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War Memoirs Offer Ground View of Iraq

Throughout history, soldiers penned books, poems, diaries and letters home. Two years after American troops invaded Iraq, a flood of books arrive, written by U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.


Colby Buzzell, author of My War: Killing Time in Iraq

Nate Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officerand former marine captain

Charlotte Abbott, senior editor at Publisher's Weekly

Mark Bowden, national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly

Read an Excerpt from 'My War: Killing Time in Iraq'

For this raid, our team would be Sgt. Vance (team leader), Spc. Callahan, and me. The best way to describe a raid to somebody who knows nothing about these sorts of things is, in a nutshell: We show up, surround the house, blow the f------ front door up with explosives, or knock it down with a battering ram, storm into the house, throw a bunch of flash bang grenades around, apprehend the target individual or individuals, blindfold them and zip tie 'em, search the house, throw the detainees in the back of the vehicles, drive off, and take them in for questioning and/or a one-way, all-expenses-paid trip to beautiful Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Badda bing, badda boom.

We received a warning order for this raid yesterday, and today we received the OP order. This one was a pretty big mission, with a very high profile target. The guy that we are to apprehend is supposedly the mastermind behind all the attacks that happened in Mosul on the day we attacked that mosque. So after dinner chow, we performed rehearsals. That's where we all get together and practice the raid as a team to prevent any possible confusion and make sure everybody is 100 percent on the same page on what each person's job is. We go over the raid countless times and through multiple scenarios. I never take uppers like caffeine pills, Hydroxycuts, Ripped Fuels, Red Bulls, or any of that heart attack crap before a raid, because as soon as you show up to the target house and that ramp drops and you dismount from the back of the vehicle, your heart is going a thousand rpm's and you're wide awake from the adrenaline. You have no idea what the hell you're about to get yourself into, how chaotic it's going to be, if the house is booby trapped, how many people are armed in the house, how hostile the situation is going to be, if the target individual is in the house, or even if you're going to enter the right f------ house. Before the raid, you do a personal PCI (pre-combat inspection) on all your gear. Make sure everything is up to standard. Check your NODs, make sure they have fully charged batteries. Make sure you have a full combat load of ammo (I always pack a little bit more). Clean your weapon, oil the bolt, tie down all your sensitive items, and perform function checks. You go over the OP order in your head until it's memorized. Your squad leader will come over and double, triple check your s---, to make sure that everything is up to standard, and quiz you on the OP order.

Horrocks and I will usually brew up a nice pot of gourmet PX-bought coffee before we roll out on night missions. Horrocks will usually blast a CD of Sgt. Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" to get pumped up and I usually like to listen to mellow music before a raid on my iPod while I'm doing PCIs on my equipment in my room. Today the soundtrack was the Cure, the Smiths, and a little bit of the old school U2, and then shortly before we go out on the mission, I'll switch it over to the "Stryker Soundtrack" and blast some of that for a while.

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