American Patriots Unsung Magazine Issue 6 - Page 12

12 View short video about Josh Mantz I would need to build trust with. Doug had taught me that there was no more powerful weapon in the world for cracking through a cultural barrier than the humanness of shared language. “That language skill broke many tense situations downrange. I turned a lot of hostile looks into smiles just by going past someone with a simple greeting. I memorized and could recite the opening verse of the Quran, Al-Fatiha; I believe doing so demonstrated cultural respect. You don’t have to share a person’s faith to demonstrate respect for their culture and there’s a big difference between a face-to- face conversation versus conducting it through an interpreter.” When Mantz and his platoon arrived in-country they didn’t have long to settle in. Their base of operations near Sadr City was a dangerous place. The first firefight came while they were sitting outside the base and three car bombs simultaneously went off about 1000 meters from their position. They could see enormous plumes of smoke rising. The attack was on a local Iraqi police station. “As we were gearing up I remember thinking to myself…’wow my first contact.’ It was like ‘man, we’re here, this is really happening.’ I am not really sure why, but a slight grin came over my face. Maybe it was nervousness, maybe I was just excited to do what I had spent years preparing for. One of my squad leaders, Disorder, came over and saw that little grin, spun me around and told me to wipe that fucking smile off my face. Morris had served with 3rd Platoon in combat and unlike a lot of units that get broken up after a deployment, these folks stayed organic from their prior deployment. 3rd platoon remained virtually intact as the same team that deployed to Haifa Street in 2005 – into one of the hottest areas in Baghdad. In terms of violent, high-intensity conflict, these folks had met the enemy and had taken it to them. The call signs of Mantz’s squad leaders were “Rage,” “Chaos,” and “Disorder.” “These guys were all gentle giants – guys that were humble and epitomized the term ‘quiet professional,’ but they were also hardened combat veterans that had their shit truly squared away. Their call signs that were born in blood, not created to sound cool, they had earned them. Rage, for example, was on Haifa Street when an enemy insurgent threw a grenade at him during a firefight. The grenade landed right in front of him peppering his entire body with shrapnel as the concussion knocked him off his feet. Rage rose, picked up his weapon, and chased the insurgent down the street and killed him; only then, did he seek medical attention for his wounds. That was the caliber of soldiers that I had the privileged to lead.” At West Point, Mantz majored in Arabic. He knew that he and his men would be deploying to Baghdad and he understood the power of language. “This thought process goes back to the influence of Sergeant Major Doug Van Der Pool. As an infantry officer, I knew I’d be on the ground facing people that 13 JAY DOBYNS