Black Hearts and Painted Guns

A Battalion's Journey into Iraq's Triangle of Death

Kelly Eads, Daniel S Morgan

Candid memoir of facing extreme violence in Iraq's Triangle of Death with the 101st Airborne Division.
Date Published :
January 2023
Publisher :
Illustration :
100 photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636241975
Pages : 216
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


Kelly Eads joined the 101st Airborne Division soon after 9/11, his experience reflecting the patriotism and commitment of so many young men and women who responded to the attack. He deployed to Iraq twice with the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment.

Early in their deployment to Iraq, the 2nd Battalion brought the fight directly to the enemy by setting up patrol bases in the local areas where they lived and operated. Soon they built a reputation for themselves, becoming known to the enemy as the Black Hearts—The 502nd had been distinguished on the battlefield by black hearts on their helmets since World War II. Their Scout Platoon became known as Painted Guns due to their practice of camouflaging their rifles.

During Eads’ deployments, the battalion would experience thousands of Improvised Explosive Devices and firefights. They would spend countless hours in blistering 120-degree desert heat, controlling roads and preventing enemy freedom of movement; and would dedicate months to hunting enemy mortar teams and terror cells.

With the help of Dan Morgan, an Infantry officer who deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan as a commander and operations officer, Eads takes the reader on a rollercoaster of combat experiences during the hunt for the most violent terrorist in Iraq, Abū Muṣʻab Zarqāwī, bringing to life the painstaking and horrid details of combat in a sectarian war. He tells the story of the soldiers’ camaraderie, built through adversity, and the love of family that sustained them.

About The Author

Kelly Eads grew up in Cameron, MO and joined the US Army as an infantryman after high school. He deployed twice to Iraq, supporting counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations. He was awarded as a Distinguished Member of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, a designation that he holds close to his heart. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and their two children. Kelly continues to serve his nation and community as a police officer, where he focuses on the safety of the areas he works in and still assists in counterterrorism efforts.

Daniel S. Morgan graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC with degrees in national security. He retired as a US Army Colonel in 2018. Dan deployed worldwide to multiple combat operations at every level. In the 1990s, he supported counternarcotic strategy and operations across the globe. He is a published author on leadership, military strategy, counter narcotics, and US policy. Today, Dan works in the defense industry, providing cutting-edge sensing technology across space, air, land, and maritime domains.


Military Terms and Ranks
Chapter 1 A Call to Serve
Chapter 2 The Legacy of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles”
Chapter 3 Training for War
Chapter 4 Deployment to Hell
Chapter 5 The Grim Reaper (a.k.a. Route Motorhead)
Chapter 6 Kill Zone
Chapter 7 “Blue on Blue”: The Chaos and Confusion of War
Chapter 8 Patrol Base Gator Swamp
Chapter 9 Operation Glory Light
Chapter 10 Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown
Chapter 11 Offense is the Best Defense
Chapter 12 Battalion Scout Reconnaissance/Sniper Platoon
Chapter 13 Clearing the Chakas
Chapter 14 Keeping up the Pressure
Chapter 15 Heading Home
Chapter 16 The Kitchen Table Battlefield
Appendix I In Memoriam
Appendix II Memorial Photos

More from this publisher