Meet Uncle Sugar. This was my unofficial call sign during the deployment. I was the Pay Agent for my unit, meaning that I was responsible for the money confiscated from Saddam’s regime that was used to pay local contractors, and also to purchase supplies off the local economy. My actual call sign was “Peacemaker 5”, but I didn’t care for the soldiers using it in a radio transmission requesting that I drive out to their location to make payments. You never know who was listening in.
On the Kuwait/Iraq border with officers from the Kuwaiti Border Guards. They also doubled as the Iraqi Border Guards, as the originals had gone on vacation once the US had invaded. These gentlemen were tough as nails, as they had trained in the US along with Navy SEALS. They were bound and determined that their country never again be invaded like it was by Saddam Hussein in August 1990.
OPERATION ROSEBUD, late March 2003. We were given a lamb as a gift by Iraqi Bedouins for bringing their injured son back to them from Kuwait, where he had been treated by American military doctors after an accident. Read this free chapter of my book right here for the full story!
Our Physician Assistant (PA) conducting a medical exam on a young Iraqi boy. Many Iraqis had not received adequate medical care under the Saddam regime. Medicine and medical supplies were supposed to have been paid for by funds from the United Nations Oil for Food Program. There was an embargo placed on Iraqi oil during the 1990’s to prevent Saddam Hussein from rebuilding his military after its defeat during Operation Desert Storm. The UN had allowed Saddam to sell some of the oil to provide for the Iraqi people. Most of the money was spent on palaces to satisfy his ego. What was left was eventually used by us and other United States military units to fund projects such as medical clinics.
One of our Civil Affairs sergeants being interviewed by an Army Public Affairs crew. This was at the re-opening of a mosque rebuilt by local contractors, and paid for with funds confiscated from the Saddam regime. For most of our 11 months on the job, we were only interviewed by Army personnel. The rest of the world’s media was too busy covering the killing and wounding of American soldiers to bother covering projects like this. The imam was so grateful for our efforts, that he invited our soldiers for lunch inside the mosque. That’s almost unheard of.
Our headquarters: the Crack House on Baghdad International Airport. It was actually called the Iraqi Airways Financial Building. After the national airline went defunct, the building was abandoned. The Army grabbed it and used it for housing. It was dubbed “the Crack House” because:
- That’s what it looked like.
- No military personnel in Iraq knew what the Iraqi Airways building was, but they all knew the Crack House.
Some chintzy furniture inside one of the many palaces built by Saddam Hussein to puff up his ego. These works of utter decadence were financed by funds from the United Nations Oil for Food Program. The money was supposed to purchase medicine and food for the Iraqi people. Instead, Saddam spent it on monuments to himself. Oops!
Gold-plated toilet fixtures? Excuse me?
An Iraqi schoolgirl during the re-opening ceremony for a school we helped rebuild with confiscated funds from the government of Saddam Hussein. The money was paid to local Iraqi contractors so that the money would help stimulate Iraq’s economy. The children we met were anxious to return to their schools, which were in disrepair after years of neglect by the Saddam regime.
One of our Civil Affairs Sergeants “celebrating” the reopening of a sewage treatment plant at a village near Baghdad International Airport. This was made possible by paying local contractors with money recovered from Saddam’s government. Although not a topic that comes up in civilized conversation, if you’re without such a facility, you’re hating life. Enough said.
An Iraqi child who accepted a bottle of water from us. We were overseeing the building of a medical clinic in his village. We spent money confiscated from Saddam’s government to rebuild the infrastructure (clinics, mosques, schools, etc…). He could have been either one of my sons, and I’ve often wondered if he is still living.
Park your car, Sir? The aftermath of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Main Supply Route Tampa, south of Baghdad. This truck was hit in broad daylight 20-30 minutes after we had passed the same spot. We were headed to Kuwait, and them home after 11 months at Baghdad International Airport. You don’t relax until your plane has safely landed back in the United States.