ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Probably everyone recalls that moment of triumph in the Iraq invasion when an American unit pulled down a huge statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Certainly Tim Walker remembers. He was a Marine captain in that battalion. He's no longer in the military. He joins us now from his home in Nevada. Tim Walker, welcome to DAY TO DAY, and tell me about that day. How did you get to that statue, and I think it was called Firdos Square in Baghdad.
Mr. TIM WALKER: (Former Marine Rifle Company Commander): It was Firdos Square. The entire battalion and attachments had been moving at a rapid pace through Iraq for several weeks, and a few days prior to that we had crossed the Diyala River. When we got into Firdos Square it was really just another day on the road, and we saw the statue, and a bunch of Iraqis and reporters were out there in the square, and it just seemed natural to help them do what they were doing and bring the statue down.
It was quite a large statue. I think it was like 30 or 40 feet tall, and they weren't having much luck with the ropes that they were using. So some of the Marines and some of the Iraqis had done a statue climb together and wrapped a heavier cable around it and pulled the statue down. It was largely coordinated by the battalion headquarters.
My company was actually responsible for the security in the hotels around that square at the time. We were really worried about being ambushed from flanks and from above. So that's really what we were focused on. It was really kind of a mundane occurrence as we rolled through Iraq.
CHADWICK: Well, did you actually see the thing topple over?
Mr. WALKER: Absolutely. It was easy to see. I was actually on the front steps of the Sheridan Hotel. I think it's called the Ishtar. You could clearly see what was going on. I think the reason it got so much press was there were so many people out there, so much press from the Palestine Hotel, it just naturally lent itself to getting a lot of coverage.
CHADWICK: When did it become apparent to you that this actually was something? I mean it's not Iwo Jima, but it is an iconic image of the war.
Mr. WALKER: We went through a very big transition. Down in the south of the country, which we knew was Shia, the people were very standoffish and we were moving so fast, we really didn't get to interact with the people from Iraq.
As we got closer and closer to Baghdad, there were more civilians around, and we began for the first time to differentiate between civilians and fighters. This was really the first time where quite a few civilians came out, and they wanted to get close to the Marines.
They were smiling, you know, there was - and I hadn't seen that before, and that was probably the biggest impact of that day as far as it being different from the previous days, and also just the magnitude of the city. It was much more dense and urban than what we had had prior to that.
So as far as the statue, as making a big impression, it really never did until I got back and started to notice all the footage and everything.
CHADWICK: Tim Walker led a company of Marines into Firdos Square five years ago and helped pull down the statue of Saddam Hussein. Tim, thanks so much for speaking with us.
Mr. WALKER: Not a problem.
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