Im November 2007 beschrieb unser Mitarbeiter James Hagengruber in einer Reportage das Leben der Zwillinge Robert und Matthew Shipp aus Idaho, USA. Er hatte sie auf ihrem Weg von der High School zu den Marines, einer Einheit der US-Armee begleitet. James’ Geschichte endete damit, dass sich Matt Shipp von seiner Frau verabschiedete und, wie sein Bruder Robert, in den Nahen Osten aufbrach. Kürzlich nun ließ sich James „embedden“ und besuchte die Zwillinge auf dem Schiff „U.S.S. Germantown“ und im Irak. Für jetzt.de schreibt er in einer Kolumne über seine Erfahrungen und darüber, wie es den Brüdern ergeht. Sie erscheint in der Originalversion. Als etwaige Übersetzungshilfe hier ein Link zu LEO, einem Deutsch-Englischen-Wörterbuch. *** Teil 5: COMBAT OUTPOST NORSEMAN, Iraq - Wearing a uniform that had not heen washed in months and operating on his usual ration of five hours of sleep, U.S. Marine Corporal Matthew Shipp chambered a bullet into his machine gun and set off on his fourth patrol of the day. The 20-year-old Marine was tired, hungry, coated in grime and having the time of his life. His country might be growing weary of the war, but Matthew sure wasn’t. "I love it here,” he said, as his armored patrol vehicle drove out of the gate of the tiny combat outpost. Dust had been wiped from the bullet-proof glass in hopes of making it easier to spot the spider strand wires that are used to trigger roadside bombs. Die US-Armee tut sich schwer, Nachwuchs zu finden The patrol’s mission on that March afternoon – on the day of the fifth anniversary of the war’s start - was to pick up a pair of captured insurgents and transport them back to a makeshift prison at the combat outpost. Although Matthew considered the work routine, it involved driving potentially bomb-rigged streets. Matthew said all he could do about this was stay alert and make sure his body armor was snugly fastened. “If you get hit, then you get hit.” In October, Matthew’s unit, India Battery of the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine regiment, began their tour of duty in Iraq. Being here, he said, has been the realization of a longtime dream of serving as an infantry Marine in a combat zone. Matthew and his twin brother, Robert, enlisted together two years ago. Along with the military’s intense recruiting effort – finding enough volunteers hasn’t been easy for the war in Iraq – the twins’ decision was shaped by teenage years loaded with action movies and the traditional, patriotic values of their small town at the foot of Idaho’s Rocky Mountains.
Blick aus einem der Trucks der US-Marines bei der Ausfahrt zur Patrouille mit Matthew. The brothers were 12 when the twin towers fell in Manhattan. And they both still believe their military service will help protect America from another attack. Robert, however, is frustrated that his infantry unit, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine regiment, wasn’t sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. His first deployment was with a Marine Expeditionary Unit that spent time on an amphibious assault ship and in the desert of Kuwait. But Lance Cpl. Robert Shipp has not yet had a taste of combat. Matthew’s experience in Iraq hasn’t exactly been the experience of Hollywood war movies -- his guard post was once fired upon and there have been several mortar and rocket attacks in the town next to his base. These brief brushes with combat did not offer chances for the Marines to shoot back.
Matt (links) bekommt vor dem Rundgang Anweisungen. Mostly, Matthew’s patrols have involved assisting Iraqi police as they try to secure this relatively untamed patch of Anbar desert, or running errands between the combat outpost and a series of satellite garrisons. The mission of fetching the pair of captured al Qaeda suspects meant traveling from Outpost Norseman to a traffic checkpoint about 8 kilometers away. This required Matthew and his fellow Marines to drive through the narrow, rubble-strewn streets of the City of Rutbah, a town of 50,000 near Iraq’s western border.
