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July 22, 2008
Generation Kill – Part Two: The Cradle of CivilizationBy Greyhawk
If you're like me you're not an HBO subscriber, and haven't seen HBO's miniseries "Generation Kill". Fortunately for us, one who did see the program has offered the following review. Even more fortunately, he's Richard S Lowry, author of "Marines in the Garden of Eden" - 'The true story of the bloodiest battle in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.'
That would be the battle for Nasiriyah, fought in the earliest days of the march on Baghdad, and also retold in Generation Kill. Our sincere thanks to Mr Lowry for sharing his insight here.
His review of episode one can be seen here. Now on to episode two...
Generation Kill – Part Two: The Cradle of Civilization
Review by Richard S. Lowry
Marines in the Garden of Eden
July 21, 2008
In part two, The Cradle of Civilization, Ed Burns' and Eric Wright's credibility started to erode. While the series remained visually stunning and the characters seemed like real Marines, the story started to stray from the truth.
When it comes to the battle for Nasiriyah, I will probably end up being Burns' and Wright's worst critic. I know too much about that fight to be dazzled by their literary license. The Generation Kill story is unfolding to be quite an adventure and we still cannot tell which direction the writers will be taking us. It appears that they will portray 1st Recon's enlisted Marines as gruff good guys and officers and other units as lacking in courage, intelligence and morals. Last night, I was particularly offended by the implication that 2d LAR indiscriminately killed civilians north of Nasiriyah. I was also disgusted with the distortion of the truth in the events surrounding the fight in Nasiriyah.
Let's start with March 23, 2003. The day Task Force Tarawa attacked into Nasiriyah. All of our 1st Recon "heroes" were stuck in the traffic jam, south of the city. Eleven soldiers and eighteen Marines were killed in, and around, Nasiriyah that day and about twenty Marines were wounded. Captain Eric Garcia flew the last CASEVAC at sunset. There were no other casualty evacuations that night. It was horrible to lose twenty-nine Americans in a single fight, but the number of casualties was nowhere close to the 200 claimed in Generation Kill.
Which leads me to 24 March; when our 1st Recon "heroes" arrived at the Euphrates River Bridge, there was quite a fight going on. This is absolutely true, but it was the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, not RCT-1, that got into a large scrap at the bridge that day. The fight did not erupt until after LtCol Eddie Ray had taken his 2d LAR Battalion through "Ambush Alley." By the way, not a single shot was fired when Ray charged through the city. 2/8 sustained a few injuries in their fight, but none were serious. There was never an artillery friendly fire incident at the river. No Marines were wounded or killed by friendly artillery fire. I challenge the writers to support this claim.
It is very true that Colonel Dowdy, RCT-1's commander, hesitated and would not order his regiment through "Ambush Alley." Generals Conway and Mattis were extremely unhappy with his lack of aggressiveness. This was the second of several incidents which caused Dowdy to be the first Marine regimental commander to be relieved on the field of battle. Notwithstanding, the Marines of RCT-2 fought courageously in Nasiriyah. Colonel Ron Bailey, RCT-2's commander, drove through Ambush Alley just after 2d LAR with only a few vehicles to visit his battalion, north of the city.
Godfather 6 concluded last night's installment with a couple disagreeable statements. He claimed that the enemy "stared us down" in Nasiriyah. In fact, the enemy was decimated in Nasiriyah. 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, another Task Force Tarawa battalion, lost eighteen brave Marines because they pressed the attack and did not give up until they had met their objectives which were the two bridges in Nasiriyah. By sunset on the 23rd, both bridges were secure and RCT-2 was waiting for RCT-1 to pass through the city. Again – the war did not revolve around the 1st Recon Battalion.
I studied the battle of Nasiriyah for quite some time. I interviewed nearly one hundred soldiers, sailors and Marines who were actually there in the fight. I am not happy with the way the writers have bent the facts to fit their story and overlooked the courageous stories of men like Major Bill Peeples; Captain Eric Garcia; Lieutenants Fred Pokorney, Brian Letendre, "Ben" Reed and Mike Seely; Sergeant William Schaffer, Corporals Nick Elliot and Pat Nixon and many, many more. Burns and Wright have lost their credibility. I will have a hard time believing anything in the last five segments.
Richard S. Lowry is the award-wining author of "The Gulf War Chronicles" and "Marines in the Garden of Eden." He served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service from 1967-1975 and spent the time from 1975 to 2002 designing sophisticated integrated circuits for everything from aircraft avionics to home computers. He is currently working on his next book, "New Dawn," which will tell of the fight to free Fallujah. Visit www.marinesinthegardenofeden.com for more information.
Posted by Greyhawk / July 22, 2008 2:01 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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