Don't do yourself any favors and volunteer to do anything extra while you're deployed. I was kind of bitter when I was in Iraq towards all of the "fobbits", but there is no shame in staying safe so long as you are doing your job and everything you are asked to do. If I were to do it all over again, I'd probably be an Airforce Finance Corps officer. Same pay, none of the dangers.
You might feel like you are missing out on some of the "action" by staying on the FOB, but all you need to do is experience one firefight and you'll wish that you never have to live through that again.
It was kind of funny (in a way). When I was in Iraq my platoon was biting at the bit to get out into sector and to get into a firefight. For the first month we stayed on the base in QRF (quick reaction force) role in case we were needed to back up any of the lighter units in the battalion. My platoon was kind of a weird mix. I had two Bradley Fighting Vehicles, two Tanks, and 2 squads of dismounted Infantry, so I had a lot of firepower. My platoon was attached to a combat engineer batallion that conducted all of its missions with HMMWVs and 113s.
Anyways, after our first little taste of combat, the guys in my platoon totally shut up about wanting to see anymore action!
Your deployment experiences, both good and bad, will stick with you for the rest of your life. They were very formitive to me and made me a much kinder and gentler person. I got out when I was 27 and I feel like I aged 30 years mentally. I'm basically in retirement mode at this point in my life (I'm 32 years old now)! It's kind of funny. The war sucked and I hated it, but those were the best years of my life.
I've been writing stuff like the above post on this forum since I joined a few months back. As much as I don't like to relive the events, I like to write about it. Thank you for the compliment on my writing.
I've mentioned this on another thread, but I've been thinking about writing a book or writing it all out in long-form for years now. I came up with the general plan that I would just write whatever came up into my mind on forums like this, save the posts, and after a while compile them/mine them for ideas and work it into a manuscript of some type.
When I sit down and think that I'm actually going to write a book at the war, the task is very daunting to me and I don't know where to begin. There is just so much that I want to get out there and I don't know where exactly to begin - and I don't want to forget anything. I'm kind of worried that people I know will read it and that the people I served with will think that I'm just a whiny bitch writing this, but I haven't talked to them in years sso why should I care?
Thanks you for your comment.
I'm not sure if it really helps immediately, but I like getting my thoughts out there. I have a lot of problems talking to the people around me and telling them about the war and what it was all about. I didn't really go into depth on this post, but I do post some details from time to time. I want to talk more to my family about it, but part of me is scared out of my whits about what my family would think about me if they found out some of the specifics of what I did. My parents know roughly that I was awarded a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal with "V" device for valor, but they don't know what I did to get those awards. I think they are proud of them, which isn't exactly what I don't want them to be (does that makes any sense?). My opinion on the war is very sloppy and is filled with conflicting points and ideas. Part of me is ashamed of my wartime awards and what they represent, yet I use a Bronze Star picture for an avatar on this forum. I walk around work with my Combat Infantryman's Badge on my lab coat. Go figure. I know it doesn't make sense.
I hope talking about it here in a semi-anonymous forum will make it possible to one day tell my kids (who are now 2 and 4 years old) about the war when they are old enough.
Unfortunately, telling my stories on this forum is kind of like preaching to the converted. I'd imagine that most of you are generally in the same anti-war mindset as me and most of you do support the veterans.
Anyways, thanks for the reply.
I think I started cub scouts when I was in second or third grade. That would have been 1988 or 1989.
My grandfather was a WWII Infantryman (Glider Infantry to be exact. And there is a reason you probably don't know much about glider infantry - it was used just once by Americans on D-day and deemed to be a failure and too costly in terms of human life) and he never talked about what he did in the war. This kind of left an air of mystique around what war was to me. My other grandfather was a clerk stationed in Japan during the Korean war. My father was too young for Vietnam (he graduated in 1973 or 1974) so I never knew anything about that war.
I spent much of my childhood playing with G.I. Joe (and legos) and playing out war.
I remember being in 5th grade around the time of the first gulf war in 1991 and I remember watching the footage of the scuds being launched toward Israel. I remember being so proud of our country at that time. I don't remember seeing anything directly about death and the horrors of the war in Iraq. I wouldn't find out more about that war until I was a Junior in high school.
I forget if the mess in Haiti was before or after the Bosnia/Kosovo thing. I remember watching little updates of what was going on in Haiti when I would watch the news in the morning. My brother, father, I would joke that the Army "bagged" another Haitian whenever we'd here something about a firefight and some Haitians were killed. My mother was not amused by this at all.
