Mogadishu Diaries Bloodlines 1992-1993
on Feb. 14, 2013
Unfortunately the media and popular culture often depict United States Marines in a less than flattering light. Jarheads; leathernecks; devil dogs—these are just a few of the appellations unjustly applied to an elite group of soldiers who have sworn to serve and protect the citizens of this country. In his work Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993: Bloodlines, ex-Marine Sergeant Eddie Clay III articulately describes his deployment in Somalia. It is a story written with wit and thoughtfulness; and one that debunks the names and negative stereotypes often associated with members of this branch of the armed services.
Knowing that Mogadishu, Somalia, has been listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Gunnery Sergeant Thompson does something that defies reason: he volunteers to support the Marine Amphibious Force deployed in that region. He then makes it his mission to bring his friend—and the best sharpshooter on the base—Corporal Ramirez to the fray. In time both men find themselves fighting the forces of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid; and even participating in one of the most critical operations of the entire campaign.
Yet their deployment in Somalia would not be free of drama. From the moment Thompson and Ramirez step foot on the base at Camp Pendleton (their point of departure), the two soldiers realize that as mere ‘augmentees’ (volunteer soldiers assigned to support another Marine unit) they will be treated as second-class citizens. That is, until they are given the opportunity to prove their “mettle.” However, the politics in play—and the prejudicial disdain shown towards them by one Captain Shaffner, and his protégé, Corporal Warren—will not make this an easy endeavor (or deployment). Through craft and impeccable performances both men indeed make names for themselves during their stay in Somalia; eventually leaving this foreign land with newfound friends, records of distinguished service, and many unforgettable memories.
After considering accounts of children being killed in combat situations, Thompson confesses: “When I saw kids on TV with their AK-47s, I knew I could possibly face my worst nightmare. I became worried that I might not react like others who could instinctively justify pulling the trigger.” This statement gives us an insight into the Sergeant’s attitude towards military service. Although desiring to defeat the enemy, he does not want to hurt innocent civilians in the process. He fears that at some point in the conflict he may inadvertently harm women and children; an act that would violate his conscious and contradict everything he—and the Marines—hope to achieve in Somalia. This thought haunts Thompson.
Contrary to being a hardened warrior (or a killing machine willing to achieve a military objective at any cost), Sergeant Thompson is extremely conscientious. This aspect of his personality makes him a humane person; and an excellent soldier. And in the context of the narrative, this character trait adds an element of mystery to the emerging plot: as we are left to wonder, and anticipate, how this complex man will act when placed in a morally ambiguous situation. As the tensions rise in the region, and the Sergeant becomes more aware of the possibility of civilian casualties, the scene is set for a brutal battle that will determine the fate of the Somali people and our protagonist.
The author’s writing style is incredibly clear and easy to follow. His prose flows in an ordered, succinct fashion; reflecting an organized thought process and a well-conceived artistic plan. While possessing qualities of a memoir, the realistic and detailed account of America’s recent involvement in Somalia reads more like a novel. Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993: Bloodlines is an entertaining and historically significant work of fiction. I eagerly await the sequel to this fine story.
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