WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On September 10, 2001, Caleb Moran decided to join the Marines. He packed his things and looked forward to going to boot camp the next day. But when his recruiter picked him up the next morning, the promise of a better future quickly turned to pathetic horror.
“Right before I left we saw this on the news and it was kind of like, yeah, it was a crazy time,” Moran said. “They’re picking up two other people, and I think we were the only people who went to boot camp on the west coast that day.”
Within months of 9/11, Moran would be deployed to Japan as part of an artillery unit.
“Since the start of the war they didn’t know when we were going to come back and it ended up being about a year because we found out about a week before that we were going to come back home and we were so happy,” Moran said.
But, alas, that relief would be short-lived for Moran and his unit.
“When we got home we had to hurry up and train again and then go to Iraq,” Moran said.
Moran and his unit, Gulf Battery 211, would be based in the Iraqi city of Mudaisis.
“They actually had us as MP, infantry for one of the first few times instead of doing our normal job, so we trained all this artillery and then ended up stopping cars and driving through towns and stuff like that,” Moran said.
Moran’s unit helped secure hundreds of kilometers stretching from the city of Fallujah (just west of Baghdad) to the border with Saudi Arabia.
“Some cities didn’t like us, like in Fallujah, they didn’t like us, but down south towards Saudi Arabia, you know, they ran to us, you know, all happy, handing out sweets to the kids and all that, but in Fallujah was a bit hostile,” Moran said.
Eventually, Moran’s unit would prepare to invade the city of Fallujah.
“Fallujah was pretty much everyone,” Moran said. “It was really crazy because usually the army is like our rivals, and back here but over there in the war when we were right in front of Fallujah we were glad to see them and I think they were glad to see us to see, so it wasn’t like a rivalry, it was like, ‘Damn, thank God to see someone else or another American or someone on our side.'”
After giving the people of Fallujah a month to prepare, the day of the invasion arrived.
“When we almost got into town, it was like ‘boom!'” said Moran. “It was really weird walking through this big city because knowing that the big city was easy, it was basically an attack on everything, kind of that day or those couple of days and it was nice, that was probably the scariest time of my life in a long time.”
The ordeal lasted several days.
“And when you have to go out again the next night and they just sit there and tell you, ‘Yeah, most of you are probably going to die’ … you could see the mortars getting closer and you’re like, ‘Oh no, no, no, no’, and then you see one, and it, and it hits, like, next to [a] vehicle,” Moran said.
Moran’s unit would lose a man during the invasion. He says he’s lucky to have made it home safely.
“People are dying that shouldn’t be dying, and for a lot of people it was definitely a crazy experience going there… I mean, there was a lot of chaos,” Moran said.
Moran spent seven months in Iraq and four years in the Marines. He retired after becoming a corporal.
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