Are y'all reading embedded bloggers in Iraq? You should be.
"A Christmas tree decorated with bullets. A sergeant said that a soldier had used a grenade for a Christmas ball, but apparently that was a little over the top even for Anbar Province, and so the grenade was removed from the list of acceptable Christmas decorations." Photo and cutline by Michael Yon.
Michael Yon is writing about his travels around Anbar with the military's senior enlisted man in Iraq-- CSM Mellinger. He's got tales of hope and hard truths, setbacks and stand-ups. I liked the part about troop morale, with pictures, including this description of "instant morale:" (emphasis mine)
The Army has prohibited soldiers from adopting dogs since at least World War II, but I have yet to visit a base where combat soldiers or Marines did not keep dogs, often secretly. I did not mention these dogs because it could mean a death sentence but they were always there. The “Deuce Four” battalion up in Mosul adopted a dog named Sheba, who one day brought the heart of a suicide bomber to the soldiers (long story), and the medic had to pull on the blue latex gloves to take the heart from Sheba. When “vector control” people tried to take Sheba away, soldiers told me, the battalion commander threatened the “vector control” people never to come back. A soldier told me that Sheba has retired happily-ever-after from Mosul to Colorado with a Deuce Four soldier.
Bill at INDC has more from the good-humored Marines he's come across in Fallujah:
Angel of Death: I met an outgoing, enthusiastic kid from an Army PTT named Tim Israel. He told me that Iraqis have an excited reaction upon hearing his last name, as it sounds like either "Prophet" or "Angel of Death." When asked which, he jokes with the IP's (Iraqi Policemen) that it depends on whether they piss him off or not.
And, last but not least, an interview with Marine Lance Corporal Yeager, who is the type of man most of the Left is convinced doesn't exist. It's a shame they haven't had the privilege of knowing men like him:
One of my good friends who I'd gone to high school with, he joined the Marines right out of high school, and he got married to another one of my good friends, we all went to high school together. And they moved to Washington state.
But anyway, he came over here - he was in Ramadi - and I think he was two weeks 'till he came home. And they got ambushed one night, and they couldn't get anyone on the radio, so he stepped out of the humvee. He was the vehicle commander.
Right when he stepped out, the guy on the roof hit another IED and it killed him. The sad thing was, he was supposed to be home in two weeks and his little girl was supposed to be born in three. And, I don't know, it really bothered me. I had to bury him, and right after I buried him my unit asked me if I wanted to volunteer, and I was like "Hell yeah."
Read all about him, especially his words of wisdom for Iraqi Police Forces, right at the end. Can't-miss.