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February 22, 2005

Good news from Iraq

Will wonders never cease? There's good news from Iraq in the Washington Post. On the front page, yet.

Iraqi soldiers arrived at the scene where American forces were trying to recover the bodies of Americans servicemen from the water of a canal under frigid conditions. When the tanks of the Navy SEAL divers ran out of oxygen, the Iraqis fabricated a dredging tool and spent hours dredging the canal until the bodies were recovered.

During the harrowing day-long mission to recover the bodies of the Humvee's three occupants on Feb. 13, an Air Force firefighter also drowned. Five U.S. soldiers were treated for hypothermia. For five hours, three Navy SEAL divers searched the canal before their tanks ran out of oxygen.

What happened then, however, has transformed the relationship between the Iraqi soldiers and the skeptical Americans who train them. Using a tool they welded themselves that day at a cost of about $40, the Iraqis dredged the canal through the cold afternoon until the tan boot of Spec. Dakotah Gooding, 21, of Des Moines, appeared at the surface. The Iraqis then jumped into the water to pull him out, and went back again and again until they had recovered the last American. Then they stood atop the canal, shivering in the dark.

"When I saw those Iraqis in the water, fighting to save their American brothers, I saw a glimpse of the future of this country," said Col. Mark McKnight, commander of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, which had overall responsibility for the unit in the accident, his eyes tearing.
The story is long but worth reading. One of the most touching parts is this:
Asked why he now felt so strongly about helping the Americans, Abdul Mutalib said through an interpreter: "These people come 10,000 miles to help my country. They've left their families, their children. When we get hurt, they help treat us and take us to hospitals. If we can give them something back, just a little, we can show our thanks."
Read it through to the end.