A Marine Corps. Community


A Word About the WAR ROOM

The War Room was a random idea that came to me as I was updating the lighting in our new basement with interrogation style pendent lights, ones you would see in a tucked away low-profile room that you rarely get out of. After that, I just realized I have so many military items I have accumulated during my career in the Marine Corps but also the relics that my family left behind. Several uncles of mine serving in Vietnam, my Dad in the Air Force and Grandpa in the Navy and older Brother in the Army.

As I would visit my Mom’s house I would find some of my older uniforms, old photos and legendary relics that told stories, that’s where the idea of the War Room came to light. To display and remember all that my family went through in the military, pay tribute, and then lastly (once we get some furniture in there) a place salty vets can hang out and tell lofty stories of war and glory.

The Sign

I thought it only fitting to create a sign to once and for all memorialize the War Room. The sign was made from a piece of wood purchased from Home Depot and then severely (purposely) damaged with nails, kabar slashes, rust paint, hammer strikes, etc. a final coat of rust paint was added and then the words WAR ROOM spray painted in Marine Corps Olive Drab along with a few 7.62 rounds glued. The chain was the final touch, an old chandelier chain found in the basement was spray painted rust and attached to the sign.

A uniform hanger was the next edition, in keeping with the war torn style decor of the room I decided to use old pieces of pipes to construct a hanger for uniforms. The hanger was fastened between two studs.

The Wall of Heroes

The photos created by my Dad displaying photos of all family members in the military. Some of the photos I don’t even remember who they are or if I even met them, but nevertheless its a great tribute to the Wojtecki family in the military. I know maybe one day I can hear more stories of their time in foreign lands and their adventures.

The Bomb

An old ash tray that my grandpa constructed from an old bomb is now in The War Room. I was honored to smoke a cigar and ash in it, in the company of some fine Combat Veterans, TIm Gurgol (USMC Ret. Wpns Co. 3/25) and Aaron Zehr (Lima Co. 3/25). I believe those were Comochos, not a bad cigar, even better stories and company. Cpl. Gurgol arrived late and we had him thinking we bought him cigarillos, when Zehr handed him the Comocho the smoking lamp was officially lit.


Rest assured that continuous inspections are being called in The War Room, particularly uniform inspections. I have no idea how I accumulated all these uniforms, I think the Marine Corps kept giving them to me so I just kept accepting them. You never know when you could use a pair of salty lance corporal woodlands to sit around and bitch up a storm in. And, if I ever get hungry down there, I still have a Chicken Cavatelli MRE from 10 years ago I can eat, of course throw away the Charms and don’t eat the peanut butter, it’ll back you up for months!

When taking inventory of my boots I have one pair of those big winter black boots, a pair of black Vietnam jungle boots with the green canvas on the sides, 1 pair of summer Vietnam style boots, then the new boots came out, desert style, made by Gortex so they were decent. I still think new Marine Corps recruits would have nothing to do at boot camp, that’s all I remember doing is ironing uniforms and polishing boots. Guess you’ll have to get out to the drill field nasty!

The Future of The WAR ROOM

You are probably asking yourself, what’s in store for The War Room going forward? What are future plans for this glorious basement man-cave that eternally commemorates true heroes? Well I’m glad you asked. I have already begun kind of filling in the missing pieces that I didn’t’ quite have, my Uncle had an old Vietnam Helmet liner so recently I got the helmet to add to that from a local antique shop, The Bomb Shelter in Akron, OH. I was thinking of tracking down a very old pack of lucky strikes or Marlboros from the 70’s to really get the effect of the helmet from that era.

Of course, I am planning on some more shelving, the only thing I have in there now is a small two shelf unit which is just not going to cut it. I’d like to have some sharp looking eliminated glass shelving units and also a coin holder, since I have unit coins lying around everywhere. And for the Coup De Grace, I would purchase or try to construct a table made solely out of military parts, preferably plane parts. For chairs, either ones ripped out of a B-52 or something equivalent. I’ve checked prices at places like Restoration Hardware, they are insane. One of our ideas was to look around aviation scrap yards to find what we need, and e-bay has some decent stuff now and then, things others just want to get out of their basements and I want to add to The WAR ROOM.


10 Years Later…



In 2003, America began its first initial push into Iraq. I remember I was still in college at the time, taking courses at Kent State University for business. Shortly before September 11, 2001, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. Since I was still 17, my parents had to sign an underage waver giving me permission. I remember getting ready for boot camp at the recruiting center in Ravenna, Ohio. I was lucky enough to have a little more than a year to get ready and prior to June 2001 I left right after high school ended and while others were walking across the graduation deck, I was in Paris Island South Carolina getting screamed at by muscular drill instructors who taught me how to survive in combat, breaking me down and then building me back up the Marine Corps. way. The things that stuck out for me at recruit training were the swim qual and of course the Crucible. A lot of people ask me if boot camp was physically demanding, I would say yes but not as much as it is mentally demanding. Imagine 3 drill instructors waking you up at 3am and telling you to carry all of your shit and your bunks and remake them outside in the sand pit, or being told to throw the contents of your footlocker into the middle of the room and mix them up with everyone else and then go find all of your shit before the DI counts to zero. The crucible was three days of no sleep and obstacles along with a 25 mile hike with full gear. I graduated from boot camp and was assigned to 3rd Btn. 25th Marines as an 0341 (Mortarman).

When 9/11 happened, it was just a matter of time before our unit got its orders to be deployed to Iraq. I was trying to finish up college and got until my last semester when we got the call. Prior to that, I was waiting on the edge of my seat for almost 4 long years until they called me, it was very nerve-wracking to say the least. Some days I wished they would just freaking call me up already. So in January 2005, 3/25 was activated and order to go to Iraq. We spent 3 months at 29 Palms in California and then left in March 2005. After my tour in Iraq, in 2006 I wrote and published a journal style memoir about my time in Iraq called Every Other Four and recorded the events that 3/25 Marines experienced day-to-day.

