In Kuwait, injured GI baffled by scenes of Iraq on television

A soldier on his way back to Baghdad after medical leave watched the Pentagon channel in a small air terminal in Kuwait last week.

The program was on U.S. troops patrolling Najaf, the Shiite city celebrated as home to the tomb of Shi’a’s founder, Imam Ali. It’s also been a nest of trouble for the Americans, due to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia. After his forces endured weeks of pounding from U.S. troops, al-Sadr said he’s ready to try democracy.

His supporters in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, however, continue to try to take on the Yanks.

Either way, the transiting soldier with new pins in his leg thought the American Forces Network footage was surreal. Children cheered and chased military vehicles. Locals waved and smiled.

“That doesn’t look like any patrols I’ve been on,” the injured soldier said, shaking his head.

A dud — or not

Troops flying home from leave on Omni Air International charter flights into the Middle East have been watching two movies on the way: “The Stepford Wives” and “Raising Helen.”

While the first, a parody on 1950s-style domesticity, earned chuckles and [maybe] even nostalgia from some of the men aboard, “Raising Helen” was different.

In the film, three children lose their parents in a car accident and move in with their chic, party-girl aunt. Film critics yawned. They gave the flick about a “C.” But the Kate Hudson movie hit GIs home in a way it couldn’t touch reviewers.

When Hudson’s character read a letter from her dead sister explaining why she had been chosen as the new mom over another sibling, soldiers’ faces were locked onto the screens. Conversation ceased. A granite-mugged, graying senior noncommissioned officer teared up. So did a female soldier who may have been a young mom herself. It was tough to find someone watching who didn’t get misty.

It’s a choice many troops have had to make themselves.

Lucy in the sky

Lucy the dog is dead.

The white-and-brown muzzled canine who became an honorary member of the U.S. military detail guarding the Palestine and Sheraton hotels in Baghdad apparently had to be put down.

Stripes wrote about Lucy in December. She had so taken to troops with the 3rd Infantry Division and later the 1st Armored Division that she would, fangs bared, charge anything that approached their positioned Bradley fighting vehicles. She also loved sleeping under Abrams tanks. She was a soldier’s furry friend.

According to Saif, a 10-year-old who hangs out with troops at the checkpoint, Lucy lost it when she bore a new litter of pups a few months back. She started charging everyone, all the time.

Here’s, then, to remembering Lucy as she had been before:

“She’s very nice, gentle; rolls on her stomach, very submissive to me and my soldiers,” Staff Sgt. Sean Fox was quoted back in December. The tank platoon sergeant with the 1st AD called her “just a nice dog, a nice old dog.”

Ward Sanderson is in Baghdad and can be e-mailed at Seth Robson, who has returned to South Korea after two months in Ramadi, Iraq, can be reached at:

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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