Marine Privates Curtis Crownover, 20, and Antonio Palacios, 19, sat in their assigned position during the fighting for the Iraqi city, Fallujah preparing to eat their MRE (Meal Ready To Eat). Out of nowhere, a young Iraqi boy about seven or eight years old, homeless and hungry, appeared. Immediately, both Marines trained their rifles on the boy who, without fear, simply walked forward towards their position. Seeing that the boy posed no threat, the Marines lowered their weapons then signaled for the youngster to come in. When he sat down, his eyes instantly fixed on the Marines’ food bags. Both knew the boy was very hungry.
“How about some Mexican rice?” said Private Palacios.
“We can share some of my chicken. Taste it! It’s real good tasting chicken kid!” as Private Crownover handed about half of his ration to the boy.
Without hesitation, the boy began quickly stuffing food into his mouth chewing so quickly the Marines thought he might choke.
“Whoa!” responded Private Crownover. “Take it easy! Here have some of my orange kool aid to wash those goodies down!”
Just as he did with the food, the boy drank so deeply from Private Crownover’s canteen cup that practically all of his beverage was consumed. When they finished their meal, Private Crownover gave the boy his pound cake and Private Palacios his bag of M & M candy. Then, very carefully, he opened the bag containing the pound cake, broke it into three pieces, put the smallest in his pocket along with the bag of candy and solemnly offered the other two pieces to the Marines. As a sign of thanks, the clasps his two hand together, gave a big smile then disappeared into the heat of the Iraqi afternoon in the direction of the town. When the Marines search the horizon for their young friend, it was as though he vanished into thin air.
Later that evening, the two Marines told their story of a young Iraqi boy who joined them for lunch earlier that day. “What are you two guys talking about? All women and children in Fallujah were evacuated days ago. Only foreign fighters are in that town,” replied Gunnery Sergeant Virgil Todd.
“How do you know that Gunny?” replied Private Palacios.
“ ‘Cause I personally escorted them out before we attacked the town. So I’m tellin’ you there were no kids in Fallujah.”
“But we saw him with our own eyes, Gunny!” both Marines insisted. The two Marine Privates looked at each other then said aloud: “Do you suppose…? Naw!! It can’t be!”