Former Army Ranger Returns to Iraq in New Coffee or Die Episode

October 31, 2019Katie McCarthy
Coffee or Die Marty Skovlund Jr

The latest episode from Coffee or Die follows former Army Ranger Marty Skovlund, Jr. as he goes back Iraq to talk with a Kurdish Iraqi-American who fought ISIS in an unusual way: over the radio.

Babylon FM, based in Erbil, Iraq, stood in opposition to ISIS as the militant extremists swept across Syria and Iraq. They used their radio station’s reach to wage a counter-propaganda campaign, discrediting “Daesh” while simultaneously providing hope to those living under their occupation. The effects were felt even in Mosul, where residents had their televisions smashed and internet cut off; their radios were the only connection to the outside world. 

Skovlund, a U.S. Army veteran, deployed to Iraq three times during his time in the 75th Ranger Regiment. He explained that this trip was much different than his previous experiences in Iraq, which were relegated strictly to night-time raids against high value targets. 

“It was incredible to return to Iraq for the first time since I had last deployed there in 2009,” Skovlund said. “No body armor, no rifle, but still there for a purpose: to tell a story about an Iraqi-American that I think is important, and that the world should hear.”

Award-winning documentarian AJ Miller directed the episode, titled “Resistance Radio: Fighting ISIS Over the Airwaves,” and is a former U.S. Air Force Combat Controller with multiple deployments to Iraq himself. Together, he and Skovlund walked the streets and talked to locals to gain perspective on what it was like to live in Iraq under the threat of ISIS. Their reporting comes together in an episode that delivers an emotional punch while providing context for the U.S.’s war against ISIS. In the wake of the Islamic State’s leader, al-Baghdadi, being killed during a U.S.-led raid on his compound, this episode of Coffee or Die is a must-see. 

Katie McCarthy
Katie McCarthy

Katie McCarthy is the managing editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. Her career in journalism began at the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger-Enquirer in 2008, where she learned to navigate the newsroom as a features reporter, copy editor, page designer, and online producer; prior to joining Coffee or Die, she worked for Outdoor Sportsman Group as an editor for Guns & Ammo magazine and their Special Interest Publications division. Katie currently lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters.

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