The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

HOW HUMAN ARE WE? |

February 21, 2007

HOW HUMAN ARE WE?
Name: Teflon Don
Posting date: 2/21/07
Stationed in: Ramadi, Iraq
Milblog url: acutepolitics.blogspot.com

It's time for another one of those posts. The kind that gets nutjobs at places like Vanity Fair all up in a tizzy. Maybe I'm pushing too far with this one. I'm writing about something that I feel many of you can never understand.

I left the billets early tonight for the mission. I racked my machine gun in the cradle, and sat on top of the truck. I plugged in my iPod, took a sip of coffee, and sat back to watch the sunset. Somehow the setting sun always seems to look better here than at home; the sunsets are the one beautiful thing about this place. I watch as the dying sun slowly sinks, its rays falling across sand, mud, guard towers, satellite dishes, and all the other things that have come to mean home for a time. The sky is brilliant with golds and crimsons. Here and there a tendril of flame licks up a wisp of cloud.

Some say the world will end in fire/Some say in ice/From what I've tasted of desire/I hold with those who favor fire

The sun has set, and Venus shines low in the sky. The others are starting to straggle out to the vehicles. It's time to prep for the mission. Tonight we're going back up into the general area where we lost three of ours so shortly ago. And this is the first time we've been back that way. I look around at my friends and try to read their faces. They could be scared, and most of us are, a little. They could be numb; just doing their job. Again, most of us are, a little. However, I think that most of us are out for blood. It might sound horrible, inhuman, even medieval, but the fact of the matter is that someone out there killed friends of ours, and we're going back into a place where we just might get the guy that did it. We'll never know if it was him, of course, but there's always the chance that we'll even the scales unknowingly.

Killing is not natural to sane people, no matter how often it has happened over eons. There are many ways that you can reconcile yourself in some way to the idea of killing another human. You can think of it as duty -- you have a job, and that job requires violence. You can hate -- the easiest of all excuses, and the most exhausting. You can look at it as simple survival -- if you don't kill him, then he'll kill you. However you justify it, you are still in a war, and people will still die. It wears on everyone -- the American deaths, the "collateral damage" we inflict on people in the wrong place at the wrong time, the innocents killed when some faceless murderer blows himself up in a crowd. Yes, even the enemy dead take their toll.

The headphones sing:
If I ever leave this world alive/I'll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight/Wherever I am you'll always be/More than just a memory/If I ever leave this world alive

One more mission.
One more chance to find a bomb.
One more chance to save a life.
One more chance to take one.

One more chance to die.

Comments

Teflon Don,

I'm a middle-aged, civilian female with no military experience, so I can't understand at a gut level. But thank you for writing honestly. No, your post isn't too much. We ask a lot of our military -- both asking to risk your lives and to take other humans' lives. Thank you for your service.

As another civilian, I cannot say how I would handle your job - how it would all feel. Your words pull me into a place my nephew has been and two of my nieces soon could be in.
I can only pray that you and they can deal with it and survive it. Thanks and prayers to all with you. May the day come when you don't need the Teflon in front of Don.

"However, I think that most of us are out for blood. It might sound horrible, inhuman, even medieval, . . ."

One thing it doesn't sound is "inhuman." It is VERY human to want to even the score, and those of us at home can appreciate that. We are just sad that we have to ask you to take lives on our behalf--for all of us safe here in our homes, out of harm's way. Thank you for choosing to serve.

Thank you Don. I'm glad you like your iPod and you stepped forward to defend family, friends, and nation against a militant gray worldview which would never countenance iPods.

You may not have meant it so, but your post is an eloquent picture of what we have worth protecting.

My son also took his iPod to Anbar last year and it survived the heat and dust pretty well.

God bless you, and stay safe.

Proud Marine Dad

Be safe. You do what we can't imagine and don't understand the toll it takes on our troops. Thank you for posting, so I can at least try to comprehend your daily lives.

Don - Been there, done that . . . 38 years ago. Stay safe.

Thanks for being there, thanks for your honesty (to us and yourself), and thanks for your bravery... God be with you and your buddies and all who fight and kill to protect...

so what about your post would be offensive?

that it was too short - yes

"You can look at it as simple survival -- if you don't kill him, then he'll kill you."

The above is what kept me in the game and sane, long ago and far away.

Fear, anger, hate all have their part but if you rely on them they will let you down and screw you up.

To be able to stay alive, you have to be at the top of your game. You have to use all your senses, all your intuition, all your training.

And you can't do that if your full of fear, hate and anger.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

Amazing that only in bringing forth life and in killing does Man ever come close to being Godlike, do it all for love and with love and it will be almost always Holy. Just remember that when the dreams and nightmares come, for they are only dreams and cannot harm you. Good choice in music and racking your weapon early. Sunsets are lovely when one has time to appreciate the dance of light across the sky. Be terrible in war and gentle in life - we don't spend most of our time in war but remember it too well.

'S all good. I mean, it's all that bad, it never changes, so, logically, it's all good.

Come back alive. We need you here at home to sort this mess out. I mean, really; I got nothing to say except that.

I am deeply moved by what you write. I send my condolences in the loss of the three from your group. Thank-you for all you do and those with you do in the service of our country. Stay safe and God bless you.

Powerful, eloquent, poetic prose. I hope to hear much more from you. Take care.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c5f3053ef00d8351b564869e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference HOW HUMAN ARE WE?:

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »




Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog

LINKS


About

My Photo

FEATURED BOOK