Some Americans wonder whether going to Iraq was worth it and if we are safer since prior to going to Iraq. In my opinion, I think we are safer from a strategic standpoint in that Iraq harbored terrorists including al-Qaeda and mainly the Mujahideen (Arabic: مجاهد‎ muǧāhid, nominative plural مجاهدون muǧāhidūn, oblique plural مجاهدين muǧāhidīn “strugglers” or “people doing jihad”) network joined by mostly disgruntled Bath party members and other radical Muslims. A recent poll was conducted and found that 58% of Americans think that America is now safer having gone into Iraq in 2003 10 years later. Personally, I feel that our units efforts had made a significant difference to our lives and to life in the Middle East. Most significantly, 3/25:


Map of Iraq

•3/25 secured Syrian Border

• Confirmed Enemy Kills: 125

• Detained and Captured: 39+

• Seized numerous weapons caches containing, IEDs, machine guns, rockets, mortars and various other explosive devices

•Trained Iraqi Army to secure democracy in the region

•Promoted peace and stability in civilian areas

46 Marines and 2 Navy were killed


It’s been about eight years since our unit got back from Iraq. I have been hearing stories about vets having trouble adjusting to life after their tours like Marine Corps Corporal Jason King (10 Years Later – Marine Corps Corporal Jason King) and Marine Seargent Litz. Cpl. King came back from Iraq, lost his job, house, wife, kid, and basically everything he had before the war. I also had some trouble adjusting and I am currently attending bi-weekly support group meetings called Warriors Journey Home and a Wednesday group at the VA in Akron, Ohio. Some of the problems I had were not being able to stop thinking of what happened while we were there and still even eight years later there are still little things that I notice, like being on guard, black and white thinking, being too passive and blindly following orders. Still, things are better than when I first returned in 2005, I remember driving without my headlines, snapping at people for no reason, irritability, trying to sleep more than 4 hours at a time, feeling numb and isolated. Not that I don’t feel some of this now, but I can say things are getting better just because I have learned how to cope with them. I am grateful to all who still remember our sacrifices in Iraq, to my family and wife Angela Wojtecki and for my Vet brothers for helping me through.

If you are feeling some of these things and are having some trouble adjusting you are not alone. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is common among many combat vets. In fact, one in five Veterans that came back from Iraq have it.  It’s been on my back for several years now, just keep moving forward and remember to take things one day at a time, do rely too much on self (there are people who want to help you), and talk about things with people you care about, they will understand.

-Cpl. Wojo

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Battles After War


In the final days leading up to our leaving Iraq, I can remember that feeling. I’m sure everyone else had it. What it would be like to be back home again, what would it be like to get a good night’s sleep without having to worry about someone sneaking up on you at night and killing you. What would it be like to interact with friends, family, go to parties, get togethers, etc. When my plane touched down in Chicago I can remember walking outside thinking to myself, This is what I fought for, for you and I to walk down the road without walking over a mine or getting blown up by an IED. After my Dad’s funeral, I jumped right back into college and got a job as a bank teller even though I could have just stayed at home and reported in every week or so to collect a paycheck, there was an overwhelming urge to get things back to normal, to jump back into a routine. Although I attended a few sessions at the VA for treatment i’m not sure I took it seriously I could just get back to normal on my own I thought. And, for the most part that’s what I did for the last seven or so years. I finished the book Every Other Four about a year after I came back, but I was always pre-occupied with something, keeping busy. I got married, bought a condo, got a full-time job after college.

The one thing that will really creep up on you though even years after are some of the memories. Even seven years later there are some days where something will remind me, a photo, picture, or a smell. Even hand sanitizer, since we used to use a lot of it will get me thinking.

Since I was a combat Humvee driver, let me tell you that my driving record in the civilian world is atrocious. I’ve gotten more tickets and violations than a normal person would see in their lives. And, there’s always that feeling, which the doctors tell me is the “Limbic system” when I hit a bump or go into intense driving or crowded spots, it gets bad for me.

Sleeping has never been a problem for me and doctors always try to ask the question, have you had any nightmares? Can you sleep fine? Honestly, I couldn’t sleep worth crap when I got back, but I think that I’ve pretty much settled into a comfortable sleeping routine. I do have an occasional nightmare every now and then, but most of the time I can’t remember my dreams.


Some people will always tell me, how can you think of something that happened over seven years ago, why don’t you just forget about it? I’m not sure that’s even possible. I stop and think of maybe some other things that lasted nearly a year in my life but i’m not sure anything has made such an impact on me today.

Lately I’ve been dealing with a few things as a result of 2005 and I’m lucky enough to have people who will support me. Friends, family, wife and loved ones. I’ve always thought you’ve never been through what I’ve been through so you could not possibly understand what I’m going through. That’s certainly true, but I’ve found that I need to be able to talk about things to someone, and who cares if they don’t understand. There are only a few that may understand or have gone through it, but the important thing for me is everything I’m carrying inside me has to come out some how. I would rather just talk to someone, rather than blow up at my boss or go postal or something.

For the most part, even seven years later I am still in an adjustment period. If I look back to just after I cam e back, I wasn’t even driving with my headlights on and swerving to avoid pot holes or cars on the side of the road. Now I have a somewhat organized life, a good job to be thankful for, a great wife. Some things I am still working on.

My advice to anyone dealing with some of the same things. Don’t avoid things just deal with them head on. I mean, when we were in the Marines I don’t think we ever ran from things, it’s just funny that this is what I did since 2005. I guess I was more fearful of dealing with things in real life, or it was possible that I just didn’t know how to deal with them.

