Theodore's World: They Call Him Lucky

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December 18, 2006

They Call Him Lucky

Iraqi translator for US forces Omar Satar Hussein opens the door of an armored US Humvee, west of the restive city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad. Nicknamed "Lucky" by US soldiers for surviving many explosions of improvised explosive devices (IED), mortar attacks and gunfights, Hussein has been cast out by all of his family and friends who consider him a traitor and a collaborator because of his work with the US forces.(AFP/File/Patrick Fort)

'Lucky' Iraqi translator has America and little else

BAQUBA, Iraq (AFP) - Omar Satar Hussein -- an Iraqi working as a translator for the US army -- goes by the nickname "Lucky", having survived, by his count, 37 shootings, 30 bombings and 11 mortar strikes.

He's also lost everything he ever cared about in the world: his family, his fiancee and his friends.

"I didn't choose my nickname. Everyone just started to call me that," he said. "Yeah, I'm lucky with my job. I've survived many attacks, but I'm very unlucky with my private life."

The life of an interpreter for the US army in Iraq is not an easy one. From social ostracism to death at the hands of insurgents, the job is fraught with risk.

"Everybody in Baquba knows my job -- I work for the Americans," said Lucky, who, alone among his translator colleagues, does not wear a mask to conceal his identity.

"I have no family anymore. My grandfather told me that I didn't belong anymore, so America is all I have."

Hailing from the restive city of Baquba in Iraq's Diyala province, now the scene of vicious sectarian battles and confessional cleansing, Hussein first learned English in school, but mastered the language from old music cassettes.

Abba, Bryan Adams, Lionel Richie all helped him along his linguistic journey. To this day, his favorite song is the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive".

Posted by Wild Thing at December 18, 2006 12:47 AM


The man lost his family and everything he holds dear to better his people, the People of Iraq.

Doing what he's doing for our troops, all he needs to do is settle in any military town in the United States and he will have more family than he can handle. I'm sure the troops will ensure he's well taken care of when he comes to America.

Posted by: BobF at December 18, 2006 02:43 PM

The kid's an American now. Reviled everywhere for his courage, hated for his idealism, standing alone, and cast out by people inferior to himself. That's an American today.

He's welcome here any time.

Posted by: Rhod at December 19, 2006 07:20 AM