An excerpt from the new book, “Murphy’s Law: My Journey from Ranger and Green Beret to Investigative Journalist

When we took that platoon into Mosul, it was a clusterfuck. The Iraqis left their breaching equipment on the Humvees because it was too heavy and they didn’t want to carry it, so our senior Charlie, Mike, exploded on them. They ran back to get the prybars and sledgehammers, poor babies. Finally, we made entry into the building, and it was like that M. C. Escher sketch where there are stairways leading in all directions. It was as if totally different people with different ideas had built on top of previous structures. The floor plan was a maze. We cleared a few rooms, and I spotted one door that no one had gone through yet. We got it open, and I stormed up the stairs with our senior medic and some ISWAT guys. We went up. And up. And up. It was a spiral staircase, with each step being about two feet high. We kept going and going until we came out on what turned out to be the third floor.

Now we were looking down an open area in the middle of the building. An open corridor crisscrossed on the second floor, which had not been cleared yet, and deeper down, you could see the ground floor, where the Iraqis were running around. It took a while, but eventually, we got the whole building cleared, although the HVT we were after was not there.

The worst thing, though, was the kid we found locked in a closet. Mental health care is basically nonexistent; it is hard to imagine someone who is more fucked in life than a disabled Iraqi person. For example, midgets are treated as “crazy” people who get slapped around and beaten just for fun. On this objective, we found a teenage boy who was seriously disabled. He was reaching through the grating in the door, trying to swat at people and get their attention. Our medic felt bad for him and gave the kid an apple he had been carrying with him. The kid ate the entire apple, core, stem, and all.

Experiences like this make it hard for me to sit and listen to affluent New Yorkers whining about how hard they have it in America and how evil and racist our country is. America is an amazing country existing in a golden age, while our citizens do little but wring their hands and complain. The distance between their lives in New York City and the lives of people in Iraq isn’t just a chasm, it is as far away as Earth is from Mars. It is almost like the human race is evolving into two or three separate species—those who live in the 21st century, those who live in the 11th century in the Middle East, and those who live in the first century in places like Afghanistan.

'Murphy's Law:' Culture shock crossfire in Iraq
ODA 5414 team picture

When we got back from that mission, the ISWAT platoon seemed to lose their minds. I caught one guy rummaging around my arms room and another one picking through a closet for food and drink. I came damn close to beating the shit out of both of them. Some remedial training was in order. Every time that platoon screwed up, I would take them on a random training event at a random hour, day or night. From there, they would have to kit up and move out. It was just like SFAS. We would move for an undetermined time and an undetermined distance. Their sad expressions were spectacular. When one of them would quit, I’d tell him not to bother coming back to work.

There were fun times out at FOB Sykes as well. We had quite a cast of characters around us. We had a couple of interpreters who were from a minority group called the Yazidi, from the city of Sinjar. There was a myth that these people were Satan worshippers, a misconception that I believe originated with the 17th century mystic Madam Blavasky, who supposedly tooled around the more austere parts of the world and then pitched those experiences to European bourgeoisie for profit in the form of “spiritualism.” In fact, the Yazidi people practice an ancient religion that predates Islam and Christianity, one that worships a peacock god. They have their own unique traditions and customs.

For instance, our interpreter Gomez told me the story of how his father married his mother via kidnapping. When a Yazidi man wants to marry a Yazidi woman, both families must agree to the union. If the woman’s family doesn’t think the man is good enough, they will refuse. However, there is a loophole in the system. If the couple is quite in love, the man will tell the woman that they’re going to her cousin’s, or something like that, but instead, he will spirit her away to a safe house and hide out, essentially forcing the woman’s family to the negotiation table with his family.

Gomez’s brother, nicknamed McLovin, also worked on the FOB, cleaning up the compound for us. He was learning English very quickly from being around Americans. Our warrant officer took it upon himself to teach McLovin some American colloquialisms, so if you asked him a question, he might answer, “Does a hobbyhorse have a wooden dick?” One day McLovin was taking out the trash and throwing it in the dumpster when an American first sergeant from the military police unit next door saw him, an Iraqi alone and unescorted, on the base. He went up to McLovin and asked who the hell he was.

McLovin replied, “Who am I? I’M THE GRAND SHEIK OF POUNDING VAG!”

Update: Both Gomez and McLovin were able to immigrate to the United States before ISIS destroyed Sinjar and both have become U.S. citizens.

For fans of the New York Times bestsellers “The Last Punisher” and “Lone Survivor,” a heart-pounding military memoir from a former Army Ranger sniper and Special Operations weapon sergeant-turned-journalist about the incredible highs and devastating lows of his career. 

Growing up in small New York towns, Jack Murphy knew he wanted to lead a life far from the ordinary—a life of adventure and valor. After the 9/11 attacks, he immediately enlisted in the Army, knowing this was his chance to live the life he desired and fight for a cause he staunchly supported. After making it through the rigorous Ranger Indoctrination Program, he graduated sniper school and was promptly deployed to Afghanistan, where his experiences went from ordinary to extraordinary.

In this gripping military memoir, Murphy recounts the multiple missions he underwent as a Ranger, a Special Forces weapons sergeant, and ultimately, a boots-on-the-ground journalist. From enemy ambushes, dodging explosives, crashing terrorists’ weddings, and landing helicopters in the streets of Mosul, Jack provides a hard-hitting glimpse of what combat is like in some of the world’s most dangerous, war-torn places. With tours of duty in two of the most decorated units of the armed forces, Murphy brings a unique perspective to the military genre as he reflects on his great triumphs and shattering failures both on and off the battlefield.

Later, Murphy turned his attention to breaking news within the military. His stories have taken him from Iraq to Switzerland, from Syria to South Korea. From crossing Middle Eastern borders in the dead of night, to rolling into an IED-laden zone, Murphy’s stories are always a thrill a minute.

Murphy’s Law” tells a story of intense bravery and sacrifice—both on and off the battlefield.  Get it today as a hardcover, ebook, or audio book.