I was in 9th grade when the Dayton Peace Accord was signed and NATO forces went in to clean up the Balkans. Again, I was proud of our military and our country and I saw Bill Clinton using our military as a force of good. This had a profound effect on me.
When I was 16 and started my junior year of high school, a kid that was a year older than me who washed dished in my parents restaurant enlisted in the Army. He told me and my parents that I could enlist in the Army and do what they called the "split-op" enlistment program. Basically, when I turn 17 years old, my parents could sign a waiver and I could join the Army Reserves. I went to basic training during the summer vacation between my junior and senior year of higschool and I served one weekend a month in the local Army Reserve unit during my senior year of high school. I served as a 91B (combat medic). I could write quite a bit about that experience and what it was like to go back high school after going to basic training (I had a blast, I was a local celebrity of sorts and that was one of the best years of my life).
I was a nerd at heart and I received an Army ROTC scholarship and I went to college to get a degree in chemistry. When it came time for me to select what functional branch I wanted to be within the Army (i.e. medical officer, field artillery officer, military police officer, quartermaster,...) the Colonel in my ROTC unit must have seen something in me and he talked me into being an Infantry Officer. I was in phenomenal shape (two things I've always been good at is physical training (I could run 3 miles in under 19 minutes and I almost held the world record for bench press for a 168 pound man (which used to be 425 pounds at the time)] and shooting). Basically my Colonel mentioned that I would always have my degree to fall back on if/when I got out of the Army so he thought I should use the Army as an opportunity to try something completely different with my life. If I didn't like it, I could just get out and have a lifetime's worth of stories from my time. I really took that conversation to heart and I opted to be an Infantry Officer. I finalized my choice to be an Infantry Officer either the day before or the day of the September 11th attacks in 2001.
I graduated college and received my commission as a Second Lieutenant in May 2002. I spent about the next year training at Fort Benning Georgia where I spent 16 weeks going through the Infantry Officer Basic Course, I went through Ranger School (which kicked my ass), Airborne School, and I completed the Mechanized Infantry Leaders Course. I had about a month of training left to complete when the war broke out in Iraq in April 2003.
I arrived to my unit in Germany in June 2003, right as the unit was returning from a year in Kosovo. I was given a platoon in January of 2004 and I found myself getting deployed to Iraq in February 2004. I spent 13 months in Iraq as an Infantry Platoon leader and, without getting into the details right now, it kicked my ass and completely changed me.
During the year that I was there my platoon was credited with killing 46 people and wounding an astounding number. 5 of the 44 guys in my platoon were killed when I lost a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
I got out of the Army in 2007 and I've been struggling for years with PTSD. I get a lot of help from the VA and I have a 70% disability rating. I could go into some depth about it all what what life is like, but I'll just say that it is a complete struggle at times. Driving to and from work is an adventure, I'm a complete basket case when I'm out in public, and my relationships with my family is crap and I don't have any friends. I've been out of Iraq for about 8 years now and my head is still stuck there. I just can't move on or get away from it no matter how much I try.
Even though I don't have the time or energy to talk about how the war impacted me, I really need to get that out there. I'll have to save that for another post.
I don't really know what my point is, but I suspect that I really want to get it out there that believing war and service to your country is a good thing is a very dangerous and destructive path. Yes, the war is out there and talked about on TV, but nothing is really shown about the true horrors of the war. So much of what is shown on TV is sterilized. You don't see pictures of maimed, dying, and dead men, women, and children that the war produces. The pictures of flag-draped coffins aren't there either. The only thing we in America have to look at is some spiffy looking monument showing Soldiers in all of their glory - which presents the wrong impression of war. I think that monuments for war should focus on those who pay for it - the civilians and even more so the children. If/when they get around to making a monument for my war in Iraq, I want to see one of dead unarmed male Iraqi lying face down on the dirt with his crying wife in a burqa sitting indian style next to him holding a mangled and dead toddler in her lap, face up with it's mouth and eyes stuck open and gasping. That would be an image that would make nobody think the war in Iraq was a good thing.
I was leading a patrol through Baqubah (about 20-30 miles north of Baghdad) and we got a call over the radio that there was going to be some artillery rounds landing a few miles from where I was. A few seconds later, I saw through the trees a huge explosion and my platoon sergeant radiod to me "Damn sir, that was close". Not thinking anything else of it, we continued on our patrol and drove to a town a few miles south of Baqubah (my platoon's sector). The rest of the patrol continued without incident. Later that night, when I was back on our base and I was sitting at our daily update brief (my boss would give us our missions for the next day and give us our intel brief) we found out that a car bomb blew up right where we were and killed a crap-load of people waiting in line to enlist in the Iraqi Army.
