I guess you don’t remember Dominic when I first picked you up as a hitch-hiker when you were travelling around the highlands in Scotland in the early 80’s? I took you back to start a job with us at the Advie Estate in Aviemore?
You were a big guy then and suffered from diabetes which you freely admitted. It was not me alone who decided to take you under our wing as a worker on the estate – the Factor and everyone else there also agreed to give you a go, and you were a hard worker whom we all admired.
You never said exactly where you came from in Ireland but did tell us tales of your adventures around the world; in Africa, South-East Asia, China and Australia.
We knew that you were sick mate, and you knew that we had adopted you into our family.
One day out of the blue you left us without any goodbye’s and never came back.
Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq 2014.
I had worked there for a few months by then.
My favourite place to go on Thursday nights to relax and meet friends was the Deutsche Hof in the back streets of Ankawa.
It is an extraordinary place; an old villa surrounded by high walls and a garden with lemon trees and a bar and restaurant.
It is where we all went, and we all knew each other and knew what everyone there was doing in Iraq. Mossad, MI6, CIA, SVR and the sinister black-clothed Kurdish secret police, the Asayish.
Many other people went there too; the redneck oil-riggers, private security operators who protected the oil-fields and high-status individuals.
I was in the middle of an interesting conversation with an ex-officer of my own regiment (Royal Irish Rangers) when a man we didn’t know sat at the bar next to me and ordered a large whiskey.
His Irish accent hit me straight away. He was dressed in old dirty clothes and wore a ‘keffiyeh’ around his head – a black and white chequered one, identical to the one I use myself.
Despite his scruffy beard, I recognised his blue eyes when he turned to say hello, and old memories flooded back to me in that instant after a period of twenty years had gone by.
I asked him “Dominic, don’t you recognise me?”. He looked down at the floor and took a long slug of his whiskey before he replied in a tired voice.
“I remember you now, the Assistant Factor at the Advie Estate. You helped me when I was stony broke and as sick as a dog. In fact, you all helped me and I will never forget your kindness”.
I invited him to eat with me in the restaurant there as I judged he needed a good meal and it was on me. Then all my mates joined in too and we got a bigger table.
Colonel Oliver, my old regimental brother in arms, the British Consular Cultural Attache [who spoke fluent Kurdish Sorani by the way], an ex-British army Major in the private security business, and a Captain in the Peshmerga.
We all had a lot to drink and merriment joined us that night, with Dominic and me singing Irish songs and telling jokes.
I looked down on the ground as he had thrown a cigarette butt there and saw he was losing blood from his left leg which had covered his khaki desert boot.
Then he went quiet and paused for a while before speaking again.
“Look, guys, after my adventure in Scotland when Jack was there I joined the British Army. I was twenty then and served for fifteen years – in Bosnia, Cyprus and the Falklands and then Iraq, I don’t regret one minute of what I did.
My marriage had ended, I lost touch with my children and I lost everything. Then I did what you may think is a stupid thing.
I joined the Pershmerga International Volunteers brigade in Kurdistan where there were fighters from all over the world helping to eradicate ISIS (Da’esh as we call them).
Early yesterday morning we were in south-west Kirkuk and were attacked by Da’esh. I had my helmet and body armour on and was firing from behind sandbags when a bullet from an AK47 clipped the wall next to me and ricochet into my left leg.
I did what I could on the battlefields and now I have to go home. If I show tears it is for the women and children who suffered in our fight and I will always cry for them”.
Dom, we cry for you – along the banks of the river Spey and high up in the glens we will remember you and pray that you may rest in peace. Here is our tribute to you.
We are all Peshmerga
Ema Hamuman peshmargain
ئيمه هه موومان پئيشمه رگه ين