OIC In Action

Spring/Summer 2003 / Operation Iraqi Freedom I

I was traveling in a small convoy heading towards Kuwait in the barren desert of southern Iraq when one of our humvees broke down. While we were hitching up the broken down vehicle with a tow bar, I noticed small dots in the distance growing larger. I came to realize that they were coming from mud huts that were barely visible since they were the same color as the desert sand and far from the highway in which we were traveling. Eventually the dots emerged as a small crowd of children with a few adults. They could not have been used to convoys of Marines stopping by the road side but they appeared to be happy to see us none-the-less. The three little girls in the pictures looked like they could use a bath and a brush but were wearing brightly colored dresses and they appeared healthy, happy and loved. They were sisters and had an older brother and father with them. The air temperature was in excess of 120F and the asphalt they were standing on in their bare feet must have been even hotter but they did not seem to notice as they collected their treats in return for shy smiles. When I gave one of the little girls my last liter bottle of water, the others quickly formed around. Without speaking, they opened it up and passed it to the smallest one. Each one in ascending height took a sip until the father finished by replacing the cap. The liter bottle was still almost full. I have no idea how they survive in those harsh conditions so far away from any city and with no water in sight. Their hopes and expectations were probably met when almost every Marine gave what he had in the way of food and water before we were moving again. There was no hesitation on their part or fear of us in their faces. Without words, I could sense their hope and appreciation. Whatever the reasons, it felt good to be participating in their liberation.

LtCol Lon VomBaur
I MEF, G4, Supply Officer