US soldier admits being ‘purposefully obnoxious’ while cavorting in Saddam Hussein’s palace

Off duty U.S. soldiers enjoy Saddam Hussein's swimming pool at the Republican Palace July 14, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. Credit: Getty Images
Off duty U.S. soldiers enjoy Saddam Hussein’s swimming pool at the Republican Palace in 2003 in Baghdad.
Credit: Getty Images

As the war in Iraq trundled along after the fall of Saddam Hussein in summer 2003, the troops were restless. In an effort to keep them occupied, generals took a lucky few for some moments of luxury in one of the former dictator’s opulent palaces.

The party included Lt. Don Gomez, who is now publishing his adventures, and told Metro about the trip.

Metro: Was it like spring break? Where there any rules?

Gomez: We were restricted in that there were some no-go areas. It was a military building by then and you could tell if somewhere was off-limits, but there was a lot to explore.

It must have been popular?

The group was about 15 to 20 U.S. soldiers and it was full of everybody: Australian soldiers, international journalists, defense contractors, diplomats and lots of very attractive women. Some people stayed there for six months and rarely left.

Did everybody play nicely?

It was like a high-school mentality. Our morale had been low and then we had good food, air conditioning, a pool and movie theater. Some of us were purposefully obnoxious, splashing around, and I think some of the Australians got annoyed.

Were you all getting good souvenirs?

Not at this point, it was a base that had been captured and guarded since early in the war. Soldiers went into palaces that had been bombed and took what they wanted – even chandeliers! But at this place if you pulled something off the wall someone would stop you.

Did you go back?

Yes, two or three times but it was not the same and I don’t remember them so well. After a while they introduced trips to Qatar, and there was nothing as good as that in Baghdad.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Thousands protest in New York over Eric Garner…

The Reverend Al Sharpton led thousands of chanting but peaceful activists in a march across Staten Island on Saturday to protest the death of Eric Garner.

International

Egypt calls for Gaza ceasefire as fighting rages

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated.

National

SpaceX rocket terminated in Texas test flight

A Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket suffered an anomaly shortly after launch on a test flight, triggering its automatic termination system.

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

Music

Arcade Fire concert review, Massachusetts, Aug. 19

Arcade Fire take the opposite approach of "Shut up and play the hits," and it works in their favor on the "Reflektor" tour.

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…