December 2, 2003
A Letter to General Abizaid From the Field

The US military has said it believes 54 insurgents were killed in intense exchanges in the northern Iraqi town of Samarra on Sunday but commanders admitted they had no bodies. . . .

Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Gonsalves, who commands the 166th Armoured Battalion in Samarra, also said his troops were not in possession of the bodies. The death toll, he said, was "based on the reports we got from the ground."


I have reconstructed the number of enemy wounded and killed in action during the recent engagement in Samarra. At least fifteen Iraqis were shot by soldiers with their M-1 rifles. No surprise there. But it is truly amazing what the rest of our soldiers did, and I myself would not beleive it if I hadn't heard it with my own ears.

Cpl. John Frolick shot two Iraqis, ran out of ammo, and constructed makeshift bullets out of chewing gum, MRE's, and tobacco -- then killed seven more. Pvt. Enrique Johnson bayoneted seven Iraqis, and then constructed an elaborate booby trap made from the deck of 52 wanted cards that exploded if an Iraqi picked the Ace of Clubs. He tells me he killed fifteen with this device. Sgt. Sheila Carnahan informed me, while we were talking about her otherwise poor performance in the platoon, that she strangled twenty-four Iraqis with her bare hands and bayonetted eight with a hairpin. I now can recommend her for an immediate promotion and a swift commendation. And Johnson told Carnahan that he heard that dumb Joe Flannery -- you remember? The guy who accidentally blew up the canteen stateside? -- fell on several Iraqis and crushed them with some heavy ordinance he was carrying at the time of the ambush. I figure that that adds up to about 56 or so.

I am absolutely proud of the job that our men have told me they did. We may not be as good at counting as we are at killing, but next time, we hope to have a body or two around to assist us in our mathematical endeavors.

Lt. Col. John Festering, Extremely Commanding
166th Armored Battalion
U.S. Army

Posted by Tom Burka at 10:17 AM in News