CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq - The struggles of the Iraqi people to build a functioning democracy have been compared to the efforts of the American people during the War for Independence and the founding of the United States.
This connection is especially strong for a military police Soldier serving in Basra, Spc. Scott D. Warren, who said he is a direct descendant of a Revolutionary War hero, Maj. Gen. Joseph Warren.
A resident of Schenectady, N.Y., and a corrections deputy for Schenectady County, Warren deployed to Iraq in August 2009 with the New York National Guard's 206th MP Company from Albany.
The military police officer, who spent six months as a member of the Quick Reaction Force at the Basra Operations Command before his reassignment to Contingency Operating Base Basra as a humvee driver, said he is happy he shares a family resemblance with the general, but he only mentioned it once in school.
"One time, in the first or second grade, we were reading a book about Paul Revere," he said.
"At one point in the story, Revere is ordered by Joseph Warren to ride out to Lexington and Concord to let people know the British were coming," he said.
"I told my teacher that he was my great, great, great, great, great-grandfather—she went with it—but, I don't think she believed me," he said.
In the weeks after Lexington and Concord, the British grew concerned as the Americans sought high ground overlooking the British positions in Boston, such as two hills in Charlestown: Bunker and Breed.
Although he was the senior officer present, Warren, a widower with four children, volunteered to join the defense of the new American positions as a private on the line, June 17, 1775, the day British Naval artillery and infantry combined to dislodge the rebels from their redoubts. It was six days after his 34th birthday.
Despite being outnumbered, the Americans repulsed the first two assaults. But, late in the battle, as ammunition ran out, the decision was made to retreat.
Warren, armed with his musket as a club and his ceremonial general's sword, stayed with the rearguard protecting the American retreat.
He was mortally shot by British troops in their third and final assault.
"My Warren grandparents always told me stories about Joseph Warren, and all the people he was friends with, such as Paul Revere, George Washington, John Hancock and Sam and John Adams," said Warren.
Another close friend of Warren's, Benedict Arnold, in an act of loyalty to his fallen comrade, successfully petitioned the Continental Congress to recognize his Massachusetts commission and grant his orphans payments at half a major general's salary until the youngest reached 21.
After the British left Boston in the spring of 1776, the body was recovered for a proper burial by his brother and Revere, who identified the body by dental work the silversmith had done on his late friend, said Jeffrey R. Croteau, the manager of Library and Archives at the Museum of Our National Heritage located in Lexington, Mass.
"There's certainly no way of knowing what bright future Warren might have had, but his star was certainly rising when he was killed," Croteau said.
In the years after the 1770 Boston massacre, Warren devoted himself to the revolutionary cause, Croteau said. At the time of his death he was the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and the as a Freemason served as the Grand Master of the Massachusetts Provincial Grand Lodge.
"If he hadn't been killed at the battle of Breed Hill, he would have been as well known as Paul Revere or Sam Adams," said Maj. Terry J. Hawn, the commander of the 48th Military History Detachment, assigned to the U.S. Division South command group at COB Basra.
"Because he died early in the Revolution, he was forgotten a little bit," Hawn said.
Hawn said he has read up on Warren and admires the sacrifices he made as an established doctor in Boston who completely committed himself to the American cause in the early days of the revolution.
"He was one of the rabble-rousers," he said.
In another twist of fate, the modern-day Warren had the opportunity to meet a descendent of the brother of 18th-century British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, who argued for ruling the American colonies with a light touch.
Serving as Her Majesty's Consul-General to Southern Iraq in Basra, the Hon. Alice Walpole met with Warren at the British Consulate on Contingency Operating Base Basra.
"In my job, I often hear comments - some of them supportive, some envious, some sneering - about the "special relationship" that exists between Britain and the United States," said Walpole.
"My own view is that it is indeed a very special, and precious, relationship, and I hope that it will endure over the coming centuries, even as our countries continue to develop into splendid multicultural communities far distant from those little bands of essentially Englishmen facing each other across the Atlantic in the late 18th Century," she said.
Today's Warren said he feels a connection between the early days of the United States and the struggle of the Iraqi people to build their own democracy.
"I've been out there with them on both QRF and with the Police Transition Team; they are always smiling and going out of their way to be friendly," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by 1st Infantry Division and United States Division-South Command Sgt. Major Jim Champagne, "As the Iraqi's are forming their new government, we as Americans must remember that over 236 years ago, our Continental Congress endured the same fate," Champagne said. "Dr. Joseph Warren co-wrote the 'Suffolk Resolves' with Samuel Adams in 1774. In the Suffolk Resolves Warren and Adams stated, 'On the fortitude, on the wisdom and on the exertions of this important day, is suspended the fate of this new world, and of unborn millions.'"
Champagne went on to point out how the recent national elections in Iraq and the important decisions made there will also determine the future fate of unborn millions.
"For present day Sgt. Warren, the circle of a family legacy has come full turn," he said. "Warren's selfless-service, like his forefather Dr. Joseph Warren, is allowing the Iraqis the ability to choose their freedoms."
Warren's thoughts on the subject echo those of thousands of veterans and their families.
"I really hope it works out for them," Warren said, "so our coming out here was worth it."