They Called Us "Lucky": The Life and Afterlife of the Iraq War's Hardest Hit Unit (Paperback)
From the Arizona Congressman, a "powerful" and "searing" (PW) chronicle of the eternal bonds forged between the Marines of Lima Company, the hardest-hit unit of the Iraq War
At first, they were “Lucky Lima.” Infantryman Ruben Gallego and his brothers in Lima Company—3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, young men drawn from blue-collar towns, immigrant households, Navajo reservations—returned unscathed on patrol after patrol through the increasingly violent al Anbar region of Iraq, looking for weapons caches and insurgents trying to destabilize the nascent Iraqi government. After two months in Iraq, Lima didn't have a casualty, not a single Purple Heart, no injury worse than a blister. Lucky Lima.
Then, in May 2005, Lima’s fortunes flipped. Unknown to Ruben and his fellow grunts, al Anbar had recently become a haven for al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The bin Laden-sponsored group had recruited radicals from all over the world for jihad against the Americans. On one fateful day, they were lured into a death house; the ambush cost the lives of two men, including a platoon sergeant. Two days later, Ruben’s best friend, Jonathon Grant, died in an IED attack, along with several others. Events worsened from there. A disastrous operation in Haditha in August claimed the lives of thirteen Marines when an IED destroyed their amphibious vehicle. It was the worst single-day loss for the Marines since the 1983 Beirut bombings. By the time 3/25 went home in November, it had lost more men than any other single unit in the war. Forty-six Marines and two Navy Corpsmen serving with the battalion in Iraq were killed in action during their roughly nine-month activation.
They Called Us “Lucky” details Ruben Gallego’s journey and includes harrowing accounts of some of the war’s most costly battles. It details the struggles and the successes of Ruben—now a member of Congress—and the rest of Lima Company following Iraq, examining the complicated matter of PTSD. And it serves as a tribute to Ruben’s fallen comrades, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Ruben Gallego (D, AZ) represents the 7th District of Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives. A son of Hispanic immigrants, Representative Gallego was the first in his family to attend college, graduating from Harvard University with a degree in international relations. While an undergrad, Gallego enlisted as an infantryman in the Marine Corps Reserve. Corporal Gallego deployed to Iraq in 2005, where he and the other members of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war. Elected to Congress in 2014 as a Democrat, Gallego is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as chairman of the Intelligence and Special Operations subcommittee. Gallego lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Jim DeFelice is the co-author, with former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, of the multi-million-copy bestseller American Sniper, the source for Clint Eastwood’s film starring Bradley Cooper. His other books include Omar Bradley: General at War; Rangers at Dieppe; and West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express. He lives in upstate New York.
"Gallego enlisted in the Marine Corps and later served as an infantryman in Iraq, where he saw extensive combat as part of a company that went on to suffer some of the highest casualties of any Marine company during the conflict. ... Gallego’s memoir of his war experience, They Called Us Lucky, is an emotional and at times angry book that emphasizes the tenacity of combat trauma in his own life and in the lives of his fellow-soldiers." — Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker
"A powerful, grunt’s-eye view of modern combat and the struggle to readjust to life back home. ... This searing autobiography leaves a mark." — Publishers Weekly
“A deeply felt, swift-moving account of war and its complex aftermath.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A striking account of the men and women who defend our great nation. A great gift for anyone who values their dedication and sacrifice." — Scott Kelly
“A forthright memoir about a man who fought enemies, both external and internal. The journey of the soldier doesn’t end when they are discharged, as Gallego shows, the adjustment is constant. The scars of war permeate even the toughest of soldiers and Gallego’s memoir proves that with empathy and sympathy.” — San Francisco Book Review
"An outstanding entry in the field of military memoir, Gallego's colloquial narrative stays on target throughout his many grim experiences with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines in the Iraq War. ... Ruben Gallego offers a spellbinding account of his 'spur of the moment' decision to enlist and his devastating experiences at the height of the Iraq War." — Shelf Awareness