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"But then I remember September 11th happened, and everybody sort of knew--we’d all been put on notice that things were going on--and suddenly the potential that you would be seeing direct combat increased exponentially." (Video interview, 11:15)

   Elliot Leedom Ackerman
Collection image
Elliot Ackerman at time of interview
War: Iraq War, 2003-2011; Afghan War, 2001-
Branch: Marine Corps; Marine Corps
Unit: 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion
Service Location: Iraq; also: Kunar Province, Afghanistan; Herat Province, Afghanistan; Paktika Province, Afghanistan; Farah Province, Afghanistan
Rank: Captain
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Captain Elliot Ackerman remembers being a typical laidback "California kid" as a child, but by the time he entered college he was determined to become a Marine and serve in special operations. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 2003, his classmates lamented that they had “missed the war” in Iraq, but by the time they finished training, a virulent insurgency had developed there, and Ackerman found himself leading an infantry platoon in combat six weeks after graduation. He later served as one of the early members of Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) as a Team Leader, and deployed to Afghanistan in this role in 2008. After leaving the Marine Corps, he also served in the Central Intelligence Agency before becoming a successful author, and he has published several novels related to the experience of war.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (49 min.)
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»Twenty Years of Service: Post 9/11 Veterans
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Childhood in California, England, and Washington, D.C.; deciding to become a Marine officer and entering the NROTC program at Tufts University; completing Airborne school, Combat Diver Qualification Course, and Amphibious Reconnaissance School in the summers while still a midshipman; being mentored by Douglas Zembiec. (06:40) Being commissioned as a Marine officer in May 2003; training as an infantry officer; his cohort of officers started training believing they had missed the war in Iraq, only to find out while still in training that an intense insurgency was developing there. (05:04) Swapping assignments in order to get to deploy to Iraq; the challenges of being a new platoon commander, including a confrontation with one of his non-commissioned officers. (07:16)
First deployment to Iraq as a platoon commander; hitting an IED on one of his first patrols; complex ambush and firefight in Haditha that lasted half a day; earning the trust of the Marines he led; humorous memories of time in Iraq. (09:16) Becoming a Team Leader with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion in the early days of Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC); deploying to western Afghanistan, where they partnered with an Afghan National Army commando battalion, and often had to find creative ways to accomplish their missions. (09:17) Motivation for becoming a novelist, and the process of becoming a successful author; thoughts on how his novels reflect his life experiences, including his time in the military. (05:16)
  
 

Home » Elliot Leedom Ackerman
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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