Ma Deuce Gunner

Ma Deuce Gunner


Friday, September 30, 2005

How Many...

soldiers fighting "illegal" wars, who "steal oil" and "opress" the popluace get offered to join a family for tea during a patrol? Anyone?? Anyone?? Beuhler??

That's what I thought.

The photo is a little dark, please accept my apologies.

At night in Iraq, many people spend the evenings outside in the yard or out in the street. Whole families sit around and interact. It is neat to see 3 or 4 generations of a family enjoying each others company. We all know about how some families in the US are, who rarely eat together at a table, and if they do, they retreat from each other to watch TV, go to the mall, go out with their on and so forth.

Last night, we were out in the city, on an escort mission. We stopped and got out while at one of our objectives, and we happened to be next to this family. The patriarch of the clan (directly to my L in the photo) immediately stood up and came to me, offering his chair and a cigarette. I declined the chair, accepted the cigarette, and continued to 'pull' security. The children immediately surrounded me, saying whatever phrase they knew in English, which is normally "Mistah". A lot of the time, kids beg for candy or soccerballs, but these kids just wanted to know my name and where I was from. I dug into my cargo pocket and found some peppermint candies, the soft kind, which are just plain confectioners sugar and peppermint oil, and hand them to the kids.

The patriarch then stood again and walked to me with his hands in front of him, making a stirring motion. We have learned that this is the Iraqi hand signal for tea. "Chai? Chai?", he said. I shot a glance to my squad leader, who smiled and said "Go ahead, we have plenty of security."

To the patriarch I turned, and said "Naam, Shukran.", which is Arabic for "Yes, Thank You". A flash of a flowery dress is all I see, as an older teenage girl disappears behind the gate, destined for the kitchen. I nod and smile at everything they say, and they all giggle at the faces I make, as they try to communicate with hand signals and few English words.

Before I know it, the young woman appears at the gate, holding an immaculately polished silver tray with eight steaming cups of chai. Pre-poured into small glasses with gold rims and ornate flowers carved into the glass, and matching saucers, and miniature brass spoons jutting out the top of the glass. Sugar is already in the tea, in ridiculous quantites. Iraqi tea is served VERY HOT, and the sugar dissolves with a few swishes of the diminuative spoon.

I have learned, over the past 11 months, that you DO NOT attempt to sip from the cup, or your lips and tongue will pay the price. You stir for a while, both to dissolve the sugar and attempt to dissipate some of the heat. When you are ready for a sip, you pour a little into the saucer, which is an art all unto itself, because I always end up with some tea running down the side of the glass. You then sip from the saucer, because the tea cool rapidly to a comfortable drinking temperature.

We all stand there sipping in the dark, lightning flashing in the distance, illuminating the southwestern sky. Now it is time to go, the element we were escorting is ready to move to the next site. I take a final sip of tea, replace it on the waiting tray, now held by who looks like the patriarch's son. I turn to the old man, and again thank him, shake his hand and then momentarily place my hand on my chest, an Arabic gesture of gratitude. Instantaneously, right hands surround me, for everyone wants to shake mine. Even the women, who sometimes shy away from us, smile and shake our hands here. Smiles abound.

As we mount the vehicle, the family stands on the curb, waving and smiling. I reach into my pocket and feel some more soft peppermints, which I toss to the kids, and they smile even bigger, if it was possible to seem any happier. "Win their hearts and minds.", they say. In this little microcosm of Iraq, a curb in a neighborhood under the desert stars, "Mission Accomplished".

I shall never forget the 10 minutes I spent with this family. No conversations of substance transpired, no earth shattering foreign policy formed. Simply hospitality and gratitude; just smiles, body language and handshakes. For a while, there was no fighting, no explosions, no terrorist possibly lurking around the corner. Even though I was in full combat gear, sharp steel sheathed, ammunition and explosives strapped to my chest, rifle slung at my front, for a moment, I was just a guy enjoying a hot beverage and some candy with the neighbors.



Update 7 OCT 05: Thank you all who emailed me photo-shopped copies of the picture in this post, but they are .bmp images, and the hosting service I use only accepts JPEG. Still working it, though.


At 1:50 PM, Blogger GunnNutt said...

The little things in life...
What a nice way to end the work week. Thanks MDG.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Supporter said...

That is such an inspiring story. I hope it comes as an encouragement to you as well. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to those needy, for there are many, and thank you for taking the time to share it with us.
God Bless.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger thepatriot15 said...

It is so wonderful to hear your stories; I am always eager to hear of Iraq and the people there. You are one of the good guys and it's so refreshing to hear (though I know it already) how much the Iraqi people appreciate you guys.


At 7:58 PM, Anonymous kelly said...

The fact that the Iraqi people are smart enough to realize that the soldiers on the ground are NOT the politicians making the WRONG decisions is unsurprising. All the soldiers I know have had similar dealings with the iraqi people.... HOwever, that does not change the fact that there is NO NEED for this war....we have brought havoc to their country over nothing....based on lies told by W. Bush. Which continues to disgust me.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous patriotgirl said...

