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ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL REPORT

Iraq Journals

Glimpses of life in a war-torn country by GNS national security correspondent John Yaukey and photo director Jeff Franko.

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January 26, 2005

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Thursday, March 27

7th Regimental team getting war action aplenty

By John Bebow | The Detroit News

CENTRAL IRAQ - The 7th Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Marines has seen action almost every day since it crossed into Iraq.

``There's no rest for the wicked. Everyone is in good spirits though,'' said a weary Sgt. Gilbert Contreras as his artillery unit moved back from the front lines for the night on Thursday. They were about 100 miles south of Baghdad.

On Thursday morning, the Marines battled Iraqi forces at a complex of warehouses in the desert. Contreras' unit fired artillery that was filled with small bombs at foxholes where Iraqi soldiers hid.

``Whoever was in those holes wasn't in there for very long,'' he said.

The firefight was the latest in a series of exhausting, rapid battles for Contreras and his fellow Marines. On their first day in Iraq, they fired heavily on the southern city of Safwan. The next day, they shelled an Iraqi tank brigade.

``The rest is a blur,'' he said.

On some days, the artillery units have fired in different directions because Iraqi troops were scattered across the desert. Many Iraqi soldiers wear civilian clothes to disguise themselves, Contreras said.

Contreras, a Marine for 20 years, enlisted in the desert campaign. After this war, he figures he'll have seen enough of battle.

``This is my last hurrah,'' he said.