Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘iraq’

loverifle_cvr

Running title: Love My Rifle More Than You – Young and Female In the US Army
Over the years I’ve read a lot non-fiction military books, mostly from the Special Operations community. Most, needless to say, have been written by men. So when I came across Love My Rifle, I was intrigued and curious. It was a great opportunity to read about a female perspective of not only serving in the military but also being on the frontlines. Also there is something about women with guns that appeal to me. Hey, don’t judge.
It didn’t take much in the first few chapters to indicate that Ms. Williams pulls no strings and tells it like it is. She is very frank about and needlessly unapologetic about everything from her childhood through her colourful years as a teen and onwards through her military career. Aye, needless to say she is no saint, but then who is … and I’ll leave it that. We get to travel through her eyes from basic training to her military occupational specialty (MOS) as an intelligence officer. Let’s just say that Goldie Hawn lied to us in Private Benjamin. Somewhat. Even more harrowing was her tours in Iraq where, on top of worrying about being overrun by jihadists, she encountered mind-numbing bureaucracy (where common sense takes a permanent vacation), inept and incompetent female superiors, and the occasional female soldier that plays up the slutty stereotype … which sort of makes hard for the other women. Oh, of course, there are the covert forms of sexual harassment. Bloody hell. Sadly, a sentiment that is echoed throughout the book is that as female in the military you are either regarded as a “slut or a bitch”. Some, sadly, cave in to the sexual pressuring – and others simply decide – damn if I do, damn if I don’t … and opt for the latter. The B word. Sadly, this bollocks, like in every aspect of society, is perpetrated by the rotten few and is not a reflection on those that truly, honourably serve. Despite all the progress being made and Anita Hill from the 90s, it still seems like we have a far way to go especially with the way brave and valiant women that put their lives on the line for this country are treated on the frontline. Needless to say, it is a sobering read that will cause you to shake your head in dismay, on occasions, and there are those moments such as Lauren, a Hispanic soldier that stands under five feet but totes a SAW machine gun (google it – it is very big).
A brutally honest chronicle of one female’s life in the military during wartime, Love My Rifle is a fascinating read and definitely recommended reading for any female serious about a military career. Thanks, Ms. Williams for your service. God bless you and your days on earth.

Read Full Post »

johnnywalker_cvr

Co-author: Jim DeFelice
Running title: Code Name: Johnny Walker – The extraordinary story of the Iraqi who risked everything to fight with the U.S. Navy Seals.

I remember when the 9/11 attacks happened. It was moment of pain, anguish and anger, and as many were ready to lash out at all things Muslim, there were those voices of reason calling for understanding. There were those voices that supported those that practiced Islam peacefully. The problem, at the time, was that it seemed that many of these voices were non-Muslim and many were asking where are the real Muslims that would stand and defend their faith from the wanks that hijacked it. Little did some of us know that several years after the attacks some were doing just that … in their actions. And many may paid the ultimate price.
Johnny Walker is one such voice. The is name is also pseudonym that is used to hide the Iraqi’s real name in order to protect his family that currently reside in the US or relatives that have remained in Iraq from reprisals from insurgent mujahedeen or jihadists. It is truly a humbling story seen through the eyes of an Iraqi soldier. Johnny came from an impoverished background and in his world, Iraqis that didn’t do well in school soon found a place in the Iraqi army. An army that was filled with antiquated equipment and training that was just as laughable … but for most, was a way to a make a decent living. Still, Johnny took certain aspects of it very seriously. We are fondly introduced to Soheila, Johnny’s first love that became his wife and mother of his four children. It is possibly the purest romantic thing one could have ever read in this present day. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Boy and Girl falls in love with each other. But Girl parents promises her hand in marriage to another bloke. Boy fights for the girl he truly loves. Parents eventually see their folly and give consent to Boy and Girl to be married. And all this time the relationship was unconsummated since … Muslim families are very strict about that stuff. Like I said purely romantic … almost Shakespearean. Almost. We get to see his struggles to earn a living during “peace” time (hey, they were living under Saddam’s rule) prior to the war beyond his post-military days. And then of course, the war happens and work becomes more scarce. Many Iraqis found jobs working as interpreters (or terps as they were called by military units) for US forces. It was only a matter of time before destiny found Johnny working for the US forces as an interpreter. The interesting thing is that this started as job for him to earn a living to support his family. There weren’t any political or religious motivation. It is during his time running ops with US forces he began to learn that most of the insurgents were foreigners (some trained and armed by Iran) that were in Iraq spreading much chaos and destruction had was claiming the lives of many innocent Muslim victims of certain faith. Apparently there are Shia and Sunni Muslims, one’s a bit more rigid in their interpretation of the Koran and the other is a bit more moderate. And according to jihadist tossers (to quote The Highlander), there can only be One. Of course, this angers Johnny greatly and it can be felt in his writing throughout the book, for he felt that not only was his country (Iraq) being hijacked, but also his faith. And so teaming up with the Americans was his way to restoring his country and preserving his faith and its followers. He eventually proved more effective than interpreter for he had this uncanny way of spotting and locating jihadi suspects that were being sought with such efficiency that it would make Hannibal Lector and most FBI profilers green with envy. Trust me you’ve got read about his exploits. It got the point that most SEAL teams going into Iraq always sought out his help. His admiration and loyalty to the SEALs was not lost to many that served with him. To quote the late Chris Kyle (rest in peace, my good man): “Johnny Walker is the only Iraqi I’d trust with a gun”.
It was only a matter of time before the insurgents learned about his helping the Americans and pretty soon there was bounty on his head. Things began to get more dicey when his family were getting death threats and had to move from a relatively “safe” Mosul to a dangerous Baghdad. And the kicker was that some of these threats came in the form of “warnings” from other relatives. Gives new meaning to the word “nuclear family”. For most the book it becomes a harrowing read as we follow Walker through some of the most hair-raising raids all up to the point of him getting his family safely out of Iraq into the US. Yes, apparently there was an established program setup for Iraqis, that aided Americans, to immigrate to the US. The SEALs, ever so valiant and noble, not wanting to leave their brother behind had worked hard to speed up the process at the most critical moment in Walker’s family life. It was touching and awe-inspiring about the camaraderie between Johnny and the SEALs. Johnny Walker maybe born Iraqi but at the core he is a true American hero with an extraordinary story that needs to be told. And to think it all started with him just wanting to earn a living for his family. Still think your job is really bad or tough on you? Guess again mates.
A brilliant read about a simple man and Muslim who decided in his actions to fight against those that would ravage his country of birth and faith, and ended up becoming an American hero. It is courage and honour defined, and as you read this book you’ll find yourself rooting for this bloke.

