In 2003, Alex Perez-Cruz was the executive officer of a tank company, one of the first unit across the berm that separated Kuwait from Iraq. Several deployments later—including one that took him back to Iraq as a company commander—he is now a lieutenant colonel and joined Maj. Jake Miraldi for this episode of The Spear. In it, he shares stories from both of those deployments. He also compares the two—the first, at least initially, a fight against a modern military force, and the second, a fight against the non-state Iraq insurgency—and reflects on some of the lessons he learned from his combat experiences during both.

From securing his unit’s original objective during the initial invasion, to the famous “thunder run” to Baghdad, to near-misses from enemy artillery and rocket-propelled grenades, these stories offer a window into the huge variety of the forms of combat faced by US and coalition service members during the years-long war in Iraq.

Listen to the conversation below, and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.