Sherrlyn Borkgren

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In Iraqi neighborhood, Captain Rainey defends & carries out mission of peace

BAGHDAD (BP)--“We hate American soldiers,” an Iraqi man snaps at Captain Michael Rainey from the back of a crowd of eight men, all in their mid-20s.
      The greenish glow of a fluorescent light from a small store nearby reveals a stubble beard growing on the Iraqi man’s face. He folds his arms across his chest as if prepared for a battle response. But Captain Rainey does not fulfill his expectation. He says only, “OK.”

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Their mission
Under the command of Captain Michael Rainey, these troops are carrying out a mission that includes, as Rainey puts it, the hope of Iraqi kids walking out their front door “without having to tiptoe through sewage and trash” and for “a local government the people trust.”Photo by Sherrlyn Borkgren

      Along the neighborhood street in the district of Ghazalia, six miles west of central Baghdad, four tan U.S. military Humvees are parked spaciously along the street. Gunners sit on top of the vehicles with their hands resting tranquilly across their machine guns. At the entrance to the neighborhood, a car is blocked by the 113s and Bradleys (civilians call them tanks) but then passes by after a quick look and consent by the American soldiers.
      A man in a flowing white gown with three children at his side walks by one of the armed vehicles. They ignore the soldiers as they walk slowly, attentive only to the soft melting chocolate and green-colored ice cream dripping down the sides of the white wafer cones they hold.