Das Nachtlager von Matthews sogenanntem "Platoon".
Auf der nächsten Seite: Ein irakischer Junge versucht einen Anschlag und verliert seine Arme. Die Reaktion der US-Soldaten, die ihn behandeln - auf der nächsten Seite.
"Warum behandeln wir den Jungen überhaupt?"
Matthew and the 140, or so, marines of 3/11’s India Battery began their combat tours at a base north of here, near the city of Rawa. Although the Marines were trained to kick down doors and kill insurgents, most of their time was spent trying to build trust with local residents, said First Lt. Hamilton Ashworth. They helped train local police forces and managed to see the town undergo what Ashworth called an “amazing transformation. … By the time we left, everybody in the city loved us. They definitely didn’t want us to leave.”
In early March, the Twenty-nine Palms, Calif.-based artillery battery was transferred from Rawa to this small outpost of concertina wire and sandbags near Rutbah, where the local police station bears fresh scars from rocket attacks, young men still hide grenades in the streets and civic leaders continue to be targeted by hit squads.
Despite Norseman’s primitive conditions, the camp was relatively luxurious compared with the unit’s previous base. There, the men had to burn their bathroom waste each morning – oftentimes, they would huddle around the burning, reeking barrels to get warm after the toe-numbingly cold desert nights.
“The portapotties here are heaven,” said Lance Cpl. Stephan Bush.
Along with portable toilets and showers, Outpost Norseman also has heaters and air conditioning units. The Marines pride themselves on being tough, but none of the men complain about a warm shower after a day of hard work.
The extra comfort has come with greater risk. On the night of the war’s fifth anniversary, just hours after Matthew returned from his patrol, a massive explosion echoed through the outpost. The boom came from Rutbah and was much louder than the usual gunfire that crackles through the night sky. Matthew’s evening off was over. His mobile assault patrol squad readied themselves for more work.
About an hour later, Marines returned to Norseman carrying an Iraqi who had blown off his arms and one eye while trying to hide a grenade in a street. The young man was quivering in shock. Blood seeped from his bandaged stumps and from myriad shrapnel slices on his chest and face. A physician and his crew attempted to stabilize the man in the outpost’s one-room field hospital. Young marines wandered outside the door, smoking and grumbling about the care being offered to a man who wanted them dead.
“Why are we treating this guy anyway?” asked one of Matthew’s squad mates, Lance Cpl. Scott Clark.
First Lt. Jim Rowe, the unit’s executive officer shot back, “Because we have to!”
"Well, at least he won't be planting IEDs anymore," Clark said.