The L.A. Times' Tony Perry had been embedded with the 1st Marine Division in Iraq for nine weeks when the heat, the stress and being four years older than the commanding general caught up with him. Now he has a humbling photograph to show his kids, and got a column out of his final days in Iraq, spent flat on his back in a field hospital.
It had sneaked up on me stealthily like an insurgent in the night. For whatever reason, I stopped drinking the recommended 2 quarts of water per day. At first, no problem.
Then I went out with an aggressive, wisecracking group of Marine reservists from St. Louis on a "soft knock" mission, where they roll up to homes and inquire about searching for weapons. They've had great success in finding large caches of weapons, and I thought a story was in the offing.
When we got to one home in a smallish village, I lacked the energy to watch the search. The homeowner and I just stayed outside hunched down in the dirt; each powerless to do anything.
He looked at me and I guess I looked so pitiful he offered me his last cigarette. No thanks. Next day I turned myself over to the medics.