Get our issue, highlights, free stuff and more.  

Facebook Twitter Youtube Flickr RSS

Our intern fought in Fallujah: one Marine’s story

January 10, 2014

Editor’s note: As always at the beginning of a college semester, we have a new crop of interns, and this year it seems like we got pretty lucky. (Hey Shannon! Hey Fred!) Today, Fred came in and mentioned that he had some feelings about the fact that Fallujah was just retaken by al-Qaida because, well, in fact he fought there in 2004-5.


We are proud to have such capable hands on staff. Here’s Fred’s story.



I spent every major holiday in Iraq at least once when I was a young Marine, so it’s natural that I ponder the war during those times of year. The winter holidays especially stick out in my mind, since I was a rifleman in Fallujah through late 2004 and early 2005.

I thought about Fallujah a lot this past New Year’s, not least because al-Qaida-linked militants seized the city earlier this month in what could be called “spillover violence” from Syria.

But I remembered standing post in a rooftop bunker one night in early January. It had only been 2005 for a couple days, and the city was eerily quiet for months after our kill-crazy assault that past fall.

I was posted with an Iraqi soldier who chain-smoked like a cokehead, and I made him stand on the opposite side of the roof, lest a sniper accidentally brain me while aiming for the red glow of his cherry.

Then gunfire erupted a few blocks away. An orgasm of cracking rifle reports and orange tracers lit up the night, and I got on the radio to report what was going on.  Nobody at the command post could tell me what was up. We didn’t have any Marines out there.

I found myself pretty satisfied about having fireworks for the New Year. Tracers ricocheted into the sky for the rest of my post.

When my relief showed up, I asked what happened, and he said that it was Iraqi soldiers and cops. They nervously bumped into one another out there on their respective patrols, and apparently they had no radio communications or coordination with one another. So they slugged it out by accident – for an hour and a half.

That was nine years ago, but I still think about that episode of friendly fire whenever I see bottle rockets or Roman candles shooting off on Independence Day or New Year’s Eve. Fireworks represent battle, and vice-versa.

For me, it was much more than a light show; it illustrated the harsh task in front of Iraqi forces once professional Western armies left for good. That challenge has now reared its head to reveal a mouthful of jagged teeth.

Even though al-Qaida militants are once again landlords in the City of Mosques, I’m not stuck in “What did I fight for?” despair like a lot of my war buddies on Facebook. I realized the futility of the entire war years back.

When we consider the situation in Fallujah today, we shouldn’t point fingers as Americans usually do. War has always been fluid, random and ruthless, and there’s not a damned thing anyone can do about changes in the weather, least of all Americans who said goodbye to that senseless conflict in 2011.

Make no mistake – the Iraqi army will eventually retake Fallujah. Let’s just hope there aren’t too many accidental firework shows in the process.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • Michael Davis

    Thank you for your willingness to serve our country, Marine. I wish you hadn’t been sent somewhere that didnt really serve our interests, but I respect the hell out of you for going. I was lucky in that my entire service (Army, Infantry) fell in between GW1 and GW2, and never got caught up in any of the police actions like Bosnia,

  • Shannon Scheidell

    Very well written, my friend.

  • CMiller

    I hope Fred is on a paid internship and that you offer him a full time position after he has finished and graduated. He deserves it.

  • itscoming

    Iraq is supposed to be destabilized. it serves as a CIA/Al-Qaeda staging ground for attacks into Syria and Iran. america was never supposed to bring anything to Iraq. just royally fuck it up. look at the birth-defects in fallujah from depleted uranium shell casings. the iraqi army is incompetent, the government is corrupt, and the people are hopeless. exactly as the world leaders want them to be. look at the middle east post-invasion. a complete disarray of civil war and revolutions and coups. they knew it was time. it was a brilliant move geo-politically. and how was this tragedy justified? oh yeah, september 11. the day the world changed forever. #barf #insidejob #fuckthegovernment

  • itscoming

    btw your little ‘make no mistake-the iraqi army will retake fallujah’ thing smacks of a chesty politician on ‘meet the press’. make no mistake? if that saying wasn’t so aggressively masculine it would almost be funny. which it is, actually. a joke. everything the american government has done since vietnam has been a mistake.

  • wart

    dude, you must be like 100 now. i call bullshit.

  • wart

    jerk me off, i read great war 1 and great war 2 instead of gulf war 1 and 2. that shows you my scope of thinking. sorry(not sorry).

  • wart

    damn, baby. bring the black man some of that love. life is hard out here…sike!!! do me a favor and go fuck yourself. this jarhead ran around shooting at shadows and intimidating women. he probably works for an intelligence service now and is trying to influence the tone of this faux-liberal weekly. read about it. the CIA has paid and unpaid operatives on every major news website and newspaper plus cable news networks. he deserves to go back to fallujah and listen to the citizens talk about their wonderful life after american troops left their city in ruins.

  • takebackorlando

    oh geesh, another tin-foil hat rand paul conspiracy nut!! go back to your cave you social pariah, and leave the well meaning niceties of utopians alone. you probably have like 100 guns huh? karma is a b. mothership inbound! hurry and drink the kool aid. the world is a better place without shiczoids like you scaring everyone. f off. troll.

  • wart

    controversial controversial read me blah blah stop kicking me out of the comment section controversial read me i’m cute look at my cute hands and if they’re not cute they’re B.A. which means bad ass which is a good thing in some circle blah blah read me i’m brilliant i deserve attention come on play with me bitch

  • wart

    tell him biggie smalls said it what the fuck he gonna do?

  • Idisturbmyneighbor

    “make no mistake-the iraqi army will retake Fallujah”…It’s called optimism, dummy. Some people actually believe in that….like that fool who said that thing about the arc of the moral universe being long.