The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trophy trove for Marines

Baghdad, April 14 (Reuters): Staff Sergeant Nathan Braswell hopes a flag he found in a captured Iraqi base will earn him a tidy sum when he sells it on the Internet.

Like many fellow US Marines, Braswell grabbed the trophy as American forces advanced on Baghdad.

Unlike the souveneir-hunting majority, he doesn’t plan to keep it.

“I got the flag that was in the commanding general’s building. It’s very large. It’s in great condition,” said Braswell, 24, who picked up the Iraqi national colors on the eastern outskirts of the city.

“I’m going to put the flag on eBay,” he said, referring to the internet auction sight where memorabilia from the toppled regime of Saddam Hussein are already in hot demand.

“Some collector would probably like it.”

Braswell said he would identify the grid reference of the installation where he found the flag to give an added touch of authenticity for war relic connoisseurs.

Other Marines lucky enough to stumble across caches of Iraqi bayonets are making a few bucks on the side selling them to troops who were not so quick off the mark.

One Marine was offering several combat knives to his comrades for $20 each — although he kept his favourite one wedged in the webbing loops on his flak jacket as a memento.

Some say they plan to mount their souvenirs on the walls — making a kind of collage of items like knives or shoulder flashes found on military uniforms discarded by Iraqi troops.

“I’m going to make me a nice little plaque that’s got the dates I was here,” said Lance-Corporal Louis Blankenship, 21, taking a break in his armoured vehicle in a car park in the suburbs.

“I’ll put my dog tags on it,” he said.

Many of the items might look rather bizarre on mantelpieces back home in America.

Trophies claimed included the sights to a Soviet-built 120 mm mortar — that looks a bit like a piece of surveying equipment — and Iraqi gas masks.

“When you come home you have to show that you were there, You take some pictures,” said Corporal Alex Fala, 25. “Throughout the wars in the past, everybody has brought back something.”

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