Michael's Dispatches

Little Girl


First Published May 14, 2005

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Major Mark Bieger found this little girl after the car bomb that attacked our guys while kids were crowding around. The soldiers here have been angry and sad for two days. They are angry because the terrorists could just as easily have waited a block or two and attacked the patrol away from the kids. Instead, the suicide bomber drove his car and hit the Stryker when about twenty children were jumping up and down and waving at the soldiers. Major Bieger, I had seen him help rescue some of our guys a week earlier during another big attack, took some of our soldiers and rushed this little girl to our hospital. He wanted her to have American surgeons and not to go to the Iraqi hospital. She didn’t make it. I snapped this picture when Major Bieger ran to take her away. He kept stopping to talk with her and hug her.

The soldiers went back to that neighborhood the next day to ask what they could do. The people were very warm and welcomed us into their homes, and many kids were actually running up to say hello and to ask soldiers to shake hands.

Eventually, some insurgents must have realized we were back and started shooting at us. The American soldiers and Iraqi police started engaging the enemy and there was a running gun battle. I saw at least one IP who was shot, but he looked okay and actually smiled at me despite the big bullet hole in his leg. I smiled back.

One thing seems certain; the people in that neighborhood share our feelings about the terrorists. We are going to go back there, and if any terrorists come out, the soldiers hope to find them. Everybody is still very angry that the insurgents attacked us when the kids were around. Their day will come.

[Post Script]
The reaction to my photo of Major Bieger cradling Farah, the little girl who died in his arms, provoked a flood of messages and heartfelt responses from caring people around the world. I have spent the last several days trying to read every message, and respond to as many as possible, but the flow has finally outpaced me, much as the swiftness of a river will finally defeat even the most determined swimmer.

This morning there was a banging on my door. It was “Q,” loaded for battle, weapon in hand, wearing the military radio headphones with the microphone that wrapped around his face. Bang, Bang, Bang! Q hit my door.

“Mike! Where are you?!”
“Hold on,” I said, opening the door.
“Why aren’t you ready! Grab your gear . . . we’re going!” My worn-out boots sat empty in the corner.
“I can’t go today,” I said, glancing in the direction of my laptop.
“Just tell them I can’t go today.”
“Okay!” And Q trotted off back to his Stryker, leaving me behind. The soldiers rolled out on their mission without me.

And now I sit here, answering a few final emails, while the men of Deuce Four patrol in Mosul. My hands may be here, but my head and heart are on the streets in the struggle. I’ve been riding the wave of interest and feedback from that photo, but I need to get back to what I seem best equipped to do–posting dispatches about what is happening here in Iraq. I will continue to read every message, and I offer my sincere thanks in advance for everyone who takes the time to send one, but, alas, with this dispatch, I must swim to shore.



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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tyler Garff · 5 years ago
    Michael. Your picture was gut wrenching. It's hard to imagine, that's your everyday reality. You live on a razor's edge. You stare down bullets and, sometimes survive by inches. On this earth, there is none, or anything so Courageous as a US soldier. Protectors of the homeland and the millions who love it and you as well. Your Bravery is of Historic proportions. Each one of you , willing, God forbid, to give all that is precious, say even your soul up to God's grace. Your service is valued above that of rubies and gems. Each one of you a hero in his own rite. You fight for the right. You are all heroes the greatest of men. Women and children count the days until you come home. So come home quickly, soon as your job is done. Stay safe my Heroes. God bless you everyone
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul · 5 years ago

    Someone has modified and reproduced your image in a drawing and made commercial use in a book.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1660158 242 95 0&set=pb.100007 61 542 8.-2207520000.1458261049
    http://www.armee-media.com/2016/0 /07/morte-dans-mes-bras/comment-page-1/#comment-100 02
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeremy Williams · 4 years ago
    I just sent you a message about the DH20 crash in Helmand Province 2012. What struck me was the article just prior to that one was the Little Girl article. I was flying Medevac there in Mosul when this all happened as well. 1159th. Was a busy year for us, and Mosul and Talafar were where we grew up as Med crews. I will have to agree with you that the stryker brigade was a tough bunch and served our country honorably in Iraq 2005. Dustoff (Medevac Misfits)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Colin Michaud · 4 years ago
    Jeremy. Thank you for your comment about the 1st StriSStryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. My son served there in 2004-5. They did fantastic work, and won the Battle for Mosul.
  • This commment is unpublished.
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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ben · 3 years ago
    Just read this today on "the Chive" at work TEARS in my eyes I HATE WHEN KIDS ARE HURT/KILLED! Makes no sense-makes me question if god exists!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    3-21 Bushmaster · 9 months ago
    This picture hit Gab today 16 years later! I'm proud of you 2-4 and my unit -21, we chewed the same groundand were forged in fire.

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