So Dahlia is a woman whose ethnic history includes both the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust and the eventual angst of the Iraqi people who not only suffered for years under Saddam Hussein, but from two American-led wars, first in 1990-91 in what was referred to in the vernacular as the "Gulf War", and then again from 2003 to our present day's occupation of Iraq in the "Iraq War", also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, an Orwellian phrase if ever there was one.
These two wars were also interspersed by severe sanctions against Iraq by Bill Clinton in the latter 1990s that led to hardship, impoverishment, even death for countless Iraqis, and through all these destructive events, Dahlia's and Ross's lives crossed, and here I was, interviewing them both.
At this point I want to turn my full attention to Ross, so what follows next in this article, Part 1 of this series on Dahlia, is the transcript of my interview with him. Next week we will dive into my interview with Dahlia.
Interview with Ross Caputi, Eye-Witness Combatant in Operation Phantom Fury, the November, 2004 Assault on Fallujah, Iraq
(see my 2006 article for exposition on Phantom Fury.)
Mac: I'm interviewing Ross Caputi, who was in the Marine Corps for three years and deployed in Iraq from June 2004 until January 2005. He saw action inside Fallujah and we're discussing that right now.
Ross: Well, I was the company commander's radio operator (1st Battalion 8th Marines Alpha Company), so I wasn't near the guys kicking in doors, but that entire assault was basically a three week long firefight.
Mac: Were you going house to house, door to door?
Mac: Can you describe some of the action, who you were fighting against, and what you saw?
Ross: OK, so, on the very first day, November 7 (2004), the air assault was still going on and they loaded my unit up into trucks and then took us to the outskirts of the city, and as we're passing through the desert from Camp Fallujah to the outskirts of Fallujah proper, I did see a good number of women and children wandering into the desert, and as we were sitting on the outskirts of the city, probably about for a day, I did see the White Phosphorus. I saw us drop it from the sky.
It's difficult to say where it landed, whether it landed on the city or on the outskirts of the city. I think that's irrelevant because they knew perfectly well that civilians were living in the city and in the outskirts of the city, so either way, I'm pretty sure that's illegal.
And the following day, November 8, they trucked us into the city on AAV's and they dropped us off at what we were calling the Mayor's Complex - I don't know if the mayor used to actually work in that building or not - and basically from that part on we started a two or three week push from that point in the city, I think south, just going one building at a time, one house at a time, just going through normal people's houses.
Marines in Fallujah (Photobucket Commons)