M. Elliot Ackerman, “Two Grenades”

Elliot Ackerman is a former Marine who was awarded a Silver Star for bravery in combat in Iraq.

The story: A Marine in Iraq endangers his fellow Marines and compromises his integrity to taste combat before he redeploys.

Characters: Manuel Garcia, an enlisted Marine. Capton Upton, a company commander. Gripper, a Marine sergeant. Moe, an Iraqi soldier.

Themes: Soldier motivation, enlisted-officer relations, attitudes toward enemy and and foreign non-combatants

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does Manuel Garcia so badly want to earn a Combat Action Ribbon before leaving Iraq? How does that desire affect his thinking and behavior?
  2. What do the other Marines story make of Garcia’s desire? What do you think of it?
  3. How are Iraqi soldiers and civilians portrayed in the story? What explains the curious bond between the Marine sergeant “Gripper” and the Iraqi soldier named “Moe”?

For further exploration, watch this video of Elliot Ackerman looking back at his deployments:

Find “Two Grenades” here:

The Road Ahead


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