On the 4th of October, 2004 I landed in Mosul and began my one year countdown that was OIF III; I returned to Iraq in early August of 2007 for an additional fifteen months of joy. And now, looking back over the last ten years I wonder to myself – was it worth it? And despite the soul-searching and lost friends and soldiers, I still cannot answer that question. And I think that is what jolts me the most. Though I have no formal answer, my inclination is no, no it was not.
Our Brigade caught Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi; the entire 1st Brigade 25th Infantry took part in a series of raids and cordons and searches and it ultimately resulted in his capture (I am pretty sure the captors were the special operators from task-force 1-45, though). And now ten years on every square inch of what my men and I fought for currently sit under ISIS control. It is beyond frustrating. I can’t think about it. I need to remain numb to it, because otherwise I think that it will drive me absolutely crazy. Anyone who did time in the sandbox there has to feel a cold hard stab in the back when they see familiar streets and buildings of Mosul or somewhere in Anbar now proudly sporting the black ISIS flag.
I’ve been writing my poetry for several years now, and the most recent events of ISIS’ proliferation across Iraq, Syria and possibly tons of other places have made me want to come out and share what I have written. Perhaps it is a way to remind folks that we served there – perhaps it is to honor those who fell and were scarred by the conflict – perhaps it is just my own little way to cope. But, does why matter, I guess?