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They Fought for Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq

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Charlie 1-26 confronted one of the worst neighborhoods in Baghdad and lost more men than any battalion since Vietnam Based on “Blood Brothersâ€, the Michael Kelly Awardnominated series that ran in Army Times, this is the remarkable story of a courageous military unit that sacrificed their lives to change Adhamiya, Iraq, from a lawless town where insurgents roamed free Charlie 1-26 confronted one of the worst neighborhoods in Baghdad and lost more men than any battalion since Vietnam Based on “Blood Brothersâ€, the Michael Kelly Awardnominated series that ran in Army Times, this is the remarkable story of a courageous military unit that sacrificed their lives to change Adhamiya, Iraq, from a lawless town where insurgents roamed freely, to a secure neighborhood with open storefronts and a safe populace. Army Times writer Kelly Kennedy was embedded with Charlie Company in 2007, went on patrol with the soldiers and spent hours in combat support hospitals. During that period, one soldier threw himself on a grenade to save his friends, a well-liked first sergeant shot himself to death in front of his troops, and a platoon staged a mutiny. The men of Charlie 1- 26 would earn at least 95 combat awards, including one soldier who would go home with three Purple Hearts and a lost dream. This is a timeless story of men at war and a heartbreaking account of American sacrifice in Iraq.


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Charlie 1-26 confronted one of the worst neighborhoods in Baghdad and lost more men than any battalion since Vietnam Based on “Blood Brothersâ€, the Michael Kelly Awardnominated series that ran in Army Times, this is the remarkable story of a courageous military unit that sacrificed their lives to change Adhamiya, Iraq, from a lawless town where insurgents roamed free Charlie 1-26 confronted one of the worst neighborhoods in Baghdad and lost more men than any battalion since Vietnam Based on “Blood Brothersâ€, the Michael Kelly Awardnominated series that ran in Army Times, this is the remarkable story of a courageous military unit that sacrificed their lives to change Adhamiya, Iraq, from a lawless town where insurgents roamed freely, to a secure neighborhood with open storefronts and a safe populace. Army Times writer Kelly Kennedy was embedded with Charlie Company in 2007, went on patrol with the soldiers and spent hours in combat support hospitals. During that period, one soldier threw himself on a grenade to save his friends, a well-liked first sergeant shot himself to death in front of his troops, and a platoon staged a mutiny. The men of Charlie 1- 26 would earn at least 95 combat awards, including one soldier who would go home with three Purple Hearts and a lost dream. This is a timeless story of men at war and a heartbreaking account of American sacrifice in Iraq.

30 review for They Fought for Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brennan Beck

    As a soldier that served in Charlie Company, 1/26 in Adhamiya, I can speak from personal experience when i say this book is FULL of errors. Some of the mistakes are minor, stuff that any half-way decent author or editor should've caught before publication (example: on page 273 she writes 1st BN, 25th Regiment instead of 1/26). Many other errors are much more serious. I could rant on and on about those errors, but I'll leave only a few here. Page 215, she mentions all the soldiers injured/killed i As a soldier that served in Charlie Company, 1/26 in Adhamiya, I can speak from personal experience when i say this book is FULL of errors. Some of the mistakes are minor, stuff that any half-way decent author or editor should've caught before publication (example: on page 273 she writes 1st BN, 25th Regiment instead of 1/26). Many other errors are much more serious. I could rant on and on about those errors, but I'll leave only a few here. Page 215, she mentions all the soldiers injured/killed in the 3rd platoon Humvee that caught on fire - except for Flemming. I don't know how you could forget a whole soldier injured so horribly that 90% of his body was covered in burn wounds. That is more than a simple oversight. Another example: Page 183, you mention that Chagoya, Lawson, and Garcia were in the casualty evacuation truck that was hit by the IED. I don't know where you got your facts from, but his is completely incorrect. I know because I WAS IN THAT TRUCK. Our Humvee, that consisted of Garcia, Richardson, and myself, was the one that was hit with the IED. The medic, Lawson, and Chagoya were not in the vehicle. The same shrapnel that hit and killed Garcia also injured me, both in the back and leg. This all seems like pretty standard information that a reporter could have easily attained by looking at either patrol logs, sworn statements, incident reports, or by simply interviewing people who were actually there that day, rather than interviewing only a select few as she obviously did. It comes to no surprise that whenever I ask another service member from Charlie Company if they have read this book, that they all say no. Some attest to having tried to read it but became overly-frustrated only a little ways into it due to how horribly inaccurate so many of the "facts" in the book are. Others have heard such atrocious reviews that they have never even bothered picking it up. The only people that seem to have given this book 5 stars are those that weren't there, which seems to me is a horrible way to promote a book. This book was supposedly written to tell our (Charlie Company) story, so why is it that all of us can't stand the book? From the words of SSG Ian Newland: "Good initiative, bad judgement." This book might have been written to tell our story but it was executed so poorly that it is almost disgraceful to our unit. If you are going to write a book about us, spend the time and effort to get it right. I know you can't get everything correct, that mistakes are bound to happen, but there is a huge difference between misspelling someone's name and leaving out their entire experience and sacrifice. (I nearly chucked the book across the room when I noticed you left out Flemming's name). Appalling. Do Not Recommend.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Truly one of the more depressing and morale sapping accounts of a unit in the Iraq War I've read to date. Having said that, it's one of the books people should read to truly appreciate the depth of sacrifice front line US troops made in that war. Forced to see the mission through day by day by a high command who had no inkling of a clue what these soldiers were going through, casualties all but abandoned once out of the combat zone, the occasional "Dear John" situation, these guys got screwed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mason Lee

