I think I've found one cause where we can actually make a little difference on the war here in Iraq with this little project.
Max is an 18 year old Iraqi man from Baghdad, he has been working for the coalition forces as an interpreter since he was 16 years old, first with the Marines, and for the past year with Bravo company. Max appears in several pictures I took on yesterday's patrol, in every picture his face is covered to protect his identity, and we take extreme care to make sure we don't do anything that might reveal his identity.
He has been in combat almost daily for 17 months. He wears the same uniform and carries the same weapons as our soldiers, but he has no formal military training. He has been IED'd multiple times, and holds his own in every fire fight. There is no doubt that if he were to return to Baghdad today he would be killed, and so he has no choice but to keep doing what he is doing.
Max's father is unemployed, and he and Max's mother and two brothers live in a dangerous part of Baghdad (they all are I guess). Max sends most of the $1,000 dollars he earns each month home to support his family.
Captain Chip Rankin, the Bravo Company commander, is launching a full force campaign to bring Max home to the US with Bravo Company. There are 8 interpreters with Bravo Company, but only one Max, he has given a great deal, essentially given up the rest of his life in Iraq to support his family, and he is still one of the most cheerful, charming, exceptional people you have ever met.
Max's ambitions are modest. He would like to finish high school, and then maybe join the US Military. The military is the only thing he knows, and so I think his eyes may open to broader options when he gets to US, and sees that there is more to life than war.
Unfortunately the official waiting list to get Max to the US is years long in Max's circumstances, and there are no easy answers. So what can we do to help? Get the word out, and make sure that our elected officials know Max's story.
Governor Pawlenty, Senators Coleman and Kolbuchar, and all Minnesotans serving in government, you assistance is greatly appreciated.
Day by Day, by Chris Muir (updated daily)
Chris Muir is the cartoonist that I met in Kuwait. He spent two weeks in Iraq at the same time I was there in February 2007, and so thought it would relevant to showcase his work on my site. Here is a link to Chris' humorous travelogue of this Iraq trip: http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/03/arrival_alignright_v.php