The crowd below demanded our heads. I could not understand the Arabic chanting from the mob, but I could feel the tension developing in the air as hundreds of individual shouts blended together to form one tumultuous voice. Individual movements became one coalesced action. The six-lane road below faded away as the people accumulated on the weathered asphalt. Their individual movements collectively combined to form one massive movement. We were engulfed by the hostile sea of people. A steel fence atop a four foot wall served as the only barrier preventing waves of them from flooding into our stronghold.

Fifteen minutes ago this crowd had welcomed us with cheers as we entered the heart of their ancient city, Mosul, but since then something had soured their cordial greeting. I wondered, “What the hell had happened to make them turn on us so quickly?”

We had been away from our home in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for about a month now. Our home for the next eight months was the “tin can”—the USS Iwo Jima—but two days earlier, two hundred of us had been released from its confines for a ground mission. We were to capture and hold small parts of Mosul, a major city of northern Iraq, until the main assault force, originating in Kuwait, arrived to relieve us. An even smaller force, which consisted of my squad, received orders to enter the heart of the city and seize a vital building. I don’t know why the building was important; the brass didn’t like to tell us any more than they had to.

A small crowd had already begun to form outside the building as we arrived in the second-rate military trucks we had acquired from the abandoned Iraqi Army. Everyone’s eyes were on us. It’s not every day that one’s country is invaded by one of the most powerful nations in the world, and these people desired to witness this event. As we unloaded from the truck those who had accumulated in the nearby area began to applaud and blow whistles. The weight of the stress eased ever so slightly from my chest in the wake of those cheers, but it quickly returned in full force once I realized what our next task was.

Ryan Glennie
Demons of Mosul
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