Jewish World Review May 28, 2003 / 26 Iyar, 5763
Military man says he feels more welcome in Iraq than in many European countries
BAGHDAD "If you don't like kids, you are not going to enjoy this,"
Sgt. Philip Lorino, 27, from Birmingham, Ala., told Staff Sgt. Esperidion
Jaramillo, 40, from Maui, Hawaii, and Sgt. Jayson Ronneberg, 30, from
The kids were everywhere. They swarmed the sentry posts, and around Humvees
on patrol when they paused, grinning and waving and giving the thumbs-up
sign. They ask soldiers their names, and asked them to play soccer.
"The kids will just eat you alive," Lorino emphasized, after teasing with a
group of eight who surrounded the Humvee in which he and Jaramillo were
riding. "It's a good thing school has started up again." But it was clear he
took pleasure in amusing the children.
Lorino is a squad leader in A Co., 3/7 Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.
Jaramillo and Ronneberg are squad leaders in C Co., 1/6 Infantry, First
Armored Division, which is taking over responsibility for A 3/7 in the
Karradah neighborhood of downtown Baghdad.
One of the most diverse neighborhoods in Baghdad, Karradah is essentially a
peninsula formed by a bend of the Tigris. Nearly half the people in the
district are Christians. About 30 percent are Sunni Muslims, 20 percent are
Shiia Muslims. There is a commercial district where virtually anything from
whiskey to bananas to satellite TVs can be purchased, but most of the area
is residential. The residential areas range from upper middle class to poor.
Lorino's platoon is encamped in a small hotel in the heart of the district,
across the street from the St. Raphael hospital, which is affiliated with
the Catholic church another block over. The platoon to which Jaramillo and
Ronneberg belong will take it over once the 3rd ID leaves for home in a week
Lorino, Jaramillo and Ronneberg were on what the Army calls a "right seat
They were patrolling through the neighborhood, with Lorino showing Jaramillo
and Ronneberg the boundaries of the company's area of operations, and the
key facilities and landmarks within it.
Later, Jaramillo and Ronneberg will take Lorino on a "left seat side." The
First Armored Division soldiers will conduct the mixed patrol with the 3rd
ID soldiers, with Lorino there to offer advice if the 1st Armored Division
soldiers encounter an unfamiliar situation.
They were likely to hear a fair amount of gunfire, Lorino told Jaramillo and
Ronneberg, but most of it is nothing to worry about.
"Just about every Iraqi has a gun," Lorino said. "The Iraqis shoot [into the
air] when they are happy. They shoot when they're sad. They shoot when the
[electric] power comes on. They shoot when the power goes off."
Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division told their 1st Armored Division
counterparts that they'd never been shot at since hostilities ended, but
there was a good deal of Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence. Lorino pointed out to
Jaramillo and Ronneberg the site of a multiple homicide that had taken place
several days earlier.
Crime syndicates are forming and are fighting for turf, the 3rd ID soldiers
"There are so many people [in the Karradah neighborhood], so much territory
to cover, it makes it difficult to catch the Ali Babas," said Spc. Marcus
Cole, 22, a 3rd ID soldier from Waynesburg, Pa.
The crime problem aside, Iraqis in the Karradah district have been very
friendly with the Americans.
Locals are constantly offering soldiers tea and cigarettes, and often bring
lunch to the soldiers stationed at Outpost Church, Lorino said.
"I think I've seen a nicer face of Islam, a face I didn't know about before
I came here," Lovino said.
When he saw the dilapidated housing in which many in the Karradah district
live, compared with the splendor of Saddam's palaces across the Tigris, "I
felt sad for them," Ronneberg said. "But it was great that the children were
so happy to see us."
He feels more welcome in Iraq than he has in many European countries,
"I'm based in Germany," he said. "Everywhere I traveled in Europe before the
war, there was some kind of demonstration [against the U.S.]."
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© 2002, Jack Kelly