By Christopher Miskimon

It took the Marines of 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment 22 days to get to Baghdad. The author was a journalist embedded with them. Before crossing the border, a Marine officer told him, “when the shit hits the fan, you’re on your own.” He meant that in combat the Marines have vital jobs to do and he couldn’t expect them to pause to help him. Later, however, a Marine did help him, throwing him in the back of a truck when a fight broke out. The rest of the invasion of Iraq was a cacophony of violence. Marines moving down trench lines shooting Iraqis, picking up AK-47s when they ran out of ammunition for their M16s. Others ran to cover as bullets kicked up spurts of dust all around them. Hunting for Iraqi soldiers hiding in spider holes and bunkers.

Twenty years later, the author sought out Marines from 3-5, most of them now civilians, to talk about both their battle experiences and what they went through after they came home. Some suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Others had somehow avoided it, or at least the worst of its effects. Some had survivor’s guilt. Most remembered the camaraderie of their service and the heroism of their fellow Marines. The book is a tribute to them and an engaging read for those who wish to understand as best they are able what these men went through on their behalf.

Battle Scars Twenty Years Later: 3D Battalion 5th Marines Looks Back at the Iraq War and how it Changed their Lives War (Chip Reid, Casemate Books, Havertown PA, 2023, 256 pp., photographs, index, $34.95, HC)

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