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An USO Bridge for Community Families with Enlisted Personnel

By Jawahar Malhotra


Lt. Col. (rtd.) Susie Barlow, Director of the Houston USO and Staff Sergeant Cole Veigel (right), US 4th Infantry Division, US Army listen in on the Open Forum show.

HOUSTON: Criss-crossing with questions, opening up the dialogue and keeping the story flowing with a live microphone in front of him, Subodh Buchar’s alter ego, the radio talk show host, is piquing the interest of the listeners who have tuned into Open Forum on a cool Saturday afternoon last weekend.

Buchaar’s speaking with Staff Sergeant Eric Maddox who was the mastermind behind the capture of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussain in mid December  2003.

Maddox had just flown in from Oklahoma to promote his best selling book, Mission : Black List #1, a vivid account of his pivotal role is locating Hussain, and was also supporting the work of the United Services Organization, better known as the USO, with proceeds from the sale of his book.

The USO is a 70 year old private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that provides morale, welfare and recreation-type services to uniformed military personnel with nearly 120 Centers around the world.

Also in the studio is Lt. Col. (rtd.) Susie Barlow, the Director of the Houston USO who listened in eagerly as did Staff Sergeant Cole Veigel, US 4th  Infantry Division, US Army who saw action in Iraq on his last tour of duty there and now helping the USO in Houston.

Open Forum

Subodh Buchar speaks with Staff Sergeant Eric Maddox, who was the mastermind behind the capture of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussain in the mid December 2003

Maddox’s account of the events that led upto the capture of Hussain are riveting. As he starts from the July 3, 2003, the day he arrived in Iraq . As the only interrogator available at the time, he was sent to Tikrit, which was Hussain’s hometown, for two days and went on a raid with a squad. Maddox realized that four of Saddam’s bodyguards were still in Tikrit and he theorized that they were mobilizing fighters in the region against the US forces.

After explaining his theory to his superiors, the four bodyguards were placed on a wanted list and a team went after one of them, but he had a massive heart attack and died after being captured. Maddox interviewed his son, who divulged a business associate, Mohammed Ibrahim and the hunt was on for him.

From December 1 to 12, Maddox and his squad went in search of Ibrahim, and finally caught him and placed him in jail. But, on December 13, Maddox had to leave on another assignment and soon after he left, Ibrahim revealed the whereabouts of Saddam, leading to his eventual capture in the now famous spider hole.

“Some of our community’s kids, like Mayur Sharma, have been sent to fight in Iraq,” explained Buchar, “and we want to be able to support them too.” He went onto to describe how, two years ago, donations were being collected at community events to buy phonecards for soldiers to use when making calls back to their families in the US. “The work that the USO does is just so valuable,” he added, encouraging listeners to support it by calling in donations.

As some callers came in, Barlow explained the working of the USO and how it helps families and troops with all sorts of aid and morale boosting programs. For those who called in to the program and donated $50 to the USO, they would also receive a free autographed copy of Maddox’s book.

To contact the USO and donate, visit

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