Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member


(3,557 posts)
48. That wasn't what I joined to fight for, though that is what it seemed like it ended up being about
Sun Feb 24, 2013, 06:22 AM
Feb 2013

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I believed the stuff that was fed to me that the American military fights for freedom and to make the world a better and more equal place for all.

I was 11 during the first gulf war and I was 15 in 1995 when the Dayton Peace Accord was signed and NATO sent its operation into the Balkans to unscrew the failed UN operation there. During my much younger years I watched and played a hell of a lot of G.I. Joe which, in hindsight, probably impacted me more than I thought. I hung onto the words thrown by the Green Berets as their motto "de oppresso libre" or liberator of the oppressed and I believed that we had learned our lessons from entangling ourselves in a war like Vietnam. I truly believed that our military was a force for good and would only be used to that end. I wanted to join to make the world a better place.

I was a fat kid and a nerd in my youth (I'm still a nerd, but I've come to realize that being a nerd isn't a detriment). When I turned 15 I got into weight lifting and even started to compete a little bit. Although I never had any aptitude or interest in sports like helmet touch or ball-pass, I realized that I could push my body and endure a certain amount of pain. I may not be the strongest or the fastest, but I could always endure more pain and just drive myself further than my peers.

I joined the Army when I was 17 and I went to basic training between my junior and senior year of high school. My parents had to sign a waiver to let me do this at my age. Granted, I didn't do "real" basic training with the grunts at Fort Benning, GA like I had hoped to, but I went to Fort Leanardwood, MO and, after completing basic training, I spent my senior year of high school in the Army Reserves. I had a blast at basic training and I loved the Army and the people I was with. I was mildly disappointed with how easy basic training was and I wanted to do more.

During my senior year of high school, I applied for and received and Army ROTC scholarship. Since I would be "double dipping" if I remained in the Reserves and, due to my college schedule I wouldn't be able to attend my AIT (job training) the following summer as was stipulated by my contract, I was discharged from the Reserves and thrown into a track that would put me into Active Duty as an officer when I completed college.

In college I continued to drink the koolaide and I continued to fall more in love with the military. Due to our proximity to Fort Drum, a lot of guys who were in my ROTC program were former enlisted people on ROTC scholarships. I hung out with a group of guys who were former enlisted Infantrymen. One used to be a Drill Sergeant and two spent some time in the Ranger Regiment and were all "tabbed out". I was one of the "PT studs" in my ROTC group and I actively participated in a competition they had called "Ranger Challenge" where they put a squad sized team together from all colleges offering ROTC and competed against eachother in various military competencies (like calling for artillery fire, first aid procedures, shooting, physical fitness test, land navigation with a compass, obstacle courses, forced march, etc). The team that I was a part of finished 3rd out of roughly 270 schools). I was in love with the Army and I wanted nothing more than to hurry up and get active duty and to serve as an Infantry Officer. I had grandiose ideas of going to Ranger School and, when the time was right volunteering for Special Forces Selection with the hopes of making it to Special Forces.

I was a college senior when September 11th happened. In fact, the morning of September 11th, we had just submitted our functional branch request. Infantry was my first choice followed by Armor as my second. I eventually got my first choice - Infantry and I graduated college and went to Fort Benning, GA to complete about a year of training before I would make it to my unit. I completed 16 weeks of Infantry Officer Basic Cource, Airborne School, Ranger School, and Mechanized Infantry Leaders Course. During my last few months at Fort Benning, stuff was heating up with Iraq. I didn't have the time to follow the news, but I remember thinking to myself about how messed up going to war with Iraq would be. I never saw or understood our reasoning to go into that country. But, that didn't really matter. I figured that by the time I actually got to my unit that the "war" part of the war would be over and it would turn into another Kosovo-type of deployment.

I got to my unit in June 2003 as they were returning from Kosovo. They got orders that they were going to deploy to Iraq in Feb 2004. I was given a platoon in January 2004 - just in time to deploy with them to Iraq. None of us had any idea that Iraq in 2004 was going to be as intense as it was. We all thought that maybe we'd see an IED or maybe a small arms ambust (if we were lucky) but we would probably be doing the same thing in Iraq as we did in Kosovo.