Things were certainly much more simple in Iraq. Wake up, hope you live that day, carry out the mission. All this other BS in civilian life can really be stupid and at times I thought what the hell is the point to all this? Car payments, bills, retirement, politics, getting to your job on time, the little shit that everyone makes a HUGE deal out of (I can’t stand that).

I know full well there is a point to it. Life can be how you make it. The past will never go away, so you need to deal with it. The challenges in life may seem intolerable at one point. But things will turn out great and there’s a long life ahead, just keep moving forward. 




Most of the time MAP 8 (“Crazy 8”) split up firewatch, four hours on four hours off so each Marine in our vehicle served firewatch at least once per day. That meant that at no time were you asleep for more than four hours. When you did firewatch you usually stood up in the gun turret of the vehicle, the first thing you would do when you took over a firewatch from someone else was check the weapon to make sure it was in condition one, that way if you did see something on your watch the gun was ready to go. Usually firewatches happened when Crazy 8 was parked in the same location for more than an hour, but sometimes watches were setup on vehicles because we didn’t trust the Azerbaijanis that shared half of the Hadithah dam with us. There was word that they liked to steal gear, but I’m not sure that was ever true we just had to have someone on the vehicles, I think that was another thing they did just to fuck with us, I mean firewatch inside of the wire? come on now.

Night firewatch was harder to get through, I think than a day watch. Night watches I think I remember being only an hour to two hours long. We didn’t want Marines falling asleep on post because we were basically screwed if an attack happened. We wouldnt’ know what hit us. At times I’ll have to admit I caught myself a few times dozing, but normally we would just pop a few ripped fuels (before ephedra was considered illegal) or some would throw in a dip. Some liked getting woken up a half an hour before their watch just to get themselves up. I wasn’t one of those people. I freaking hated when Marines would wake me up when my watch was at 3am, they would wake me up at 2:30am and then hit the rack. Bullshit.

Another thing that was part of firewatch was an hourly radio check at the top of the hour, I think maybe sometimes twice per hour (once every half an hour). I wasn’t a radio man and I was not good with using a radio. I remember at one point I had to do a crypto change over where I basically had to switch channels and give a radio check. I was accused of doing a piss poor job, but this was by someone who was a real moron anyway so it didn’t matter much. I wasn’t a freaking radio man so I just did my best.

Areas where we did the most firewatch:


Training was the biggest pain in the ass for firewatch. I can remember drawing this when I sat on the world’s longest firewatch where we were actually awake for 24 hours straight. All we would do is just switch posts from hour to hour. This was when we were training in the mock village and I think I remember it was one of the last days of the mock war we had. They basically gave us blanks and told us to have at it in so many words. Simulated situations would come over by radio like, “extremists just attacked the base and now they are hiding in the mosque, what do you do?”

Checkpoint 8 & 9

I would say that Crazy 8 did most of the firewatches at Checkpoint 8, a shitty little spot of flat ground just outside of Hadithah Dam where we would basically sit and do surveillance and ensure supplies came in and left the base. I forgot which road this is (MSR 8?) but I know eventually if you followed it, it would lead you do Route Uranium and eventually al-Asad airbase. I can remember several nights using the thermals to scope out the area. One good thing about it was you could see for miles so if anyone was coming for you it was easy to spot. The hardest thing was distinguishing hot items like rocks and other debris that stayed hot from the sun during the day, from humans etc. I know it sounds weird, like how hard can it be to distinguish a hot rock from a sheep herder? At 3am when you are wired on dip and ripped fuel, a hot rock through a black and white PAS 13 can look like something worth checking out. I think the AZ’s (Azerbaijanis) were worse at that then we were. I think at one point they even called us in to do a QRF on a rusted out refrigerator.

Combat Firewatch and Firewatches in the Cities

This sucked. Most of the time the firewatches during major operations lasted forever and you had to be alert at all times. I guess in a way it sucked less than checkpoint firewatches or training because you knew there was actually a chance of seeing something and opening up on them with the gun.

In Barwana, we actually had tanks sitting with us in the cities on watch. In this particular position we overlooked the Euphrates and large population in the city across from it. There was a cliff face where we were hidden from the rest of the city so it was a pretty good spot. I think we spent about a week there (?).

One day, during the day while I was on watch tanks and some of the guys up in the turrets observed some men walking across the cliff face and into a neighbouring town with huge bags of what looked like mortars and weapons. At that point I think we called it in while we were firing on these assholes. They never knew what hit them. At that point EVERYONE wanted to be on firewatch, I think I even got into a fight with this kid about how it was my watch. Once I got up in the turret I was marking targets with the 240 G for a type II airstrike. Eventually everything in that area was completely eradicated by either the aircraft guns, the coax guns from the tanks and our Humvee‘s guns. I heard from others, and it may be just scuttlebutt, but the following morning they went up to that area and found 6 or 7 dead enemies lying there, but I’m not sure that was ever confirmed officially.

Ohio Veteran’s Memorial Wall

The Wall

The Ohio Veteran’s Memorial Park (OVMP) is a newly constructed memorial park in honor of all Ohio Veteran’s that fought and died in all wars. It is truly pretty amazing. The memorial park is located in Clinton, OH, and recently this past weekend, the names of the fallen were added from the Beirut Bombing, Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

I am thankful for individuals like this, who put together and organized the funds to construct this wall. It’s a great testimant to our brothers killed in 3/25. Steve Cripple invited me to speak at the event as well as some other really great speakers. One of the speakers there, Jason Dominguez was with Lima Co. and Edie Deyarmin was there (Gold Star Mom of Nate Deyarmin). I’m not into speaking that much, but I think someone had to tell it like it was, tell everyone that there are people out there that pretty much take life for granted. That’s fine, but after the close calls myself and other Marines had, every day is a blessing.

