Bradley Multriener is a twenty-one-year-old corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps on his second tour in Ramadi, Iraq, a place he knows well. Before joining the Marines, Brad came from the suburbs of Chicago and had a variety of experiences that gave him an understanding mind and a compassionate heart. In the confusion of battle, Brad is separated from his platoon and captured by a small band of war-hardened Iraqi fighters. Azooz, one of the fighters Brad's age, is the translator for the group. In a short but intense time together, Azooz finds something in Brad he never thought he would find in any American: a real friend.
Vince Perritano wrote After We're Free while on his second tour in Iraq when he was twenty-one.
IN LATE MARCH 2007, I was twenty-one and in my third year with the U.S. Marine Corps when my unit, 3rd Battalion 7th Marines, was deployed early as part of the 3,000 extra Marines sent to take control of the Al Anbar Province in the troop surge. We were sent back to Ramadi, the capital of Al Anbar, which is where we fought al Qaeda and its partners at a critical part of the war in 2005 and 2006. Most of the Al Anbar Province had given its support to al Qaeda early in 2004. The ﬁghting saturated almost the entire country and escalated steadily, especially in Al Anbar, the province of Al Fallujah, Ar Ramadi, Al Qaim and many other cities and villages. The ﬁghting in Al Anbar and all of Iraq had gotten more frequent and intense up to, during and after my ﬁrst tour there which ended in March 2006.
When we returned to the Ramadi in April 2007 the ﬁghting suddenly stopped and stayed quiet for multiple weeks. A new revolution was gaining momentum that’s now known as The Awakening of Al Anbar. It actually started when we were there in November 2005 (Lima37.com), when one of the most powerful sheikhs of the entire province, Sheikh Sattar Abdul Abu Risha, came into the government center in Ramadi to talk with coalition commanders, including 3/7’s battalion commander. Sheikh Sattar came to talk because al Qaeda was out of control maintaining their rule through murder and intimidation carrying out numerous suicide attacks, executions and mutilations of civilians who associated with the coalition or who did such “Western” things as shaving their beards and smoking cigarettes. By August 2006 they had beheaded Sheikh Sattar’s father and three brothers because of his cooperation with the coalition. In September 2006 Sheikh Sattar ofﬁcial-ly began the Awakening of Al Anbar in Ramadi, which was a movement among the people of Al Anbar to stop ﬁghting coalition forces, denounce all ties with any terrorists, join the Iraqi police, army and government and ﬁght against al Qaeda. The movement gained momentum in Ramadi under the lead-ership of Colonel Salaam Al Dalaimi of the Iraqi police, and by March 2007, just as we were beginning to deploy again, al Qa-eda was purged from the city and we found it emerging from years of vicious war into a sudden, miraculous peace.
I was twenty-one years old and a gun truck commander in Weapons Company 3/7; the company I had been in since I arrived in the battalion. We got used to the city’s new situation and changed the priority of our missions around, now providing much of the security alongside a strong police force and helping the people begin to reconstruct their mostly destroyed city, instead of mainly combat operations like before. During my free time between missions, usually at night when most of the platoon was asleep in our hooch, I sat in my bottom bunk and wrote the ﬁrst drafts of After We’re Free, my ﬁrst novel. Writing it was my way of exploring and documenting how I felt about my place in the war while there was zero distance between myself and many of the novel’s main topics; mainly war, but also young love, spirituality and humanity in life-death situations and the desperate hopes of those in the worst tribulations for a peaceful world and a better life.
I worked closely with my good friend who I went to high school with, Michael Nauer, along with several helpful readers on the ﬁrst chapters and many revisions of the entire book to smooth out some of the rough patches that came from my poor grammar at the time. As the novel got closer to its ﬁnal draft and it was read by more people that I knew, I was warned by my platoon sergeant not to publish it while I was still on active duty. He said he liked it, but there were some things in it that if published while I was still in uniform could cause me trouble. I didn’t think the book was going to immediately cause a major change in the world so I waited for my contract to soon end, and I kept revising the text and arranging for its publication.
On September 6th, 2008 I was honorably discharged after four years of active duty, and I published After We’re Free for English reading audiences around the world on the same day.
The book and the electronic-book had a wide variety of readers both touched and distant from the Iraq War in many different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and in America.