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The most hypnotic of virtues

Posted by Richard on August 26, 2005

Michael Yon is in Iraq at his own expense as an independent war correspondent. Yon is embedded with the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment — "Deuce Four" — and writes about its missions in Mosul. You can read his dispatches at his blog. In fact, I can’t urge you strongly enough to do so. This is war journalism as it ought to be done. And as no one else is doing it.

A while back, I read Yon’s Jungle Law and The Battle for Mosul: Reality Check. I promptly contributed $10 to help support his mission, and I intended to blog about him then, but got sucked into a Heinlein book and forgot. I’ve just read his latest, Gates of Fire — awesome. Set aside some time and read these three dispatches in the order I linked them. They’re long, but riveting, and Yon includes some remarkable pictures. You’ll get to know the Deuce Four commander, Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, and his men. There are gripping stories of Stryker operations and night-time raids, fascinating descriptions of the "insurgents" and their tactics and weapons, and an honest and intelligent look at what’s going well and what’s not in Iraq. And, by the way, Yon can write:

Thursday night, a revised plan had me following some Deuce Four soldiers on a midnight raid. They had night vision gear, so they moved quickly. I had only moonlight, so I nearly broke my leg keeping up. Sleeking around Mosul under moonlight, we prowled through the pale glow until we came upon a pond near a farmhouse. Recon platoon had already raided one house and snagged some suspects, then crept away in the darkness to another target close by.

Five soldiers from Recon—Holt, Ferguson, Yates, Welch and Ross—were moving through moon-cast shadows when an Iraqi man came out from a farmhouse, his AK-47 rifle hanging by his side. Suddenly encircled by the rifles, lights and lasers of four soldiers, the man was quickly disarmed. A fifth soldier radioed for the interpreter and together they sorted out that he was a farmer who thought the soldiers were thieves skulking around his property. Recon returned the man his rifle, and started making their way back, umbral and silent across the ploughed fields.

Hugh Hewitt noted that a long list of bloggers had posted about and linked to Michael Yon’s reports:

Why such interest?

Because courage is the most hypnotic of virtues, and Yon is a courageous man reporting on the deeds of other courageous men. I quote Thucydides in my review of The Great Raid, but it serves here as well:

"The secret to happiness is freedom and the secret to freedom is courage."

We know that. Everyone knows that. But it is only rare occasions on which we acknowledge it.

Go read Michael Yon’s dispatches and remind yourself of what it means to be courageous. You’ll feel better just knowing such people exist. And if you can spare a few bucks, please help keep Yon’s work going.


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2 Responses to “The most hypnotic of virtues”

  1. Rick Shultz said


    Thanks for posting this man. This dude has more balls than an elephant, and you’re right he’s

    a decent journalist to boot. Couldn’t ask for


    Rick Shultz

  2. Anonymous said

    Glad you liked it. I just wish his dispatches were appearing in major papers and newsweeklies. They deserve to be there, and I’m utterly certain it’s the kind of war reporting that their readers want.

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