An American 26th Infantry Operation Iraqi Freedom Excellence in Combat Medal
An American 26th Infantry Operation Iraqi Freedom Excellence in Combat Medal - Bronze washed alloy metal withe enamels, obverse is lacquered, illustrating a map of Iraq with various towns and cities marked, along with the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, surrounded by five Army branch insignia (Field Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry, Engineer, Medical Corps), flanked by Captain and Sergeant Major rank insignia, the 26th Infantry Regiment insignia below the map, inscribed "OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM 06-08" above and "FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMBAT" below, reverse illustrating the Abu Hanifa Mosque in the Adhamiyah neighbourhood in Baghdad, surrounded by six Division insignia (9th Cavalry, 4th Infantry, 1st Infantry, 101st Airborne, 2nd Infantry, 82nd Airborne), inscribed "BAGHDAD, IRAQ" with the the Ribbon Bar for the Iraq Campaign Medal surrounded by three badges (Combat Action, Combat Infantryman, Combat Medical) and a ribbon banner inscribed "CHARLIE ROCK 1st BN 26th IN" above, inscribed "ADHAMIYAH" and engraved "PVC Marsh" below the Mosque, 50.5 mm, intact enamels, light contact, near extremely fine. Footnote: On January 29, 2002, in his first State of the Union address, President George W. Bush named three countries as the "Axis of Evil." One of these nations was Iraq. On October 10, 2002, the United States Congress adopted a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. On March 17, 2003, in an address to the United States, he gave Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his regime forty-eight hours to leave Iraq. Military operations against Iraq, conducted by the United States and an allied Coalition, began at around 9:30 PM EST on March 19, 2003. This operation was known in the United States as Operation Iraqi Freedom. By May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush declared Major Combat Operations over, signalling a transition to operations to stabilize Iraq and support its reconstruction. The Adhamiyah neighborhood dates back to the Abbasid period and is one of the oldest areas of Baghdad. Although Adhamiyah had been the site of many clashes between Iraqi insurgents and US forces as well as tensions between Shi'a security forces and Sunni residents, in September 2005, the residents of Adhamiyah were credited with saving hundreds of Shi'a lives. Shi'a pilgrims who were caught in a stampede on al-Aaimmah bridge, coming from the opposing shore of Kadhimiyah, began jumping from the bridge in an attempt to escape the crush, only to face drowning in theTigris below. Adhamiyah residents dove into the waters, pulling hundreds of Shi'a to the shore, where their fellow residents transported them to hospitals and mosques, in some cases using the mattresses from their own beds as makeshift stretchers. According to the Interior Ministry, upwards of 900 Shi'a pilgrims died in the stampede, with a like number of wounded. Shiite families forced out in 2006 post-Samarra fled to surrounding Shiite neighborhoods like Shaab. Sunni families displaced from these Shiite areas moved in. Many long-established Sunni residents went abroad and either locked their homes or arranged for trusted Sunni neighbors to guard them against displaced Sunni newcomers, fearing people who might break into the house and stay there. On April 10, 2007, Coalition forces began to construct a 5-kilometre-long (3 mile), 3.7-metre-high (12 foot) wall around the Adhamiyah neighborhood in an attempt to reduce Sunni-Shi'a violence. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a halt to construction on April 22nd, but it was finished anyway in May. During summer 2007, two Bradley Fighting Vehicles were destroyed by deep buried IEDs in the Adhamiyah area. One was from C Company and one was from A Company, Task Force Spader, 1st Battalion 26th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division, US Army. Sniper and IED tactics were commonly used against Coalition forces in the area during this time. By late fall 2007, life in Adhamiya had begun to resemble a city again with traffic jams, the reopening of shops, and an abatement of violence. Security efforts of the 3-7 Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division and cooperation of the local populace were credited as factors contributing to this change. However, in January 2008, terrorists killed Colonel Riyadh al-Samarrai, a founder of the Sunni Awakening Council, a new American ally, in Adhamiya at the offices of the Sunni Endowment. He was a close aide and security adviser to the leader of the Sunni Endowment, Sheik Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarrai, who held Al Qaedaresponsible.