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They Called Us "Lucky": The Life and Afterlife of the Iraq War's Hardest Hit Unit

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Opening up for the first time about his combat experience, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D, AZ) delivers a moving and unforgettable memoir of the eternal bonds forged between the Marines of Lima Company, the hardest-hit unit of the Iraq War. At first, they were “Lucky Lima.” Infantryman Ruben Gallego and his brothers in Lima Company—3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, young men drawn Opening up for the first time about his combat experience, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D, AZ) delivers a moving and unforgettable memoir of the eternal bonds forged between the Marines of Lima Company, the hardest-hit unit of the Iraq War. At first, they were “Lucky Lima.” Infantryman Ruben Gallego and his brothers in Lima Company—3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, young men drawn from blue-collar towns, immigrant households, Navajo reservations—returned unscathed on patrol after patrol through the increasingly violent al Anbar region of Iraq, looking for weapons caches and insurgents trying to destabilize the nascent Iraqi government. After two months in Iraq, Lima didn't have a casualty, not a single Purple Heart, no injury worse than a blister. Lucky Lima. Then, in May 2005, Lima’s fortunes flipped. Unknown to Ruben and his fellow grunts, al Anbar had recently become a haven for al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The bin Laden-sponsored group had recruited radicals from all over the world for jihad against the Americans. On one fateful day, they were lured into a death house; the ambush cost the lives of two men, including a platoon sergeant. Two days later, Ruben’s best friend, Jonathon Grant, died in an IED attack, along with several others. Events worsened from there. A disastrous operation in Haditha in August claimed the lives of thirteen Marines when an IED destroyed their amphibious vehicle. It was the worst single-day loss for the Marines since the 1983 Beirut bombings. By the time 3/25 went home in November, it had lost more men than any other single unit in the war. Forty-six Marines and two Navy Corpsmen serving with the battalion in Iraq were killed in action during their roughly nine-month activation. They Called Us “Lucky” details Ruben Gallego’s journey and includes harrowing accounts of some of the war’s most costly battles. It details the struggles and the successes of Ruben—now a member of Congress—and the rest of Lima Company following Iraq, examining the complicated matter of PTSD. And it serves as a tribute to Ruben’s fallen comrades, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. 


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Opening up for the first time about his combat experience, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D, AZ) delivers a moving and unforgettable memoir of the eternal bonds forged between the Marines of Lima Company, the hardest-hit unit of the Iraq War. At first, they were “Lucky Lima.” Infantryman Ruben Gallego and his brothers in Lima Company—3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, young men drawn Opening up for the first time about his combat experience, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D, AZ) delivers a moving and unforgettable memoir of the eternal bonds forged between the Marines of Lima Company, the hardest-hit unit of the Iraq War. At first, they were “Lucky Lima.” Infantryman Ruben Gallego and his brothers in Lima Company—3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, young men drawn from blue-collar towns, immigrant households, Navajo reservations—returned unscathed on patrol after patrol through the increasingly violent al Anbar region of Iraq, looking for weapons caches and insurgents trying to destabilize the nascent Iraqi government. After two months in Iraq, Lima didn't have a casualty, not a single Purple Heart, no injury worse than a blister. Lucky Lima. Then, in May 2005, Lima’s fortunes flipped. Unknown to Ruben and his fellow grunts, al Anbar had recently become a haven for al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The bin Laden-sponsored group had recruited radicals from all over the world for jihad against the Americans. On one fateful day, they were lured into a death house; the ambush cost the lives of two men, including a platoon sergeant. Two days later, Ruben’s best friend, Jonathon Grant, died in an IED attack, along with several others. Events worsened from there. A disastrous operation in Haditha in August claimed the lives of thirteen Marines when an IED destroyed their amphibious vehicle. It was the worst single-day loss for the Marines since the 1983 Beirut bombings. By the time 3/25 went home in November, it had lost more men than any other single unit in the war. Forty-six Marines and two Navy Corpsmen serving with the battalion in Iraq were killed in action during their roughly nine-month activation. They Called Us “Lucky” details Ruben Gallego’s journey and includes harrowing accounts of some of the war’s most costly battles. It details the struggles and the successes of Ruben—now a member of Congress—and the rest of Lima Company following Iraq, examining the complicated matter of PTSD. And it serves as a tribute to Ruben’s fallen comrades, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. 

30 review for They Called Us "Lucky": The Life and Afterlife of the Iraq War's Hardest Hit Unit

  1. 5 out of 5

    Miya

    My heart hurts. This was raw and emotional. The affects of war...the sacrifices, it is an important read, but not light. In some ways I would say it is upsetting, yet inspiring. There is a lot to think about after this. I am thankful mental health is talked about in this. I hope that it reaches many who need it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn Caglio

    The author represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, which is the District I live in. I’ve met him several times and have always voted for him - he does great work for the people he represents and for all Americans. This book basically gives you a lot of insight into his service as a Marine during the Iraq war, but his true personality and character shine through as he develops into a truly good person and the patriotic American we all should aspire to be. The author represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, which is the District I live in. I’ve met him several times and have always voted for him - he does great work for the people he represents and for all Americans. This book basically gives you a lot of insight into his service as a Marine during the Iraq war, but his true personality and character shine through as he develops into a truly good person and the patriotic American we all should aspire to be. Thank you for your service, Ruben.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trish Squires

