Near Tikrit, April 7, 2004. As the lead driver of a three-vehicle convoy, Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson slowly steered his Humvee down the dusty road, heading back to base, looking forward to steak and potatoes for supper after another hot day of training Iraqi soldiers. Alongside him in the passenger seat was his first sergeant. Behind them was a pickup full of Iraqi soldiers. Bringing up the rear was another Humvee of soldiers from Simpson’s unit — all part of the convoy.

“We’d always go out in convoys and try to take alternate routes so no one could learn our pattern,” says Simpson. “We’d decided to drive through this little town just to show our presence, let everybody know we’re there if they want our help.”

As Simpson got to the edge of town, he noticed in his rearview mirror that the pickup carrying Iraqi soldiers had stopped down the block, also causing the rear Humvee to stop. Simpson turned around to see what was going on and to wave them along. When he turned back, he noticed an Iraqi standing in an alleyway between two buildings with a car key remote. There were no cars in the area.

“I knew right th