Dec. 3, 2004 9:30 a.m.
Kid Rock playing in the Hurricane Point weight room, loud...Marines doing five sets of ten chin-ups. They make sure your chin goes over the bar, which for some people is a real challenge.
Sometimes things crack me up here, even though I feel a little odd laughing in a war zone.
I took one knee in a field of hospital waste the other afternoon next to Sgt. Bartlett. Whenever you go out into the city you are often on foot or in vehicles with guys you don't know, guys who could be suddenly responsible for keeping you alive or getting you out of a firefight. So you become a pretty intense silent observer in order to find who you think is competent and who is cool, and you stick to those people.
When Sgt. Bartlett took one knee in the garbage to reduce exposure, I did the same. Another Marine walked up to us.
"How's it going, Mumbles?" Sgt. Bartlett said.
"Going alright," said the man called Mumbles, with no sign of offense.
After he walked away I asked Sgt. Bartlett, "Why do you call him 'Mumbles?'"
Sgt. Bartlett looked at me and said slowly, "Because that's his nickname."
It could be worse. Two Marines just dropped off a bag on a cot in here and asked me to give a message to the Marine whose cot it was.
"What's his name?" I asked.
They looked at each other for a moment, then one said, "Just say Lotsashit."
"We call him Lotsashit," the other one added.
I wondered; maybe this guy carried a lot of stuff around. Then one Marine pointed to the name on the sack, which was Lothshultz.
"It's hard to say, so everyone just calls him Lotsashit," he said.
• E-mail Steve
[ed. note: Click the video tab up top to view Harrigan's reports from Ramadi.]
I'm David Smith USMC. Fought 2 tours in 'Nam (1969-1971.) I was lucky I came with a built-in nickname, (Smitty) what else? Frank Randazzo was the drill instructer's house mouse in bootcamp, a duty much like that of a message runner in combat. After our first firefight(Feb 69), and Mouse's first kill of a N.V.A. soldier, mouse became the (RAT). There were those whom we never gave a nickname to, because that person was marked as unlucky or seen as going home in a body bag. If we spoke to that kind of person we used their last name, "Hey Bradley." Thank's for a good article. I would have called him just Lotsashit too.
Steve, so what nickname did they give you?
— Kevin (Germantown,MD)
My son is a Marine currently in Iraq. As a parent I cannot tell you how much I appreciate and look forward to each report. I can sense your affection and respect for the Marines, which gives us at home such close connection with "our" Marines so far from home, especially at Christmas. I watch each day hoping to see my dear and precious son in one of your reports, I'll keep watching just in case. All the Marines are special to we Marine parents. OOH-RAH and keep up the great work.
A fan, Chuck
Proud Marine Dad
I have enjoyed reading about just what our guys are going through and doing on a daily basis. Being the father of a soldier serving in the Ramadi area for months, and now in Ramadi itself I have had little real info. It allows me to have insight into the amazing bravery and professionalism our guys exhibit daily.
Thank you for putting yourself in harms way so the rest of can see the hell our infantry and Marines face everyday and night.
Proud father of an Infantry Sgt.
My son is a Marine over in Iraq and I miss him so much. I really enjoy your articles, they really make me giggle a bit and some make me cry. He has been there 5 months now and sometimes it is so surreal.
Thank you for your efforts to bring a bit of there over here.
We miss them all, stay safe
Very Proud Marine Mom
Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.