Night had fallen during one of Marine Sgt. Nathan Fletcher’s last days in Iraq and it was time to say goodbye. Fletcher had spent seven months working counterintelligence in the Sunni Triangle through one of the war’s worst periods. He patrolled through the alleys and roads in towns and villages, interviewing Iraqis and detailing threats to the United States and its allies.
Now Fletcher’s tour was ending and he had to tell one of his most trusted sources that he was going home. The old man wore a long, white flowing robe. He spoke to Fletcher through an Arabic translator in a safe house near the man’s village.
Another Marine, Lou Orozco, stood within earshot. He couldn’t follow the conversation between Fletcher, the translator and the old man. But Orozco noticed that by the end the old man had tears in his eyes. Then, just as he and Fletcher were ready to go, something happened that Orozco had never seen an old Iraqi man do to an American Marine in full combat gear.