Unfortunately, as you guys are well aware, car bombing and loads of dead people is the norm for Iraq. It's a shame what we did to those people and their country.
The sting has faded over the years (that was back in 2004) but I like to get things like that out into the public. Too many vets hold their stories in and never share anything. By default, I think everyone assumes that us vets are all heroes or something and they have no clue that so much of what war about isn't heroic and is completely disgusting.
I don't know what my point was in the whole story or why I wrote it all out. Nobody would probably believe me if I wrote out everything that happened to me when I was in Iraq, but this one event really stands out in my mind as the most traumatic for me. Being close and seeing firsthand who really pays the price for our wars really got to me.
I read this thread before I went to work today and it really hit a cord with me. Like was mentioned above, I knew exactly what photo was being discussed without even having to click on the link.
I really wished that you wouldn't have posted that. It is a remarkable picture, but it is VERY tough for me to look at. By the way, I'm not looking for any type of apology. I'm just saying...
Look at the blood on the Soldiers boot and on the ground. I can't even look at the girl's face.
If/when (unfortunately) we approach another war in the future, we need to get this picture out and talk about the true cost of war as much as we can in public. I found this figure a few weeks back. In the 20th century the ratio of civilians to Soldiers killed in war is 10:1. (I can find the source if anyone wants to reference it).
While I'm typing this I'm also running around my house making my two daughters dinner. My oldest daughter (she is 4) is telling me what she wants to eat for dinner and I just look at her and I really have a hard time keeping it together.
I was an Infantry Platoon Leader in Iraq from Feb 2004 through March 2005. On 20 June 2004 I had to escort my boss and provide security for a weekly meeting he had with local Iraqi town leadership. We were in the outskirts of Baqubah, just a few miles north of Diyala University when an IED on the west side of the road blew up on the third vehicle in my patrol (we patrolled with a minimum of four HMMWVs and 12 people - more depending on the mission we were doing for the day). The vehicle was messed up, but nobody was hurt. I was in the lead HMMWV and my gunner identified who he thought was the trigger man. The guy stood up, ran, then ducked behind a sand berm and the IED blew up. After the explosion, the guy stood up to run and my gunner cut him down with machine gun fire. Some other guy in my rear HMMWV got out and open fire one someone else.
Immediately after all vehicles stopped, I dismounted and ran to the disabled vehicle. I saw nobody was hurt. My boss (the company commander) was dealing with our headquarters and he called for a vehicle recovery and for the QRF (quick reaction force, i.e. backup) to launched immediately. Given the distance, it'd be about 30 minutes until they arrived. Since we were only running the minimum number of people at the time, I grabbed my platoon medic, my M249 (light machine gun) gunner and my 1SG and the four of us walked on foot in the area surrounding where we fired on what we suspected was enemy.
The area was kind of bare dirt with a little bit of grass and a few large trees (not what you really picture when you think of Iraq). There were a few square cinder block/concrete houses about 500 meters away and people were out and about doing their daily business. We were stopped on the side of a four lane road. About 200 meters off of the road I came across a guy kind of in a little sunken hole in the ground by a tree. He had a beard, was wearing what I called a white man-dress, unarmed, and covered in blood. He was just rolling on the ground and scrunched up quietly bleeding to death. I left my medic and M249 gunner there and I continued with my 1SG towards group of three guys I saw sitting on a log about 50 meters away.
There were two men in the 20s-30s and a 6 year old boy sitting down. As I got closer to their position I saw that there was a boy that I'd guess was 8-10 years old lying face down in the dirt. There wasn't much blood, but he had a pretty formidable hole in his lower back. I yelled for my medic and told him to let the other guy die. He ran over and began to apply first aid to the kid. We turned him over and saw that he was still alive. His breathes were shallow and he had a very blank look on his face We tore off his shirt and found that he had a small entrance wound in the top left portion of his chest. It was obvious that he had what we would call a "sucking chest wound" in which the lung is punctured and you become unable to breath. He was cold and sweaty and very responsive.
The two guys sitting on the log were the kid's uncles. They were holding a little tuxedo wrapped in a plastic bag and they were on their way to a wedding. The boy just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't know why I did this, but I had the guys zip-tied (hand cuffed with plastic zip ties) [I'm yelling out loud to myself while I'm typing this]. I have no idea why I thought they were dangerous or a threat. I really regret the way I treated the adults. I should have brought them over to hold the boy's hand and to comfort him.
