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US Soldiers to America: Bring Us Home Now!: PART 2

by Jay Shaft Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003 at 9:24 PM

The following interview was with a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army. He has been deployed both in Afghanistan and most recently in Iraq in Falujah and in Kirkuk, which have been the heart of Iraqi resistance and attacks on US forces.

US Soldiers to America: Bring Us Home Now!: PART 2

US Soldiers to America: ''Bring Us Home Now! We’re dying for oil and corporate greed!'' PART 2 of 5

Interviews by Jay Shaft: Coalition For Free Thought In Media


Part 2 in a 5 part series

I had the unique opportunity to interview five US military servicemen who just got back from Iraq, or in the case of two men, corresponded with their wives so that I could ask questions of these soldiers by mail. When the two I corresponded with came back just last week, I was able to complete the interviews I started several months ago with some new details on how the war is actually going.

I was shocked and angered when I found out how many of the service men hate being in Iraq and want nothing to do with rebuilding and policing the devastated nation. From the conversations I had, many soldiers never wanted to go over to Iraq and fight, and the ones who had were now convinced of the awful crime that had been committed against Iraq and our own troops. I was told very few soldiers now believe in staying in Iraq, or want to stay in the country and serve any more days.

The following interview was with a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army. He has been deployed both in Afghanistan and most recently in Iraq in Falujah and in Kirkuk, which have been the heart of Iraqi resistance and attacks on US forces.

He tells an especially heartrending story of being ordered to fire on Iraqis who were demonstrating against US occupation and were throwing rocks out of anger and frustration. He also tells a story of watching his best friend die under hostile fire and not being able to do anything about it.

This interview is written in his own words and I have tried to leave it as intact as possible so that his pain and anger can come through to you the reader. I will warn you that the language is very rough and the grammar is not always correct.

He has asked to be called Trooper 1 in all transcripts of these interviews. I have taken as much caution as possible to preserve his identity so that he is not punished, and so that his family will not feel any reprisals from the US government. His biggest fear is that his family and friends will consider him unpatriotic and not supportive of the US as a country.

I have changed some minor details in his story to futher ensure that the military does not try to find him.

He still believes in the dream this country used to stand for and is torn about saying anything bad about it and it’s leaders out of a beaten in loyalty to the military and a repeatedly reinforced sense of duty to this nation above all else.

CFTM-- “Hey how’s it going today? You feeling any better since I talked to you the last time?” (CFTM Editors note: The first time I tried to get this interview he broke down in tears and could not compose himself enough to talk about what he had gone through. It is a very humbling experience to have a grown man put his head on your shoulder and cry like a small child. I have had this happen almost every time I have started to have these soldiers talk about the horrors of Iraq and relieve some of the built up pain, hostility, and sense of loss. This fact alone should convince anyone with doubts about how bad the troops have it over there.)

Trooper 1: “I think I can make it through this time. I really had it finally hit me the other day about how many of my friends I saw die, and all the other terrible sh.t I saw. I am starting to cry right now thinking about it all over again. You must think I’m a big baby breaking down like this.”

CFTM-- “Man there is no shame in feeling pain and hurt. I don’t think any less of you for it. In fact you might need to cry it out and get rid of some of the hurt. No matter what you say or how much you cry, I will not think any less of you. This is what I want people to read about, the fact that a battle hardened soldier is so devastated by what he has gone through.”

Trooper 1-- “Thanks man, you don’t know how much it means that you don’t laugh at me or think I’m a pu..y. I had a combat support REMF (rear echelon mother ) laugh at me when I was coming home. I was on a MAC (Military Airlift Command) flight and this asshole that had been in Doha, Qatar and not even seen any combat was making fun of me. I almost killed him, if it hadn’t been for the loadmaster I probably would have strangled him with my bare hands or stuck him with my knife. I was not in any mood to take some non-combat, skate duty piece of shits harassment or laughing. I put my life on the line and this was gaming on me.”

