Gunner Palace

Husband-and-wife directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein just train their cameras on the soldiers of the Army's 2/3 Field Artillery, known as the Gunners, and let them rip. Their base is Baghdad's Azimiya Palace, built by Saddam Hussein for his son Uday to enjoy the pool, the putting green, the hookers. "We dropped a bomb on it, now we party in it," says one soldier. But for every dip in the pool, the Gunners must launch dozens of raids on Baghdad homes, looking for Improvised Explosive Devices and unseen enemies. Despite Dubya's declaration of the end of major combat, eight Gunners died during the period of filming, which ended a year ago.

The soldiers, many still in their teens, speak of duty and fear; one even raps, "I seen more than your average man in his fifties." Gunner Palace is a riveting and indispensable record of the war in Iraq because it comes from the men who lived it.

From The Archives Issue 332: December 11, 1980