The following is an excerpt from the new book, “Murphy’s Law: My Journey from Ranger and Green Beret to Investigative Journalist.”
That night we were driven out to the border crossing. On the side of the road, we picked up a Canadian named Peter Douglass, which had been prearranged with the driver. He was a 66-year-old Canadian who had lived in Germany for 10 years and worked an assortment of odd jobs. He was adamant about wanting to fight ISIS, figuring he had another 10 years or so before he had a stroke or developed dementia, so he had to go get his licks in before it was too late. George, ever the charming personality, promptly started a fight with Peter.
Also in the car were four teenagers who had been turned into refugees when ISIS took over Kobanî. Without any future in Kurdistan, they had decided to fight with the YPG to take back their hometown. The driver played patriotic Kurdish music from the tape deck during the entire ride, which kept the young men amped up. They chanted, “Kobanî! Kobanî!” They really wanted to go and mix it up. The Syrian Civil War was, and is, a meat grinder, with battle after battle depleting a generation of Middle Eastern young people. I’m sure most of the young men I met back then are dead by now.
After driving down some dusty roads, we finally made it to the river crossing. As we approached, the headlights illuminated a small inflatable raft already crossing the Tigris. We were near the tri-border region between several actual states and non-states: Kurdistan, Rojava (formerly Syria), and Turkey. We unloaded, and I was on the first lift across the river. Tossing my rucksack inside the raft, I sat on the side as we pushed off into the cold waters. I knew never to wear my ruck during maritime operations. If you fall over the side, your ruck might drag you straight to the bottom. I told Benni to take hers off for that reason.
The small electric engine purred, and we churned our way across the river to a new country, one with new possibilities and a very uncertain future. On the other side of the river, we stepped off onto a rocky outcropping and were immediately greeted by about a dozen Kurdish teenagers. One of them asked where I was from.
“America,” I replied.
“Oh, you are American ninja!”
He then showed off some of his ninja katas, and I started laughing.
These Kurds had a reason for being in good spirits. They were coming off the front lines and getting some time off. They began loading onto the boat we had just disembarked, heading back to Kurdish Iraq. The boat took them across, then made another trip back to us. This time the heavy shit was being offloaded: DShK barrels for the 12.7mm Russian machine gun. Ammunition. Hand grenades. This was their logistical resupply for the fight against ISIS.
A couple of pickup trucks met us at the shore, and we threw our bags in the back with the war material. We were driven up the hill to the YPG headquarters, situated on a mountaintop overlooking the town of Derik. When we drove onto the base, I saw CONEX containers and a fleet of white trucks with some kind of logo on the doors. I soon found out that the base had been a Chinese oil company until the war kicked off. In Rojava, oil just bubbles up out of the ground in some places, naturally staining everything black and crumbling the asphalt. There were inoperable pump-jacks on the base and, as I came to find out, spread out across the countryside.
While we waited to be shown to our quarters for the night, we sat inside an office, chain-smoking with an older YPG member. Peter Douglass told us all a bit about his background living in Berlin and Canada; he seemed like an interesting guy. The girls were then taken to bed down with the YPJ female militia members, while the rest of us were trucked off to bunk with the YPG. We had the pleasure of a hot shower that night. The next morning, we were waiting for George’s contact to show up. I noticed that every time I tried to have a conversation with Benni, George would come strolling up and hover over us. He wanted to control the flow of information and the decision-making process.
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.