I've only been reading your blog since Time hilighted it, but I enjoy it. Thank you for allowing those of us who support the troops a glimpse inside of life over there. God bless and Godspeed!

At 9:57 PM, Anonymous MissBirdlegs in AL said...

Good post, MDG. Thank you. I'm sure that was a good feeling for you. I somehow doubt that they would have been as friendly (or smiled as freely) with Saddam's Republican Guard...

At 11:19 PM, Blogger devildog6771 said...

What a beautiful story. I envy you these special moments. It must make it all worth it. I have always said you guys are not just soldiers, you are also ambassadors of good will. And, you do that job so well too!

God Bless you and your buddies. I hope you experience many more such occasions. You have shown that there is always hope and little things cannot be taken for granted. Those people will never forget you either.

At 4:28 AM, Blogger Pebble said...

I live for posts such as this. Thanks.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Thanks for this... and Kelly -- go rant some place else... Have you not seen the purple fingers? Do these Iraqis seem like they're angry we're there? Idiot.

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous linda said...

Kelly, maybe you should ask the men who came to the White House from Iraq with their hands chopped off by Saddam, if they think it's for nothing and there's too many examples to cite. I doubt it would change your mind anyway.
Enjoyed reading your post and seeing what it's like for you, MDG. Hang tuff!

At 3:01 AM, Blogger patrickafir said...

I knew that the truth would come out eventually! We were led into this war unwittingly, lured by stories of WMD, but in the end, what it's really about is... the Zionist-neocon tea hegemony! Aaargh!


MGD: I tweaked your photo a bit (sorry I didn't have more time to work on it), and you can find it here.

Good show, man—thanks for all you do.

P.S. Avoid those Baghdad Three Card Monty hustlers. I heard that they work for Dick Cheny and Ariel Sharon. heh

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous MDG's sis said...

[smile] Nice narrative, bro. I like how you capture a moment. :)

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story. I wish the media would let us hear more of them. It sickens me to know that there are people out there like Kelly who obviously don't know anything about the war or why we are there. I say shut up! because you look like an idiot.

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous kelly said...

Umm, bluebuttons....i know plenty about war. One friend has died. My cousin is returning for a second tour, and another friend in the NY National Guard recently returned. Do not dare tell me I don't know about the war. Further, i have studied middle eastern politics for the past seven years, and have worked with various think-tanks in DC on both the conservative and liberal side. So I'll thank you for allowing me my own opinion. that's allowed in this country. I love you warmonger name callers.

The war is an unnecessary quest for a foothold in the middle east. we brought civil war to iraq. and whether we can fix that remains to be seen.

At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Lorene said...

Thanks madeuce, stories like these never make the news. If it doesn't bleed it doesn't lead. God bless all of you and take good care.

At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Hi i'm 12
I believe the war is wrong
but since we're in it
we should support the troops
and not give up on them
a soldier shouldn't come home and called a cradle robber
and i hope that doesn't happen
and thanks to Time im now reading you blog
please continue to update

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Christine said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. It is this side of the story that we out here search for. The uncompassionate naysayers should just stick with the msm.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous thewifeofasoldierinIraq said...

I for one am glad that you were able to share some of your time with a family of Iraqi's.
Had this been before the war it most likely wouldn't be happening. Despite what Kelly has said. Yes there is a reason for this war and the people in the picture that is posted on the blog just show that it is worth fighting for.
My husband is in the same unit as MGD and you know I look forward to hearing about the dealings with the Iraqi's that they do have. This is just one of those stories that makes you see that these people really are thankful not to be under the rein of Sadam.
Things wouldn't be going this way if they were angry with us being there.
The media plays way to much on those who oppose the war and I think that if they would stop doing that and start showing the better stories than perhaps, just perhaps we wouldn't have so many naysayers to this war. That unfortunatly is only in a "WISHFUL THINKING" society.

Anyways, Thanks for the story MDG. Really enjoyed reading it and seeing the picture of you guys.

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike you Kelly, I see your friends believe in this war and what we are fighting for. I only wish that one day you will see why they do what they do. And since you have studied middle eastern politics I am sure you know of the murder, rape and brutality suffered by the Iraqi people under their president Sadam. I am thankful for the soldiers that fight to help keep this country free, and who are helping to free Iraq. My husband is going over there and he can't wait to be apart of this mission. I am proud of him and MDG as well as all of them who are over there. I for one believe in what are doing. I just hope one day you will see it. Two questions.... 1) How can you call them friends if you think they "brought civil war to Iraq?"
and 2) How is it a civil war when the majority of the people we are fighting are not native Iraqi's, but terrorists coming in from other countries? A civil war is a country fighting itself, not one fighting terrorists from neighboring countries.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous kelly said...

I call them friends because I have known and loved them my entire life. I don't disagree with the military or the United States Army - I disagree with the politicians directing this war.

The fighting, supported from insurgents coming into Iraq, primarily sets the Sunni vs. the Shia sects of Islam. Absent the strong presence of a central gov't, both of these groups will fight each other to gain control of the country. The insurgents have various interests - some to attack the Americans, some to support the Shia, and some to support the Sunnis...and I haven't even acknowledge the Kurds who are group distinct to themselves.

