Iraqi civilians feed hungry US marines
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CENTRAL IRAQ (AFP) - Iraqi civilians fleeing heavy fighting have stunned and delighted hungry US marines in central Iraq (news - web sites) by giving them food, as guerrilla attacks continue to disrupt coalition supply lines to the rear.
Sergeant Kenneth Wilson said Arabic-speaking US troops made contact with two busloads of Iraqis fleeing south along Route Seven towards Rafit, one of the first friendly meetings with local people for the marines around here.
"They had slaughtered lambs and chickens and boiled eggs and potatoes for their journey out of the frontlines," Wilson said.
At one camp, the buses stopped and women passed out food to the troops, who have had to ration their army-issue packets of ready-to-eat meals due to disruptions to supply lines by fierce fighting further south.
Civilians have remained largely out of sight since the invasion began 10 days ago. Towns and villages are virtually deserted, prompting speculation that most had shifted to safer ground before the fighting began.
Corpsman Tony Garcia said the food donation was an act of appreciation for the American effort to topple the brutal regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
"They gave us eggs and potatoes to feed our marines and corpsmen. I feel the local population are grateful and they want to see an end to Saddam Hussein," he said.
"It was a lovely, beautiful gesture."
Khairi Ilrekibi, 35, a passenger on one of the buses, which broke down near the marine position, said he could speak for the 20 others on board.
In broken English he told a correspondent travelling with the marines: "We like Americans," adding that no one liked Saddam Hussein because "he was not kind."
He said Iraqi civilians living near him were opposed to Saddam Hussein and that most were hiding in their homes and were extremely tired.
Lance Corporal David Polikowsky stood guard over 70 POWS near the broken down bus, saying how grateful he was for food cooked and donated by locals, which included oranges.
Looking on warily at the POWS he was guarding, who included two Jordanians, as well as an Iraqi colonel, captain, major and second lieutenant from special forces and the regular army, he said he had been moved by comments from local civilians.
He said they told him: "We welcome you. What is your name? We will pray for you."
He said another group of POWS, largely conscripts, had been moved south.
"They told me they wanted to go to America after the war. I said where. They said California. I said why? They said the song Hotel California and they left singing Hotel California."
Soldiers with this marine division -- on the east of a two-pronged thrust toward Baghdad -- have seen some of the fiercest fighting of the war so far.
They battled their way through heavy fire at Nasiriyah, Sharat and Rafit before pausing to resupply within 250 kilometres (180 miles) of Baghdad on Thursday.
Prisoners have been taken and pockets of displaced people carrying white flags have been seen along the way. Some have waved, others have asked the marines for cigarettes and water.
But US troops have been keeping a wary distance from civilians, mindful of reports that some Iraqi forces were mingling with civilians in order to drift through American lines and launch surprise attacks.
Ambushes and harassing fire along the massive communications lines to Kuwait in the south have caused casualties and disrupted supplies of water, food and fuel to the frontline troops.
Garcia and Wilson are attached to a Shock Trauma Platoon with the Marine Expeditionary Force and have treated about 20 civilians for war-related wounds in the past five days.
As troops munched on their feast, one medic warned the food could have been deliberately contaminated.
He was quickly disregarded as the hungry marines forged ahead to make a fondue out of a donated tin of Australian processed cheese, but the potatoes were eaten before the cheese could melt.
"Man I never thought a boiled egg could taste so damn good," one burly marine observed.
Mar 29, '03
That is sooo cool, yet, part of me is scared that the food could be tainted with poison.
This is such a hard war, Helen. I fear of the backlash but at the same time, not taking Saddam out scares me ten times worse.
Mar 29, '03
I tell you GW better find a way to get food into those guys quick. We will not tolerate stories about soldiers poisoned because they ate donated food against their better judgment. American public will tolerate a lot but not that. Specially when they tried to shut up the general that talked in public about the problems. That old problem that plagues all institutions has raised it's head here. Bosses (in this case President and Secretary of state) who don't want to hear the badnews and punish people who tell the truth. One other thing, my hubby just told me this horrible about this woman who waved at the troop and was later hanged by the spys in the villiage.
Mar 29, '03
What a great story Helen.. "the potatoes were eaten before the cheese could melt"
What a nice gesture.
Mar 29, '03
Originally posted by oramar
[Bquick. We will not tolerate stories about soldiers poisoned because they ate donated food against their better judgment. American public will tolerate a lot but not that. Specially when they tried to shut up the general that talked in public about the [/B]
Wow... what a neat article ! And you're so right.. when I heard the news last night and this morning about some of the troops being down to one ration a day, it made me heartsick. After all they've gone through thus far.. no sleep, horrid weather conditions, the constant battle with the resistance... and just ONE measley little ration a day now for these hungry guys? C'MON !!!
Surely we can do better than that !!! How are they supposed to keep up their strength, keep their focus ? Geeez.
I understand that the supply line is battling resistance, and that this has caused problems meeting up with the front, but for all our planning and all our high tech and all our so called "superiority".. .this is shameful.