I met some other really great people there including C.M. Hayden, a Marine in Vietnam who wrote a book called “A Veteran’s Journey” about his time as a helicopter pilot, but mostly about the time when he came back, having to struggle mentally through the public outcast of Veteran’s after the war. He said he would have to hide his uniforms and grow his hair longer because he was sick of getting spit on and disgraced. I guess I can’t even imagine what that would be like and I’m glad that the public has a great respect for military, especially those who were at the event and those that donated and were involved in the construction of this memorial park.

They called him, Sgt. Mau Mau in Vietnam. An old salty dog from the old Corps. I noticed his moto bumper stickers such as Happiness is a Belt Fed Weapon. He motioned me to come over to his truck and took something out of the front seat. “Check this out” he said. “It’s an M1. Some of the pieces are from when I was in ‘Nam, I brought them back and bought the M1, then took those pieces off and put these ones on.” We shared some stories and he gave me his motivating business card. The card lists a number of things the Marine Corps. have done including; hearts & minds won, wars fought, revolutions started, governments run, assassinations plotted, uprisings quelled – then on the right hand side; bars empired, huts burned, etc.

The Marlboro Volunteers are a volunteer traveling military display. Among the many weapons they have from wars past, they have a full line of old rifles from WWI, WWII, etc. It is amazing, a friend of mine and I would have stayed in there all day talking to the guy if we had a chance.

The wall is near completion but there are a few things they will be adding such as a “Gold Star Father” statue and they will be mounting the helicopter’s near the rear of the memorial. Over half of the proceeds I received from my book signing and display are going to an 8X8 brick near the front of the wall where I plan on listing those of the fallen Marines who I knew from 3/25.


Roger That

Listen to Call to Prayer

Islamic prayer call is offered  five times per day, a most recent schedule is from the area nearest to Haditha called An Najaf, Iraq;

Date Day Fajr Sunrise Dhuhr Asr Maghrib Isha
1 Tue 3:47 5:16 12:00 3:40 6:44 8:08

The recording (prayer call) is taken just outside of Barwana (that I remember?). I do remember taking the recording, but it has been about seven years. I can pinpoint that it was recorded just after I was sent an MP3 recorder in one my care packages, which I believe was right before Crazy 8 rushed to a QRF just outside the city and ended up doing snap VCPs and over watch of the city for about a week straight. The photo, however, is taken in East Village, a small village near the Haditha Dam.

I also have a cassette tape of prayer calls that I took from a mansion near Haqlaniyah, but I haven’t listened to it in quite sometime (I don’t even own a cassette player).

One of the major things I remember about prayer calls was our paranoia with them. Sitting just outside a city prior to a major operation, it was always a big rumor that the Muj were using the minuets as a kind of “early warning” announcing prayer and then followed by, “get out of the city the Americans are coming”, but I’m not sure that I believed it. There was one time where the prayer did sound a bit different and I’m not sure what the reasoning was. Prayer times also seemed to coincide with violence, but again nothing to back that up just our observations. Muj would seem to come out to provoke us if the weather was nice, and just after prayer.

I can remember watching TV with a group of INGs (Iraqi National Guardsmen) in a small hut that belonged to a farmer in the area. They were all sitting around on cushions that you would normally find on some outdoor patio furniture. They were drinking tea out of those Chai glasses and eating sunflower seeds. “5 minute American, 5 minute Arabic” referring to the TV. We would watch 5 minutes of some Arabic TV, like normally al-Jazeera or Arabic M-TV, then switch back to some BBC or some other station. The whole situation was so incredibly odd. Here we were sitting in a mud hut on some farmer’s property, watching satellite TV in the middle of nowhere. Prayer call was also announced via TV as well similar to the linked video. The 5 minute American / 5 minute Arabic didn’t carry on after we left, in fact we heard a few gunshots after the ING fought over what TV station they wanted to watch.

Listen to Radio Call 2

One of the things that happened every 3 or 4 hours was a check in / radio check. You can hear in the recording a call from command “Bulldog” to Tiger 3, which was our tanks. At one point the security at the dam was heightened and battalion actually brought in a few tank platoons. One guy I can remember, his name was Gunny Laden, a big muscular bald guy. His occupation as a tanker suited him well. I can remember nights where we were in the city, surrounded on all sides by buildings and the potential enemy threat was high. All of sudden Gunny Laden and his tank platoon role in next to our Humvees, Gunny pops out of the first tank and throws out an empty Redbull container, then proceeds to get back in the tank and fire the coax gun on some Muj assholes digging almost a mile away across the Euphrates River. The next time I ran into the guy was on the 13th deck (I think that was the floor?) the Gym bench pressing >200. I can’t tell you how many times they saved our asses.

Listen to Radio Call 3

Map 8 spent A LOT of time on checkpoints 8 and 9, two small key areas; one just in the vicinity of route Uranium (checkpoint 9) and a major transport road just outside of Haditha Dam (checkpoint 8). CP 9 I can remember was basically a truck hulk graveyard. Old trucks and vehicles just left behind and rusted from God knows how many past wars. CP 9 was also heavily mortared. Sometimes I thought the Muj had their mortars already preset to that intersection.

There was always a platoon assigned to CP 8, which I would say was the most boring spot in Iraq, but a major route where trucks would transport food, mail, weapons and troops to major bases in the area, so pretty important. Anyhow, The radio call was from a rotation between our platoon (Kaybar 8) and another platoon (Kaybar 5). Normal rotation periods were 24 hours. We would either go out on another patrol, or most likely just switch up between CP 8 or CP 9. There were times where Crazy 8 would just go out and do random snap VCPs looking for ordinance and other happenings. I think that’s where we would run into the most shit, although there was the occasional guy stopping off by CP 8 to dig something, in which case a few bursts of the 240 – G go them up and moving right away. Several patrols resulted in arrests and confiscation of ordinance such as weapons, explosives, etc.

