MAJ K, Thunder6 and I are all well. We had a costly week. We lost a brother, and the sorrow that has consumed us has left me in darkened spirits. There was no period of denial, only the realization that a soldier, a man, a husband, father and a brother is no more. Today was his memorial, and the emptiness and grief I feel hs again consumed me. There is no lonelier sound I can comprehend then the sound of dog tags clanking in the wind. This past week has shattered any pretense of “reduced” activity in our Area of Southern Baghdad. Monday morning I awoke to the sound of war. The sound of thunder ripped me from my slumber, not one, not two but three enormous explosions shattered the still morning air. Before I knew it I was running at full speed to the Operations Center, and as expected it was alive with activity.
In combat the first reports are usually wrong, but we knew that the arhabi had come out to play. We actioned our response and collected as much information as we could. That day ended, thankfully with no killed or wounded. Tuesday saw more activity as well, but nothing we weren’t' capable of dealing with. Wednesday I went into work a little early as the constant warning of enemy activity were now more readily accepted, and taken a little more seriously. The events leading up to why are not important, what is relevant here is that a single shot rang out and it found its mark. I knew nearly at once that it was bad, no one could say where the shot had come from and no one heard it. My single greatest fear here is not IEDs, VBIEDs, or mortars. My worst fear is a sniper. Not the typical misuse of the word; namely any would be Tom, Dick, or Mohammed with a rifle here that shoots at us from far away, but from a trained sniper. One who selects his targets, with patience, discipline and skill from a concealed “hide”.
The “shooter” was all of that and displayed characteristics of a trained and seasoned “professional”. In the Op Center I was literally screaming for them to get the hell off of that objective, there was a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, I knew that beyond hope that our men were in his kill box, and they had to get out as fast as they could as far away as they could. The feeling in the pit of my stomach was that of hopelessness. Our man never had a chance, there is no consolation in that he didn't suffer, there is only the realization that we paid a heavy price to learn a lesson I have been trying to convey for some time now. Snipers are a real threat here. This shooter brazenly took a second shot, to add further insult to our loss, amazingly the second soldier (who took a bullet in his neck) is here with us. He returned to duty less than 24 hours later. His only thought was to get his men back; he even ordered them to stay back. True to the character of our military his men ignored that order and did not leave him behind, the rushed out and recovered him. Today at the memorial I shook the hand of some of the most courageous men I have met in years.
Today at the memorial men wept openly, men spoke of their friend, and gave fond remembrances of him. He was another soldier who volunteered to come with us. Today was filled with memories of lost friends, of my wife, of home, and forever burned into my mind is the sound of “Taps” being played by a lone horn, burned into my memory is the bitter sound of silence at “roll-call”. There is so much that has gone wrong here, we have lost three soldiers here, and that is three to many. All I can think of is the sniper out there who lies in wait for us to come. June 22nd belongs to him. Tomorrow the day will be ours, and when this murdering scum falls (and he will fall), I will mark that date on my calendar and celebrate his death for the rest of my life.
I have been watching with must disgust our politicians blathering on about how this war is too costly and the human toll is too high, and that we should set a date for withdrawal. To coin a phrase from the 101st at Bastogne “NUTS!” We quit they win, not on my watch ladies and gentleman who have never served and haven't the slightest clue what it means to risk your life daily for something larger than your own career. We leave before this job is done and the lives lost, and the lives that will be lost are in vain. Sorry ladies and gents, I know this an election year (I am well aware of that!), but you using the sacrifices of our military as s spring board to further divide the American people is reprehensible. As you all know I will seek office when I return, and I do plan to come back to Iraq if elected (and if not then I'll probably be back here anyway). Should I come back as a Congressman, I will leave the confines of the Green Zone, and walk the streets with the grunts. A politician doesn't see Iraq, he sees the US Embassy, and the relative cleanliness of the safety behind the walls. That isn't a glimpse into the war. That is literally a facade of progress. The real progress can't be measured in Power Point, it can't be fluffed with spreadsheets. The real progress is in the faces of the average Iraqi. The real progress lies in not the road behind us but in the fact that there is a road ahead of us. Sorry if it is an uphill climb that many of you have grown to complacent and lazy to travel; so don't worry about it we (the military) will do it. Comparing this to “the Nam” is ridiculous. Especially if you never served, let alone in Vietnam. We have the mightiest nation on Earth. Our military is the mightiest the world has ever seen. Let us do our job. “Iraq has become a training ground for Al Queada.” A US Senator Said that. Well good, then we can drop them before they get good at this insurgent thing. It is better that we are fighting this game with our away jerseys.
Diane from CA, I have this for your offering. Firstly, thank you for reading and posting. However our military is a representative cross section of our nation. At the micro level, and at the micro level we are also held to a higher standard of accountability. So, if you think that the military is at the root of the evil at Gitmo, think again. It speaks about all Americans, and when you look at those awful pictures of the horrible abuses at Gitmo, allow me to send you a video of about 70 beheadings done by men like these poor detained individuals whose rights are being violated. I have no sympathy for the people at Abu G, or Gitmo. The only reason I care to understand their motives is not to extend the hand of freedom to them (they'd just cut it off, or say I was being condescending. My desire to understand them lies in my desire to end as many of them as we can so we can leave Iraq AFTER we are done here. If you support us then do so... Quietly. We get enough “support” from the press. We don't need any more of that kind of support. I thank you for your words, and respect your opinion, that isn't just me being PC. I promised Father Bob to clean up my language so I won't respond to anything you have said with the colourful explicatives I used to use. I think I am a little more disturbed not with the treatment of people who have been sent to a maximum security military detention facility. I am more disturbed with the murdering scum that run rampant in Baghdad. You mentioned your friend that is so upset with our attempts to bring Iraq out of the darkness. I meet with Iraqis daily and if you ask a group of them how long Saddam was in power, it is like a synchronized event they all reply in unison, “35 years.” I appreciate what you and those like you are attempting to do. If you got me out of here tomorrow, I'd buy you a drink!
Nevertheless, Ma'am, if you think the pics of Abu G and Gitmo are bad, I sat through about 30 beheading videos, and a video of insurgents sniping our sons and daughters, all screaming God is great. I don't want to sound cold hearted but war tends to do that, I sat at a memorial of a soldier today who had a thousand reasons to live, yet he came here voluntarily to serve with his brothers. I won't let, no I won't sit by idly while our detractors claim the moral high ground over us. We have problems here, SERIOUS problems, and treating detainees poorly is one of them, and there is no excuse for it, and I hope those guilty are punished to the maximum extent of our laws. Will that satisfy the leftist sharks circling? I doubt it. I am not going to waste my time trying to change your mind, frankly I don't really care. Yet I will say this, if you believe in what you are doing trying to end this, then follow your heart. Just be careful what you wish for. Some of these dirka dirka's get let loose, then they become my problem again because they will be in Iraq as soon as they can beg borrow or steal enough to get here. Again, follow what your heart tells you. Here I don't have that luxury.
My heart is still filled with grief, my resolve to make a real difference is rising from the ashes of my sorrow, born again anew is my conviction to move ahead I am reminded once again of the reason we left home all those months ago. That this land and her people have a chance to breath as a free nation.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Von Goethe
My invitation still stands to any politician, and celebrity who has ever spoken out against us here in Iraq, and our mission here. Please feel free to come out with us and gain a real life first hand account of why the hell we are here. Not in the green zone, but in real honest to god, I could get killed here Iraq. To date, of course I have no one taking me up on this offer. Don't worry though we'll be here for a while so whenever you want to come out. I'll arrange the tour.