Thanks to dust pouring in from the machine gunner’s roof hatch, the windshield of Matthew’s vehicle was again coated with the tan, talcum-like powder of Anbar sand. Nonetheless, one could still catch glimpses of the Iraqi town through the dusted, steak-thick glass: a boy flying a paper kite, a bony camel tied to a mud house, old men smoking a water pipe outside a barbershop, sheep grazing beside piles of smashed brick, countless plastic bags fluttering from barbed wire. A young girl with ribbons in her black hair waved at the passing convoy. Most other townspeople reacted only with stares. Bevor es Abendessen gibt, muss jeder einen Sandsack füllen Matthew kept his eyes glued to the road and said nothing until the convoy was parked behind the relative safety of the traffic checkpoint’s blast walls. The prisoners were marched out wearing body armor over their long robes and had blindfolds tied across their sunburned faces. Matthew put helmets on their heads before seat-belting them into the back of his vehicle. He asked them in Arabic, “Are you ok?” The men nodded. Matthew didn’t know how the men had been captured or why. His job was simply to drive them back to a makeshift prison at his outpost. Matthew’s only concern was having enough time to eat dinner before the next patrol. Back at the outpost, after the vehicles were parked, Matthew and his squadmates walked to the small shack that served as a dining room, stopping first to fill a sandbag (standing orders before all meals). The outpost’s only stove was broken, which meant another night of grilled hamburgers, along with green beans warmed over a fire made from wooden pallets. After dinner, Matthew and his squad learned they had no other scheduled patrols for the evening. “I haven't had eight hours of sleep since I’ve been back home,” Matthew said, walking back to the cramped room in a plywood building that he shared with about a dozen platoon members. Rather than going to sleep, Matthew decided to spend a couple hours lifting weights in the outpost’s makeshift workout room – even the smallest of Marine bases are required to include a gym. Since arriving in Iraq, Matt’s muscles have ballooned. He works out every chance he gets. The bulk is also from long days of wearing body armor that weighs as much as a small child.
An Muskelmasse gewonnen: Matt beim Gewichtheben. In the rare moments when he is not working or lifting weights, he rests on his cot, thumbing through hunting magazines or dreaming about his future with his wife, Jessica (he always keeps her picture in the shoulder pocket of his sweat-stained uniform). The high school sweethearts married shortly before Matthew left for Iraq. Someday, they want to buy a house in a suburb near his parents’ home, or perhaps pursue a fantasy of building a cabin deep in the forest, he said, “next to a stream with a waterfall that flows into a lake.”
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.
Für den Fall, dass sie bei der Explosion einer "Road Side Bomb" ums Leben kommen, tragen die Marines auch in den Schuhen eine sogenannte "Hundemarke" zur Identifikation. Moments later, a helicopter descended from the night sky. The injured man would be evacuated to a larger hospital. Rowe said the failed bomb effort fit a typical pattern of being “well-planned and poorly executed.” The Marines were succeeding in their efforts to keep better-trained insurgents from entering the town, but they could not stop local, unemployed men from trying to earn $10 or $20 by hiding munitions in the streets patrolled by Matthew and his compatriots. “It gets old,” Rowe said after the helicopter took off. “How many more people in this town are going to get blown up?” "Ich würde sofort wieder zurück kommen" Matthew is finishing his first tour of duty as a Marine with a firm belief that his service has helped protect his country and family from terrorism. At the same time, he has serious doubts about the prospects of Iraq becoming stable and secure anytime soon. “I don’t think it will ever really be safe,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot more than us.” Although recent opinion polls show at least two-thirds of American citizens opposing the war in Iraq, Matthew doesn’t want to see the military leave this place. “It’d be pointless after five years to pull out and say we’re done.” Matthew will have two or three more deployments during the remainder of his four-year contract with the Marines. He hopes he will have a chance to return to Iraq. “I'd come back in a heartbeat.”
Teil 1 der Kolumne: We're in the wild, wild West
Teil 2 der Kolumne: Sleep 12 hours a day
Teil 3 der Kolumne: "The Army fucked up my life"
Teil 4 der Kolumne: "The economy? We don't have one"
Text: james-hagengruber - Fotos: Brian Plonka