I ended up spending 13 months in Iraq as an Infantry Platoon Leader. To make a long story short, it really shook up my core beliefs about how I thought that the military was and should be used. After seeing what combat was really about, I dropped my dream of seeking our Special Forces Selection and the plan I had for my life completely changed. In a deployment that I thought would maybe result in a singe IED strike or maybe a single small arms ambush, I found myself fighting in numerous small and large combat operations. I got lucky in that my platoon was attached to a different battalion during Fallujah in November 2004. The rest of my company went on to spearhead the marine operation there, but I still managed to find more combat than I wished for.

On 18 June my platoon was involved in a 24 hour firefight in which we were credited with kill 26 and on 24 June we were part of an operation in Baqubah and were credited with killed 14 there. After a small-arms exchange on another day I had the privilege of combing a field and finding a young boy that had been shot in the crossfire. It really made me feel like crap to deal with him and his family. After another incident, a van filled with candy was misidentified and hit. Our weapons ripped the middle of it open like a can, set it on fire, and spit candy and soda everywhere. One guy was running around with a big hunk of his head missing and brain spilling out while another guy burned to death in the drivers seat. The combination of his fat burning and the fabric of the seat melting stuck his body to the seat and we had to actually get a scraper to remove him. There was another incident in which 5 Soldiers in my platoon were killed when I lost a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. There is a lot more, but that is the stuff that is just sticking in my head the most right now.

I remember sitting in a palm grove on the side of the road just chilling and eating some lunch when some guy thought it would be a great idea to throw a hand grenade at me. It blew up 15 feet in front of me, but nothing actually hit me (I don't know how that happened). I remember just being pissed and angry that I would have to 1) stop eating my lunch, 2) get off my butt and react to it, 3) and, the worst part, write an after action report about the incident.

None of this had anything to do with the image and ideal that was fed to me during my childhood that the Army was there to liberate and help people. My actions and the situations that I found myself in have disturbed me deeply and I feel even worse when I realize that it was all for nothing.

It is a shame was bush did to our Army. It is filled with good people who want to do the right thing and who care deeply about the values our country was founded on. Unfortunately it keeps finding itself being used the wrong way and used in situations contrary to our core beliefs. I loved the Army and the people and I miss it deeply.

