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Combat Story

Oct 25, 2020

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This is the Combat Story of Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an infantry and special operations officer, for which he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. 

As a Marine, he led a platoon in Fallujah II during some of the most brutal fighting in the post-9/11 era. 

His story will resonate to anyone who fought in urban combat and, in particular, the leadership challenges small unit leaders face, especially newly minted officers. His platoon’s experience in Fallujah II is exactly what you think about when you hear stories of this operation and included losing half his Marines in less than 24 hours.

After his time in the Marine Corps, Elliot also served as a paramilitary officer in the CIA.

After his time in uniform, Elliot became a novelist and journalist. He has published five books and his fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Ecotone and others. He is also a contributor to The Daily Beast. 

His books include: Green on Blue: A Novel, Dark at the Crossing, Waiting for Eden, Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning, Red Dress in Black & White.  
Show Notes:

9:39 - Never understood war until I had kids.
14:22 - Why the Marines?
20:57 - The best advice I never took.
23:47 - Discussion with Doug Zembiec, who was later killed in Iraq, for advice.
31:35 - SGT Bonatie pushing back on a young PL.
37:10 - Description of Dean Long and the GPWD (Great Patriotic War in the Desert).
42:53 - Phase Line Fran in Fallujah (battlefield map ; Marine Corps' battle). 
48:35 - Sunny Risler led his mobile platoon through the battle to help MEDEVAC some of Elliot’s wounded out.
49:22 - Pushing back with leadership when your unit is exposed.
51:21 - Nearly hit by a PKM. “It’s suicide if we go out there.”
55:50 - Combat leadership sucker punch.
56:05 - Going from 46 to 21 combat effective Marines.
1:04:29 - The bravest thing I ever saw in Fallujah.
1:08:17 - One of the most challenging things: talking to a Marine who couldn’t go anymore.