    Emotional and Excellent read! Great read, emotional and eye opening to the realities the war many Americans like me only heard about on the evening news. Sure we grieved the loss of our young men and women but this book delivers the haunting memories of a Marine who survived a kind of hell most Americans never will have to. Thank you for your service....then and now Mr Gallego.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A poignant book about Lucky Lima written by Ruben Gallego. It captured the early Iraq war period that was nearly 20 years ago. The discussion about PTSD is important and will hopefully help someone who is struggling. I found myself pausing multiple times to reflect on Gallego’s words. Full disclosure: I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bob Morgan

    Good Read Until Politics Enters The accounts of Mr Gallegos service with the Marines is good. Then he brings in his very liberal politics. He should have stuck to the story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    I won this via Goodreads Giveaway. Wonderful book on a Reservist Marine's story of service and sacrifice. His story is simple: smart, lost guy who stumbles across a recruiter and finds a place in the Marines. This tale is one that truly touches and inspires. Must read for those interested in memoirs of Iraqi War Veterans. I won this via Goodreads Giveaway. Wonderful book on a Reservist Marine's story of service and sacrifice. His story is simple: smart, lost guy who stumbles across a recruiter and finds a place in the Marines. This tale is one that truly touches and inspires. Must read for those interested in memoirs of Iraqi War Veterans.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nick Turner

    A heart wrenching memoir of Congressman Gallego and his service with the other members of Lima Company, 3/25th in Iraq in 2005. A common thread of service member stories are all types of Americans volunteering and serving in support of American interests even without the benefit of clear political leadership, support, and strategy. Service members for our entire history have served when called. This point always sticks with me when reading this type of story. In my last assignment, I lived down A heart wrenching memoir of Congressman Gallego and his service with the other members of Lima Company, 3/25th in Iraq in 2005. A common thread of service member stories are all types of Americans volunteering and serving in support of American interests even without the benefit of clear political leadership, support, and strategy. Service members for our entire history have served when called. This point always sticks with me when reading this type of story. In my last assignment, I lived down the road from Arlington National Cemetery. It was and remains always sobering to see the rows and rows of gravestones and the visitors who come to see their lost fellow service member, friend, or family member. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Mattmiller

    Really took me back to the days when I heard they were called "lucky"... and to when I realized they weren't. To the the days I was waiting to hear news, sending prayers, sending letters... and to the day Lima Company came home. Great book. Thankful it exists. Can't imagine what it took to write. Really took me back to the days when I heard they were called "lucky"... and to when I realized they weren't. To the the days I was waiting to hear news, sending prayers, sending letters... and to the day Lima Company came home. Great book. Thankful it exists. Can't imagine what it took to write.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Remarkable account of a Grunt's view of war, written by a Harvard graduate. What makes this book a five star read is that the Grunt and the Harvard Graduate are the same person; who just so happens to be an Honorable member of The United States Congress. Remarkable account of a Grunt's view of war, written by a Harvard graduate. What makes this book a five star read is that the Grunt and the Harvard Graduate are the same person; who just so happens to be an Honorable member of The United States Congress.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve Rufle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Amazing story of now, Congressman Gallego, in Iraq. Regardless of your political standing, you need to read the entire book, especially the part of his experience, on January 6th, 2021. Thank you for your service and beyond.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Ruben Gallego is a Congressman from my state of Arizona. His heroism in the face of conflict is an inspiring story of bravery and courage. I hope he decides to make a run for Senator Kyrsten Sinema's seat. Ruben Gallego is a Congressman from my state of Arizona. His heroism in the face of conflict is an inspiring story of bravery and courage. I hope he decides to make a run for Senator Kyrsten Sinema's seat.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    What a great book, well told and completely addicting!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alese

    Very well written! A great look inside the life a Marine in combat.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike Davis

    This is a biographical account of Ruben Gallego's military service in Iraq. Gallego is a Harvard educated enlisted Marine whose reserve unit was called to duty and became the most heavily decimated unit in the war. He returned to the states to become a U.S. Congressman and was in the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. It is a good read and recommended as a window into the horrors of war and the injustice of luck. This is a biographical account of Ruben Gallego's military service in Iraq. Gallego is a Harvard educated enlisted Marine whose reserve unit was called to duty and became the most heavily decimated unit in the war. He returned to the states to become a U.S. Congressman and was in the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. It is a good read and recommended as a window into the horrors of war and the injustice of luck.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peg - The History Shelf

    You can read my review at Shelf Awareness: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/reade... You can read my review at Shelf Awareness: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/reade...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zamora GI

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dermot Nolan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Craig Saunders

  20. 5 out of 5

    Regan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Crys

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tanner b

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gina

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

  25. 4 out of 5

    Justine Miley

  26. 4 out of 5

    Colette Fein

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Todd Richards

  29. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

  30. 5 out of 5

    Allison

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