History Wars Iraq War

A Grunt’s Iraq Tour In 10 Photos

After joining an airborne infantry unit in late 2003, Pvt. Mike Connolly found out that one company of infantry in the Maryland Guard would be heading to Iraq. The unit selected was not his, but was instead the one containing 1st Sgt. Don Connolly, Mike’s father.

After finagling a transfer to the deploying unit, Connolly spent the first of two tours deployed to Anbar province, from May 2005 to May 2006. He then deployed again as part of the Surge from May 2007 to May 2008. 

Related: 9 Photos Of Afghanistan In 2007 Through The Eyes Of One Marine »

While the U.S. military lost 844 service members in 2005 alone, Connolly’s unit managed to get through the tour without any killed in combat operations, though one soldier, Pfc. Carlton Newman, was killed in a training accident in the pre-mobilization phase. Connolly’s father survived both tours as well. This is the unit’s story through the eyes of Pvt. Connolly.

Email us your deployment photos with a short description to be featured on our Instagram @MyDeployment.

Summer 2005. Spc. Butler and I in front of our unit’s compound in Saba al-Bor. This compound was quickly named The Alamo, due to its isolated nature and the fate we were expecting as inhabitants.

Summer 2005. My dad, on the left, likely staring in disapproval at some sort of soldier-created fuckery. Our unit’s company commander is on the right, Capt. Borakove.

Fall 2005. This is me and my dad on patrol during a cordon and search operation. This is one of the few company-sized operations we did where we were close together.

Fall 2005. Members of my platoon and I exhausted after a long foot patrol in Saba al-Bor, Iraq. Our unit lived in an isolated compound in an Iraqi city for close to six months.

Fall 2005. A member of my platoon, Spc. Clayton, standing in a hole created by an IED our unit was hit by. We were less concerned about secondary IEDs than we probably should have been.

Fall 2005. The aftermath of one of our unit’s vehicles, after having been hit with a vehicle-borne IED. All occupants of our vehicle inexplicably survived the attack.

Fall 2005. Me, looking like a smug idiot on the way to another cordon and search operation. Air assault missions were by far my favorite, as they were a good change of pace from the constant vehicle and foot patrols.

Fall 2005. My squad leader, Staff Sgt. May, and I on an early morning cordon and search mission. We were excited to have lumbered into the area and searched the house behind us without waking the family asleep on the grass.

Spring 2006. A vehicle from my platoon on rear security for our convoy, after having destroyed another fuel tanker. Single-handedly doing our part as an infantry unit to accelerate climate change.

Spring 2006. This is me, happily having played a small role in destroying a fuel tanker that had broken down on a convoy. We did this so the insurgents couldn’t steal the fuel. For the last six months of this tour, we were escorting hundreds of tankers back and forth to and from Jordan to make sure they weren’t ambushed.

Email us your deployment photos with a short description to be featured on our Instagram @MyDeployment.