“Major Graham is now faced with a terrible dilemma: return the child to where we picked her up or take her and the other casualties out to sea in hopes that she can be saved. He asks over the intercom how we in the back feel about flying over water without flotation gear. We all agree—’Go for it.'” This account of the rescue of a badly burned Iraqi girl—injured in an accident before the war started—is just one of many stories of heroism chronicled by Oliver North in this gripping new book on the war in Iraq. More than anything else, War Stories (published by Regnery, a sister company of HUMAN EVENTS) is a tribute to the men and women who fought the war to oust Saddam Hussein. It represents the fruits of this old warrior’s six weeks of embedded reporting for Fox News, along with his insight into modern warfare and today’s American warriors as they fight our enemies in the Middle East. Half the world away from his family, living off a steady diet of MREs (processed and dehydrated food known as Meal, Ready-To-Eat replaced C rations in the early ’80s), with hardly a shower or change of clothes, and constantly moving into harm’s way, Col. North gives America the true stories about the war in Iraq. He tells of the heroism of Capt. Sean “Spaz” Basco, who refused to be evacuated from a “hot zone” outside of one of Saddam’s palaces though he was badly injured. He tells of the tears in the medic’s eyes after an Iraqi boy, just treated for a broken arm, was blown to bits with his father by a land mine. He tells of the emaciated and yet cheering crowds that greeted the troops as they entered Baghdad. Of the children, “wearing little more than rags,” running next to them and “splashing barefoot through puddles of raw sewage,” waving and yelling. Of the Marines emptying their rucksacks of “candy, crackers, peanut butter, cheese spread, jelly, and even whole MREs” to give to the needy Iraqis. Col. North captures the character of these soldiers, from the intrepid leadership of men like Lt. Col. Jerry Driscoll, to the sense of duty and humanity of the “grunts” who carried out his orders. This is the soldier in Iraq, who before joining the military “wouldn’t share a candy bar with his little brother,” but will now “offer his last drop of water to a wounded comrade, give his only ration to a hungry Iraqi child, and split his ammo with a mate in a firefight.” He tells this warrior’s story and gives us much to be proud of—which may not sit well with some critics of the war. But no one can accuse Oliver North of pontificating on behalf of the war effort like so many “arm chair admirals and barroom brigadiers” pontificated against it from New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The retired Marine was as close to the war as one can get without picking up a gun—although he actually did that, too—and he gives it to us as he saw it. But for those cynics in the media, Hollywood and Congress, Col. North provides a little reminder of why we’re there. The same congressmen who are calling for an investigation and dismiss President Bush as a “miserable failure”—and even insinuate treason on his part—were the ones who saw the same intelligence as the president and, as a result, supported the war. As North notes, “Sen. [Ted] Kennedy [D.-Mass.] was so impressed with the intelligence he had seen that on Oct. 4, 2002, he felt compelled to acknowledge, ‘We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.'” While Western nations—our “allies”—squabbled over details, Saddam had four months to cover his tracks in preparation either for a return of the UN inspectors or an invading U.S. force. And finally, mass graves from the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are still being discovered. (Perhaps Sean Penn will return for a tour of those?) None of this is lost on the soldiers risking their lives. They know why they fight and understand why they might die. The toughest part of this road is still to come, as one Army officer acknowledges. But, according to War Stories, we can rest assured that the work is in very competent hands. We just need to let them do it.
To purchase War Stories, click here.