    *Spoiler* “They Fought for Each Other” by Kelly Kennedy is a non-fiction story of Charlie Company 1-26 of the United States Army stationed in Adhamiya, Iraq. The Pentagon believed that insurgents were based in Adhamiya so they sent Charlie Company over to a suburb of Baghdad. The company was led by Captain Mike Baka and First Sergeant Kenneth Hendrix. Charlie Company 1-26 is based at Schweinfurt, Germany. The soldiers first come to Schweinfurt and then get deployed to Iraq. A soldier’s daily life *Spoiler* “They Fought for Each Other” by Kelly Kennedy is a non-fiction story of Charlie Company 1-26 of the United States Army stationed in Adhamiya, Iraq. The Pentagon believed that insurgents were based in Adhamiya so they sent Charlie Company over to a suburb of Baghdad. The company was led by Captain Mike Baka and First Sergeant Kenneth Hendrix. Charlie Company 1-26 is based at Schweinfurt, Germany. The soldiers first come to Schweinfurt and then get deployed to Iraq. A soldier’s daily life would be to go on a Bradley tank out of Apache Base and to go on patrol. The soldiers have to look for roadside bombs, snipers, and IEDs which are mines. The IEDs are the biggest threat and are responsible of 60% of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. The soldiers are to also start a relationship with the people of the city. Captain Baka will go into a family’s house and start talking about if there is anything suspicious going around in the neighborhood. He then will show a picture of his wife, five year old daughter, and his newborn son. If the Iraqis are parents, they will cooperate with Baka and start liking the US soldiers. Captain McKinney was a new Captain while Captain Baka was on temporary leave. On patrols, Captain McKinney would start singing songs from famous commercials or famous kid movies to lessen the stress of the patrol. After feeling guilty of not being able to save Private First Class Jay Fain’s leg, Captain McKinney goes through depression. He stops eating, he can’t sleep, and doesn’t show the same vibe he had before. One day, an Iraqi interpreter is being too cautious on a patrol. Captain McKinney has enough and brings his M-4 to his jaw, ending his life. “At the end of the service, Hendrix put his hand on Floyd’s shoulder. ‘McKinney might have shot himself,’ Hendrix said. ‘But he didn’t kill himself. Iraq killed him’” (Kennedy pg. 263). The soldiers try not to blame each other for the loss of their friends, they say that if it wasn’t for Iraq, their friends could have still lived. Even though the soldiers are told that they are not causing their fellow soldiers’ deaths, they still blame themselves for not protecting their friends. ‘“I can’t- I don’t understand,’ he finally said. ‘That’s a human being there on the ground, and nobody cares.’ ‘Every household has an AK-47, yet they don’t take of their own,’ Baka said. ‘And where are the ambulances? Why are we the only ones providing medical assistance ‘“(Kennedy pg. 31)? The American Soldiers are shocked that Iraqis don’t help human beings crying for help on the streets. The soldiers don’t say this to others but it is no surprise that the soldiers look at the Iraqis as inhumane. Captain Baka finally says something about this in the quote above. He also says that the Americans are the only ones helping the wounded Iraqis. He complains that the households have protection with machine guns, but can’t help people in the streets that are breathing their final breaths. After a big IED explosion killing five soldiers, the remaining soldiers were never the same again. The soldiers weren’t as cheerful and more serious on their patrols. They were more protective of one another and kept recalling their friends who died with honor. “ The Blue Spaders wanted people to know who had died: That Campos had a son who would grow up without a father. That Agami would give up the shirt from his own back to make sure Johnson had clothing after his laundry had been stolen. That McGinnis would throw himself on the grenade. That Hartge always had a grin, even on the worst days. The men who died had stories. ‘Americans?’ Johnson said talking at the TV. ‘You don’t support us. You don’t know. You don’t have a clue. Say thanks and walk away. Leave us alone. We don’t want to talk about it. If you want to know, sign up and find out. Other than that, live in your happy fairytale world’” (Kennedy pg. 248). Some soldiers do not want want the people to know and are unappreciative of the citizens back home. The soldiers do not want people to know the horrors of Iraq and do not want the people’s sympathy because they do not know what it is really like. “McGinnis’s death earned the Iraqi kid $50. It earned McGinnis the Medal of Honor” (Kennedy pg. 113). Private First Class Ross McGinnis was in a Humvee while on patrol. He was the only one who saw a grenade in the Humvee and gave several warnings. His fellow soldiers couldn’t find the grenade so he jumped on the grenade sacrificing his own life by saving others. The Iraqi kid of about fifteen years, got fifty dollars from the insurgents. McGinnis sacrificed his life so that his other friends could live. Sacrifice was a huge part in this book because all the soldiers sacrificed their time, service, and sometimes life for our freedom. Kathy Kennedy wrote this book so Americans can know about war and battlefield stress first hand. Many people feel bad for the soldiers having to sacrifice their lives, but like Johnson said, people do not really know and many people do not care. This book is about strength, honor, sacrifice, humanity, and coping with stress. This book is worth reading and a very good book if you want to join the military and want to see what war is really like.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Carr

