BALAD, Iraq - Long before he came to Iraq, Spec. Russell Nahvi hoped to save the world. In a spiral-bound notebook filled with math equations, he jotted his secret yearnings: "I PRAY one day I can make the world proud of me. I hope I can restore an unknown peace to wartorn nations, peoples, families, friends."
Nahvi's ambitions led him to a dark road on the outskirts of this town, where, on a patrol Oct. 19 a bomb hidden in a pothole dismembered him and incinerated his Humvee. Two other Americans were also killed. One soldier survived: a platoon sergeant who managed to wrench himself out of the vehicle, flames rolling off him.
Afterward, the Pentagon tersely attributed the soldiers' deaths to "enemy indirect fire." An officer handed Nahvi's mother, Nancy, a form asking if she wanted her 24-year-old son's body parts returned if they were recovered. President Bush sent his parents a three-paragraph condolence letter. It contained a typo: "God less you."
A clearer window into Bush's condescension toward the "fodder units" and his grandiose religiosity would be difficult to imagine.