In the previous episode of The Spear, Tim Heck was joined by Karl Blanke. In 2003, he was a platoon commander in Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. The story he shared featured a Marine in his platoon that he called Lance Corporal Jackson (a pseudonym). “Jackson” was a machine gunner in the platoon, and together, they were part of the 1st Marine Division’s “March Up” to Baghdad in 2003.

Lance Corporal Jackson, whose real name is Joe Newman, joins this episode to share with listeners his perspective of the invasion of Iraq, firefights, the role of the “lance corporal underground,” and being a young Marine with a new platoon commander. Whether it’s playing baseball while waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting for the invasion that he doesn’t believe will happen or attempting to validate his emotional reaction to combat, Newman’s view of life as a young Marine preparing to go to war explains the reality of the lead-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Once inside Baghdad, though, everything changed for Newman. A cordon operation in the hunt for Saddam Hussein led to a firefight where he was wounded. For his actions, he was later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device.

You can listen to the full story below, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Spear on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there, please take a moment to give the podcast a rating or leave a review.

Note: This episode was originally earlier this year.

Image credit: Sgt. Kevin R. Reed, United States Marine Corps