CFTM-- “So he actually had the nerve to make fun of you when you cried over all the buddies you lost? Wow that took a lot of guts on his part. Did that happen to you more than once?”

Trooper 1-- “No that was the only time, but it really pissed me off and I still am kinda ma at that jerk. But everyone else was real supportive and I was flying with a bunch of guys who had been in some serious firefights and been ambushed and attacked a whole bunch of times. That one guy almost got his ass kicked by about 30 hard ass, salty dogs. Hey let’s change the subject. You want me to talk about how bad it was there and I got to get it off my chest.”

CFTM-- “My first question is whether you are going to be able to get any counseling if you need it? I have been told by several guys that it has been cut off for all reservists. Have you been offered any therapy services or PTSD counseling?”

Trooper 1-- “Well I am in a real weird situation because I am still considered active duty even though I am home right now. I am only going to be here for a month or so and I think I will either be training guys about to go over, or else return to Iraq or Afghanistan myself. I have tons of combat experience and training and there is a shortage of cadre that can train the reservists that have just been reactivated. Some of those units haven’t been fully activated since Desert Storm.”

“I think I can be of better use to those guys than going back over to fight again. I had my share of that and I don’t know if I can handle it again. I lost it a couple times and if it hadn’t been for my bro who gave me some good tranquilizers I might have lost it completely. I want to make sure the new reserves are ready for the fight and know exactly what they are in for.”

CFTM-- “Not to put to much stress on it, but do you think you will need counseling or therapy? I think it is important for Americans to know just how bad it is mentally for the troops.”

Trooper 1-- “Yeah I think I will need some kind of PTSD support or seasons. I am having terrible nightmares and I have flashbacks when I hear loud noises, and if a car back fires or I hear a firecracker, I am down on the ground in combat cover ready to shoot a rifle I still think I am carrying. I was in combat situations for over two years without any break except for a two week R and R at Christmas. I am not ready to be back stateside, but here I am.”

“There are going to be a lot of guys coming back home who are used to being on high alert 24-7. It is hard to stand down after being shot at everyday for months on end. There really is no moment in Iraq where there is a relaxation time. It is impossible to get even an hours time to be stress free. You always have to be on alert or guard mount because the Iraqis will attack you when you least expect it.”

“Hell they caught us with our pants down a few times at first, but we got wise to that and never let our guard down after the first few ambushes and rocket attacks. Even on full alert they still killed a bunch of us and wounded a god awful number of our soldiers.”

CFTM-- “How many guys did you lose in Iraq and how many did you have wounded and evacuated? Also did you ever here about the wounded dying after they were airlifted to Germany or a hospital ship? The reason I ask is that an officer with a MASH unit said if the soldier died outside of Iraq they weren’t counting it as a combat death. I heard that is one way they are keeping the combat death count down and hiding some battle deaths after they are airlifted.”

Trooper 1-- “God man you really ask the painful questions don’t you. If I didn’t know you were doing this to expose the real truth and try to bring us home, I would have to kick your ass for making me feel the hurt all over again.”

“Man we lost so many I started losing track. I didn’t want to think about it after a while and I pushed it out of my mind when I didn’t have to make out reports or change our strength maintenance figures. We lost over 300 guys to death or severe injury when I was there, and that is only the ones I know about. There were times when I was out on some scout missions and we lost guys from the main battle group and the reports would be done by the time I got back to the unit.”

“I was there when my best friend got it though. I almost wish I had been out on a patrol or scout mission because I wouldn’t have had to hold his head up while he coughed up his own guts. He took three 7.62s(AK-47 rounds) to the abdomen and it took him a long time to die. It felt like hours, but it was probably only ten or fifteen minutes at the most. It just felt like an eternity while he fought for his life. We couldn’t get a dust off (evac chopper) vectored in in enough time, he died about a minute before the chopper landed. That almost blew my mind right out. It took me a week before I could stop shaking and freezing up.”

