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A letter from Iraq

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by crewchief, Jul 9, 2004.

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  1. crewchief

    crewchief Member

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    Something to think about, and why it's good that we
    do what we do to support our heroes on the front.
    Article written by a LT in Iraq


    Subject: Combat

    WASHINGTON - The Internet, which fills our inboxes with spam and scams
    every day and keeps our delete keys shiny, occasionally delivers a real
    keeper, such as the words below, which were written by a graduate of
    West Point, Class of 2003, who's now at war in Iraq.

    We tracked down the author, who gave us permission to quote from his
    letter so long as we didn't reveal his name.

    Old soldiers in the Civil War coined a phrase for green troops who
    survived their first taste of battle: "He has seen the elephant." This
    Army lieutenant sums up the combat experience better than many a
    grizzled veteran:

    "Well, I'm here in Iraq, and I've seen it, and done it. I've seen
    everything you've ever seen in a war movie. I've seen cowardice; I've
    seen heroism; I've seen fear; and I've seen relief. I've seen blood and
    brains all over the back of a vehicle, and I've seen men bleed to death
    surrounded by their comrades. I've seen people throw up when it's all
    over, and I've seen the same shell-shocked look in 35-year-old
    experienced sergeants as in 19-year-old privates.

    "I've heard the screams - 'Medic! Medic!' I've hauled dead civilians
    out of cars, and I've looked down at my hands and seen them covered in blood after putting some poor Iraqi civilian in the wrong place at the wrong
    time into a helicopter. I've seen kids with gunshot wounds, and I've
    seen kids who've tried to kill me.

    "I've seen men tell lies to save lives: 'What happened to Sergeant A.?'
    The reply: 'C'mon man, he's all right - he's wondering if you'll be OK -
    he said y'all will have a beer together when you get to Germany.' SFC
    A.
    was lying 15 feet away on the other side of the bunker with two medics
    over him desperately trying to get either a pulse or a breath. The man
    who asked after SFC A. was himself bleeding from two gut wounds and
    rasping as he tried to talk with a collapsed lung. One of them made it;
    one did not.

    "I've run for cover as fast as I've ever run - I'll hear the bass
    percussion thump of mortar rounds and rockets exploding as long as I
    live. I've heard the shrapnel as it shredded through the trailers my
    men
    live in and over my head. I've stood, gasping for breath, as I helped
    drag into a bunker a man so pale and badly bloodied I didn't even
    recognize him as a soldier I've known for months. I've run across open
    ground to find my soldiers and make sure I had everyone.

    "I've raided houses, and shot off locks, and broken in windows. I've
    grabbed prisoners, and guarded them. I've looked into the faces of men
    who would have killed me if I'd driven past their IED (improvised
    explosive device) an hour later. I've looked at men who've killed two
    people I knew, and saw fear.

    "I've seen that, sadly, that men who try to kill other men aren't
    monsters, and most of them aren't even brave - they aren't defiant to
    the last - they're ordinary people. Men are men, and that's it. I've
    prayed for a man to make a move toward the wire, so I could flip my weapon off safe and put two rounds in his chest - if I could beat my platoon
    sergeant's shotgun to the punch. I've been wanted dead, and I've wanted
    to kill.

    "I've sworn at the radio when I heard one of my classmate's platoon
    sergeants call over the radio: 'Contact! Contact! IED, small arms,
    mortars! One KIA, three WIA!' Then a burst of staccato gunfire and a
    frantic cry: 'Red 1, where are you? Where are you?' as we raced to the
    scene...knowing full well we were too late for at least one of our
    comrades.

    "I've seen a man without the back of his head and still done what I've
    been trained to do - 'medic!' I've cleaned up blood and brains so my
    soldiers wouldn't see it - taken pictures to document the scene, like
    I'm in some sort of bizarre cop show on TV.

    "I've heard gunfire and hit the ground, heard it and closed my Humvee
    door, and heard it and just looked and figured it was too far off to
    worry about. I've seen men stacked up outside a house, ready to enter -
    some as scared as they could be, and some as calm as if they were
    picking up lunch from McDonald's. I've laughed at dead men, and watched a
    sergeant on the ground, laughing so hard he was crying, because my boots
    were stuck in a muddy field, all the while an Iraqi corpse was not five
    feet from him.

    "I've heard men worry about civilians, and I've heard men shrug and sum
    up their viewpoint in two words - 'F--- 'em.' I've seen people shoot
    when they shouldn't have, and I've seen my soldiers take an extra second
    or two, think about it, and spare somebody's life.

