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by Clarence B. Smith, editor

Editor’s Note: Alika Naluai, 30, from La‘ie, Hawai‘i, is a soldier in the 100 Battalion, 442nd Infantry stationed in Balad, Iraq. His job, as an infantryman, often takes him out on patrol outside of the secure base in Balad. Here is a blog he wrote, dated Friday, Nov. 4, 2005.
Readers should be aware that Naluai’s language has not been changed, and some may find it offensive.
For the most part, we kept our area of operations (AO) under strict control. We helped the Iraqis conduct their constitutional referendum vote with little incident. The roads had become much safer for U.S. troops as well as local nationals. But, all of a sudden, it seemed we lost control of our AO.

There was a sharp uprise in improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, mortar attacks, and small arms ambushes. Some say it is because there is an increase in foreign insurgents in our area, and I think they are right. The techniques being employed to attack us were different than any we had seen, and only heard about from places like Baghdad.

We are trudging along though, and I can’t wait for the next few months to be over. All of us just want to go home. Maybe it’s good I didn’t convince you to join us. At least you get to play with your kids everyday. My family, shoyu poke, and poi, are what I miss the most. Oh, and not having to worry about getting killed every time I go on a road trip or out on patrol.

My buddy, and mentor since I joined the Army 13 years ago, just got sent home with a shattered knee cap and broken femur. He taught me a lot of what I know now and gave me an idea of what a real leader should be–caring, giving, constantly teaching, and sacrificing everything for his men. This may sound cliché, but there are very few of these kinds of leaders in the Army anymore. Most look out for themselves before their men.

He was hit by an IED. I was so pissed that I took the platoon hunting for the bastards that did it. Yet I was grateful at the same time that he got to go home and see his family again. We all wish we could, especially when its hotter than hell, or colder than hell, or we are exhausted. Basically, we want to go home when we’ve had enough of the bullcrap. We all wish that we could get wounded just enough to get sent home....not missing anything, but a broken leg here, a burned hand there...you know?

Anyway, we found some informants, got some names, and I gave that info to another buddy. He’s a cop back home. Anyway, he’s gotten a lot of leads. Soon, they will be able to arrest the bastards that sent my buddy home.

Then, a couple days later, we got a call to help with another patrol. They had just gotten hit by a suicide bomber. We hauled ass out to help them in any way we could, and ended up pulling local security for them as they picked up the pieces of the two soldiers who were seriously wounded, and two others who were slightly wounded. One would have lost his eye if the shrapnel that cut his face had been only an inch higher. He now has a scar on his left cheek. But, at least they were able to catch the bastards, and they are on their way to Abu Ghraib.

Both soldiers survived the attack, but one will have to learn to walk again with plastic legs, and the other – well, his family decided to pull the plug. We just had his memorial on Monday. As we were leaving (the memorial), we got word that there was another IED attack. The blast was so strong that no one thought anyone survived. One of the three did. But the other two soldiers’ memorial is today.
Many people in America believe that the war is over and nonexistent, and that we don’t need troops here because things are peaceful. It’s not true. Three soldiers were killed in action and two seriously wounded in the last week and a half. Even that kid that pointed out the IED bomber was found yesterday with his throat slit from ear to ear and his eyes gouged out. He was only 14.

I just wish there was a way for everyone to experience what’s happening “outside the wire,” because even the soldiers here on this base have no clue. They take the peaceful life we provide for them for granted.

Sadly, we are still losing people. I’ve heard TAPS and Amazing Grace too many times already, and I hope I don’t have to hear them any more. I’m just glad we survived October. Almost done, I can’t wait. I just want to come home...

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