January 7, 2005

In Country

What life is like for American soldiers in Iraq.


Host Ira Glass talks to Tom Irwin, a stand-up comic who recently performed for American troops all around Iraq for over a month. It seems his best joke, about Iraqi sheep farmers, only makes sense if you're a soldier on deployment. Irwin's one-man show about his trip is called "25 Days in Iraq." (2 minutes)
Act One

When Weekend Warriors Work On Weekdays

When an Arkansas National Guard Unit is sent off to Iraq, they assume they're going to help rebuild the country, since they're trained as an engineering unit. But once they arrive, they find themselves in a combat zone, unprepared and ill-equipped. Their trucks, for instance, are from the 1950s and 1960s. The unit's story is told in a documentary television series Off to War, which is on the Discovery Times cable channel. Ira interviews the filmmakers, Brent and Craig Renaud, and talks to a few of the guardsmen still stationed north of Baghdad. We also hear clips from the documentary. The series is produced by DCTV in New York. (39 minutes)

Act Two

Marine Life

Rob Miller is a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps commanding a weapons platoon in "Charlie Company" of the First Battalion, Eighth Marines. He led his men recently in the battle of Fallujah, and in a recent satellite phone call, he told This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt (who also happens to be his uncle) what we never seem to hear elsewhere: Details of what it's like to fight house-to-house in urban warfare. One of the weirdest moments in the recent battle of Fallujah? Hearing the psy-ops unit blast funky 1970s music across the city as Rob's battalion began its push. All he could think of, he says, was the movie Full Metal Jacket. (15 minutes)