Listen to Radio Call 4

About mid-July of our tour, intelligence and other sources in the area had alerted command of a possible “threat to the dam”. The story went that the Muj were going to storm the dam. A butt of many jokes while we sat in our Humvees cleaning weapons and smoking awful Iraqi cigarettes. despite several Muj mortar attacks (a daily occurrence) we were preparing for a full-scale attack. I remember extra caution was taken to where we would park our Humvees during our limited time inside the wire. Instead of going through the main entrance, we ended up having to go all the way around to a back entrance which took us up to the 10th deck. Don’t ask me why the 10th deck is a better place to park Humvees, but whatever that was a long time ago, I’m sure there was a good reason for it, maybe having to do with changing up our routine.

Rotation periods at this point in July were increased to three days on 24 hours off. Marines were getting really edgy. In fact, I remember snapping at people for no apparent reason. “Hey Wojo, you call your old lady?” “Hey shut the hell up man, don’t fuckin’ talk to me!” I remember our radio man getting on our nerves and I remember almost throwing him out of the Humvee.

Kaybar 8 do you copy over?

Kaybar 8 copies just waitin’ here to get some.

Iron Man has no comment on getting some, over. 

[end of transmission]

Listen to Radio Call 5

While on it seemed like endless watches and patrols, one of the things we would overhear were some of what other platoons were doing. For example in this call, I believe (from what I can remember) we were sitting on a watch position just outside of the dam by the large manmade lake where Saddam’s half-brother used to fish. We overheard the call about some insurgents that were hiding out in a nearby building and there was a suspicious looking blue tarp outside in the back yard, which was later confirmed to be hiding a mortar system. One of the guys on a nearby watch position calls in and asks, are you gonna send someone down here to chase these guys? I’m not sure what eventually happened, but I believe they just ended up calling in air on the insurgents.

Listen to Radio Call 6

I think that Call 6 continued the pursuit of the insurgent mortar team in call 5. Crusher 6 and Kaybar 5 coordinate with Bulldog (command) to call in an F-18 airstrike on the nearby Muj mortar team. Kaybar 5 then switches to a different channel to call in air. I think at the time Crazy 8 was not far from the strike so we could see plumes of smoke and explosions coming from just off the horizon. There were several other times where Crazy 8 called in air. One time was just after the death of snipers at an assault on the city of Barwana coordinated with 3/2 (?) where we basically sat inside the city and were calling in targets from across the Euphrates River. One in particular was a team of Insurgents that thought that no one could see them walking just by the river bank with mortar equipment and AKs, but they didn’t stop and look across the river where we were sitting. Gunny Laden and his tank platoon (Tiger 3?) were also there with us, but Crazy 8 marked the targets for air. At that point, fights actually broke out on who was doing firewatch. We later heard that at least 6 dead insurgents were found just across the river in the bushes and in the water.


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A Chronicle of Heroes

A Tribute to [20] Ohio Marines

Did you feel the wave of sympathy

Surging across the Pennsylvania line

And out to you,

The families left behind? 

We know. 

For we saw your boys

Here among ours, 

In our streets jogging

In cars, in shopping malls, 

In our churches, at picnics, 

And High School proms, 

And not too long ago

On the Fourth

As lads on Main Street

Watching soldiers pass, 

And even then they straightened

When the flag unfurled.

We saw them at gates

Embracing parents, wives and families

Grandparents too

And friends who couldn’t let go —

Turning then to leave

Yet looking back

At the ramp,

One last time. 

Twenty, they reported, had fallen —

Snatched from us,  from us now so far. 

We weep with you

For yours are ours. 

Chronicle Index

The Send Off – 2,000 Pack Gym for Send Off; Marines Say Goodbye after Answering Call (1, 2, 3)

Everyday is a Fight for Independence – Sgt. Teddy Wisley, Jr., Maj. Steven White, 1st Sgt. William Sowers, Cpl. Matthew Brooks, Cpl. Jason Ross, LCpl. Brett Dinkelman, LCpl. Matthew Wojtecki, Cpl. Nate Ickes, Sgt. Matthew Bee, LCpl. Daniel Deyarmin (4, 5, 6)

Guardians of Freedom – Akron Based Marines Share Thoughts from Iraq on Holiday, War – Cpl. Billy Lott (7)

Recent Offensive in Iraq Leaves Few Unscathed – Ohio Based Company are Both Physical, Emotional after Operation Killed 9 Marines (8)

Akron Residents Eulogize Marine – Cpl. Michael B. Lindemuth (9, 10)

Officers Say Arms Can’t Win Iraq War – Shiites, Sunnis Must Find Solution to Insurgency, US Commanders Warn (11, 12)

3 Die in Akron Marine Unit – Roadside Bomb Kills 5 US Servicemen in Iraq Ohio in Jan. – LCpl. Thomas Keeling, LCpl. Devon Seymour, Cpl. Brad Squires, Cpl. Dustin Burch, LCpl. Daniel Chavez (13, 14)

Hundreds Honor Slain Middleburg Heights Marine – Cpl. Brad Squires (15, 16)

In Loving Memory – LCpl. Thomas O. Keeling (17, 18, 19, 20)

Ohio Unit Hit Again; 14 Dead (21, 22, 23)

Ohio Marines Killed – Cpl. Jeff Boskovitch (24, 25, 26)

In Memory – LCpl. Daniel “Nate” Deyarmin (27, 28)

United in Mourning – Loved Ones, Strangers, Officials Come Together to Honor 14 Slain Marines (29)

Ohio Marine Laid to Rest – LCpl. Brian Montgomery (30)

Thousand Attend Memorial in Cleveland – Tallmadge Residents Share Family’s Grief  (31)

Ohio City Mourns Saddest Moment – Citizens Pay Respects to Marines who Died in Iraq, Brookpark Mayor, Congressmen say Residents Taking the Tragedy Hard (32, 33)

Marines in Iraq Stay Focused Day After Attack – Grieving Platoon Mourns, Searches Area Houses. [Iraqi] Prime Minister Announces New Security Program (34)