“I had been in the same unit as him from the beginning of my first permanent party assignment. I had served in different units for a while, but we ended up in the same brigade in Afghanistan. He was in another company as a platoon sergeant and we fought side by side across Afghanistan and Iraq. I can’t believe he caught it like that. I mean this war is really meaningless and all about oil. So my best friend bought it for some rich guy like Dick Cheney or George Shultz!”

(George Shultz is the former President of Bechtel Corp., and still a serving board member, and former U.S. Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan. For some real dirt on Bechtel’s connections to the Pentagon and State Department check this out-- Bechtel's Friends in High Places )

“I know it is supposed to be our duty to fight for this country and die if necessary, but this Iraq war is total bullshit. A bunch of Bush’s buddies, and even Bush himself are getting rich as hell off of us dying and getting hurt. I could see the reasons we are in Afghanistan and I did my duty there, but this is completely different. Iraq is not safer or any freer under our rule. The people hate us and want us to get the fu.k out of their country and leave them alone.”

“For every one of us that dies for no reason the whole country ought to get out and protest and riot. That is one thing I’ve seen the Iraqis do very well. When we kill some of their people they come out by the thousands and make it known that they are pissed and won’t tolerate it any more.”

“That is what all the American people need to do. Every time the Pentagon gets one of us killed they need to riot and protest in the streets. If they did that maybe Rumsfeld and those assholes like Wolfowitz and Perle would think twice about letting another one of our troops die in combat. Maybe they would bring us home. Until the American people stand up and say ‘NO MORE DEAD SOLDIERS!’ they will keep butchering us like sheep!”

CFTM-- “Okay, well I guess that answers any questions I was going to ask about how you feel about the current regime lining their pockets at the expense of our troops lives. One thing I was going to ask is how you feel about the fact that there is only one US Senator or Congressman that has a son or daughter serving in Iraq or Afghanistan?”

Trooper 1-- “I think every godda.. senator’s son or daughter that is serving military age ought to be forced to go over to Iraq and serve in a front-line unit. If the leaders of America are going to send us over to die for oil and a bunch of fat cats to profit from our deaths, then they should send their own sons and daughters. No one should be able to get their kid an exemption or enable their child to get out of doing what they say is our duty.”

“If it’s our duty to die in Iraq ,Afghanistan, or any where there is a battle against US forces, then their children have a duty to serve and die too. I don’t think it’s fair that none of the sliver spoon in mouth little spoiled brats are dying for this country. Everyone of the guys I was with came form either a poor or middle class working background. None of them had the colleges and trust funds given to them. I don’t think a lot of our guys would be serving right now except for the lack of any other future that looked brighter.”

“Most of them got sucked in when they were in high school and knew they couldn’t afford to pay for college or just didn’t want to go. Some guys knew they weren’t smart enough to go to college, but the Army can always find a place for you.”

CFTM-- “You had told me about an incident where you were told to fire on Iraqi protesters who were throwing rocks at your unit during a hug demonstration. Can you give me some details about that and who ordered you to fire into the crowd?”

Trooper 1-- “ I will talk about this a little bit, but I don’t really want to. There was more than one time we were told to fire into a crowd of protesters or during demonstrations. I will tell you about the one time I talked about already and you can make it out any way you want. I just watched a show about something like we went through, I think it was Frontline(it was Frontline) and really got the picture of how bad it must have been for the Iraqis that have been fired on during protests.”

“I don’t want to go into to much detail about this because it is still being investigated by the Army. The situation briefly was that there was a large crowd of demonstrators gathered to protest an incident from the day before when another unit had shot into a crowd of protesters. There had been about 20 killed the day before, but we never heard a total body count just some reasonably accurate sounding numbers.”

“We were on the ground on one side of a large square where the main body of the protesters had gathered. They were yelling and screaming at one of the appointed Iraqi council members and getting very out of control. They were mad at the fact the council had not denounced the Americans and told them to leave Iraq. It was getting very ugly and I was spit on and struck in the helmet and about the head and shoulders by a small group of women. Let me emphasize that again, we were being attacked by a group of women and maybe three or four men.”

