Kill Lists and Victoria’s Secret

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In the vein of the war novelist Tim O'Brien, and perhaps even Homer, 1st Lt. Tim McLaughlin peppered his Iraq war diary with lists: the kills his tank made (70), the Iraqi civilians he encountered, the events that had changed his life. During periods of downtime, he wrote poems and songs, too -- like "The Twelve Days of Combat," above.


McLaughlin sitting on his M1A1 Abrams tank about halfway between Kuwait and Baghdad on March 29. (He was cleaning himself and "not happy to be photographed," he recalls.)


McLaughlin's list of the "The People I Saw"-- for example, "on left side of the road, woman just sitting there, look of tired indifference to us, as if she'd seen this before + would see it again."


Iraqi children greeting McLaughlin's tank in Baghdad on April 12. "People were pretty happy with us until about August of 2003," McLaughlin says today. "In April they were really happy."


While waiting in the Kuwaiti desert to enter Iraq, McLaughlin wrote a letter to Victoria's Secret to help pass the time: "I came across your Victoria's Secret '2003 Look Book, Spring's Hot New Looks,' and it is pretty much the only thing around here that isn't ugly in one form or another. So I decided I'd write to you folks in the hopes that you could pass on this letter to the enclosed woman. It'd be nice to get a few letters."


McLaughlin sits on what he dubbed the "back patio" of his tank near the city of Diwaniyah, Iraq, around April 25, after he had left Baghdad.


McLaughlin's list of "Events That Changed Life": 9.) Pentagon, Sept. 11th, 2001. 22.) Strip clubs. On the right, one of his poems.


McLaughlin digging a hole near Diwaniyah, Iraq, around April 25. His platoon waited for three weeks after combat before leaving Iraq and Kuwait. "I'm literally digging a hole because I'm bored," he says.


In early March, before McLaughlin's platoon left for Iraq, his colleague Cpl. Johnson was accidentally shot in the foot by a fellow platoon member. (When McLaughlin reported the incident to the commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Bryan McCoy, he responded, "These kids are fucking amateurs," according to McLaughlin's diary.) In these pages, McLaughlin penned a letter notifying Johnson's parents: "I apologize from the bottom of my heart for LCpl Johnson's injury. The parents of America put a tremendous faith in me as I am trusted with the lives of your children."


The members of McLaughlin's platoon -- 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Tank Battalion, attached to the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines -- in the Kuwaiti desert around March 1. Standing from left to right are McLaughlin, Sgt. Erickson Ariaga, Sgt. Adam Palacios, Cpl. Michael Erickson, LCpl. Jeff Conkwright, LCpl. Chris Campbel, LCpl. Raymond Skeet, LCpl. Hieutrung Le, Cpl. Adam Schroeder, and SSgt. Nick Popadich. Kneeling from left to right are: LCpl. Steven Guerrero, Sgt. Gallegos, LCpl. Hegewood, LCpl. Hernandez, LCpl. Shawn Hicks, and Sgt. Wellons.


McLaughlin holding two M16 rifles near Diwaniyah, Iraq, around April 25. His clothes are dirty because the fuel bladders on his tank had broken and spilled on him. "We clearly had too much time on our hands," he says.


A poem McLaughlin wrote and revised in early April, in the days leading up to the siege on Baghdad.



McLaughlin reading his diary on May 1 in Kuwait.

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