“Our Fallen Heroes” – Monday 8 August 2005, Cleveland IX Center (35, 36, 37)

3/25 Homecoming (38, 39, 40, 41)

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Fate, God, and Coincidence

Who knows what the future holds
Not me that’s for sure
A brush with death is enough to make:
Me pause and reflect
Tony Northover

That’s my Gunner, he Stays with Me

When MAP 8 first arrived at FOB Hit, a small shitty outpost just outside of Hit City, Iraq, our accommodations were severely lacking. The gear we had fallen in on from the previous unit was absolutely terrible, particularly the vehicles which had little to no armor and a high back that had no attached gun turret. The funniest experience that I remember was getting there and looking at the vehicles we would be riding around in for our tour. Do you remember that scene in that Chevy Chase movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where the family is out in the woods and Clark Griswald finds the perfect Christmas tree only to have left the saw back at home?  I could hear that sound they play and felt my heart sink into my stomach when the Humvees rolled out and the previous unit was going to conduct left seat right seat missions with us, where the driver from 3/25 would take instructions from a Marine from 3/2 in the passenger’s seat.

So the gear and Humvees were so awful we had to just laugh at it all and eventually we adapted and overcame like Marines do. It seems like Marines are always put into these situations and in some ways it makes us harder, stronger, and extremely pissed off. Somehow MAP 8’s high back, where I was assigned was able to attach a crude “gypsy rack” atop of a canvas that covered the gunner and a gunner inside. From there, we just started taking pieces of junk from an old scrap yard. For any of you who are married, its kind of like when you go to pick out stuff at the Bed Bath and Beyond or some store like that, and she says oh hey that would look nice in the kitchen wouldn’t it? I guess it would! At this Cpl. Bray started singing the tune by Stealers WheelStuck in the Middle with youIt seemed more than fitting, as I though we were just a bunch of jokers, and the joke was on us.

Within a few weeks we settled into the hacienda style FOB (Forward Operating Base) and were ready to go out on patrols. LCpl Brian Montgomery and I were SAW gunners, somehow we got roped into training on a SAW, and although an M-249 SAW is a bad ass weapon it was literally our cross that we had to carry for the entire tour there while others carried a much lighter M-16 A4. Since the unit before us didn’t leave a whole lot in the way of guns like the 240-G or even an earlier version of that weapon, the Vietnam style M-60, I of course had to bungee cord a SAW on top of a scantily clad high back.

At the time, Sgt. Jenkins was MAP 8’s patrol leader. He was rebellious, renegade style Marine who I did not know very well, but he seemed to conduct himself and our patrols well. When it came time to go out on patrols, half of us stayed back in the rear and built up our fortress of bedding from the lumber lying around in the scrap yards, that and fill sand bags to prepare for the next barrage of Muj mortar fire that was a frequent occurrence near Hit. I can tell you even now that I would rather go out on a patrol than stay back in the rear. Even though the prospect of a good bit of sleep sounded great, it never turned out that way because there was always some bored-off-thier-ass NCO who wanted to send us on working parties the entire day.
The sun beat down on MAP 8 as we gathered our gear for another 8-12 hour routine patrol, although it was still quite cold in Iraq at the latter part of March. For whatever reason, I was chosen to stay on that shitty Humvee and patrol some of Iraq’s most IED infested roads. I can tell you right now, I think about a few of these moments all the time.  I was about to throw my SAW up onto the makeshift turret of the high back, when a Marine from one of the sniper platoons came out and was talking to Sgt. Jenkins. He said he needed a SAW gunner for one of the MAKO teams. “No” Sgt. Jenkins replied, “we need Wojtecki in the high back, he’s my gunner”. At that point, there was no way of knowing what would transpire over the next several months

A Game of Backgammon

Crazy 8 sat quietly in the middle of the open desert in a tight 360. Smokin’ and jokin’ while others were vigilantly on watch in the gun turrets. It’s now about July and we have been in Iraq for several months now. Better Humvees with at least a little armor. I’m now the driver of the first Humvee; Sgt. Carr, LCpl. Ross, LCpl Gurgol and LCpl Perry were sitting around. Sgt. Carr was playing a game of Backgammon with LCpl. Perry and Gurgol. I guess he got it in one of the care packages we got. All of a sudden a distress call comes over on the PRC, “QRF needed a MAP platoon (i forget which one?) was hit by an IED on route Uranium, we need you to provide support!” “Roger that, Crazy 8 out”. Soon we were Oscar Mike with me driving the first Humvee.

This wasn’t the first time we drove down Route Uranium, this was probably the hundredth time, I wasn’t counting. Every time I drove down this damn road I always got a sick feeling. Maybe it was the nearby train station and sparsely populated Iraqi huts that littered the area, or the numerous craters that were left from previous IED explosions. The survival instinct you have is 100% real. God only knows what it is or how it works, but tucking my left leg underneath me while driving, Gurgol’s crouching down into the Humvee turret were some of those things that we didn’t know why we did, but we were later thankful for doing them. I drove down the IED laden road, one second I’m cautiously driving down Uranium, the next I see this glitter in the corner of my eye and before you know it a large explosion envelopes the entire vehicle. I thought for a second I was fucking dead, dust and smoke were billowing out of the Humvee. All of a sudden I hear Sgt. Carr, “Wojtecki, shut off the vehicle!” I kept switching the Humvee switch on and off and nothing was happening, so I put my head out the window and the entire front of the Humvee is gone! It was a very close call for the first truck that day indeed. All of us made it out alive, with Sgt. Carr having some hearing problems and Gurgol some shrapnel in his legs.

