In the final days of the Persian Gulf war, Robert Jerome plucked an official-looking blue book from a bag near the body of a dead Iraqi officer.
The book he chose for a souvenir contained small black-and-white photos and Arabic writing."The pictures made it a little more personal. I stuck it in my pack and forgot about it," said Jerome, a 28-year-old Spokane man who was assigned as a civilian technician to a British armored unit.
When he returned to the United States last month, he went looking for translators.
Jerome has since learned that the manual was issued to the commander of an anti-aircraft artillery unit in the Iraqi army, once considered the fourth-most-powerful army in the world.
The book belonged to Lt. Shahid Al-Latif Ali-Hussein, commander of 21 men with three 57mm anti-aircraft guns, said Sgt. Medhat Dawood, a member of a U.S. Air Force Reserves medical unit at Fairchild Air Force Base.
The manual doubles as a roster, with the photos of Al-Latif's men glued next to pages of their personal history.
None had more than an elementary school education and some were illiterate, said Raja Tanas, a sociology professor at Whitworth College.
"These were soldiers who don't read and write, fighting (against) an army with high-tech educations," Tanas said.
All but one of Al-Latif's crew were born in 1951, according to the book. Dawood said the information is either false or the soldiers were drafted at the same time and put in a unit as equals because they were the same age.