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They Called Us "Lucky"  By  cover art

They Called Us "Lucky"

By: Ruben Gallego,Jim DeFelice
Narrated by: Ruben Gallego,Stephen Graybill
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Publisher's Summary

From the Arizona Congressman, a 21st-century Band of Brothers chronicling the eternal bonds forged between the Marines of Lima Company, the hardest-hit unit of the Iraq War.

At first, they were “Lucky Lima”. Infantryman Ruben Gallego and his brothers in Lima Company—3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, young men drawn from blue-collar towns, immigrant households, Navajo reservations—returned unscathed on patrol after patrol through the increasingly violent al Anbar region of Iraq, looking for weapons caches and insurgents trying to destabilize the nascent Iraqi government. After two months in Iraq, Lima didn't have a casualty, not a single Purple Heart, no injury worse than a blister. Lucky Lima.

Then, in May 2005, Lima’s fortunes flipped. Unknown to Ruben and his fellow grunts, al Anbar had recently become a haven for al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The bin Laden-sponsored group had recruited radicals from all over the world for jihad against the Americans. On one fateful day, they were lured into a death house; the ambush cost the lives of two men, including a platoon sergeant. Two days later, Ruben’s best friend, Jonathon Grant, died in an IED attack, along with several others. Events worsened from there. A disastrous operation in Haditha in August claimed the lives of 13 Marines when an IED destroyed their amphibious vehicle. It was the worst single-day loss for the Marines since the 1983 Beirut bombings. By the time 3/25 went home in November, it had lost more men than any other single unit in the war. Forty-six Marines and two Navy Corpsmen serving with the battalion in Iraq were killed in action during their roughly nine-month activation.

They Called Us “Lucky” details Ruben Gallego’s journey and includes harrowing accounts of some of the war’s most costly battles. It details the struggles and the successes of Ruben—now a member of Congress—and the rest of Lima Company following Iraq, examining the complicated matter of PTSD. And it serves as a tribute to Ruben’s fallen comrades, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. 

©2021 Ruben Gallego and Jim DeFelice (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about They Called Us "Lucky"

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My perspective as a 3/25 insider...

First, my hat is off to Ruben for writing this book. The subject is a painful recount for anyone who was deployed with 3/25. Especially since he was actually close to many of those we lost during that tragic deployment.

With that, I may be a bit biased (good and not-so-good) in my assessment of the book as I was also deployed with the unit as the senior medical department representative.

Good: Ruben had given me more insight to events that I was aware of (as they unfolded), though I was not boots on ground at his location. He paints an accurate albeit horrifying picture of what it is like to be engaged in combat, fired upon, and to "hold the hand" of loved ones as they pass from this earth. From a first person account, Ruben is exceptionally articulate in his interpretation of events as they unfolded.

Not-so-good: As others have eluded, Ruben throws politics into the mix. While I agree with many of his political views, it takes away from his story of tragedy, personal loss, and memories of valor and camaraderie. Additionally, as one other critic stated, he comes off as complaining about the upper echelon and their decisions. While that is his opinion, it may not be appropriate to criticize that which one does not know to be fact, or understand the mechanics behind the decisions made. There were many missteps and poor decisions by command, though many inaccurate rumors continue to prevail. There is the perspective from those in command, and those at the lowest levels taking orders from those in between, all which can differ dramatically.

This is Ruben's story to tell. It is his interpretation of the events and his opinion of "why" along with his therapy to challenge the nightmare that continues to haunt members of 3/25. He is extrodinarily brave to share this with us.

There are so few books written about one of the most eventful military deployments by a unit since Viet Nam. I figured with all the diaries kept, photos and videos taken, documentation for the record, and discussions at reunions, there would be more collaboration to write books and give further accounts of the events that unfolded during our 2005 deployment to Iraq. Then again, this book may be the ice-breaker for more to follow.

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Great listen!!!

Was able to listen to what one of my good friends from school went through before his death. RIP Jonathan Grant, great to see a friend through another's eyes.

Thank you Ruben for your service and letting us in on your and Limas experience.

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Must Read for Veterans

This book is a must read for Veterans and particularly for anyone considering joining the service. The Congressman does an excellent job of relaying the chaos, terror, strength, and pride involved with combat service, and an incredible job of describing the symptoms many Veterans face with PTSD, many of which are little discussed. I feel anyone aspiring to join the military, especially in a combat arms capacity, would greatly benefit from reading this book, to better understand the reality of their decision and the potentially life long repercussions of that decision. Amazing book, read by the author. As a Veteran myself, it made me feel less alone

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Lima 3/25

This subject, Lima Company 325 is held near to my heart. A young man that I know was apart of this unit. He came home to his loving family unlike many of his Marine brothers. He is my hero!! The story was told well, my heart breaks for all the families that lost a child, a husband, brother or grandchild. However, the story was spoiled by current issues in the past year, such as the election. I thought it was about Lima Company, not Biden and Trump, i.e. politics. Sorry you didn't stick to the subject.

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One of My Favorite Books

One of the best books I’ve ever read. Many years I saw the documentary about Lima Company in Netflix. I think that this company needs to go in Marine Corps History. I believe that this unit fought with the honor and ferocity of units that fought during World War II.

Rubén Gallegos perspective and sincerity about the event captivated my imagination. It was like I met the Marines in person; furthermore, this is one of the few books I’ve read that explain that there’s no such thing as “part time reservist!” They are Marines! And displayed the best of Marine Corps values.

Semper Fi

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Intense Self Account Descriptions

A very intense account of combat operations in Iraq of Lima Company 3d Marines, 25th Batallion Marines. These Gentlemen are the epitome of fighting through the Pain of losing fellow Marines.

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11

wonderfu book gave great insight on the iraq war from a solidiers perspective and insight on the author

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Semper Fi

These were the days that forged young Americans in the crucible of fire. These men and women are the definition of what American patriotism is. Thank you to all who served and are currently serving. God bless you and the United States of America. Semper Fi do or die!

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Very moving account of marines in Iraq

Gallego is so honest in this account. Loved the fact that he read it himself - raw emotion at certain points. Well worth listening to.

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Great story, Horrible narration

As a Marine combat veteran myself, I struggled with just giving this book 5 stars for a brother in arms. It is a compelling and interesting story told from a Marine’s perspective. The vernacular and dialogue were straight from the Corps which gives the reader immediate familiarity with the situation if they happen to be a Marine as well. But the narration….. The reading of the story leaves a lot to be desired. Like the difference between a well spoken speech and one that is read directly from a page. At times the author/narrator gets lost in the sentence, ending it prematurely and then suddenly continuing with it. This places the emphasis on the wrong word in the sentence and makes the reading confusing and difficult to listen to at times.

Again, great story. Maybe it would be better served as a print book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-07-22

Shit book!!

Not an interesting military story and about the last half is a load of democratic political rubbish.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-10-22

Wow

This is a well done book. The fact that Rubin reads it only added to the emotion you can hear in his voice when he's talking about his friends.