On March 20th, 2003, I was in El Mozote, El Salvador, when the bombing of Iraq began by the United States and the United Kingdom. That evening, my group saw the first visuals of the war on a small television in our hacienda. I believe it was Mary Oâ€™Malley who made the comment, â€œItâ€™s like a video game.â€ As green explosions dotted the screen through infrared lenses, it did seem like many of the video games I played growing up. Followed by red and blue dots marking military progressions, it was hard to believe, much less understand, what was really happening.
I find it quite often difficult to remember the people fighting in Iraq. More often than not, I feel like the war has become a bipartisan issue for candidates to use to get themselves elected or fuel for pundits to increase their ratings.
Last week, I found this posted on dKos and it really had an impact upon me.
I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One.
While I was in Iraq,a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall,was killed in an unarmoredHMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID.Once he had declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and awonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner. We gave him a hard time because he always wore all of his protective equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He did this because he wanted to make sure that he returned home to his family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to make sure that he was able to save enough money on his Army salary to send his son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where the squadron briefly stayed, a rocket landed inside a tent, sending a piece of debris or fragment into him and killed him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was one of the finest men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for a man over forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did that because he didn’t have much money to buy nice things for his wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape for her. He was like a father to many young men in his section of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles with almost no support and fabricated parts and made repairs that kept our squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor advance ever made under fire. He was so very proud of his son-in-law that married the beautiful daughter so well raised by Henry. His son-in-law was a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division, who died last year. Henry stopped to rescue a vehicle belonging to another unit on what was to be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept rolling – he was headed to Kuwait after a year’s tour. But he stopped. He could have sent others to do the work, but he was on the ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the country, where a peaceful group was exercising their constitutional rights, and harming no one, and you ran down the memorial cross erected for Henry and for his son-in-law by Arlington West.
Mr. Northern – I know little about Cindy Sheehan except that she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants to bring harm to no one. I know little about you except that you found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with chains and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole purpose of dishonoring a memorial erected for my friends and lost Soldiers and hundreds of others that served this nation when they were called. I find it disheartening that good men like these have died so that people like you can threaten a mother who lost a child with your actions. I hope that you are ashamed of yourself.
Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired)
I feel that it is incredibly important for us to continually reevaluate our reasons for entering this war, as well as our strategy for stabilizing Iraq and exiting it. During these examinations, I find it very important for myself to listen to the stories of the soldiers in Iraq. For more information on the reasons we began this conflict, CNN is airing â€˜Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdownâ€™ this evening (Sunday) at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET. It presents the chain of events that led to the intelligence the presidential commission described as â€œdead wrong.â€
If you are interested in getting to know the people in Iraq, I recommend reading the military blogs, known as the milblogs. Many of the stories and pictures are incredibly moving. I would begin with this articled in Wired detailing both this new phenomenon as well as the major players. Good resources for finding milblogs include Web of Support by Christopher Missick and the Iraq Files.