Iraq

A brave soldier and one horrible day: two lasting memories of Iraq

A brave soldier and one horrible day: two lasting memories of Iraq

As I fumbled with the straps of my body armor, an Iraqi gentleman looked at me kindly and said, “You look nervous. Is this your first time here?”

I nodded: I was indeed apprehensive. Though Los Angeles Times colleagues who had covered wars had offered me practical advice — “Always be paranoid, but stay calm” — Iraq was my first assignment in a war zone. The man who asked about my nervousness was Dara Tahsin, who would become a “fixer” for me and my colleague, staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske.

As a fixer, Tahsin would do a bit of everything — drive, interpret, solve problems, explain things. He assured me that everything would be OK and that all I had to do was focus on my...

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