Best story yet out of Iraq

Ms. Sippy's Great Escape from Iraq: 11/ 26/ 2004

This is simply the best story I have seen out of the unspeakable misery of Iraq. George Bush may not have a grain of sense, but at least some of our soldiers do. The guy writing this one is Sgt. Michael Martin of Onset, Ma. He's been serving in Taji, Iraq since March. While not a professional writer, he has been sending in regular contributions to the Standard-Times editorial page and they have been getting better and better - but this is his best and to the S-T's credit, they put it on page 1. It really should go nationally. In case the link above doesn't work - here's the story:

Ms. Sippy's Great Escape from Iraq TAJI, Iraq

by Sgt. Michael Martin

He named her Ms. Sippy because he was a Mississippi National Guard sergeant major. When he found her, she could not move. Hungry, flea infested and abandoned, her pitiful appearance melted the old soldier's heart. He promised her that if she would not die he could get her to America. Tilting her head to show the soldier her brown eyes, she seemed to understand the promise made that day.

For the next nine months, a happy 20-pound short-haired white-on-brown mutt rode shotgun in the sergeant major's Humvee. Then without warning, Ms. Sippy became a fugitive from General Order Number One. General Order Number One is a laundry list of "thou shall not" rules to govern the conduct of soldiers.

Generals love General Order Number One. It lets them be generals. Since they don't go out on patrols or ride in convoys, generals have little to do in this war. They go to endless meetings and worry incessantly about unbuttoned buttons, parking spaces and cigarette butts. Generals always try to outdo one another dreaming up stuff to make soldiers mutter profanities. The hunt for Ms. Sippy is a case in point. Ms. Sippy is an Iraqi dog; there is no doubt about that, and General Order Number One said no fraternization with local nationals.

Enter the evil military policeman who in civilian life is an animal control officer. He likes his work and he is good at it. His presence is noticeable in the consistent decline in the number of dogs that once roamed the airfield. In the beginning, dogs ran in packs of 10 or more. In the beginning, the evil MP would trap them for release outside the wire. In the beginning, the soldiers let them out of the traps. In the end the evil MP just shot the dogs on sight.

Ms. Sippy was the last one. He was going to get her. He was going to kill Ms. Sippy. The general wanted her head: General Order Number One said it must be done. The sergeant major thought otherwise. The day the evil MP came looking for Ms. Sippy, he came alone. No one ratted Ms. Sippy out. She was in a safe place. Confronting the sergeant major, the evil MP waved a copy of General Order Number One in his face. The sergeant major did not care for General Order Number One; he had made a promise he intended to keep.

"I'll be back," said the evil one. "You better bring a lot of help," responded the sergeant major.

When the evil one returned he had more MPs with him. He also had a dart gun. It was a poison dart, and it had Ms. Sippy's name on it. It was showdown time, but Ms. Sippy did not show. Ms. Sippy got away.

In every war, legends are born. Ms. Sippy's Great Escape is one of those stories. Today, Ms. Sippy sits by a catfish pond somewhere in Mississippi. Sworn to secrecy to protect the conspirators, I cannot reveal how Ms. Sippy escaped, but I can tell you a promise made by a sergeant major trumps a General Order every time. And, that's how it's supposed to be.

Sgt. Michael Martin of Onset has been serving in Taji, Iraq since March. His dispatches can be read at

Posted by Greg Stone at November 26, 2004 07:47 AM