red Six of Armor Geddon.
Election day started for us around 0500. It was supposed to start at 0200. We had been up all day and late into the night for days, hardening sites prior to Election Day. If our engineers hadn’t worked extra hard to get the ballots out on the night of the 29th, the night would have just run into election day. But as our luck would have it, our commander fought to get our SP time pushed back so we could get a few hours of sleep.

We rolled out to the sites early in the morning and ensured that the schools were guarded by the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army. We made sure they had radios and conducted radio checks with them. If they didn’t have enough food, water, or ammunition, we would drop off some Class 1 or 5.

It was around 1000; we were driving on a main route between villages. There was a reed laying across half of the road. My driver noticed it the few times we passed it before the sun came up, but now it was light out.

“Red, this is Red 8Golf, there’s some wire coming out of that bamboo reed,” SPC Stoker said. He was SSG Terry’s gunner.

Innocent-looking bamboo reed? Read the rest and find out what happened.
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