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The Marine Who Saved Old Glory: July 4 With the British in Baghdad

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by Kevin Cresswell

Picture the scene: It was early hours on July 4, 2003, at Camp Slayer in Baghdad, Iraq. There were several hundred U.S. troops and a handful of odds and sods ‘Brits & Aussies.’ In the middle of the lake was a boathouse with a flagpole. During the night ‘some of the boys’ tactically acquired a boat, and hoisted the Union Jack up the pole, above the Stars and Stripes!

Later that morning as the sun came up, newly minted, suited and booted Steve Krigas – a “bootie,” as we would say across the pond – was making his way to grab some chow, and I caught up with him.

“Happy Fourth,” he grinned.

“Yeah” I said, nodding towards the center of the lake.

“WTF!” he exclaimed, his face exploding like a firecracker.

I still believe I have the story correct – he claims two of our colleagues rowed out to the flagpole – I recall it somewhat differently.

Like a man possessed at the Boston Tea Party, this U.S. Marine did a quick front to rear; barged his way out of the line for the DFAC; and sprinted to the water’s edge, ripping his clothes off like a stripper in a rush, right down to his government issue, regulation USMC boxers.

At precisely 06:42 and looking like a bullfrog who had stepped on a hot grill, he launched himself into the water, pulling strokes towards the British flag, like a drunken Michael Phelps, as the growing crowd of U.S Army personnel and contractors looked on in disbelief.

At this point I extricated myself like a thief in the night, before the mob realized.*

Not our guy. But it’s on Camp Slayer!

Minutes later, the Marine hauled himself on deck and commenced to pull down the flags. He removed the Union Flag (for which I’m grateful for his care and attention). He ran up Old Glory, which caught a sudden burst of wind.

The crowd went mad cheering wildly like bunch of ‘Swifties’ at Taylor’s concert, as she proudly flew alone at the top of the pole! (Not Taylor – the flag)!

Krigas stumbled back into the lake. Like a torpedo, he headed for land. A true American hero, indeed!

Meanwhile… I ate his pancakes. RHIP! 

Kevin Cresswell is former UK Law Enforcement and British Military, based in California. He has been involved in the defense and security business for more than 40 years, is a recognized counter terrorism, intelligence and CBRNE expert, and holds US/UK, dual nationality.

*Publisher’s note: Realized what, Kevin? Is there something else you would like to share? ~SKK

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