The Story Behind the Name

“Tomorrow morning at dawn, we’re going after Zarqawi.”

Zarqawi! Everyone is abuzz. The most wanted man in Iraq, the very face of evil—no way. This is something big.

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Much like life itself, many of my missions in Iraq didn’t turn out quite the way I’d expected or planned. Sent to capture Zarqawi, we missed him by mere hours…but we got his ice cream.

The following is an excerpt from Zarqawi’s Ice Cream, demonstrating how a book of Iraq war stories came to be called something so seemingly random…and how even the most dire of situations have a silver lining.

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Two dozen men, women, and children remain in the house. We bring the prisoners outside, in front of the house, and watch them. Presumably, they’re friends, family, or associates of Zarqawi’s, but they look like typically wretched Iraqis to me. The men are bound and forced to squat. We sit the women and children on the ground, apart from the men. The infantry are tired and hungry. The adrenaline ebbs, and our stomachs growl ravenously. There is nothing to do. We take turns watching prisoners and wandering through the house. Although it looks as if it’s been hit by a missile, I can tell this was once a magnificent Iraqi estate. The spacious house is three stories tall, filled with art, and tastefully decorated. These people may or may not know Zarqawi, but they know somebody.

The bathroom is still a hole in the floor. They’re usually dirt, but this mansion has a porcelain-lined hole. I escort a little Iraqi boy to use his family’s hole in the floor. In a cracked mirror, I stare deep into my bloodshot eyes and find no answers. We bring the women blankets to lie on while scream at their men for struggling against their restraints. The women stare at us with cold, undying hatred, and I don’t blame them. Rangers destroyed their home, we shot at their men, and now I have to escort them to the bathroom. This is bullshit. Where’s Zarqawi?

“Sergeant D, do you know if the Rangers got Zarqawi?”

“No. They didn’t.” I don’t know how he knows these things, but Sergeant D is always right. “He was here, but we waited too long. Zarqawi left a few hours before we got here.

“How much longer are we going to be here?”

“Get comfortable.”

The hours limp by, and the troops are disgruntled. We’re bored, sleep deprived, and above all, hungry. Durk comes downstairs drinking a soda.

“Where’d you get that?”

“Found it in the mini-fridge in the parents’ room. I left a thank-you note.”

“Was there any food in there?”

“Don’t think so—just sodas and ice cream.”

“Ice cream!” Several infantrymen leap up.

Sure enough, there’s a box of chocolate ice-cream bars in the freezer, and Durk’s note: “Dear Zarqawi, thank you for the soda. I’ll get you back one day. Your friend, Durk.” We stuff our pockets full of ice cream and go back outside.

All of a sudden, life isn’t so bad. We’ve been standing in the heat for hours watching a bunch of women and children, that bastard Zarqawi is still free, but at least we have his ice cream. A piece of chocolate flakes off my ice-cream bar and lands on my machine gun, I don’t brush it off. Sergeant Todd looks angry.

“Hey! What the fuck you think you’re doing?”

“What, Sergeant?”

“You can’t eat in front of the prisoners.”

Durk and I don’t say anything. We look sheepish and flash our best puppy-dog eyes.

“Ah, hell. Just go around the corner, take turns watching ’em . . . and can I have one?”

Sure, Sergeant.

One of the elderly women looks at us with more hate than before. Durk figures it must be her ice cream. The children look at us with sad, hungry eyes until we give them some bars. Soon we’re all munching Zarqawi’s ice cream together.

The sun is high in the sky. We’ve been here since dawn. It’s been a long day already.  Melted chocolate tastes milky sweet to our impoverished taste buds. The vanilla cream in the middle slides down our parched throats and is a balm to our empty stomachs. I suck the last bits of chocolate off the wooden stick as the Iraqi men look at us with despondent eyes. Not only are their legs on fire, but there isn’t enough ice cream for them. Did the Nazis eat ice cream while their prisoners watched? If they didn’t, they should have. Nothing satisfies like ice cream after destroying someone’s home and shooting at their loved ones.

Then it is time to go. There are only two things on my mind as I climb into the Two Truck for the ride home on Vanessa: a decent meal and a couple of hours’ sleep. Fifteen minutes from the FOB, in the middle of dream, an explosion rocks the right side of the Humvee. Shrapnel peppers the side and sends spider webs through my window. No one is hurt, but we’re awake again.

“God damn it, not another IED!” Sergeant D is incredulous.

“That makes number four.” Vanessa scores another hit on the Two Truck.

“Damn you, Zarqawi!” Bob shakes his fist in the air.

“Think he did it?”

“Of course he did,” Bob reasons. “We destroyed his house, shot at his family and friends—hell, we even ate his ice cream. This was his revenge.”

Durk just shakes his head. “But I left him a note.”

