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Posted on Apr 28, 2006 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Marines in the Garden of Eden

By Richard S. Lowry

Lynch and Piestewa, both badly injured, were separated from the group. They were taken to a schoolhouse along Highway 7, just south of the Euphrates River. It is not known how long they stayed at the schoolhouse or even why they were taken there. It is not known why they were not taken directly to the hospital. Nearly three hours passed before armed Fedayeen brought the two young female soldiers to the Tykar Military Hospital on the Southern bank of the Euphrates River. Doctors moved the badly injured women into the hospital and began to administer IV fluids. Jessica appeared in much worse condition. Lori had suffered a serious head wound and Jessica, unconscious, had several broken bones and had lost a massive amount of blood from severe internal injuries. Some of her injuries were not consistent with an automobile accident. It is highly likely that both were abused by their captors during those lost three hours.

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Soon after the IVs were started, Lori Piestewa stopped breathing. The doctors worked to revive her to no avail. Lori was gone. Jessica, nearly lifeless and now alone, barely clung to life.

The Timberwolves

The Timberwolves had been moving across the Iraqi wasteland for the last two days and nights. Most were running on adrenaline. They were all exhausted, having only been able to sleep in small, two-hour catnaps. Most had driven all day and worked into the night. Colonel Grabowski had planned to set in his blocking defense just south of Nasiriyah and give his men some much needed rest after their long, hot, bumpy journey across the Iraqi desert. Instead, the Timberwolves had been ordered immediately into battle.

The men of the 1st Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment rose to the occasion. While weary, they did not complain, they did not falter, they pressed forward with the attack. They drove north past Campbell, Jackson and the other wounded soldiers. Will Bachmann saw the wounded soldiers of the 507th as he passed the Battalion Aid Station. He had a detached feeling – like when driving past an accident on the freeway. This glimpse of the first few casualties was little more than a curiosity to the young Marines. They all craned their necks trying to get a glimpse of the commotion along the side of the road.

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Picture taken by Corporal Will Bachmann as the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines approached Nasiriyah

Bachmann gazed north at the half dozen columns of billowing black smoke on the horizon. He and his friends had come halfway around the world and had spent the last two days crossing the Iraqi desert in their cramped armored vehicles. They were on an adventure of a lifetime and no one in the track stopped to think that they were approaching the gates of Hell. They were invincible. They were trained. They were tough. 1st Battalion possessed an enormous amount of resources. They had tanks, AAVs, artillery, and they had air support. The young Marines of 1st Battalion moved forward, confident of victory and with the innocence of young warriors who have never before been exposed to the horrors of combat.

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Author’s Information

Richard S. Lowry is an internationally recognized military historian, author and eleventh generation American. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. He published The Gulf War Chronicles in 2003. He has been published in Military Magazine, Leatherneck and the Marine Corps Gazette.

Berkley Publishing will be publishing Richard’s next full-length book, Marines in the Garden of Eden. The story of America’s sons and daughters, who fought, bled, and died in a dusty desert town on the banks of the Euphrates River, will be released on June 6, 2006.

Richard has spoken to many community organizations such as the local chapter of the Military Officers Association, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Marine Corps League and the Florida Retired Chief Petty Officers Association on many different subjects relating to the current war in Iraq and Operation Desert Storm. He is an active member in the Florida Writers Association and founder of The Orlando Writers Guild.

In June of 2004, Richard was awarded a research grant from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and was recently invited to the Marine Corps Historical Center to research the events of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Richard maintains a vast collection of Gulf War documentation. He has compiled over four hundred hours of audio recordings of his and other interviews as well as thousands of pages of documentation.

Richard takes great pride in being a chronicler of current military history. He has become the foremost expert on the Marines’ battle for An Nasiriyah. He has started work on his next book, Viking in the Valley. It will tell the story of the 2d Marine Regiments recent operations along the Syrian border as they work to bring the blessing of liberty to the people of Iraq.

Richard and his wife of twenty-five years, Vickye, are long-time residents of Central Florida. They are the proud parents of three grown sons, Ryan, Jeremy and Justin who are all working in post-graduate programs.

The official web site for the book can be found here.

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