Read Full Post »

servicebook

In Lone Survivor, Mr. Luttrell recalls the ill-fated Operation Redwing and the untimely, tragic demise of his SEAL mates. Since that time, Mr. Lutrell has endured a painful recuperation and, being the consummate warrior, eventually returned to the battlefield to serve with his brothers-at-arms. Service takes us into the hellspots of Iraq, and it is very unnerving … to say the least. He recounts his tour in Iraq and some of it is cringeworthy enough to make most lose controls of their bladder … and if possible … their bowels. Whether you disagree or agree with the war in Iraq, the one common ground should be pure appreciation for those that answered the call of duty and has been to hell and back on Iraqi soil. Interestingly enough, Service does not only surround members of the SEALs but all members of the armed forces that Mr. Lutrell may have encountered in one way or the other: those that were rescued and those that offered support. If Survivor was, in a sense, a tribute to his lost mates, then Service was a tribute to everyone that has served in uniform. Unlike Survivor, where Mr. Lutrell is very bold and outspoken, in Service we find Mr. Lutrell to very introspective and much wiser … not just in the matters of war but life in general. And like his first book, he included many photographs that made the reading more intimate and personal for the reader. Yes, I know I may come off a bit like a bloody nancy but there were times I had to put the book down and reach for a hanky, because … yes … it got that personal. The power of images, go figure.
At some point of Service, there are echoes of Chris Kyle’s wife (from American Sniper) reflected in four separate essays written by spouses and loved ones of these brave warriors. One such is the spouse of Don Shipley, who is famous on Youtube for outing fake SEALs. I kid you not, there are people out there that pretend to be SEALs and it is downright saddening, but with Mr. Shipley’s approach and wit, the stuff would be even more hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic and serious. Check it out, who knows there might be a few fakes walking around your neighbourhood stealing someone’s valour. Sadly, I have detoured. It is very endearing and like Kyle’s American Sniper, we get to read about what the other half goes through … and yes, it is a sacrifice on their behalf. One of the sad commentaries that I came across in Service, is that despite all the hell that these men endure for God and country, one would think that as they return to civilian life, they’d get a break from the madness and chaos of world. Apparently not: Mr. Lutrell’s dog was cruelly attacked and killed by some poor excuse of a wank; Chris Kyle was held up (at a gas station) by two tossers who had to learn, the hard way, that you don’t attempt to rob at gun point, some guy that has “killed more people than smallpox”; and a Master Chief was determined to be lacking in “leadership” at an interview for a job at an athletic gear design job firm. About the latter. Seriously? We can throw millions of dollars at the Kardashians who offer nothing more than smug smirks and the ability to irritate level-headed folks to mind numbing levels of psychosis … but a Master Chief that has been (and has lead many … safely) through more crap than most of us would ever see in 20 lifetimes is determined by some HR twit to be “lacking leadership material”. WTFs are in order and will probably be an understatement for this.
Mr. Lutrell’s Service is pleasant and humbling read. An emotional rollercoaster it is, but very sobering and in all, a magnificent tribute to those that serve in uniform and those that remain at their sides through it all. And like Mr. Lutrell, it makes you appreciate every day when you consider what these fellows have endured. It may sound clichéd, but I’ll say it anyway: thanks again, to all those that serve and are still serving. Thanks Mr. Lutrell, and may God bless you and yours and the rest of your days.

Read Full Post »