What is more shameful is the way it is being denied and squelched as stated above. That REALLY burns me ! Why can't we just be up front and honest about these things? How can we hold one party to a standard that we can't keep ourselves?
Mar 29, '03
Jnette, it's War and I think that even with the best planning, things come up and have to be dealt with. These guys are trained to go w/o food and sleep for periods of time from what I've heard. I'm sure that everything humanly possible is being done to get food to them.
I blame the "resistance" and terrorist acts of the Iraqis... not the military for this delay in food to some. Our guys bringing the food need to be protected, who would have imagined that suicide bombers posing as civilians would threaten our troops? But I guess we are dealing with Iraq and SH so it should be expected.
Mar 29, '03
I agree with you, mkue. No argument. My logical mind has already understood all that. It was my emotions speaking, that's all. I do understand all the ramifications and unforseen occurrances. I still feel for the poor guys, though. It's gotta be hard with all they're already dealing with. Then I feel for the hungry Iraqis as well. Sometimes I think I just feel too darn MUCH, is my problem. Ah well.
But the denying still pi**es me off. That's no example to set. Makes us look like .. well.. liars.
Mar 29, '03
I'm upset that SH turned down the Food-for-Oil opportunity to feed his people at this time.
Jnette, I don't like the fact that some of our guys would be w/o food either but I think they might understand more about these delays than I do. And I don't expect the military should have to tell us every micro movement of what is going on. Some Americans feel they need to know all the bumps in the road. No argument here either.
Mar 29, '03
Why aren't they doing food drops? Military has long history and a lot of experience with food drops.
Mar 29, '03
I would imagine it is seen as a very temporary condition or they would air drop food.
It needs to be understood that yes, troops train for this type of stuff. My dad did survival training in case his plane was ever shot down. Winter survival training was done in Northern Maine. Desert survival in Texas.
My current husband, an ex-Marine tells of spending a couple weeks in the field under similar circumstances while training. My ex husband, ex-Air Force security police did not do much in this way though. I would imagine because he would not have been forward troops, but protecting perimeters, planes and munitions. However, I actually posted this not so much because there are troops temporialy low on food, but because Iraqi citizens were willing to share what little they have with the troops, and that says a good deal to me.
Suzy, I will not lie, this whole thing is frightening to me. I am having dreams about it sometimes now. But I agree not doing something I think is worse. I am alot like furball, I felt bitterly disappointed when George Bush won the election. At this juncture however, I think it is best. The democrats seem to be in a contest about who can be the biggest fool right now. I did alot of soul searching about this whole thing before I made the decison that this is the right thing. I would dare say there are alot of people out there like furball and myself, the more the anti-war demonstrators include civil disobeiance and such the more I feel pushed into a conservative mode. The more people press on and on about what a rotten country this is the more conservative I become.
Wonder how many people there are out there like me? Many from middle America I'm betting.
Mar 29, '03
my brother in law--an f15 pilot in usaf had to go through survival training. when my sister tries to question him about some things pertaining to his job he tells her "if i tell you i'll have to kill you." lol! he's so cool!
Mar 30, '03
Am I the only one seeing the big picture here?..... what on earth were we doing going into Iraq with a plan that called for overstretched and easily disrupted supply lines.....
It as become increasingly apparant that the Rumsfeld plan was seriously flawed in terms of the expected response of the Iraqi people. He clearly did'nt anticipate something which was'nt exactly hard... that a) The iraqi people would be reluctant to accept he downfall of SH on the sight of a marine and b) That SH would'nt come up with inovative and inventive ways to fight this war, given he knew there was no way he could win it conventionally.
It is perfectly clear that the reason the war is being 'reconfigured'.. (jesus thats laughable) is because they have'nt got either the supplies or the assets to prosecute this war further without over stretching themselves. This is evidenced by one fact above others.... the coalition plan has not seen fit to provide sufficient military resources to allow rotation of troops.... in other words no rest. That means they expected to be in Baghdad by now.. or on the brink of victory.... I cannot for the life of me see military planners falling for that crap.... they are notoriously cautious.... so that leaves dear Rumsfeld... who I have to say has been looking a little sheepish these last few day's. I suspect he sold a microwave dinner war to Bush... e.g. quick and easy.... guess what.... you don't get to be a brutal dictator of a country for 20 odd years without some guile... jesus.... the man idolises Stalin for gods sake. Rumsfeld has seriously under estimated SH and his military are as usual going to have to pick up the pieces. I'm not saying we won't win.... but hopefully now some people with military experience will ensure our troops have enough to eat..... **** that makes me mad!!!! a guy/girl could die any moment and they don't have enough to eat..... how damaging to morale is that!!!
Politicians..... I reckon there should be a new rule..... any politician proposing war should automatically be enlisted into an infantry unit and sent to the conflict.... wonder how many wars would be fought then????
Mar 30, '03
StuPer, I must say that I underestimated the "Terrorism" involved in this war. It think the food story or lack of it was blown up by the media as usual.