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.
but thank you all for your kind words.
My military service was rough on me. It's kind of weird for me to look back on it now. Some parts seem like it was so long ago, but other parts seem like yesterday. I loved much of the military (well, all of it except for the war). Would I do it all over again? I don't know.
The pain of the loss has faded quite a bit. There are other things that I did/happened to me that are much more troubling to me about Iraq. When my unit returned back our home base, the military paid for the families of the deceased to visit us at our base in Germany. I had a chance to meet and speak with 4 of the 5 families of the deceased. One of the families was very angry at me and asked me some tough questions and some of the things really troubled me, however they deserved to have that opportunity to speak with me. I hope that I was able to provide them some closure and a better understanding of what had happened. The other families were very warm and happy to be able to meet me and the rest of the Soldiers in our platoon.
I was an Infantry Platoon Leader in Iraq and I lost a Bradley Fighting Vehicle on 24 JAN 2005, killing 5 of the 7 guys in it. This picture was taken during a memorial ceremony on our base after the event. 47% of these guys also had an entitlement mentality...
I already had a lot of disdain for Romney after hearing about his "service" in France for his church while the rest of his "peers" (as if you could call yourself a peer to a rich privileged guy) faced Vietnam. This thing really got to me - and I made sure that anyone who I knew who was likely to vote for Romney knew it.
My war was different than yours. Many guys in Vietnam were drafted and had no choice about service (I know that you mentioned you enlisted). I too volunteered for my military service. I didn't know what I was getting myself into and when I joined (1997) I thought that we'd never see a war like Vietnam again. I believed in the causes I saw in Iraq in 1991 (to a moderate degree) and I fully believed in our mission in the for country of Yugoslavia in the mid 90's. I think I drank too much of the koolaide and I fully believed that the Army would only be used for good and to spread justice to the world. Then I found myself going to Iraq in 2004. I came home broken and a shadow of what I was.
Without repeating my story yet again, the war and what it did to me is very personal to me. I have no tolerance for anyone who attacks or criticizes me and my service in any way. Like the title of my reply says, perhaps I'm just a whiny bitch. But unless you've served, you probably will never really "get it" like a veteran does.
and my wife got me into a meditation program that is helping too.
PTSD is PTSD. It doesn't matter where it comes from. Everyone thinks that it only aflicts people in war.
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