They Called Us "Lucky"

The Life and Afterlife of the Iraq War's Hardest Hit Unit

by Ruben Gallego, Jim DeFelice

On Sale: 10/18/2022

They Called Us "Lucky"

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They Called Us "Lucky"

The Life and Afterlife of the Iraq War's Hardest Hit Unit

by Ruben Gallego, Jim DeFelice

On Sale: 10/18/2022


About the Book

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. 

With its gripping accounts of some of the war's most costly battles, They Called Us 'Lucky' is a must-read for anyone interested in military history and the politics of war. It offers a firsthand perspective on the Iraq War and the struggles faced by soldiers like Ruben Gallego, who served in the hardest hit company of the hardest hit battalion of the war and occupation.

Critical Praise

"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


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063045804
  • ISBN 10: 006304580X
  • Imprint: Mariner Books
  • On Sale: 10/18/2022
  • Pages: 336
  • List Price:23.99 CAD
  • BISAC2 : HISTORY / Military / Iraq War (2003-2011)
  • BISAC3 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / Hispanic & Latino
  • BISAC5 : HISTORY / Modern / 21st Century

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