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Iraqi Citizens Leave Impression on Soldier
4th Infantry Division ^

Posted on 08/23/2003 10:24:46 AM PDT by saquin

KIRKUK-IRAQ—The other day I was introduced to the real people of Iraq for the first time. I traveled north from Tikrit to the city of Kirkuk with members of the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion. They were on a mission to purchase needed items off the economy and I was along for the ride.

     As we rolled into town, it looked like any other city in a foreign country that has been devastated by war, famine or years of oppression under a tyrannical leader. People lined the streets and cars pushed their way through bumper-to-bumper traffic. Many shops were open and many were not. Men, women and children alike ambled from shop to street corner, taking time to chat with friends or light an occasional cigarette.

     Most folks smiled and waved as we passed, especially the children. Once we stopped, a small crowd gathered to see the American soldiers in all our gear. Our group split, with half staying to guard the vehicles and the other half going into the masses to shop and bolster the economy with good old American greenbacks.

     The response was overwhelmingly positive. The first shop we stopped at was an electronics store where the civil affairs soldiers purchased a small television. The shop owner was elated and carried it two blocks to our truck.

     We moved on up the street and took a break for lunch. Across the street was a pleasant restaurant where we ordered carryout. While we waited, courteous Iraqi waiters tried their best English on us and served ice water and hot tea. Little things intrigued them like how heavy my Kevlar helmet was or where I lived.

     Once our meal was ready we paid and dined on the hood of our trucks. This was the first real meal I had eaten since arriving in Iraq two weeks earlier. Up until then, most soldiers and I had been living on MREs, or Meal-Ready to-Eat. This was quite a treat for us and made me feel almost like a tourist, had it not been for all the army battle-rattle and a loaded M-16 rifle.

     Whether we were taking a break or walking down the street, we attracted kids of all ages. Many of the children spoke broken English picked up from soldiers passing through. Often I heard, ‘Hello Mister.’ or ‘How are you?’ One child approached me, looked up and said without taking a breath or waiting for my reply, ‘Hello Mister, good morning, how are you, fine, thank you.’

     I’m sure he had no idea what he was saying, but the fact that he was interacting with an American was important to him. Other children would walk next to me and simply touch my hand or smile and wave.

     As a photojournalist, I carry a rather expensive digital camera. This was a major attraction with the children and adults alike. It was quite the novelty to take their picture and show it to them.

     At one store a large group of women and children asked our translator if I would take their picture. I don’t know why this is such a big deal; it is not a Polaroid® where they get to keep the picture, they can only look at it for a few seconds. Maybe it’s the fact that the camera goes ‘click’ and there is a ‘flash’ of light that gives them satisfaction. Or maybe it’s just that I took time to stop and show interest in their lives.

     As I was leaving that group, a mother carrying her young daughter rushed up and wanted their picture taken as well. It’s too easy for me and seemed like such a monumental event for them that I couldn’t say no. So with a ‘click’ and a ‘flash’ and I put a smile on another Iraqi face.

     If this is what it takes to make the people of Iraq happy, I will gladly spend the rest of my deployment taking photos of the innocent bystanders of war. Just as I found solace in a small meal after weeks of MREs, they found comfort in a ‘click’ and a ‘flash’ after years of turmoil.

(Staff Sgt. Craig Pickett is a member of the 350th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, a reserve unit from Indianapolis, Ind. He is currently deployed to South West Asia with the 4th Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.)



TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 4thid; goodnews; iraq; kirkuk; welcome

1 posted on 08/23/2003 10:24:46 AM PDT by saquin
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To: saquin
I loved reading this. All warm fuzzies now.
2 posted on 08/23/2003 10:28:36 AM PDT by rightazrain
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Ping!
3 posted on 08/23/2003 10:32:00 AM PDT by dighton (NLC™.)
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To: dighton; TexKat; null and void; Carolinamom
Bump again!

