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The Invasion Timeline

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Over the course of his deployment, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Tim McLaughlin kept a chronological log of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, from January to April 2003. The guide tracks the progress of the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines from Kuwait to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Above: From arriving in Kuwait to entering southeastern Iraq.

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From the first taste of combat, near the southeastern city of Basrah, to a giant sandstorm north of Nasiriyah. Of March 25, he wrote: "Initially nice day but quickly worsening dust storm -- officially most miserable day of my life.... Complete blackness. 0 visibility as in none."

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From the attack on Diwaniyah, about 120 miles south of Baghdad, to the assault on the Diyala bridge in the capital. Of April 4, he wrote: "RCT 5 beaten back. Shit loads of artillery. Uneasy feeling amongst everyone about what was ahead."

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From the Diyala attack to the retreat from Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, in Firdos Square. Of April 9, he wrote: "Rampant looting -- People ecstatic."

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The retreat from Baghdad. Of April 30, he wrote: "Built my 'patio' on the back deck of the tank -- Roasted chicken wrapped in Pita bread.... letter from Katherine."

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