“As far as I could see they had no firearms or bombs. They did have rocks and pieces of paving stones and asphalt. As the crowd got more and more outraged, more US troops started arriving , which seemed to anger the civilians even more. We were a real living symbol of all their hurts and injuries that had been inflicted on them by our bombs ,missiles, tanks, artillery, and guns. For the first time since the war started they had a target for all their hate and anger right there in front of them. I don’t know who started the rock throwing but after the first one was thrown the whole crowd started throwing their rocks and whatever scraps and trash they could find in the vicinity.”

“I got hit by several rocks in the face and head and then the rest of my body was hit a bunch of times. As far as I could tell the first gunshot was from an American M-16. I know the sound of our rifles very well and I can tell the sound even in a full scale firefight so the sound of one shot was very clear to me. I know it was not an AK-47 or 74. There is no way it could have been a 7.62mm round. They have a much lower sound and the Kalashnikov rifles make a distinctive clack as they are fired.”

“I have heard those rifles fired so many times I know the sound in my sleep. It was one of our guys that got nervous and cranked off a round. After the first shot we heard someone screaming on the radio to open fire. A few of our guys started firing and then most of the rest of us started shooting. At some point in the confusion I heard an AK open up and then another one. It didn’t sound close, but we couldn’t really tell.”

“That is all the details I really feel right giving you. I know one thing though. The commanders later claimed we were fired on from the crowd. That’s bullshit and a bunch of us know it. It started with a bunch of angry women and some men throwing rocks, and it ended with at least 15 dead and over 30 wounded. I saw a small girl laying on the ground with a hole in her head and some more wounds in her back and side. She did not have anything to do with the crowd, she was down the street trying to find food or something.”

“That’s all I’ll give you on that. I don’t want to get in any trouble or have anyone think I helped kill innocent people.”

CFTM-- “Well I think I got enough for this interview. I really want to thank you for doing this, I know how much they have tried to stop you from speaking out. I know about the threats and intimidations they have used to keep you guys quiet.”

“ Anything else you want to say as a final statement to America?”

Trooper 1-- “Yeah I really want to make sure they don’t think I am unpatriotic or a traitor. I did this because of how bad it is over there. We are getting slaughtered and wasted for nothing. If there was a real reason to be over there anymore I would go right back. There is no reason right now, they say we are rebuilding Iraq, but I didn’t see it.”

“Every time I hear Bush or Rumsfeld or anyone else like Paul Bremer talk about all the progress we have made I picture all the Iraqi kids going hungry. They would mob our convoys trying to get our M.R.E.s or the emergency relief food packs we carry for them. Iraq is going to hell and all the little kids are starving and dying from their injuries they got during the war.”

“There is not enough medicine or antibiotics to keep them form getting gangrene or stop the diarrhea they get from bad water. Most of the people are drinking sewage or water contaminated with shit or oil. Months later and they still haven’t fixed the water supply or helped them get parts to fix the pumps. I saw kids dying everyday because they had the shits so bad they wasted away to nothing.”

“My best friend is dead and so are a whole bunch of my friends and fellow soldiers. I just want to say one more thing to America.”

“Get us the fu.. out of Iraq! Don’t let another one of us die or get injured. How many disabled vets and dead fathers and mothers do you want on your conscience? How much more blood can you get on your hands George Bush??? How many more Iraqis do we have to kill and then live with their blood on our hands?”

“Bring us home now!!! Tell your Senators to stop giving Bush money for this carnage. If you demand that we come home they will have to listen. At least I hope they would, they are supposed to have our best interest at heart!”

“Fuck you George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer, and all then rest of you sorry assholes! Why don’t you come fight this war if you think it’s right?”

Jay Shaft: Editor—Coalition For Free Thought In Media

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