Husaybah, al-Anbar Province, Iraq
Four of my Marine Force Recon teammates lay spread-eagle in deep sleep on the dusty concrete floor beside me. As they recovered from physical and emotional exhaustion, Brian and I stood watch, scanning the city from the blasted-out windows of the building’s top floor. Before dawn, our team had clandestinely occupied the abandoned Saddam-era Iraqi government office, known to us as the “Crack House.” Miraculously, we had remained unseen from the vigilant civilians and combatants by low-crawling in through a weed- and shit-filled ditch which ran next to our new hide site. Like hunters eager to kill a trophy buck, we searched the alleyways below with high-powered optics, hoping to catch our prey off-guard as the sun rose.