Navy Chaplain Father Ron Moses Camarda reflects upon his active duty in Fallujah, at the heart of the battle for the city in 2004. As a Catholic Priest in Florida at age forty-four, the author is almost retired as a reserve chaplain with twenty years of non-war assignments, when a stunning order changes everything. Called to active duty and assigned to Bravo Surgical Company at Camp Fallujah with our Marines, Camarda recounts the horrific carnage faced and his own frailties, while ministering to casualties. He comforts in the most hideous settings; 81 die before him as another 1500 are physically wounded. While standing in blood and with guts exposed, Camarda serves the spirit of the dying and critically wounded, using impromptu prayer and ceremony. The author shares his accounts of providing last rites in the "potato factory" morgue and holding Mass inside the heart of the demolished city. Tattoo's and pocketed paper notes shed light on the spiritual desires of the fallen and connections are made with families of the deceased. These details provide the reader an even deeper insight into the challenges faced by those who serve and pay the ultimate price. Much of the book is set around the November 2004 offensive by the First Marine Expeditionary Force in their effort to regain the city from insurgents in the largest urban assault since the Korean War. I admire how Chaplain Camarda exposes his own emotions and salute his courage. He uses scripture, journal entries, and prayers to bring into focus how men pass into eternity after war. I recommend the book for anyone who has interest in a real-world battle of unreal proportions.
Reviewed by: Hodge Wood (2010)
Tear in the Desert is a journey into the Heart of the Iraq War with Navy Chaplain Father Ron Moses Camarda, a Roman Catholic Priest. Father Ron was recalled in July of 2004 to serve with the Marines in Bravo Surgical of 1st FSSG. He reluctantly went and received over 1500 casualties and 81 deaths in which at least 12 died as he prayed with them. Col Mike Shupp, Commanding Officer of Regimental Combat Team-1, Fallujah 2004-2005 writes an afterward, "Father Ron Camarda is one of those quiet heroes, who made a difference in so many ways. Through his enthusiasm and compassion, he strengthened and developed our moral courage to face the horrors of war. When injured physically or emotionally, his strength and commitment held us up to face each day with dignity and courage. I will never forget him or his service to the Regiment. God is Good, All the Time! Semper Fi!"
The book also begins to follow how Chaplain Camarda met with the widows, parents and friends of our fallen heroes. He concludes with the story of how he met with the widow of a Marine who died at the exact hour that she gave birth.