Det er Band of Brothers-følelsen. Å lese om Company Cs kamper på den enorme gravlunden i gamlebyen i Najaf.

«You spend eight years training for days like these, and it seems like your entire goal is to get in an environment like this,» said Capt. Matthew T. Morrissey, the company commander. «But when you get into it, the reality of it smacks you in the face.»

Some marines have told friends and family members back home about killing enemy fighters who were only a few yards away, about the sight and stench of bodies baking in the sun, about mortar shells that exploded just a few feet from them and sprayed them with shrapnel. Others keep the details to themselves, hoping to avoid frightening their wives or parents.

Den virkeligheten disse mennene beskriver, er noe ganske annet enn den machokulten Harding skildret på Mahdi-militsens side. Det er dette som er krig. Jeg finner veldig lite av det i Hardings artikkel. Journalister synes de er modige hvis de tar seg inn i en konfliktsone. Det er de sikkert. Men det er ingenting mot hva guttene i Compancy C opplever:

With graves stacked nearly on top of each other and burial chambers the size of small houses, the cemetery is a complex and forbidding place. Mr. Sadr’s guerrillas knew the terrain intimately and had spent months setting up arms caches and snipers’ nests.

The result was combat at extremely close quarters, nearly hand-to-hand, carried out in 120-degree heat. Insurgents popped up from catacombs and sprayed automatic rifle fire as marines approached. From positions near the shrine, Mr. Sadr’s guerrillas launched hundreds of mortar shells, forcing marines to hide behind graves or even in mausoleums.

Vi har fått høre om igjen og om igjen hvor hellig også gravlunden er. Hvordan kan de de som forsvarer troen bruke både moskeens forgård og gravplassen som våpenlager og skyteskår?

The fighting was exciting and frightening, said Sergeant Phillippi J. Ledesma, of Panama City, Fla.

«You do get afraid a little bit,» he said. «There’s nothing that can prepare for fighting in a cemetery, especially going down catacombs.»

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