CAMP BUCCA, IRAQ ” When Steven Turner, 24, of Stillwater, got to Iraq, he wanted to kill as many Iraqis as possible.
He wanted to kill them for his high school buddy back in Indiana, Marine Lance Thompson.
“I didn’t want to be the one who watched everybody pass me up, and knowing that they were going to go face the same people that killed my buddy, kill the guy I went to high school with,” Turner said. “There is nothing more that I’d rather be doing than kicking in doors and pulling the trigger.”
Last fall, Turner’s call came. He would go into Iraq with Oklahoma’s 179th Infantry Battalion, part of the 45th Infantry Brigade, the Thunderbirds. All summer he drilled with the other soldiers at Camp Gruber in eastern Oklahoma, practicing how to kick into an Iraqi-style compound and kill everyone who resisted.
Then the came the mission: Turner and most of the 179th would go to Camp Bucca “¦ to be prison guards.
Camp Bucca, in extreme southern Iraq near the Kuwait border, is a detainee camp:
” three miles long,
” one mile wide, and
” surrounded by razor wire.
“I had a disdaining idea of Bucca,” Turner said. “We are four clicks from Kuwait. I remember thinking, ‘I want to be in Baghdad; I want to be on rooftops; I want to be kicking in doors.'”
Five years into the Iraq war, Turner and the other Oklahomans are birds on a wire. From the outside, hostiles seed the roadways with bombs and occasionally attack with rockets or mortars. On the inside, these Oklahoma soldiers must protect 20,000 incarcerated men suspected of the same kinds of acts. “Ben Fenwick
Read more about Ben Fenwick’s Thunderbird travels.