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January 24, 2007 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-24

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My fiancee went to Falluja

Last summer, I got engaged. This
semester, a typical conversation with my
fianc6e goes something like this: He'll
ask how my classes are. I'll say, "They're
decent. I'm really enjoying my class on
Faust."
He might respond, "Isn't Faust one
story?"
"Well, yeah." And I'll explain, "There
are different versions of it. And the his-
tory of the story's progression ... oh, never
mind. How's your day been?"
He tells me, "Ah, well, you know, I'm at
war."
Then there's not much more to say.
My fianc6e, Daniel Mora, is an engi-
neering junior at the University.
He is also a Marine Reservist with the
1st Battalion 24th Regiment, a battalion
from Michigan deployed to Iraq this past
September.
I'm one of the thousands of girlfriends,
wives, mothers and fathers whose loved
ones have been sent to Iraq.
I'm fortunate. Daniel is able to call far
more often than most soldiers. I hear from
him typically once a week unless he's out
on a mission. I drop everything when he

calls.
Sitting on the futon in my living room,
playing Super Smash Brothers with my
housemates, I hear my phone. With a
quick yelp of "Sorry guys," I smash down
the Start button to pause the game, and I
grab my phone. The same number shows
up whenever he calls, so it's permanently
programmed into my phone as simply
"Iraq."
"Hello?"
"Hey, babe."
"Hi, hon!" My housemates smile as I
mouth an apology and disappear down
the stairs to my room. We go through the
typical "I love you, I miss you. How are
you?" of any long distance relationship,
but that's about the end of anything typi-
cal in our conversations. He's always got
a story, but will consistently claim, when
I ask him how his week or day has been,
that things are pretty boring and uninter-
esting.
This particular time, I told him about
the apartment I was looking at for us, then
I asked him if anything interesting was
happening with him.
He said, "Not really. Someone tried to

snipe me today."
"What?"
Then he went on to explain how he
was out on patrol doing a routine check
of a vehicle on the side of the road for an
improvised explosive device, when he
"heard a crack. I looked up and there was
a tracer stuck in the wall behind my head,
still burning."
Among thousands
with loved
one at war.
He paused. I waited.
"It was pretty sweet," he said.
Winston Churchill once said that
there's nothing as exhilarating as being
shot at without result. True to that, it
seems like anything that doesn't end up
killing you in Iraq is "pretty sweet."
I'm learning more military terminology
than I ever thought I would, considering
my hippie parents and Ann Arbor back-
ground. For example, I know that a tracer

is a bullet that ignites when fired, making
its path clearly visible to the gunman. I've
also learned about Improvised Explosive
Devices, bombs made out of whatever the
insurgent can get their hands on. They
terrified me, they still do.
I was pretty positive no one survived
them. But apparently it happens all the
time.
Three weeks ago, Dan called me and
said, "So, I got blown up today."
Blown up, in Iraq, could mean about a
hundred different things: his friends could
be killed; he could be scratched up; he
could be missing limbs. I tried to sputter
all these questions at once. He laughed.
He was fine, he said. The rest of the
convoy was fine. They had a scare though,
when driving through Falluja an I.E.D.
exploded next to the passenger side of
their Humvee. What flashed through his
head? Images of me? Childhood memo-
ries? No. He said he thought, "Huh, that
wasn't as loud as I expected it to be."
My life has become significantly strang-
er with these weekly conversations. I
guess that's really the best adjective to
See FALLUJA, page 2B

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