It seemed like this was a reoccurring theme throughout the tour. Close call followed by close call. If you believe in God, or fate, or whatever higher power out there I can tell you that time and time again these events were so rare that it seems like there was no way they could be a coincidence. After being back from Iraq for seven years now I can tell you that these daily encounters with death bring a whole new appreciation for life for me everyday. Whether it is fate or God that helped me through, I know not to waste life, because we only have a limited time on this earth. Appreciate what you have everyday, be happy and live life to the fullest.


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Ed Boeringer – Haqlaniyah April 2005

The operation to clear Haqlaniya began April 6, 2005; Haqlaniya is located on the West bank of the Euphrates River going north and compared to the city of Hit is on the smaller side but still dangerous. The river towns in our area were a known haven for insurgents who fled the fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi plus they were stop over points for foreign fighters who entered Iraq from Syria. The plan was for all the sniper teams, that were now all located at Haditha Dam, to push into the city a few hours before Lima Company began its push to clear it out and we would provide over watch. Each team had identified locations that they would occupy during each phase of the push but these things are always flexible because the situation is constantly changing and we have to bend with it or I should say tactically adjust to the situation on the ground or you could have bad day. Mission planning and all the coordination that goes into it, the PowerPoint presentations and good idea fairies, etc… all work out perfectly if the enemy does exactly what you want them to do and they never do so your plan usually lasts for a very short time. We have to start somewhere and this is what we do prior to an operation but adapting to actual developments on the ground is key to success. The Marine Corps as an institution has been very successful because of our flexibility as one of many things we do well. We have a good officer corps but our success truly comes from our NCOs who are well trained and aggressive. We understand that there will be casualties and we train those below us to do our jobs and learn the job above us so when Marines start to get wounded or killed we can still go forward and accomplish the mission. The most successful armies in history have allowed there battle field commanders to make decisions and adapt to the ever changing situation and a good case for each of these points is the German Army during WW II, they achieved stunning victories and crushing defeats depending on which method was used. Our team, Mako 6, which was now my permanent team at this point, was to occupy the tallest building in the city which was an abandoned hotel of 5 or 6 stories high. This building was located directly on the Euphrates River and had a commanding view looking north and west into the city; we also had a good view of an island that was located right in the middle of the river so we had a great place to provide support for Lima Company. We inserted before dawn and met with SSGT Delgado at the entrance to the hotel, the building had not yet been cleared at this point we went about the task of clearing the building of any possible insurgents and there were none which was good because of all the places they could have hidden. SSgt Delgado was a warrior in every sense and the battalion was lucky to have him, the command center and his section would be operating out of the hotel as well. When I say hotel I don’t want to give the impression that it was a completed hotel and all that means, it was never fully completed and it was just a dirty ugly eye sore of a building but it had what we needed to be very effective. As Rock, Nate and I set up our position on the roof we started looking very carefully at possible ambush locations and getting ranges to things that had a high probability for contact plus we were doing the “where would I be if I was going to ambush these guys” meaning the Marines” logic. Major Lawson, the Lima Company commander would be on the roof with us that day as this was going to be the location of the Command Center. About 30 minutes before dawn Lima Company began its push into the city at multiple locations riding in Amtrak’s, Humvees as well as walking dismounted. As Lima Company’s most eastern element pushed past the hotel and made it about two blocks they started receiving machine gun and RPG fire and the ensuing fire fight was quick, violent and Lima eliminated that threat, we could not take part as we could not identify any targets to engage. The sounds of these operations were of Marines aggressively busting in door, metal doors flexing and breaking open under the weight of the sledge hammer, screams rising above the city as the Marines aggressively cleared buildings, sporadic gun fire and explosions to pitched battles for territory, the sound of the tracked vehicles as they moved forward. At about 0800 an RPG was fired at one of Lima Company’s amtracks to our west, Rock and I spotted two insurgents running east down a hill moving in our direction but they were still 800 plus meters away. At this point in the mission Nate was spotting using the 40 power Leopold scope, Rock was on the sniper rifle with a 10 power scope and I had my M203 with 4 power ACOG scope. As they get to between 600 and 700 meters Rock engages with one round from the sniper rifle and just misses one of the insurgents and they scramble behind an outhouse that they were running past. Behind the outhouse was a row of trees and bushes but we could see through it and beyond that was what looked like some apartments. We had another sniper team located about 600 meters to the northeast of our position and about 150 meters from outhouse with the insurgents behind it. We raised Dave, Jeff and Monty on the radio and tried to direct them onto the target but they had an obstruction right in front of their position at the rooftop but took some shots in the general area in an effort to flush them out so we could engage them with both the M-203 and the sniper rifle. Our position was set back off the edge of the roof and we were not worried about the enemy conducting counter sniper missions against us so we had our helmets off which helped greatly with being in the prone position and looking through the scope, Rock and Nate also had their boots unbloused, a heinous crime punishable by death as we found out in a few minutes. Nate Identifies people behind the outhouse and bushes trying to direct the insurgents to safety so we inform Maj Lawson of the situation and ask to start engaging these people and he agreed. I had no issues with Maj Lawson as he allowed us to engage in situations like this putting himself and his career at risk if he made a bad decision; he was able to see beyond the bull shit and turned us loose to kill these people even if they had no weapons and I respected that. Nate identifies a target and informs us, I already had it and Rock was going to take the shot, if he missed I would fire. Just as we were about to start pulling triggers on bad guys the SgtMaj and the senior enlisted Marine in the battalion makes his grand entrance onto the roof and the only reason I found out he was there was he starts screaming at us for not having our helmets on and why did Rock and Nate not have their boots bloused? He tells us to stop immediately what we were doing like we were sunbathing and to fix ourselves. I did not move from where I was because I just through my helmet on but Rock and Nate had to get off the gun and scope to blouse their boots the whole time getting yelled at and not allowing them to speak. I can understand the helmet issue to some degree but the blousing of the boots, to me that was as nuts as he was and I looked at the SgtMaj for a moment and laughed not believing what was going on and he looks at me and yells that if I do that again he will pull me off the sniper team I merely turned away from him without acknowledging him and started looking for targets to engage, Rock & Nate also returned to their scope and rifle and we were ready to start pulling triggers if the targets were still there, turns out one of the RPG guys did get away.
Killing with a sniper weapon system is a very personal thing, the more power of an optic you have the closer you become with that person you are about to kill. The way I can explain it is it is like you are completely inside that scope and you are doing everything to make a perfect shot that by now is second nature, slow your heart rate and control your breathing, take the slack out of the trigger exhale and squeeze and the whole time you are watching them, you can see their facial features and you will decide at what moment they will die, the power you possess at this moment is immense and these visions stay with you long after the battles are over.
Within seconds Nate spotted a good target and Rock is ready to take the shot, I also had the same target in my scope which was 670 meters away and I heard Rock say shit and right away I realized that when he got back on his gun from the SgtMaj incident he forgot to put his weapon back on fire I immediately took the shot I scored a hit on an insurgent who seemed to jump upward of 4 feet, do a split in the air and drop his AK-47 then falling to the ground and getting up and running away, he would die within an hour of being shot. Nate confirmed the hit but we had no time to celebrate as things began to pick up for us. One of the two insurgents that were behind the outhouse made a break for it but Rock had his weapon on fire this time, took the shot and killed him, the guy just dropped immediately so it was either a spine, heart or lung shot because he did not get hit in the head which was the other drop immediately shot location. We had 5 confirmed hits during this engagement but things began to slow down so Maj Lawson dispatched SSgt Delgado and his section to go check the area out and we would provide over watch for them. They confirmed that we had killed two insurgents and they were bringing back a detainee who was wounded in the leg and watched them march this guy all the way back, that must have been a painful walk for that guy but fuck him that’s what you get and he was lucky to be alive. Later in the day we observed a huge explosion to our north and it turns out a suicide bomber detonated his car on an LAV, Light Armored Vehicle, of a unit that was in a blocking position to try to prevent insurgents from getting out of the city, one Marine was killed. Lima Company also received incoming from two different sets of mortar teams but they missed their mark and nobody was hurt. As it began to get dark plans were made for the next day and we were instructed to move across the street to an abandoned school which is where we would spend the night. We were making our way across the street over to the school and noticed a huge sandstorm coming in but we were inside the school beforehand sparing us but not everyone was lucky. To explain these sand storms is like being transported to a very hostile planet, the violence is incredible and the sand gets into everything and I mean everything, your eyes, crack of your ass, weapons, everything ! Then it stops as suddenly as it started and I am glad we don’t get these in NYC. We were co-located with some other Lima company Marines so we did not have to pull watch that night so we cleaned our weapons and talked about the day’s events until we went to sleep on the concrete floor.