    Powerful telling of a reporter's time embedded in Iraq in 2007. Familiar themes are made personal through first-hand stories, as the company experiences the highs and lows of war, particularly a war they weren't supposed to "win" in the traditional sense. Kennedy shows us the bonds that are forged in combat and how they're affected by death. She points out issues in strategies and military politics without being judgmental. Most importantly, she shows us a platoon pushed to its breaking point, f Powerful telling of a reporter's time embedded in Iraq in 2007. Familiar themes are made personal through first-hand stories, as the company experiences the highs and lows of war, particularly a war they weren't supposed to "win" in the traditional sense. Kennedy shows us the bonds that are forged in combat and how they're affected by death. She points out issues in strategies and military politics without being judgmental. Most importantly, she shows us a platoon pushed to its breaking point, finding the limits of what even hardened soldiers can handle, during and after battle. I've read similar stories from WWII and Vietnam veterans, and reading them anew about the recent Iraq war makes the realities even more potent.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A very informative account of one of the most horrific tours in Iraq. This is an unbelievable true story. I read it from cover to cover because I had to know what happened to these men that I came to know and love. I cried through most of it, but it was worth all of the tears. As you get to know these men, you too will come to love them... and you will laugh out loud... and then you will cry. Every American should read this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eric Barnes

    Few books help to bring reality of war to it's readers.. to explain in real terms what the military has to endure on a daily basis. This book has helped me to fully understand what my family had to go thru in Iraq. It makes you fully appreciate those that serve for us.. and the immediate/long-term injuries that they have to deal with. Thank you for the book Kelly... and thank you for describing the incident that saved my brother-in-law's life... thank you Ross for your ultimate sacrifice.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Gray

    This is a very well written work on a heartbreaking subject. The story of C/1-26 Infantry in Iraq, one of the hardest hit units in the war grips you from the beginning and doesn't let go. I applaud the author for writing this without any political leanings or opinions. Having served in Iraq I valued the story of what happened at home after the casualties started happening. If there was a 6 Star rating this book would get it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eric Johnson

    Coming into the Company after Iraq (for Afghanistan) it's an interesting account of what happened and what stigma we had to erase after that fact. But it is a great book nonetheless a great book all around.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Everyone should read this book. I have long felt disconnected from the war in Iraq and the experience of our soldiers. This brought the war home in so many ways. Here's hoping that Ms. Kennedy follows up with the soldiers in the future and gives us an opportunity to see how they are doing now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Seth Jones

    This was a very emotional read. I was in their brigade. It is the best account written by a reporter I have encountered.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Brosch porfirio

    Heart wrenching and engaging ... I grew so attached to everyone in this book ... My son was in Afghanistan as an infantry soldier doing this job and I wanted to learn all I could about what he did