The little boy's house was just a few hundred meters away and the boy's father and mother saw that something was up and came running to my position. My translator (who was a local Iraqi civilian) came running to my position and told me that the father wanted the mother to be kept away from the boy who was shot. The father had missing teeth, was wearing a white man-dress and had a light beard. He looked completely harmless and was very distraught. I pushed the mother back (on the father's request). She had some sort of crazy blue tattoo on hear forehead (I don't remember exactly what it was). A crowd began to gather about 100 meters in the distance and I had one of my HMMWVs come to our position to provide a little bit of over watch on out position. The crowd saw our weapons and gave us space.
When we first saw that a little boy was shot we immediately called for helicopter MEDIVAC. While we were waiting for the helicopter, my medic was trying in vain to get an IV started on the kid. As you go into shock, your veins and arteries constrict and they become harder to find and it become very hard to start and IV - which is a vital first step in applying first aid. We weren't able to get an IV started on the kid. The guy who we first found finally stopped breathing and died and the helicopter MEDIVAC showed up after about 15 minutes to pick up the kid.
About that time the QRF arrived on the scene and was working on recovering the the damaged vehicle.
I was told that the kid was going to Ballad (a large air base about 40 minutes from where we were) and, the kid's father started to cry. He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek when he found out that he was going to an American hospital. I felt so ashamed.
The kid was cold and sweaty and looked half-dead when MEDIVAC arrived. I didn't even mention how the boys little brother stood by his older brother who was shot and held his hand why we tried to give him first aid. I don't know what happened to the kid and I don't know if he even lived.
I came to my senses and cut the zip-ties off of the two uncles. Again, I don't know why I cuffed them.
After the whole incident was over and the kid was taken away, We drove back home and pigged out on a huge lunch. The local Iraqi translator who we had with us that day kept saying "he was just a boy" and was really shaken up by the event. At the time, I was mostly numb to it and it didn't bother me. Since I got home from Iraq and since I've had kids, the memories and the images have come to really haunt me. So much so that when I play with my own children (who are 2 and 4 years old) that I frequently have flashes of what I saw that day and I have a hard time interacting with my own kids. I couldn't imagine losing my kids to the errant actions of some foreign Soldiers like that dad in Iraq lost his son to.
I hope this whole post makes sense. In the course of writing it I downed 3 beers and my two kids are going crazy running around the house while I'm mentally back in Iraq. They just want to play while I'm on the verge of a meltdown.
I almost don't even want to post this, but I hope someone can pull something worth reading out of it.
The republicans and their beliefs totally support that. By the way, there is no way I believe that if you are a democrat that you aren't patriotic.
The hippies that protested Vietnam were labeled traitors, communist, etc. Why? They weren't true patriots becuase they didn't want to throw their lives away in a pointless war? How does blindly following the ruling elite into mistakes in which you pay with your life patriotic? The hippies were the true patriots. Their vision of America had something to do with freedom.
I said it before and I'll say it again. If our founding fathers and Jesus were alive today, I bet they'd all be living on a commune and smoking pot.
I've mentioned this in other posts here, but I spend a fair amount of time in/out of the VA. I hit some low points from time to time, but I'm actually a pretty easy-going positive person. Not that I don't have my issues and bad times, but I know what is important to me in my life (my two little girls) and I devote myself completely to my family.
Writing and talking about a lot of the war and Iraq is something I want to do, but a part of me holds back. There is a lot of it I don't want my friends or family members to know. My parents know I've shot people, but I never told my wife or my brother about it (although I'm sure they probably can figure it out). I'm scared out of my mind about my two daughters one day figuring out that I was in a war and asking me questions. I don't want them to think that I was some sort of a monster. Posting stuff about it on a semi-anonymous forum makes it easy to vent or at least partially clear my mind.
I really love this forum. I used to (and still go back a little bit) spend a lot of my time on a conservative forum, but you need to have thick skin to throw yourself out there like I do here over there. It's funny. I grew up believing that republicans where the only people loved the veterans - but that has proven to be further from the truth based on what I've seen in recent years. I hate how republicans somehow have the picture in their heads that they are the "true patriots" when, if you take a step back and really look at it, the democrats/liberals I believe are much more in line with the fonding father's notion of what America is and should be.
Anyways, I'm starting to ramble. Thanks again.
Profile InformationMember since: Wed Aug 15, 2012, 01:17 PM
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