FROM HERO TO ZERO |
February 01, 2008
FROM HERO TO ZERO
Name: Toby Nunn
Posting date: 2/1/08
Stationed in: Kuwait / Iraq
Hometown: Oakland, CA via Terrace BC CANADA
Milblog url: tobynunn.typepad.com
I really can't participate in my hobbies over here, other than MMA* training, but one thing that I have been able to do is read. I get my hands on a book every now and then, but mainly I read the papers. Yes, I read the papers when possible.
My good friend Deborah hooked me up with a New York Times subscription, and we get the Stars and Stripes on a pretty regular basis. These are very contrasting papers, one left and the other that caters to its military readership, so it's good to see more than one thing. Don't get me wrong, I am not confessing to be a liberal or a conservative. It's no secret I am pro soldier, but that does not make me a face or commercial for a propaganda campaign either.
I don't get my headlines from the papers because they are usually a little behind. The New York Times gets in about a week after print date, and the Stars and Stripes is 48 hours to a week off. For instance, we only recently read about the Michigan primary results.
I was sitting at my desk after finishing some paperwork and picked up the latest paper I'd received via mail. On the front page was a story about soldiers, marines and service members returning to the U.S. and getting into trouble with the law, mainly for killing. Of course this intrigued me, so I read the front page portion and followed it into the back pages. It was a compelling story about several young men who had returned and found themselves in violent situations that resulted in death. The story first brushed over a few scenarios then went into depth.
Reading in a limited space behind my desk, I always fold the paper in a manner that I can only see one page at a time. I do this with many things -- I think it's to keep the surprise, and not spoil what could happen next. I will be frank. In this case I was not prepared for what I was going to read on the following page.
I turned the paper over and saw the picture of a "biker-looking" guy -- shaved bald head with a thick chin beard -- and it reminded me of me when I got back last time. I saw a lot of myself in that photo, and the face was comfortingly familiar. The story continued and went to Nebraska, where a seasoned veteran returned after his second tour, and got in an altercation resulting in a fatal shooting. The name rang a bell but not loudly, for it was a common name, and for a second I thought about a guy I used to serve with who had that name.
I smiled and remembered laying in the Kuwaiti sands trying to see how far out we could get our new sniper rifles to shoot, and Strasburg getting a solid 1800-meter shot off. I then remembered sitting on a rooftop OP with him and taking turns scanning for the enemy. Some of my friends didn't get along with him and everyone has their differences, but he never did wrong by me and was a great sniper. When we got back from Iraq he ate a couple of meals at the house like everyone else did, and decided to get out of the Army and go back to Iraq as a contractor because of his limited skill sets. I too suffer from this affliction, and almost followed in his footsteps.
Imagine my astonishment when I see a picture of Strasburg in the signature Stryker CCUs* (we were the only unit to ever wear them) and realized I had just read the fate of the man I had been reminiscing with a smile about. I had heard from a good friend of mine and former leader of his that he had found some trouble, but I kind of chalked it up to rumours and bad blood. But the biker-looking face was Strasburg, serving his 24-36 year sentence in Nebraska for murder.
I continued to read hoping that the story would take a twist and things would be different, but only sadness followed. Near the conclusion there was a piece added about CPT Ben Tiffner, a former Platoon Leader in the Tomahawks who was killed here a few months back, and who had written the court to demonstrate support. He wrote about how we are trained to react a certain way, and that Strasburg had done so over here and was rewarded for such actions, and was faced with many situations that required a solid resolution in violence. Perhaps Strasburg could not differentiate between here and there. CPT Tiffner went on to state that he was not writing for a "please excuse this guy" purpose, but in the hope that with his punishment there would be help and some form of PTSD treatment.
From Hero to Zero. This happens far too frequently. I hope all the guys that need help get it, for the sake of their families and themselves. I am not sympathetic to those that murder, but perhaps I understand the willingness ingrained. Thank GOD for my wife and kids who bring light into this dark day.
MMA: Mixed Martial Arts
Stryker: Eight-wheeled all-wheel-drive armored combat vehicle, named for two American servicemen who posthumously received the Medal of Honor: Pfc Stuart S. Stryker, who died in World War II, and Spc Robert F. Stryker, who died in the Vietnam War.
CCU: Close Combat Uniform