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Army Officer Recalls Young Iraqi Who Kept His Soldiers Alive

With the arrival of the end of official U.S. combat operations in Iraq, there've been many vignettes and retrospectives on what has occurred there since 2003.

One of the most affecting I've read was in the Washington Post Outlook section several days ago. Blake Hall, a retired U.S. Army Captain wrote movingly about "Roy,"  an Iraqi teenager who was his unit's interpreter or "terp" as soldiers refer to translators.

A snippet:

We raided the target's home without incident, capturing him while he slept in his bed. Later, as I watched two of my snipers lead the shuffling insurgent toward a U.S. prison in Baghdad, I saw what looked like a little kid in camouflage get out of the armored vehicle two down from mine.

I glanced at one of my scout team leaders. "Who let the 12-year-old out with us?"

"That's Roy, the new terp, sir."

"Does his mom know it's past his bedtime?"

Roy was lighting a cigarette when I walked up to him. As soon as he realized that I was the platoon leader, he threw the cigarette on the ground and stomped it out with his tan combat boots. With that gesture, he showed me that he had discipline and cared about making a good impression. We'll keep him, I thought.

Hall's piece reads like a well-written screenplay and has the added virtue of being true.

"Roy's" story is a reminder to us of what so many Iraqis did and continue to do to save the lives of their countrymen and Americans, too.