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claudius West

    Loved this book. I recommend this reading for those that want look into the real world of modern warfare. The brotherhood, the missions, the harsh realities.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I read the book and found it to be a bit cumbersome to read. The style was inconsistent. Some parts were predictable. I read this thinking that overall the story was well done despite the shortcomings that I found in the book. I am an emergency responder and one of the big topics these days is critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) which is done to combat PTSD. I found the impact of PTSD on the soldiers to be well treated. That is........... until I read the review of the book by one of the s I read the book and found it to be a bit cumbersome to read. The style was inconsistent. Some parts were predictable. I read this thinking that overall the story was well done despite the shortcomings that I found in the book. I am an emergency responder and one of the big topics these days is critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) which is done to combat PTSD. I found the impact of PTSD on the soldiers to be well treated. That is........... until I read the review of the book by one of the soldiers who were there. This has cast doubt on the veracity of the entire book. He points out the factual errors he found in the book. They are similar to what you see in newspapers. Had I read his review before reading the book, I probably would have skipped it and found a better book on the subject..... one written by a soldier.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Warren Whitmire

    Overall: Quite simply, this book is one of the best narratives of small unit combat that I've ever read. What I didn't like about the book: Some of the author's details about combat operations are incorrect, according to some members of the unit. I noticed a few small errors myself (I am retired Army, and although I did not serve with this unit, I knew some of those described in the book). Those minor inaccuracies are the only aspect of the book that prevented me from giving it five stars. What I Overall: Quite simply, this book is one of the best narratives of small unit combat that I've ever read. What I didn't like about the book: Some of the author's details about combat operations are incorrect, according to some members of the unit. I noticed a few small errors myself (I am retired Army, and although I did not serve with this unit, I knew some of those described in the book). Those minor inaccuracies are the only aspect of the book that prevented me from giving it five stars. What I did like about the book: Pretty much everything else. The author did a good job of tying together vignettes from families at home, soldiers fighting a war, and wounded soldiers trying to figure out an incomprehensible system that was supposed to care for them. She described the moderate stress of incoming rockets and mortars as well as the intense stress of firefights. Most importantly, she did a fine job of presenting the soldiers as ordinary men in extraordinary situations. I encourage junior leaders in the Army and Marine Corps read this book and absorb the numerous leadership lessons between its covers. I encourage civilians to read this book to get an on-the-ground look at modern urban counterinsurgency. Finally, I recommend anyone with a political axe to grind avoid this book because the author wisely chose to make the book about the men and their families and not about her own agenda.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ekoozmin

    I was challenged by my clergy to read something about soldiers who don’t come home so that we could fully realize the meaning of Memorial Day. In all it’s gruesome personal detail, this book served that purpose well. My heart breaks for the survivors who came home and have suffered and have not been given the respect they deserve. War is hell.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Canfield

    I just finished the book They Fought for Each Other by Kelly Kennedy. This book talks about a girl named Kelly, and her experience in war and about all the things that have happened. it also talks about all the soldiers, and their journeys along the way and what it was like there, and they also express the feelings they have for their team, and how they have each other’s backs and that they will always be there for each other. it also talks about their work and how important it is to them, And t I just finished the book They Fought for Each Other by Kelly Kennedy. This book talks about a girl named Kelly, and her experience in war and about all the things that have happened. it also talks about all the soldiers, and their journeys along the way and what it was like there, and they also express the feelings they have for their team, and how they have each other’s backs and that they will always be there for each other. it also talks about their work and how important it is to them, And the fact that they are willing to die for our country. They also talk about all the emotions of having to leave there families and how hard it is to leave every time they come back home, and wondering if they will make it home the next time. Anyways I thought it was a really good book and that you all should read it. Number of pages: 318

  17. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    This book is a tough read. It took me about a month to get through it. and that's not because it isn't a good book. The story is amazing and sad. It's full of courage and heroism. I got to knowyoung soldiers stationed in the most dangerous region in Iraq. I learned about their dedication to one another, their mission, and the people of Adhamiya. I learned about who they were in another life, back in the United States and on base in Germany. And I learned about IEDs and the lives those weapons st This book is a tough read. It took me about a month to get through it. and that's not because it isn't a good book. The story is amazing and sad. It's full of courage and heroism. I got to knowyoung soldiers stationed in the most dangerous region in Iraq. I learned about their dedication to one another, their mission, and the people of Adhamiya. I learned about who they were in another life, back in the United States and on base in Germany. And I learned about IEDs and the lives those weapons stole, both American and Iraqi. This battalion lost more men than any other in Iraq. Their story is inspirational. Excellent choice for older teens!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah

    I give this book four stars because of its content: an account of real-life in the US Army. Ideals are great, as is patriotism, charity, etc. As I read this book, I became emotional more than once as stories were shared about how soldiers gave their lives in this conflict. More heart-wrenching than those deaths, though, were the effects on those left behind. The toll upon the families of military service members is unnecessary and immoral. There are tens of millions of Americans that should be I give this book four stars because of its content: an account of real-life in the US Army. Ideals are great, as is patriotism, charity, etc. As I read this book, I became emotional more than once as stories were shared about how soldiers gave their lives in this conflict. More heart-wrenching than those deaths, though, were the effects on those left behind. The toll upon the families of military service members is unnecessary and immoral. There are tens of millions of Americans that should be engaged in these so-called "wars". Instead, less than 1% of our countrymen and women face circumstances akin to these... What a blight upon our great country and nation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steven1996

    The book was full of hardships the soilders faced, one of many examples would be when a humvee exploded and killed many and injured many more, however the book wasnt totally accurate in its account of the events. With little research i discoved the book didnt mention a soilder, his name was flemming and he was a survivor of the attack, most of his body was destroyed by burns but her persevered. the book in genral does a fine job of displaying the soilders pain while at the same time entertaining The book was full of hardships the soilders faced, one of many examples would be when a humvee exploded and killed many and injured many more, however the book wasnt totally accurate in its account of the events. With little research i discoved the book didnt mention a soilder, his name was flemming and he was a survivor of the attack, most of his body was destroyed by burns but her persevered. the book in genral does a fine job of displaying the soilders pain while at the same time entertaining the audience with a captivating story. This book kept me wondering until the very last page and i would definitely recommend it to a friend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Vaillancourt

    I think its a good book with learning curve and learn how people in the danger of their life they do anything to get out of the situation to survie and care for eachother. I cant really make an connects to see what they been going throw cuz i never had to fight for my life , if i join the army I could understand them and see what they go throw and have a great connects witha new group of friends and we will have that connects as no one else had and have that honnor and respect of eachother

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell Lapora

    Utterly one of the most in-depth military novels I have ever read. The true horrors of war are exposed here as a group known as Charlie Company go through numerous triumphs and torments during their tour in Iraq. With deaths of good friends and the absence of any gain because of their work, there were times in this book that almost brought me to tears. If anyone wants to learn what our soldiers go through when they're out there, this is the book to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Miranda

    This was a book I Needed to read. It definitely is a tough one. I found it to be incredibly heartbreaking and important. I feel fortunate to get a glimpse of what happened to these young brave men who were up against the most devastating of circumstances. It's an intimate look at some of these men's individual stories as well as the company as a whole. This read was accompanied by an overwhelming sense of guilt and gratitude simultaneously.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    An eye-opening look at what really goes on over there. Will make you proud of our troops and sad for them at the same time. Strength and Honor. We need to do more to remember and honor our young men and women overseas. Many of whom aren't even sure why they are there or what they've accomplished, but carry on in the name of duty just the same.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zoraida Terry

    I read the reviews of a soldier who was actually in this unit in Iraq. Glad I didn't put this story in my mind as all true. Also, each time she told a little about a soldier he died two paragraphs later. So you knew what was going to happen. My hearts go out to each of them and as many of them wanted I am saying Thank You and I could never nor do I want to go thru what you did or made to do!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt Nichols

    I highly recommend it for all company grade leaders (officers & NCO's), especially in the US Army and USMC. It covers a deployment from the viewpoints of the Soldiers down range, the wounded warriors, and the families back home. Fairly comprehensive look at a deployment from multiple viewpoints, and from train-up to reset. I highly recommend it for all company grade leaders (officers & NCO's), especially in the US Army and USMC. It covers a deployment from the viewpoints of the Soldiers down range, the wounded warriors, and the families back home. Fairly comprehensive look at a deployment from multiple viewpoints, and from train-up to reset.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bette

    One of the most humorous points in the book was when the the company was calling their new Battalion Commander "Lord Farquaad" (Shrek). They said it was because he looked like him :0) and the way he command their battalion reminded them of him. I will never look at Lord Farquaad the same, LMAO

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Disappointing having read The Only Thing Worth Dying for by Eric Blehm before it. The narrative was pretty weak and while I think the author was inspired, it didn't come through very well; I might blame the editor as much as anyone for this one.

  28. 4 out of 5

    James McLaughlin

    A tale of a US Army combat battalion in Iraq. While the story is important to document and tell I found the book to be cumbersome. I struggled to complete the read and did so out of a sense of loyalty to the men and women portrayed in the book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shawna

    Kelly did an amazing job. It was a very hard read because of the personal and nature of the contents; however I appreciated getting a glimpse of what life was like for Ryan and his fellows soldiers. I think it is an absolute must read for everyone

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    I read this book last year and it was another really good book about war. This one is during the Iraq war and is very similar to the book I just finished called The Names Not on The Wall. Very good reading and very enlightening. I recommend this book very highly.

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