Sorry, I turn everything into a conversation about the war. I guess it just shows how much it is constantly on my mind.
I see Army latrines haven't progressed much since Vietnam. Notice the fuel containers to the left of the stalls.
We cut 50 gallon drums in half, put in some JP8 (fuel) and called it a bathroom! When the buckets got full, we burned it.
Above is a picture of me having my turn at burning our shit.
It invariably comes down to the children on both sides who suffer the most.
My wife used to work as a special education aid in the DOD elementary school in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Some of the kids of the Soldiers who deployed to Iraq had some terrible issues as a result of having a parent in the war. They were messed up because of their emotional stress and as a direct result of their parent(s) PTSD issues. Some of the stories about some of the kids my wife worked with were extremely sad to me. These kids probably only have "light" issues compared to the Iraqi kids who grew up during the war. I couldn't imagine my kids having to grow up and facing the constant danger of going to school.
I was in Baqubah for a year in 2004. We used to see kids playing soccer in the fields around the city and its outlying communities all the time. One time in particular I remember a group of gunmen pulled up to a group of kids playing soccer and slaughtered them all when I was there. What the hell do the kids have to do with it? We we always scared that gunmen would do the same to the schools, but fortunately that never happened.
Fallujah and the poisoning is another topic altogether. Operation Phantom Fury kicked off almost 8 years ago to the day today. I was almost drawn into the fight, but my platoon was assigned to a different battalion during the assault on Fallujah. If you do any reading or if you have ever come across the book "house to house" by David Belavia (he was put in for a medal of honor as a result of his service in Fallujah), he was in my company. I was the platoon leader of second platoon that wasn't there. I don't regret not being there at all.
George Bush and his cronies need to be held accountable for what they did to Iraq. The war in Iraq needs to be the point of national shame and disgrace that it is/was.
Anyways, I'm done with my rant.
Victor G. Philippi
CPT, IN (former)
Like you loosely touched on above, I don't know how any combat veteran could vote for a republican. I haven't been able to find a poll about this, but I would love to see the party affiliation of "combat" vets and those who actually got shot at in the line of duty versus "non-combat" vets or guys who served in the Airforce or Navy or your non combat jobs in the Army.
Only about 15% of todays Army is made up of actual Infantry. Not counting the non-infantry guys who do deal with combat (i.e your tankers, artillerymen, combat engineers, MPs,...) most of the Army and military serves in a combat support role and is never placed in direct combat. It's not even close to being the same thing if you are stationed on a super-FOB and to have mortars impact on the base a few thousand meters from you. Yup, you might have to put down your burger king whopper that you just bought from the PX while you put on your kevlar helmet
When you actually go out on patrol and deal first hand with the results of your weapons fire you gain a completely different outlook on war. It's one thing to fly around in an airplane and drop bombs on a target that is 30,000+ feet below, but it is a completely different thing to actually see the person that you are shooting in your sights, squeeze the trigger, and watch them drop. After the firefight is over you also get to enjoy the wonderful experience of recovering the dead and wounded.
I wonder how many bodies and their parts Romney had to stuff into body bags when he was in France. How many dead or dying people did he come across? The most upsetting incident to me when I was in Iraq was finding a child that had errantly been shot during one of our firefights. I have no idea if he survived, but he was still alive when I found him. I did what I could and I did what I thought was the best at the time, but I have a lot of regrets for what I did. We were able to get him on a helicopter easily within 15 minutes of me finding him. I could and should have done more for the boy's family than I did.
Did mit really experience the same feelings of glory and overwhelming sense of patriotism when he watched adults and children die as a result of his actions? I wonder if mit wakes up having nightmares of his service in France all keyed up and ready to go on patrol and murder anyone who is crazy enough to attack him. I wonder if mit, when he goes out into public, gets the same weird tingle in his right hand when he realizes that he isn't holding the pistol grip of his rifle that I get. I wonder if he walks around walmart with his right hand tucked into his side and twitching his thumb as if he was moving the selector switch from "safe" to "semi" on his rifle.
I wonder how often mit find himself trapped in the memories of his service in France or how often he experiences a PTSD panic attack. Like me and Iraq, I bet he constantly thinks that the hardest part of his life was coming home from France. I bet he secretly wishes that he could leave his wife and kids and go back to France to die. Yup, probably like me, he misses the feelings of combat. He misses wearing his body armor, 4 grenades, 210 rounds of 5.56 ball ammunition, and carrying a rifle. He misses the feeling of danger, the sounds and excitement of combat, and the feeling of murder that I miss.
