Real Friends in Baghdad, Iraq. Military Police with Iraqi girl.
Specialist Alissa Crump and Binee embrace for a hug after one of our weekly visits in the above photograph. (Circa May 2008)
During my 2007-2008 deployment to Baghdad, Iraq, I met a lot of kind, respectful, and friendly Iraqis. Two of the friendliest people we met were Binee and Narjis aka “the girls”. We first met them while on a routine mission to a local Baghdad police station. The girls’ father, an Iraqi Policeman (IP) moved his family close to the IP station for safety reasons, along with being displaced from the dangers of their Sadr City home. Insurgents in Iraq were known to target Iraqi police and their families to fuel terrorism.
Binee’s father suffered from excruciating back pain which limited his ability to work and provide for his family. Because of that fact the members of Second Squad rallied to help support the war-torn family.
Every time we went “outside the wire” regardless of where the mission took us, my Squad leader (2nd Squad) made sure our trucks were stocked with humanitarian supplies. Whether we carried food, candy, footballs, medicine, school supplies, or even just beanie babies it got disturbed to those in need.
Our squad always volunteered for missions that took us to Binee and Narjis’ IP station. We took every opportunity to deliver supplies along with some good cheer. It was also just important to see them, making sure they were safe and secure.
Specialist Alissa Crump led ALL of our squads humanitarian efforts for which she eventually received an army achievement medal. She rallied second squads effort to purchase ‘the family’ blankets, vitamins, and other necessities from the Liberty PX. During the month of December Alissa went above and beyond and collected money to fund a minor online clothing shopping spree for the girls.
The language barrier was an issue at first, but we knew a little Arabic and they knew a bit of English. With the aid of our “terp” we also corresponded with the family by exchanging letters at the conclusion of each visit.
During one of our last visits with the girls, Alissa had to tell them that we would be leaving (not disclosing the date due to OPSEC, of course) which resulted in much sadness from both sides of the table. During that visit the unthinkable happened, the family gave Alissa their Koran. That transaction does not happen in the Arabic culture. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brendan Mackie)