A Soldier’s Tale
On April 20, 2004, Paul Rieckhoff returned to Amherst in uniform to give the following address to an overflow crowd in the Babbott Room. In his talk he described in great detail the battle conditions he faced in Iraq, the wounding of his men and his opposition to the war, giving students a more multifaceted perspective on the situation than many had previously experienced.
- “Our company, Bravo Company of the 124th Infantry, was tasked with conducting a cordon search in the northeastern neighborhood of Baghdad. Our mission was to surround and capture or kill three Iraqi men who had been financing the building of roadside bombs throughout Iraq.” Audio excerpt 1 (MP3 .94 MB)
- “We had three platoons of light infantry, armed to the teeth—about 120 men, or so. We were supported with half-a-dozen tanks, 10 Bradley fighting vehicles, two Apache helicopter gunships, three sniper teams on the rooftops and another company of infantrymen on standby in case something should go wrong. There are usually various levels of something going wrong. This night would be somewhere near the level my soldiers would call totally and completely screwed up.” Audio excerpt 2 (MP3 1.29 MB)
- “Crawford, or “J-Craw” as everybody called him, was, without a doubt, one of the most popular guys in the company. He was a top student leader at Pensacola Junior College. Smart, fearless, charismatic and always smiling, he was a natural leader, and that’s why he was at the front of the stack. The first guy in every door.” Audio excerpt 3 (MP3 .94 MB)
- “The round entered his face just below the nose and stopped just above his front teeth at the base of his jaw, knocking out one tooth clean. But that was it. He’d be fine—a few stitches and a lost tooth. A “Baghdad root canal” we would later call it. Sgt. Crawford returned to his squad about three days later. He was our Christmas miracle.” Audio excerpt 4 (MP3 2.14 MB)
<< Back to "A Soldier's Story"