Mako 6

Cigarettes in Iraq

Pulling four on four off fire watches, staying awake all hours of the night or just bullshitting, every Marine has a special memory of making do with some of the shittiest cigarettes in the world. When the smoking lamp was not lit, most Marines throw in a dip; Skoal, Copenhagen or whatever was sent in care packages. One of the most surreal things for me is seeing some of these cigarettes among different small towns of the al-Anbar Province such as East and West Village and the surrounding areas. Whether you liked it or not, everyone was a smoker in Iraq. I suppose it was a relief to some of the stressful situations, such as driving through treacherous IED laden terrain at 0300 hrs with NVGs on. Or, at times when sitting on post, smoking was a way of passing the time, despite what many civilians may think, war is days even weeks of extreme boredom followed by a few minutes of the most stressful traumatic activity where you either survive or do not. It is this very feeling I think was the most stressful, knowing that at any moment you could lose your life.

“Riding the Pine” was an expression we used when we would conduct vehicle check points and find cartons of Pines. We would offer 2 or 3 dollars to the Iraqi’s for the carton. I could not imagine a more tasteless and stale cigarette in my life. Packages of Pines and other cigarettes (most imported from South Korea) claimed to be “American Tasting” such as the ever popular Mikado’s, a knock off of the popular American brand “Marlboro” tasted absolutely nothing like it. You could smoke an entire package of Mikados and it would be like sucking a straw. Our MAP team would roll through a village, attempting to win hearts and minds, and at some point we would pick up a carton of Mikados for two or three dollars. Searching vehicles it seemed like the only English Iraqis seemed to know was, “American Cigarette?”, “Pine, Miami?” followed by of course, “No Ali-baba in Iraq, Shwaya”. If you were really lucky you could get your hands on the more prestigious of brands Craven A‘s which had kind of an unspoken rebellious appeal due maybe to rarity or just because they were slightly better than Mikados. Having not been a heavy smoker, it is safe to say that in order to really appreciate  American cigarettes you have to experience something more awful, Pines or Mikados perhaps. It’s literally like inhaling stale sand with little to no tobacco taste.

One of the larger operations our MAP team participated in, we were assigned to provide over-watch and search vehicles just outside of the city. At this point we had been sitting here for three or four days at least and our supplies were running out. Cigarettes and tobacco were fresh out, followed by MREs and then water. We were becoming pissed off and agitated. After about the third day, our VCP (Vehicle Check Point) was compromised by a white vehicle that did not stop and kept going into our position despite our rules of engagement and multiple warning shots. Finally, we lit up this vehicle with machine gun fire and watched it roll off to the side of the road, the driver lifeless and slouched over the steering wheel. Highers came rushing to our POS along with much-needed supplies. Several of us approached the vehicle and checked the trunk for paraphilia, however all we found was the most awful feminine version of Miami cigarettes simply called “Pleasure Lights”. Grabbing the carton of Pleasures we were able to survive another couple of days until we moved to another nearby village. I suppose that at this point, we were like death row inmates. Why would we care about dying from smoking when there was such a risk that none of us would make it passed tomorrow?


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