Kaboom, Embracing the Suck In A Savage Little War By Matt Gallagher

Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

KaKaboom, Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War by Matt GallagherThe author, Matt Gallagher, became a member of the army through the ROTC program (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and had no interest in war. While Matt was living his life of freedom, the war raged in Iraq placing many of our military in danger. He really didn’t give it a second thought. When the time came for Matt to go to Iraq, he had been partying in Hawaii trying to keep Iraq far from his mind and his life but the inevitable time came and he had to leave his life of fun with his friends, family, and his girlfriend. He was a Lieutenant and would be in charge of men that he had to take into war, something he never thought would exist in his life. The platoon he was given was named the “Gravediggers”, a choice name for a war unit!

Matt got along well with his platoon of enlisted men of various ranks. He did not socialize since this was supposed to be taboo in the military between officers and enlisted men but they all worked together as one. Matt describes a brief history of the area along with the ties and struggles between the various factions of Iraq. Some of the platoon’s activities required visiting the sheiks in their homes/palaces as well as sitting in meetings using the Iraqi interpreters. Much of the time the army platoons intermingled and worked with the Iraqi army, most of that time having to use interpreters. While on patrol they all had to be extremely cautious having eyes on every area near and distant as they moved or when they stopped for various reasons.

There were three grades of officers; company grade officers, field grade, and general officers, all of which had to be dealt with in different ways. One never knew if a superior officer was visiting or just being nosy, so caution was used all around. Officers gave the orders, and, even if they sounded out of whack, they had to take some action to obey those “superior” officers orders. Matt never liked most of the high brass. The platoon patrols traveled, as ordered, down the roads and other areas to keep peace with civilians, check reported explosives (some actual but usually false reports), give candy or other goodies to the children that were always asking for them, and in general try to keep things as calm as humanly possible. No one in the military knew from one minute to the next, whether in their safer compound or on patrol, when they would come under fire or run or walk over an explosive. One of the biggest problems our military had was lack of sleep. Their patrols began before they could get proper rest when action got too volatile. Of course the food left much to be desired.

Matt Gallagher had fifteen hard months to serve in Iraq, mostly in active zones. The army tried to talk him into upping his enlistment but Matt wanted no part of this, thus taking him off of advancement lists. But he still was upped to Captain during his patrol but Matt was not content unless he was active with his men no matter which platoon it may have been. Matt had written his own blog but the military made him take it down as he wrote things as they really were, not as the brass wanted people to think. That was the main reason Matt wrote this book after his army life was over and could tell things the real way he saw it in Iraq. When patrols are described you will feel as though you were on them wondering to yourself what would happen next. Very well told and written, containing some language we might not use in our daily life.

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