They are such a beautiful people.
4 posted on 08/23/2003 10:32:38 AM PDT by Howlin
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To: saquin; Ragtime Cowgirl
Good story.I clicked on "Home" and think it has some "good news"
5 posted on 08/23/2003 10:35:40 AM PDT by MEG33
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To: saquin
If they'd turn in the Saddam-ites in their midst, we'd be even nicer.
6 posted on 08/23/2003 10:38:25 AM PDT by GraniteStateConservative (Willie Green for President...)
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To: saquin
Yep, warm fuzzies too...and what a pretty baby!
7 posted on 08/23/2003 10:41:09 AM PDT by najida (What handbasket? And where did you say we were going?)
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To: saquin
Great post and great story. Can't wait to read it in the Sunday edition of the NYT.

FMCDH

8 posted on 08/23/2003 10:50:51 AM PDT by nothingnew (I've changed my tagline and will tell no one what it is until I'm on the Jay Leno show!)
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To: saquin
Another great post, thank you.
9 posted on 08/23/2003 10:54:43 AM PDT by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions = Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
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To: cake_crumb
Make me smile some more!!! Great story!!
10 posted on 08/23/2003 11:02:43 AM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: saquin
There is a treasure trove of great stories in Iraq right now for the journalist who wants to make a name for themselves.
11 posted on 08/23/2003 11:47:49 AM PDT by TheDon (Why do liberals always side with the enemies of the US?)
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To: ohioWfan
I thought you could use some positive news!
12 posted on 08/23/2003 12:22:08 PM PDT by Maigrey (Proud member of Logan's Legion (Have you had your Logan Fix today?))
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To: Maigrey
Thanks for posting!! PLEASE if you have any more stories in the future, by all means post them! Pictures would be fab too!!
13 posted on 08/23/2003 1:35:19 PM PDT by RoseofTexas (I)
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To: Maigrey
Thanks Maigrey! Beautiful people!

What a wonderful thing we did in liberating them from brutality.......it just shines in that woman's face!

14 posted on 08/24/2003 3:23:05 PM PDT by ohioWfan (Have you prayed for your President today?)
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To: ohioWfan
Hey lady! Where you been hiding? How you been doin'?
15 posted on 08/24/2003 3:24:22 PM PDT by Maigrey (Proud member of Logan's Legion (Have you had your Logan Fix today?))
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To: Maigrey
Took #1 Son back to college over the weekend.........Eric should have been with us, starting school too...............sigh................

There is sadness underneath everything I do these days.

16 posted on 08/24/2003 3:39:47 PM PDT by ohioWfan (Have you prayed for your President today?)
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To: saquin
Great story and pictures! Wish the press would cover stories like these (instead of deliberately ignoring them). They seem determined to portray Iraq as quagmire in spite of what the truth is. Please post more stories and photo's if you get the chance. This is great.
17 posted on 08/24/2003 3:40:23 PM PDT by fly_so_free (Never underestimate the treachery of the democratic party. Save the USA-Vote a democrat out of offic)
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To: saquin
BTTT
18 posted on 08/24/2003 3:52:29 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thought you'd enjoy this one.
19 posted on 08/24/2003 4:04:32 PM PDT by McGavin999
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To: saquin
Thanks. I like these kinds of articles.
20 posted on 08/24/2003 4:15:15 PM PDT by BunnySlippers (Why is the Left afraid of Arnold?)
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To: saquin; dighton; MEG33; McGavin999; MJY1288; Calpernia; Grampa Dave; anniegetyourgun; Coop; ...
Thank you for this post and pings. This is a keeper - and share-er. (^:

One child approached me, looked up and said without taking a breath or waiting for my reply, ‘Hello Mister, good morning, how are you, fine, thank you.’

I’m sure he had no idea what he was saying, but the fact that he was interacting with an American was important to him. Other children would walk next to me and simply touch my hand or smile and wave.

Some heartening reality from the troops in Iraq.

