Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright walks into a Marines' tent in Camp Mathilda, Kuwait, in March 2003 and is introduced as an embedded journalist. The Marines look at Wright, a sandy-haired man with a knapsack, with a mixture of suspicion and disgust. Then he mentions he used to write for Hustler. One Marine gives him a friendly slap on the back, while another reaches out to carry his knapsack.
"He wrote 'Beaver Hunt?'" asks a Marine, admiringly.
"Oh, shit, he must have those Polaroids of your mom," says another.
The real men behind Generation Kill, HBO's new miniseries about the 2003 Iraq invasion, are, of course, U.S. Marines. The show follows forty-some sergeants, corporals, majors, and other members of the First Reconnaissance Battalion who plan attacks, face enemy fire and search for homemade bombs.
Barry Roma, a postal worker and a disabled Vietnam veteran, tells people not to be afraid of him. He is joking, sort of. He knows how veterans -- and postal workers -- are seen by many people, and luckily he has a sense of humor. By night, he works as a mail handler in Chicago and by day, as national coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He helps to put out a biannual publication, The Veteran, and works closely with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. His achievements are hard-earned.
For a junior Army officer named Ehren Watada, the road to Damascus was a two-lane street called Firing Center Road, which cuts through cow pastures in Yakima County, Washington. The air is bone dry, heavy with the smell of sagebrush, and the climate is similar to parts of Iraq. In the fall of 2005, Watada spent 30 days here, training on the Army's 306-acre stretch of desert. In his free time, he sat in the back of a Stryker vehicle and paged through books borrowed from the library in Fort Lewis, Washington.