Achievements of the Human Heart

Michael Yon: On April 30, 2007, I published the conclusion of a two-part dispatch, Desires of the Human Heart, about the efforts of the 1-4 CAV to transform an abandoned seminary into COP Amanche, an outpost in a Baghdad neighborhood that had been all but deserted after more than a year of sectarian violence. One of the last photographs, shown below, depicted the 1-4 Commander, LTC James Crider, looking out over the compound which his soldiers had managed to make operational over the course of a single weekend. I captioned the photograph with this modestly optimistic thought:

And so we find it here, in the Garden of Eden, in God’s hands through the 1-4 Cavalry from Kansas: the last hope against genocide in the land between two rivers. If the first three days are any indicator, there is reason for the hope and relief that it rests on shoulders like these.

From “Desires of the Human Heart, Part II“

A little more than 5 months later, I received the following update from LTC Crider, which I am reprinting here with his permission. The full impact of the progress he describes is best appreciated within the context of where he and his men first started. Read Desires of the Human Heart Part One and Part Two.

LTC James Crider.

1-4 CAV Update #7

War is a very personal endeavor. We find ourselves here involved in close friendships with one another as well as with the many Iraqis we interact with every day on the streets. We are also very close to our interpreters who share every danger with us. We are all intertwined and nothing happens to one group without it affecting the other.

Recently, I found myself in the 28th Combat Support Hospital emergency room where one of our most loyal interpreters was being treated after being injured in an attack. While his prognosis was excellent, he was very shaken. As he lay on a gurney with his head wrapped and an oxygen mask on his face, he saw me approach and immediately grabbed my arm and began to ask me about each soldier in the truck. He referred to them all as his “brothers” and he meant it. Not knowing his own condition he told me he loved Americans and America. He made me promise that I would take his heart to America if he died. He was going to be fine (he left the hospital the next day) but I could not convince him, so I promised.

Around the corner, the CSM and I walked up to one of our Valorous Award winners who suffered a severe hip injury in that same attack. The first thing he asked me was if I thought he would be able to recover and get back to his platoon before we redeployed. A few days earlier, two other Cavalry Troopers were in the emergency room being treated. CSM Jones and I walked in together and as we approached our first soldier he yelled out,”Prepared and Loyal, Sir”. His face, arms and legs were speckled with shrapnel but all he could think about was the unit. As the nurse wheeled himout for further examination, he unashamedly told his fellow injured platoonmate that he loved him and he got the same response back. I have seen the toughest men I know cry for one another and encourage each other through some difficult times. Whoever you know in this unit, know that they are heroes. This is a very personal endeavor, indeed.