If you want on or off my pro-Coalition/anti-wanker ping list, just ping.

21 posted on 08/24/2003 6:57:04 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl (Rummy to Rats, 8/21* This much is certain: their cause is lost. That regime will not be coming back.)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl; saquin; dighton; MEG33; McGavin999; MJY1288; Calpernia; Grampa Dave; ...

U.S. Army Spc. Barry Page of Houston, TX., from the 1st MP Company of the 4th Infantry Division is baptized by Army Chaplain Capt. Xuan Tran, left, in one of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's palaces, now a U.S. Army base, in Tikrit, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday Aug. 24, 2003. War and death on his mind, Spc. Barry Page dipped into the waters of the Tigris River to get baptized by Army Chaplain Capt. Xuan Tran on the banks of the sprawling U.S. military headquarters. 'I realized death is walking in this place,' said the 22-year-old from Houston, Texas, his uniform and boots soaking wet. Chaplain Tran baptized four 4th Infantry soldiers on Sunday, following 16 others in the last few weeks. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)

Some U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Seek Baptisms

By HRVOJE HRANJSKI, Associated Press Writer

TIKRIT, Iraq - With war and death on his mind, Spc. Barry Page was baptized Sunday in the Tigris River by an Army chaplain at the sprawling U.S. military headquarters on the fabled river's banks.

A Southern Baptist working as a military policeman, Page said he decided to "reannounce his life to Christ" in the birthplace of civilization.

"I realized death is walking in this place," said the 22-year-old from Houston, his uniform and boots soaking wet. "It can be any of us. Next time it could be me."

The temperature was 120 as Page and three other soldiers waited outside one of Saddam Hussein's palatial complexes to take their turn in the water. The baptism took place behind the palace, where the river waters surround an artificial island overgrown with palm trees.

"This ground has a historical, biblical meaning," Page said. "I can say I was in the same waters. I'm glad I found peace with God."

Each of the soldiers took careful steps into the arms of Army chaplain Capt. Xuan Tran, of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment. Waist deep in the river, Tran briefly submerged the soldiers, recited a verse from the Bible, and proclaimed "Amen" three times.

Corp. Christian Gaspard, 24, from Baton Rouge, La., said he was baptized before but did it again Sunday because "he didn't live like a Christian."

The father of a 3-year-old daughter said his pregnant wife was expecting another child in September, when he hopes to be home.

Tran said he was always happy "to have soldiers dedicating themselves to God."

"Some have done it before, others are doing for the first time," Tran said.

He said the reasons vary from being in a war situation to rediscovering their faith.

"For many of them, they are away from their wives and children, and they have time to think and rededicate themselves to God," he said.

In the last few weeks, Tran said he baptized at least 16 soldiers.

Since the troops of the 4th Infantry seized Saddam's hometown in May, they have come under increasing attacks by Iraqi guerrillas firing rocket-propelled grenades and laying homemade bombs. Soldiers detain Saddam loyalists virtually every night, seize caches of weapons and ammunition and conduct round-the-clock patrols of the tense streets of Tikrit, the former president's hometown.

22 posted on 08/24/2003 7:32:20 PM PDT by TexKat
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To: TexKat
Beautiful.May god bless and keep them safe.
23 posted on 08/24/2003 7:36:58 PM PDT by MEG33
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To: TexKat
This touches my heart deeply. May our Lord Jesus Christ guide them, protect them and bring them home safe. As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we fear nothing for You are with us.
24 posted on 08/24/2003 8:06:09 PM PDT by rep-always
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thanks for the heads up!
25 posted on 08/24/2003 8:07:34 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: saquin
Thanks for posting this. The Lame Stream Press "Doom and Gloom" reports get old real quick.
26 posted on 08/24/2003 8:32:34 PM PDT by SAMWolf (This tagline will self-destruct in five seconds.)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl; saquin
This is a keeper - and share-er. (^:

It certainly is!! Thanks for the ping, RC!

