It was during my third deployment to Iraq; the platoon had taken up residence in two houses in a village several miles south of Haditha. One day I heard our translator having a heated discussion with two local men. I grabbed my gear and my rifle and walked out to the road to investigate. I ask the translator what was going on. He tells me that these two men are crazy and assures me that they are not dangerous. I ask what they want, and he mumbles about them being superstitious, or something along those lines. He assures me that everything is ok, and my attention is not needed. It took a bit of prying, but the translator finally says that they are having a wolfman problem, but they are afraid that if they shoot at it, the local troops will be alarmed and attack their house. They tell us that this wolfman has been coming around late at night and has already killed a few sheep. And they are worried that it’s going to start attacking their family.
So, I assume somewhere in translation the word ‘dog’ has turned into ‘wolf’ and is somehow being conveyed to me by the translator as ‘wolfman’. So, I try to clarify “do they mean a dog?” The translator is a bit hesitant, almost like he’s embarrassed that his countrymen are wasting everyone’s time by believing in such nonsense. But they are adamant that their house is being besieged by a wolfman. Again, I ask if it’s just a big dog, and no, it’s a wolfman. So, I ask if there are wolves in Iraq and they are all in agreeance that yes, there are wolves in Iraq. But there are no wolves in this part of the country and it’s not a wolf or a large dog that has been killing their sheep; it’s a wolfman.
The translator is trying to usher them away but at this point I am very intrigued, and still a bit confused over the whole “dog-wolf-wolfman” thing. So, I ask them to describe what they are seeing. They tell me that every few nights it comes around, they first see it on four legs, as it skulks around their small compound. But then it stands up like a man, walking on two legs. It growls and it has lunged at the men, but as they retreat, it turns its attention to the sheep. Their own dogs refusing to help protect human or sheep. They tell me the creature has killed a few of their sheep and that they have even found one of the bodies, ripped apart with portions of it eaten away. They have been hesitant to shoot for fear of troop involvement.
The translator says that he has heard of such a creature, and even though this type of story has been spread through the area by various people, it is no more than superstitions and delusions. He assures me that there is no such thing as a wolfman.
I tell the two men that they should feel free to protect themselves and their livestock. And with my interest piqued, I get the men to agree to allowing us to stop by from time to time and set up an observation post while we are out on patrol. A couple nights later I join a night patrol and we head towards the house. We are greeted by one of the men and he gives us entry to the compound. We go up to the roof and set out sentries to overlook a nearby bridge.
About an hour later the homeowner comes up with a panicked look on his face. He’s talking really fast; excitement and concern in his voice and body language. He’s wanting me to come with him. I tell two others to come with me and we all follow the man. He leads us to the other side of the house, and we exit onto an enclosed courtyard where the sheep are being kept. The sheep are making plenty of noise and the man is pointing to a dark corner of the yard. I strain my eyes to see what he’s pointing at. Finally, I see it, a large wolf/dog, just standing in the corner. I ask the other two guys with me if they see it too, and they both agree that it’s a wolf or a dog. It moved behind a small sections on of wall and I could hear popping & cracking noises; like joints or knuckles being cracked. When it stepped out from behind the wall, it was upright on two legs. It swiftly and effortlessly jumped the perimeter wall and we could here it running away on two feet.
I conveyed to the man as best I could, if that thing ever showed up again, feel free to shoot it if he could; and if he did, to please let me know.