American Patriots Unsung Magazine Issue 6 - Page 14

14 in Arabic and he asked us if we’d be willing to come over and look at his house. I couldn’t fully understand why, but there is just something in his looks that I trusted. He led us over to his home and only about a third of it was still standing. It had clearly been blown up by some type of mortar attack and as we walked into the house he pulled a piece of shrapnel from the wall with a U.S. serial number on it. Clearly, American forces had destroyed his house. I asked the Iraqi if there had been an insurgent mortar team firing near his house when the attack happened and he said yes. I later found out that a counterstrike was launched but the outdated map had shown no dwellings. “The gentleman’s wife and sister were killed and several kids were wounded. There was a small three-year-old girl who smiled but when her grandfather lifted her skirt I saw a huge infected gash on her leg. I had our medic treat the wound, but the image of that innocent girl stuck with me forever. I was later able to bring the family a retribution check from our government that was around $10,000 U.S. dollars. I was proud that we could make amends for this family and I always wondered how they fared the rest of the war. “Seeing the children without shoes and coats, I called my mom and asked her if she could organize some care packages we could distribute among the schools and villages. Mom jumped in to help with both feet and organized fundraisers, clothing drives, and even made some custom tee-shirts with the Disorder was normally the jokester of the group and one of my more laid-back squad leaders, but something in his eyes and demeanor changed instantly. He had experienced what I didn’t and he let me know in no uncertain terms that this wasn’t a game; this was life and death and I needed to tighten my shit up immediately. I only needed to be told that once.” I knew that my leadership had been challenged but I recognized that challenge for what it was. I would learn things well enough on my own in the days to follow but I was thankful to be surrounded by seasoned NCO’s that knew when it was necessary to insert themselves.” They settled in and began making great progress while gaining the trust of the locals. They fought and trained alongside their Iraqi counterparts as well as the Iraqi police, but the connection and relationships they were building using the unconventional tactics of counter-insurgency was something Mantz was immensely proud of. “There was a mission in another sector and in the distance, maybe about 50 meters away, I saw an Iraqi gentleman trying to wave us down. This is something that happens all the time and normally we don’t stop. In fact, it can be dangerous and some kind of bait or trap. But on this day, I saw in this gentleman’s eyes and his demeanor. There was just something about him that made me stop that patrol even against the advice of my team and my NCO’s. “And I got ou t and I started talking to him 15 Their work with Iraqi police proved valuable. Mantz’s integration pushed them to expand their operational area. JAY DOBYNS