For the record - my friends and family who have served in Iraq have wonderful stories of interaction with local people, however, they also have seen corruption, lying and and excessive death. They also, while proud of their service, often wonder what the result of our intervention will be.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Laura said...


At 1:34 PM, Blogger membrain said...

Awesome. Just Awesome. Thanks.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Sgt. B. said...

I've always held that the Grunt is the greatest ambassador, given a chance...

You done real good there, Brother Gunner, I'm proud of you... I'm proud of all of you.

At 11:19 PM, Anonymous LISA said...


At 7:00 AM, Blogger Subsunk said...

Agree with Sgt B. My father taught me at an early age, and the war correspondents of WWII and movies of the age (WWII, Korea, VietNam) reinforced that the American GI is the finest ambassador our country can have. MDG, you gents have done an outstanding service to our country and to your children. One day Iraqis will volunteer to assist the USA in some peacekeeping mission because they understand America is the only one who would stand up for their freedom. And it is because of guys like you.

Press on, come home soon.


At 8:08 AM, Blogger FVK said...

Well done, MDG! More Americans than you know support you AND the war. From where I sit, this is the United States' greatest challenge since WWII, with just as much at stake.


At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MDG, You are doing the heavy lifting so that all of us Americans, both U.S. born and naturalized like me, can live in peace. As an Israeli who worships the military, I have nothing but the highest respect for you and your comrads. The terrorsits and gangsters of the Middle East and the rest of the world know full well that they can always count on the likes of Kelly who rant and rave and seem to hate thir government more than they hate our enemies. Our enemies know that all they have to do is step aside when we first enter the theatre of operation, then try and pick off our soldiers. Our media and the Kellys of the world will then step in and be their mouthpieces all in the name of freedom and a "love" for our troops. Nonesense!! But not to worry. You heard of the silent majority. Well my friend, we will not let you or your buddies down. Our country will continue to stand for right, no matter how loud this "peacnicks" scream...Be safe.

At 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Kelly,

You are intellectually bankrupt! and just like the Democrats, you are stuck on "stupid" when it comes to your senses. You lack patriotism and a love for this country and all it represents. Your steep knowledge of history is based on downward slope of internationalism and it shows when you express your disgust for the good things were are doing in Iraq, care of the US military! You don't support the soldiers at all...that is just a slick cover for anti-military jargons that the MSM and your Democratic cohorts use to cover-up the fact that you are disgusted by the many successes the US military achieved in such a short period of time. You need to express your demented logic somewhere else where it is appreciated like on the Al Fraken talk radio that your favorite Vice-President Gore is paying big bucks for and hardly anybody is listening to him or you for that matter! Its pinheads like you that make lots of the silent majority sick.

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous kelly said...

Don't attack my "patriotism" - I have a right to disagree with my gov't, and I have a right in this country to speak out when I believe we have made wrong choices. it is because I value that freedom, that i will speak my points. Your definition of Patriotism sounds more like nationalism mr. anonymous.

What GOOD THINGS are we doing in Iraq? Have you read any articles about Basra over the weekend? Please, WHAT GOOD??

Do not tell me I don't support the soldiers you asshole. I've lost a family member over there, and have seen 2 others come back after a long hard year. My best friend is in the National Guard and has become a zombie after the things he did and saw over there. I have given love, gifts, friendship and support to all of the soldiers I know, so don't you question my "support."

Al Franken and his station simply disagree with the current agenda. That is ALLOWED in this country.

WHy is the President's approval rating at 37%? what is the majority?

At 10:25 PM, Blogger Half-Pint said...

Kelly how dare you insult the Iraqi people or anyone else for that matter! What gives you the right?!?! I am a Christian women and I believe the only person who has the right to judge a person’s intelligence and moral standing is God, not you.
The reasons President Bush gave for invading Iraq are irrelevant now because, oops we’re already there! So get off it, really. I really don’t think it is a good idea to let vicious dictators reign. Do you remember that he has committed genocide? He has killed thousands if not hundreds of thousands if not a million of his own people!! Americans don’t stand for that and we never have. Saddam should’ve been taken out a long time ago.
Woo, good for you that you’ve studied Middle Eastern politics for “several years”. Lives aren’t lived in books nor are the lessons associated with really living. Besides books are biased like everything else in print. Yes you are allowed to have your own opinion and you are even allowed to voice but do you remember how you got that right? By American blood being shed on US soil and abroad. We haven’t brought civil war to Iraq- it was already there to begin with.
You are allowed to disagree with politicians. I think they are all corrupt to a certain degree. But personally I have a problem when your beliefs or anyone else’s could have the slightest negative impact on US troops. Remember Vietnam? Let’s not have that again. Military service is one of the highest callings and that should be an undisputed act.
And how dare you say that nothing good has come about from the war on terrorists! If our troops weren’t there….I’ll give you one guess where they’d be……on US soil trying to have a repeat of 9-11.
continued on my blog: halfpint85


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