And thanks for posting this for everyone, saquin. If only the mainstream press would follow suit. *sigh*

27 posted on 08/24/2003 8:42:18 PM PDT by radu (May God watch over our troops and keep them safe)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl; saquin
Most folks smiled and waved as we passed, especially the children.

QUAGMIRE-FREE ZONE DITTOS

28 posted on 08/24/2003 9:59:35 PM PDT by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thanks, RC.
29 posted on 08/24/2003 10:01:40 PM PDT by windchime
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thanks!
30 posted on 08/24/2003 10:37:02 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (All we need from a Governor is a VETO PEN!!!)
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To: saquin
Up until then, most soldiers and I had been living on MREs, or Meal-Ready to-Eat.

Or Meals-Rejected by-Ethiopians.

31 posted on 08/24/2003 11:29:06 PM PDT by lowbridge (Texas Democrats. Saddam. On the lam together.)
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To: TexKat
The father of a 3-year-old daughter said his pregnant wife was expecting another child in September, when he hopes to be home.

Amen to that!

32 posted on 08/25/2003 6:45:14 AM PDT by Coop (God bless our troops!)
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To: saquin
Thanks for a great post!
33 posted on 08/25/2003 6:51:04 AM PDT by right wing
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thanks for sharing this Keeper.
34 posted on 08/25/2003 7:43:58 AM PDT by BOBTHENAILER (One by one, in groups or whole armies.....we don't care how we getcha, but we will)
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To: saquin
Our guys (and gals) are good guys. God bless our troops and the people of Iraq.
35 posted on 08/25/2003 7:53:05 AM PDT by Yardstick
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl; Lady In Blue
Good stuff ... Bump!
36 posted on 08/25/2003 8:04:40 AM PDT by blackie
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To: ohioWfan
Dear ohioWfan,
If I may be so bold, I don't know you, but who is Eric? Why is he not starting school? Why do you sigh?
God Bless you in your sadness.
Your pictures are beautiful!
Sincerely,
M0sby
37 posted on 08/25/2003 8:08:24 AM PDT by M0sby (Proud Marine Corp's Wife!)
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To: M0sby
Eric is our 19 year old son who is serving in the Army Reserves in Baghdad.

He has been in the Middle East since the end of March (activated at the beginning of February), and is not coming home until at least December.

We took our older son to college (his senior year), where Eric would have been a sophomore this year were it not for his fulfillment of duty in Iraq. We thought he might get back for the fall semester, but his time in Baghdad was recently lengthened.

We are as proud as we can be, but also sad that he is not here and not able to start college yet.

He has started a Bible study there, and has already led some soldiers to the Lord. If you want to see how beautiful a young man he is, see my home page.

38 posted on 08/25/2003 9:00:24 AM PDT by ohioWfan (Have you prayed for your President today?)
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To: ohioWfan
WOW! I know this must be a terribly hard time for you.. please thank your son for his service to our country!!

I am relieved, however, that he is ok..I feared the worst when I saw your post!

My husband is "Overthere" as well, but with the Marines in Kuwait. A reservist also, he was activated to San Diego in January and then off to Kuwait in May. It has been a LONG time, hasen't it???
We hope to see him near the end of October.. I am praying that we will as he has an almost 4 year old and a 9 month old to catch up with (and ME too).
I saw the pictures of your son... he is really a god looking man and sounds like a beautiful person to boot!
Thanks for your reply! God Bless your son and your family!
Take care.
Sincerely,
M0sby,
Sherry
39 posted on 08/25/2003 3:28:14 PM PDT by M0sby (Proud Marine Corp's Wife!)
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To: saquin
bumping for a later read. Thanks.
40 posted on 08/25/2003 8:46:34 PM PDT by Lady In Blue (Thou Art Peter And Upon This Rock I Will Build My Church &The Gates Of Hell Shall Not Prevail ..)
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