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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Two Good Reads

Just wanted to let you guys know about two books that I just recently finished.

The first book is Warlord: No better friend, No worse enemy. It is the story of Ilario Pantano, a Lieutenant with the Marine Corps, who was originally an enlisted "special marksman" during the Gulf War (yeah that one we fought about 15 years ago). After that war he got out of the Marine Corps, graduated from an Ivy League school, worked on Wall Street, in film, was a producer and started numerous businesses. He was walking through downtown NYC on September 11th and witnessed first hand the attacks on the World Trade Center. He immediately walked into a barber, got a haircut, went next door and got a USMC tattoo. He then went home and told his former model/wife that he was joining the Marines to go fight. He went to OCS and and became an officer in the infantry, deploying with 2/2, the Warlords. While in Iraq he found himself in the Fallujah offensive, and on one particular day he was searching two suspected insurgents. The two men made a sudden and threatening move in his direction and he killed them both. A few weeks later a disgruntled Marine of his (a total shitbag as the defense would prove) accused him of murder with regards to the incident. Lt. Pantano was later exonerated of all charges.

The book does an excellent job of weaving his life story with the actual transcripts of the trial. His writing style is excellent, his accounts of Iraq and the rollercoaster of emotions that one goes through are expertly portrayed. The whole book is really inspiring, just knowing that there are people out there with the courage to do whats right, even when it could be the most difficult thing in the world to do, like leaving a supermodel wife, great job, new baby son and an unborn child to go fight for what you believe.

This book also really strikes home because the rules of engagement in Iraq are really beginning to handcuff American forces, and this example only illustrates how our public is more willing to hang one of our own that it is to give us the tools to effectively and safely fight this war and return home to our loved ones in one piece. I talked about this more a couple of weeks ago in a post here Rules of Engagement.

The second book is Night, by Eli Wiesle. It is this man's version of the Anne Frank diaries. It's very short only about 130 pages, but the whole account is stunning. I had a lady recommend it to me in the airport store, she said it was one of the best books she had read in a while, that it had really touched her. I can see why. Mr. Wiesle was only 15 when he and his entire family were taken from their home in Hungary and shipped to the most famous of Germany's killing camps, Auschwitz. There he and his father did everything they could to survive. The book has a lot of themes-faith, humanity, father-son relationships, survival. It was really hard to read this book without pausing just to dwell on natural state of man, but that is a topic that is waaaayyyy to deep to get into at 4:32 in the morning (I'm on duty by the way, I have to be on for a 24 shift, hence my post at this time)

My suggestion- you should at least read Night. I don't expect all of you to get interested in Warlord, although I really do think that this man's story should be known because ittruly does represent what we should all strive for in ourselves and also what role American politics is playing in the hampering of US forces. But Night should be read by everyone in my opinion, it would be a crime against everyone that rotted in those places if their memory faded away.

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