Author: Paul RieckhoffPosted: January 2, 2014
Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier’s Perspective
About the Author: Paul Rieckhoff is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Executive Director and Founder of IAVA (Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America), the country’s first and largest Iraq Veterans group. He is nationally-recognized authority on the Iraq war and is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, Chasing Ghosts.Rieckhoff created IAVA in June 2004 along with a couple of other Veterans, a handful of volunteers, and massive amounts of credit-card debt. The group attracted thousands Iraq War Veterans and more than 60,000 grassroots supporters across America, including family members of the troops presently in combat.IAVA not only shed light on the challenges facing our Troops, but in late 2004 directly contributed to solving some of the most urgent problems. From investigating HUMVEE armor shortages to lobbying for expanded access to health care for Reservists and Guardsmen, IAVA pushed for real solutions to real problems.
Rieckhoff, 30, enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves on September 15, 1998 and completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Rieckhoff then served in the U.S. Army Reserves, as a Specialist with the 812th Military Police Company.Rieckhoff left Wall Street on September 8, 2001 with plans to travel and complete additional military schooling. Those plans would change dramatically. On the morning of September 11, Rieckhoff was at his apartment on 24th Street in Manhattan when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. He saw the smoke from his rooftop, and immediately joined scores of volunteers serving in the rescue effort at Ground Zero. His unit was formally activated later that evening and he stayed on for an additional two weeks.In February, 2002, Rieckhoff began Infantry Officers Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. He graduated in June of 2002 and immediately volunteered for active duty and a place in the pending war in Iraq.
In January, 2003, Rieckhoff got the call to go to Iraq. Two days later, he was on a plane to join the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Rieckhoff was then assigned as Platoon Leader for 3rd Platoon, B Company, 3/124th INF (Air Assault) FLNG.
The unit was attached to 1st Brigade, 3ID and spent approximately 10 months conducting combat operations in Iraq, centered in the Adamiyah section of Baghdad on the Eastern bank of the Tigris River. Third Platoon conducted over 1,000 dismounted and mounted combat patrols. The 3/124th INF was the first reserve component unit in the Army to be awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge since the Korean War. All thirty-eight of the men in Rieckhoff’s platoon returned home alive.
Rieckhoff was honored in November by Esquire magazine as one of “America’s Best and Brightest for 2004” and was interviewed Tom Brokaw on The NBC Nightly News. His recent appearances include:, ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, CNN’s Paula Zahn Now, NewsNight with Aaron Brown, Anderson Cooper 360, Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, CBS 60 Minutes II, MSNBC’s Hardball.
Rieckhoff has also had opinion pieces printed by AlterNet, Knight-Ridder and the International Herald Tribune and has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Army Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, New York Daily News, Newsday and A.P.
Rieckhoff was released from active duty on March, 2004 and now serves in the New York National Guard. He is a staunch political independent and IAVA is tied to no political party or candidate. He is a graduate of Amherst College and lives in New York City.