[June 6, 2020] The anniversary of D-Day, the most famous battle of the twentieth century occurred this date, 6 June 1944. Sixty years later, 6 June 2004, my unit was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq – it was still early in our war. Our day began hot and dry with clear skies, a forecast that would not change until sometime in late October. Here are some of my thoughts that day, taken from my handwritten notebook #2:
“Ronald Reagan died yesterday – surprised us all despite knowing he was in poor health. He did much to get the country straight after the deplorable, whiny Carter years. Got the military back on track, eliminated the USSR and put us on a positive glide path.”
Troops in war zones are better informed than one might initially believe. We followed the news from America and discussed it among ourselves, and that is how I found out about President Reagan’s death. “Peace through strength” is what he said, and we believed in him, not President Jimmy Carter. But war is what we were about.
“Much on the news about anniversary of D-Day. Coverage by media generally pretty good. Some significant distortion of reality by liberal media. Interesting note on what German ppl are taught.”
But the Iraq War would not wait for us to sit back and pay our respect to those who were part of the Greatest Generation. We were in a tough fight with people who would not wear a uniform and not adhere to any code of conduct while fighting. WWII troops left a legacy we tried to honor and to never let them down. But it was the “liberal” media that was giving us hell back in the states, and we noticed.
“Long day of combat convoys. Went first to War Eagle base. Some concern that Sadr’s army (gang of murderers) has moved from Fallujah back to the slums of Sadr City.”
The “gang of murderers” was precisely what I wrote at the time. Any member of our coalition that was captured would surely be tortured, forced to confess their unholy crusade against Shia Muslims, and then beheaded. We had no hesitation in calling them murderers because they were not soldiers. We had a chance to take out Muqtada al-Sadr in early 2004 but were held back from doing so. This decision was a strategic mistake.
“Got haircut. Day started off at 82º F. At 7am temp was 109º F so midday must have been over 110. Very hot temps. Received 7 incoming mortar rounds just before we left Victory North base.”
I wrote down this quote from a great Catholic Bishop, later Archbishop and renowned theologian. There was something about this quote that got my attention. Our education as good human beings never stops. That is why those of us in the military will always value freedom:
“Freedom is the right to do what you ought to do.” – Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
The 6th of June 2004 was a long, hot, dangerous, and challenging day. We were in Iraq to help free the Iraqi people from the rule of brutal dictators. How they would come out of this conflict, we did not know because the war was starting to heat up.
But we all knew we had it easy compared to the men who stormed the Normandy beaches sixty years earlier.