I joined the military (Navy) in the 80's. I didn't do it to protect billionaires... cherokeeprogressive Feb 2013 #1
You may not have joined to protect billionaires assets Arctic Dave Feb 2013 #2
Guess again, Hoss... cherokeeprogressive Feb 2013 #7
You should "guess" again. ronnie624 Feb 2013 #15
You are missing the point, to wit: The CONFLICTS had nothing to do with your personal WinkyDink Feb 2013 #19
I think they miss the point on purpose, as many do around here. Rex Feb 2013 #51
i hear where you are coming from datasuspect Feb 2013 #33
So what's your point? white_wolf Feb 2013 #42
This message was self-deleted by its author datasuspect Feb 2013 #44
Oh you can't think of a decent reply? white_wolf Feb 2013 #61
This message was self-deleted by its author datasuspect Feb 2013 #86
your best experiences in the military were doing drugs? well, that inspires confidence. HiPointDem Feb 2013 #45
You don't need to justify your life choices to these folks jberryhill Feb 2013 #80
I'm hardly a big military supporter but your comment is fucking disgusting cali Feb 2013 #21
Who is he? He is someone who is familiar with Smedley Butler, the ex-Marine who AnotherMcIntosh Feb 2013 #63
Because you are defending the poor, downtrodden and hardworking as well. OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #3
Well, that's what they TELL you you're doing....... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #9
How did the Korean War, the intervention in Bosnia, Kosovo, etc. OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #10
The Korean War was about markets in Asia as well as..... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #12
* ronnie624 Feb 2013 #16
The Koreas are the one case DonCoquixote Feb 2013 #43
Well as a Trotskyist, you won't find me on the side........ socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #49
true about che et al DonCoquixote Feb 2013 #67
They are pretty disgusting all right...... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #69
They did make their countries stronger, but... white_wolf Feb 2013 #74
Anglo-saxon Imperialism has been going on for centuries... Melinda Feb 2013 #54
Why thank you Melinda, for the kind words.......... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #68
"If Marx were alive he'd say "I told you so." white_wolf Feb 2013 #78
Oh, right. American poor are somehow being defended by the deaths of Pakistani children. WinkyDink Feb 2013 #20
Psych! n/t L0oniX Feb 2013 #60
Getting harder all the time to justify service. moondust Feb 2013 #4
That is the truth marions ghost Feb 2013 #28
I realized that a long time ago. Initech Feb 2013 #5
They can go fight their own fucken wars, let them get their asses in a sling, let them send RKP5637 Feb 2013 #27
This is why we need to bring the draft back davidn3600 Feb 2013 #6
"Or go to a militia defense." That's the one....... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #8
You're over the draft age, aren't you? Scootaloo Feb 2013 #79
War is a racket. And, the GIs are the button men for the racketeers. Tierra_y_Libertad Feb 2013 #11
This is why we need an asset protection tax. reformist2 Feb 2013 #13
A lot of immigrants came to the US to avoid becoming cannon fodder for the emperors of Europe FarCenter Feb 2013 #14
+1000 Tom Ripley Feb 2013 #37
Because it's a good job with perks. raouldukelives Feb 2013 #17
Fuck that shit pinboy3niner Feb 2013 #23
This one won't get answered, pinboy3niner. WAY too much truth in your response. 11 Bravo Feb 2013 #40
Actually, that post does not even address the topic. ronnie624 Feb 2013 #88
I wonder if maybe he was being sarcastic? Melinda Feb 2013 #58
I firmly believe, even though I was not yet alive, that America was different back then. raouldukelives Feb 2013 #87
BULLHUEY nadinbrzezinski Feb 2013 #50
The medals for our hero drone pilots who kill a lot of people are really cool too. n/t L0oniX Feb 2013 #59
The Problem Is That The Private Sector Can't Or Won't Create Jobs You Can Live TheMastersNemesis Feb 2013 #18
Raise economic status midwest irish Feb 2013 #22
It's the "poverty draft" for the empire Lydia Leftcoast Feb 2013 #24
Butler and Shoup.... Bigmack Feb 2013 #25
I know a colonel in the army marions ghost Feb 2013 #29
'high-class muscle for Big Business' pa28 Feb 2013 #64
Butler and Shoup, of course, were both right. AnotherMcIntosh Feb 2013 #66
What's really sad is when the dupees actually defend the evil, corrupt system MotherPetrie Feb 2013 #26
Regardless of what we may think of certain foreign adventures, I support the troops pinboy3niner Feb 2013 #30
I don't think that anybody was disparaging the troops......... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #31
Questioning their various motives, as a class, seems disparaging to me jberryhill Feb 2013 #81
The only "class" that I was questioning was the ruling class..... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #84
Weird reading interpretation jberryhill Feb 2013 #85
Even so and once again, I didn't question their individual motives....... socialist_n_TN Feb 2013 #89
Interestingly, my ex-Army Republican friend... WhaTHellsgoingonhere Feb 2013 #32
Soldiers of the White Supremacist Patriarchy: Fall In! moondust Feb 2013 #35
lol!! WhaTHellsgoingonhere Feb 2013 #39
Un-American fucks!... Bigmack Feb 2013 #41
he was in the military that didn't have black people in it? HiPointDem Feb 2013 #46
K&R forestpath Feb 2013 #34
That's why I always discourage anyone from joining the military...I come from a long line... Tom Ripley Feb 2013 #36
Pathetic we. lonestarnot Feb 2013 #38
Military service can be an excellent opportunity for kids who would otherwise fail in life. bubbayugga Feb 2013 #47
If you have to join the military to get a job you have already failed in life. n/t L0oniX Feb 2013 #57
wow. I'm just going to ignore one such as you. bubbayugga Feb 2013 #83
That wasn't what I joined to fight for, though that is what it seemed like it ended up being about Victor_c3 Feb 2013 #48
Thanks for telling your story. Nt roody Feb 2013 #53
Welcome home. A belated welcome to DU. And a mother's hug riderinthestorm Feb 2013 #70
You seem very intelligent and perceptive daleo Feb 2013 #82
When was the last time they were actually used in defense of the country? WW2? LittleBlue Feb 2013 #52
Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy. - Henry Kissinger L0oniX Feb 2013 #55
You are out of work, cannot afford college, need some skills still_one Feb 2013 #56
So in your world, ANY Government job would be doing the same thing? brooklynite Feb 2013 #62
No, because you aren't killing people in other government jobs. white_wolf Feb 2013 #65
How about if I work for the Bureau of Land Management? brooklynite Feb 2013 #71
Are you killing people in those jobs? No. white_wolf Feb 2013 #72
I agree that it's different... brooklynite Feb 2013 #73
Of course it isn't, however... white_wolf Feb 2013 #75
Which "wars"? brooklynite Feb 2013 #76
"Which wars?" white_wolf Feb 2013 #77
Latest Discussions»General Discussion»What Is The Point Of Risk...»Reply #48