* * *

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Faces of the War in Iraq

Here’s an article from Associated Content…

Faces of the War in Iraq

We All Have Our Own Definition of What it Means to Be Successful

By Emily RogersYahoo! Contributor Network

Apr 27, 2011

 

I sat at a cubicle for nine hours today. I did some things that I liked and some that I did not. At the end of the day, I felt that I had worked hard. However, never once did I ask myself if I felt heroic or not.

We all want to be successful, but we all also have different definitions for what being “successful” means. Iraqi war veteran and author of Zarqawi’s Ice Cream: Tales of Mediocre Infantrymen, Andrew Goldsmith, envisioned success as becoming a hero. Growing up in Redondo Beach, CA, Andrew saw nothing more potentially heroic than serving the country where he was raised, sacrificing the comforts of life that the rest of us enjoy, and challenging his mind and body beyond normal standards.

“I was looking forward to serving my country and wanted a good challenge,” explains Andrew.

After deploying on two tours to Iraq at the young age of 19 and graduating from Ranger School, Andrew finds that the quest for heroism is still illusive and feels betrayed by the ruling organization. “This book is the last call of a warrior. My rise and fall. This is my mission now.” A collection of 35 war stories, Andrew covers tales of battle, guns, booze, sex, and violence. For those of us well informed about the war in Iraq, and for those of us not so informed, we will all be enlightened by the reality of what is truly going on overseas.

“The people of America know very little. The media is brief and focuses mostly on casualties. My stories are unique and important. It is important for people to realize the consequences of their policies. It says a lot for our country.”

Although his experience as a soldier was not at all as he expected, he regrets nothing and is glad for the memories and lessons learned. Even after the close of his service, he is still connected by an intense brotherhood to his fellow infantrymen. “We miss each other and talk all the time. It just makes our day to hear from one another.”

With the release of his book in May 2011, Andrew aims to remind readers that there are faces to war and that these faces should not be ignored. All of his characters and stories are 100% real and honest. Despite his self-perceived lack of heroism, he also supports young men who are currently interested in enlisting in the military. “Go ahead,” says Andrew, “But take it as it comes and do not have any preconceived expectations. You will learn a lot and you will never have another chance like this. It is good for your character, but it will break you down.”

Zarqawi’s Ice Cream: Tales of Mediocre Infantrymen is straightforward and unconventional. It will open your eyes, heart, and mind to the reality of war. “Serving in Iraq made me wary of the world. Nothing is wholly good or wholly evil. There is always a mixture.”

Andrew is currently studying philosophy in Hawaii where he describes himself as a “workaholic” since deciding to publish this book.

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Iraq War Stories: A Veteran’s Catharsis

Here’s the latest story to feature Zarqawi’s Ice Cream. Iraq War Stories: A Veteran’s Catharsis was written by B.L. Turek and published on Articles Base April 18, 2011:

Andrew Goldsmith was one year into community college when he was hit with a revelation:

“Join the army, go to war,” were the words that popped into his head as he sat bored in Economics class. “It never left me,” he recalls, recounting the initial epiphany. Four months later, Goldsmith enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. He was 19.

Goldsmith served in the army from 2004 to 2009, deploying to Iraq twice for year-long tours. He was a machine gunner for an Infantry fire team during the first tour; the second time around, he was a team leader and squad leader, steadily climbing the ranks from “Private” to “Sergeant” over the course of those five years.

“I thought the Infantry was going to be more hardcore, harder somehow then it was,” he admits. “Iraq was similar: I thought somehow that there would be more combat, and that it would be more glorious.”

Still, his time in the army left a deep imprint on Goldsmith’s psyche. Upon leaving the military, he moved to Hawaii and began attending school on the G.I. Bill, studying philosophy. He also began to write…and write some more. War stories poured from his mind and onto paper, compiling into hundreds of pages worth of firsthand tales. The result is Zarqawi’s Ice Cream, a personal account of Goldsmith’s time in Iraq.

“It’s not as if I wanted to write this book,” Goldsmith says. “I had to write this book.”

Writing Zarqawi’s Ice Cream was Goldsmith’s means to a catharsis, a way to make sense of what he experienced as a soldier. The book is broken down into five parts, sequentially written from the time leading up to his enlistment to military training to combat in Iraq to Ranger School to combat again and finally, to his journey home.

“Making stories out of traumatic, stressful, and extremely influential events in our lives helps us to process them, learn from them, and live with them,” he says.

Since leaving the army and attempting to reintegrate back into civilian life, Goldsmith has been faced with a number of challenges, and in many ways, feels as though he hasn’t really left at all.

“Getting used to the mundane, steady pace of normal life is hard, and so is finding people willing to listen,” he confides. “Sometimes it seems as if I have very little in common with the people around me, especially on the college campus.”

