Image 'The Long Road Home' sheds light on the toll of war in Iraq

‘The Long Road Home’ sheds light on the toll of war in Iraq

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On April 4, 2004, U.S. troops from the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad were sent to secure the Shi’a militia-controlled district known as Sadr City, in light of protests. The district of Sadr City had been under the control of the Iran-affiliated Imam Muqtada al-Sadr, who also commanded the militia group known as Jaish al-Mahdi, or the Mahdi Army.

A woman holds a picture of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as his supporters rally in Baghdad’s Sadr City, in 2011. [Reuters]
The protests came as a response to an order by the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to close the Shi’a newspaper Al-Hawza–a newspaper that was published by the Muqtada al-Sadr Sadrist movement. Protests against the CPA quickly turned violent, and thousands of Shi’a flooded into the streets, taking control of the local police stations and checkpoints.

U.S. Troops provide security during a patrol near Forward Operating Base Camp Eagle, Sadr City, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. [U.S. Army Center of Military History]
Attempting to reassert control over the district, the Iraqi Federal Police and the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division were dispatched to the area. While attempting to regain control over the police stations, the units came under attack by the Mahdi Army. After hours of intense street-to-street fighting, eight U.S. soldiers were killed, and 51 others were wounded.

This day would later become known as “Bloody” or “Black” Sunday, and the beginning of the Siege of Sadr City.

Now, more than 13 years later, the National Geographic Channel will be premiering, “The Long Road Home,” on Tuesday night, which focuses on the soldiers and families impacted by the events surrounding Black Sunday.

“Based on Martha Raddatz’s New York Times Best-Seller of the same name, the series relives a heroic fight for survival during the Iraq War, when the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood was ferociously ambushed on April 4, 2004, in Sadr City, Baghdad — a day that came to be known as ‘Black Sunday,’” said National Geographic, when it released the trailer for the miniseries. “The series cuts between the action on the ground in Iraq and that of the homefront back in Texas, where wives and families await news for 48 hellish hours, expecting the worst.”

The cast of “The Long Road Home” includes Michael Kelly (Doug Stamper from Netflix’s “House of Cards”), Jason Ritter, and Kate Bosworth.

Jason Ritter (left) plays Capt. Troy Denomy, and Kate Bosworth (right) plays Gina Denomy on the set of “The Long Road Home” in Fort Hood, Texas. [National Geographic/Van Redin]
Michael Kelly of Netflix’s “House of Cards” plays Lt. Col. Gary Volesky, the battalion commander in Sadr City, Iraq [National Geographic]
“The takeaway [from the miniseries] is the true cost of war,” Michael Kelly, who plays Lt. Col. Gary Volesky, the incoming battalion commander in Sadr City, said to the New York Post. “It’s not just a heroic guy dying in another heroic guy’s arms, which we’ve seen a million times. It doesn’t matter where you lie politically, or whether or not you believe in war as a necessity…This is a story about humanity.”

ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, the author of “The Long Road Home,” is no stranger to the front lines. As a journalist, she has flown in combat missions, been on the streets in Baghdad, and even moderated a presidential debate.

“The Long Road Home” premieres tonight on the National Geographic Channel at 9/8c, and continues throughout November and December.

James Fox, for LIMA CHARLIE NEWS

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