Then I bet he snaps out of it, finds himself a stammering, shaking, and crying mess and realizes that he has to come to terms with being a shadow of what he once was. I went from being in charge of 40+ Soldiers in combat, being in excellent shape, and being able to do and deal with anything to being a scrawny emotional wreck that I am today. I can hardly do things like go out into public places without turning into a basket case or pay my bills on time (not because I don't have the money, I just can't deal with writing checks or calling people on the phone to pay them). I have problems communicating and relating to my wife and kids and, if it wasn't for my boss and coworkers pitty, I could hardly keep a job.
Yup, I pretty sure that mit experienced the same things that I did (and Vietnam Vets did) when he "served" his country in France. We certainly should be grateful for "men" like mit
Maybe it's some insecurity on my part, but I kind of feel like I'm going to be perceived as a "whiny bitch" by veterans and guys who've gone through things similar to me when I talk about my experiences and struggles.
Writing and getting my story out there is something I'm getting very serious about. I've bounced the idea around my head for a while and the time for thinking about it is done. I just need to start doing it and let things fall in order. The more I tell people I'm actually going to write a book, the more I'm committing myself to getting it done.
Even if it doesn't amount to anything I'll at least have a narrative to pass on to my family that will answer some of their questions about what I did in the war. My grandfather was an infantryman in WWII and I know almost nothing about what he did. He never talked about it to my father or to me and he died about 14 years ago, before I was able to really ask him some serious questions. There is a hole in me for not having some of those answers.
Hey, if I ever get my book finished and published I'll be sure to keep an eye out for you and a few other guys. I keep an eye out for your posts and those of a few others on this forum. Trust me, I won't forget who you are. I've fallen in love with the community on this forum and I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon.
I found this story here:
by Dan Griffin
It was several years after I came home from Vietnam, and the family was about to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister Ritas house when she said, you have to see this now. I asked her if it could wait until after we ate dinner; she said no you have to see this now. She
had this very serious look on her face and a solemn tone to her voice. So I said to myself, Id better listen to her. We went into her bedroom; I sat on the bed while she reached into a dresser drawer and pulled out a stack of letters with a red ribbon tied around them. Rita said, these are all of the letters you wrote to me while you were in Vietnam.
She said that the letters were in order from the first to the last and she wanted me to read them now and in that order. Rita and I are very close; as a matter of fact she was the only one of my brothers and sisters that I wrote to. Rita closed the door and left me alone to read the letters.
I sat on the bed; the letters were open in a stack. I took off the red ribbon and looked at the first one; it was four pages, with large flowing words describing the beautiful countryside. I wrote about the friendly kids and the lifestyle of an exotic people. Each letter after that became shorter and shorter. They went from four pages to three, then two, then one. The letters became darker; not just the subject matter but also the handwriting became darker as if I was bearing down harder on the pencil. I didnt write about beauty any longer, just death. I would write about the heat and the filth; things like; my friend John Nurse was burned
to death today. The very last letter was just a couple of lines and it looked like I wrote with the pencil in my fist, very dark, like I was bearing down very hard on the paper. I wrote; I cant wait to get out of here, I hate this place.
When I finished reading, I placed the letters on the bed; I felt alone. The room was silent. I could hear my family talking from the dining room and smell the turkey dinner. I realized why Rita had shown me the letters; she was showing me how much I had changed from when I first
got to Vietnam and what I am like now. I left the letters on the bed and walked out to the dining room. My family was seated at the large table, eating. No one looked up, I sat down and a couple of times my sister and I exchanged glances, but we never spoke about the letters again.
I read this and the first thing that popped into my mind was "holy shit! That was me when I was in Iraq!"
I stopped calling home and would just send brief emails home every couple of days to let people know that I was still alive. I went several months where I just couldn't bear to call home and talk to my future wife (fiance at the time) or my parents. I became a very dark person and I started to wish and hope that I'd die in Iraq rather than go home. I felt like I had nothing to go home to.
The worst part about the feeling is that, after being out of Iraq almost 8 years, a big part of me wants nothing more than to go back to the war and never come home. Returning home has been the hardest part of the war for me to deal with.
Anyways, I found this story when I did a google search about veterans writing workshops. I've had a crazy idea bouncing around my head for a while that I'd like to write a book about the war and I have no idea where to begin. Anyways, I found this and I thought it was worth sharing.
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.
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