The approximate release date of Zarqawi’s Ice Cream is May of 2011. Goldsmith will then embark on a 10,000 mile cross-country road trip for two months, promoting his book on military bases as well as in book stores.

“I’m looking forward to exchanging outrageous stories [with other soldiers and veterans], meeting people and hearing their stories, life on the road, finishing this damn [book], and seeing how people react.”

Aside from writing and philosophy, Goldsmith practices Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, a passion he began cultivating nearly ten years ago while growing up in Redondo Beach, CA.

“I also like to ride my skateboard, read a lot, and take any opportunity I can to travel,” he enthuses. His impending book tour should satisfy the latter quite sufficiently!

To learn more about Zarqawi’s Ice Cream and Andrew Goldsmith’s cross-country book tour, visit http://www.iraqwarstories.wordpress.com.

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Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/non-fiction-articles/iraq-war-stories-a-veterans-catharsis-4627284.html#ixzz1KJACsGZP

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Iraq War Stories: A Catharsis

Welcome.

I began to write Zarqawi’s Ice Cream shortly after leaving the army…not because I wanted to, but because I had to. The process hasn’t been easy. Recalling these tales has ensured that my head remained in that world long after returning to civilian life. Is it possible to ever fully reintegrate into civilian life after two tours in Iraq? Maybe not. Nonetheless, purging these war stories from my mind and onto paper has been a much-needed catharsis to putting the past behind me. Those who have served will understand; those who haven’t might not.

The following is a passage from Chapter One: Call to Adventure. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

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“Goldsmith, tell me a story about Iraq.”

“What kind of story do you want to hear?”

“I dunno, a good story.”

“You want a funny story? A sad story? A war story with a lot of action?”

“Any story—your best one.”

My best story—that’s asking a lot. Should I talk about the IRAM attack or Ranger School? Should I depict the nobility of Moneyshot or relive the guilt of blowing that poor lady’s finger off? If I had to tell one story, one epic tale to sum up years of debasement and triumph, of groveling servitude and absolute power, of stagnation and explosive growth, what would it be?

“How about ‘Zarqawi’s Ice Cream’?” I say. “So late one night we—”

“Wait! Zarqawi? Wasn’t he a terrorist or something?”

“Oh, yeah! The evilest guy in Iraq, and that’s saying something. So then the ramp drops and—”

“Did I ever tell you my friend’s sister’s fiancé is going to Afghanistan next week? He’s in the Air Force.”

Nobody likes a war story. It won’t get you laid, convince the cop to give you a warning, or get you a free pint at the bar. The veteran gets excited telling his epic tale. He expects acknowledgment, understanding, love, or something deeper. All he gets is a vacant stare, an abrupt and nervous change of subject, or no response at all. Sometimes his listeners are horrified. This guy’s a monster! He can read it on their faces. Acts of heroism, cowardice, and senseless butchery are seared into a soldier for eternity. Entire lives can revolve endlessly around a single commendable or odious event. Truly lost soldiers are forever in search of the great war story.

“. . . And then Scooter says, ‘How’s it smell, bitch?’”

“Yeah? And then what?”

“That’s it. That’s the end of the story.”

“I don’t get it—why would he do that?”

“The bullets, the explosions . . . they messed with his head.”

“Oh.”

“See, we were all under a lot of stress, and . . . guess you had to be there.”

These tales provide a glimpse into the life of an infantryman, into an existence that is extraordinary yet mediocre—a world most people will never live in or understand. Warning: it is a masculine world devoid of feminine sentiment and solace. It is also a bigoted world, charged with the irrational hatreds of combat. The infantry life is schizophrenic: withering heat and biting cold, sloth and inhuman exertion, exultation and shame. The infantryman loves and hates his life with equal passion, and he is never far from death. There is unique pride in the struggle that forms the core of the infantry experience, boundless love in the brotherhoods cemented in the wilderness.

“Who do you think is the best unit?”

“I don’t know: Rangers, Eighty-second Airborne, maybe Tenth Mountain.”

“You know who I think is the best unit?”
“Who’s that?”

“The men I went to war with.”

The men in these war stories didn’t capture the world’s most wanted terrorist, get in any major battles, or wade waist deep through the enemy dead. They were never seriously wounded, didn’t storm any machine gun nests or win any flashy medals. By anyone’s standards, we were mediocre infantrymen. So what did we do? We managed to survive some of the harshest conditions on earth, suffered bouts of insanity, and weathered the assaults of our enemies. We did what our country asked of us, stayed faithful to each other, and came home again. And through it all, we never lost our humanity.

Were heroic deeds done? Absolutely. Are there heroes in this story? Certainly not. We are your sons and your soldiers. These are our stories.

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