    "I've bought drinks from Iraqis while new units watched in wonder from
    their trucks, pointing weapons in every direction, including the Iraqis
    my men were buying a Pepsi from. I've patrolled roads for eight hours
    at a time that combat support units spend days preparing to travel 10 miles
    on. I've laughed as other units sit terrified in traffic, fingers
    nervously on triggers, while my soldiers and I deftly whip around, drive
    on the wrong side of the road, and wave to Iraqis as we pass. I can
    recognize a Sadiqqi (Arabic for friend) from a Haji (Arabic word for
    someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca, but our word for a bad
    guy); I know who to point my weapons at, and who to let pass.

    "I've come in from my third 18-hour patrol in as many days with a full
    beard and stared at a major in a pressed uniform who hasn't left the
    wire since we've been here, daring him to tell me to shave. He looked at me,
    looked at the dust and sweat and dirt on my uniform, and went back to
    typing at his computer.

    "I've stood with my men in the mess hall, surrounded by people whose
    idea of a bad day in Iraq is a six-hour shift manning a radio, and watched
    them give us a wide berth as we swagger in, dirty, smelly, tired, but
    sure in our knowledge that we pull the triggers, and we do what the Army
    does, and they, with their clean uniforms and weapons that have never
    fired, support us.

    "I've given a kid water and Gatorade and made a friend for life. I've
    let them look through my sunglasses - no one wears them in this country
    but us - and watched them pretend to be an American soldier - a
    swaggering invincible machine, secure behind his sunglasses, only
    because the Iraqis can't see the fear in his eyes.

    "I've said it a thousand times - 'God, I hate this country.' I've heard
    it a million times more - 'This place sucks.' In quieter moments, I've
    heard more profound things: 'Sir, this is a thousand times worse than I
    ever thought it would be.' Or, 'My wife and Sgt. B's wife were good
    friends - I hope she's taking it well.'

    "They say they're scared, and say they won't do this or that, but when
    it comes time to do it they can't let their buddies down, can't let their
    friends go outside the wire without them, because they know it isn't
    right for the team to go into the ballgame at any less than 100 percent.


    "That's combat, I guess, and there's no way you can be ready for it. It
    just is what it is, and everybody's experience is different. Just
    thought you might want to know what it's really like."
     
  2. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for typing it here to share with us.
     
  3. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    Good post.Thanks...
     
  4. robear

    robear Member

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    Great post, crewchief..
    Thanks..

    R
     
  5. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Member

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    Sort of makes 'ya think. :(
     
  6. Kaylee

    Kaylee Moderator

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    What incredible men.
    God bless them, and their brothers here.

    :(
     
  7. kernal_panic

    kernal_panic Member

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    there isn't anyone from krypton on planet earth but supermen do walk the earth...
     
  8. critter

    critter Member

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    Thanks!
     
  9. czhen

    czhen Member

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    Thanks or typing us

    You have all my support and pray.

    CZ - Henry
    FLl
     
  10. CrudeGT

    CrudeGT Member

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    I know that the things that I am about to do for my country are not going to be easy. But i will do everything in my power o be as brave as this man, and never shy away from my duty to fight for freedoms and the optimistic future.

    Thank you for sharing that letter.
     
  11. Warhawk

    Warhawk Member

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    Howdy GT ... I take it you are about to go into the service?

    I'm new to Utah and one of the things I really like about Utah is how Patriotic the people are.

    Thanks
     
  12. CrudeGT

    CrudeGT Member

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    a few of us are, most of the state could care less about what happens outside of the mountains. it's a shame.

    but yes, I was sworn into the Marine Corp last week. I ship out in Dec.
     
  13. joe sixpack

    joe sixpack Member

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    Thanks very much for sharing that CC. Puts the daily annoyances and difficulties we have stateside into perspective.

    cheers, ab
     
  14. Kendra Pacelli

    Kendra Pacelli Member

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    My brother-in-law and best friend came back from Iraq a year ago. My best friend stated that there were things he shouldn't have even seen. This letter confirms the stories I have been told.

    I support the troops and my friends who are still in Afganastain and Iraq.

    My brother-in-law and best friend now have orders to go to Afganastain for 6 months. My sister is a soilder as well, for she sits here and supports and prays for her husband and friends. She knows and feels her husbands fear. She sits by the phone and waits for his call and prays it comes. When it does, she puts on a brave face and lets her husband know that all is quiet on her end of the front, but once that phone is hung up, she cries for the man she has loved for over 20 years.

    The soldiers have my support, as do the braves wives who sit at home waiting and praying for their safe return.
     
  15. thumbtack

    thumbtack Member

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    Very good post.
     
  16. Warhawk

    Warhawk Member

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    Outstanding GT! My oldest has been in the USAF for about a year now.

    It says a lot about your character that you would enlist in a time of war. I believe your generation are going to be examples for those that follow. Much as the WWII generation defeated Germany and Japan, I believe your generation will defeat the Islamic Terrorists.

    Semper Fi (from an ex Air Force Sargeant)
     
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