Part 1 in a 5 part series
Interviews by Jay Shaft
Coalition For Free Thought In Media
12th October 2003
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 an enlisted man, but someone very high up in the enlisted ranks, with over 20 years of military service. I have promised not to reveal his identity for reasons that he has a family and has been told not to speak to journalists. He told me the Army had put a gag order on him while he was home, and told him they would give him twenty years in prison if he spoke out in any manner against the US or the government.
I took several weeks to finish this interview because of not being able to safely be seen with this individual out of his fears of being caught speaking out.
He asked me to call him USA in all the transcripts of these interviews. I have followed his wishes and tried to write what he said in the manner it was said so as not to lose any impact. At times the interview was very rough and the grammar is not perfect, but I tried to write this in his voice so that he can tell the world how bad it is in Iraq. I truly want you to feel what he has experienced in some way if possible.
CFTM-- How are you today? Resting I hope?
USA-- Cant sleep for sh..t and I have horrible nightmares when I do sleep. I might be lucky to catch an hour at a time before the nightmares wake me up. I slept easier in the combat then now that Im away from there. Most awful place Ive ever been or served duty and I didnt want to leave my guys. That was the hardest part was leaving the guys I had been leading around and trying to keep out of trouble and alive.
CFTM-- Did you see a lot of your buddies get killed? How did it affect you?
USA-- How the hell do you think it affected me? I saw over 30 of the men I had to keep safe die, and over 100 get wounded and not come back. I still dont know if some of the wounded men made it or not. I was never told before I came back home.
CFTM-- So it really was awful and as bad as some returning troops have claimed?
USA-- It was like a long trip to hell that you knew you might return from. Of course it is as bad as the soldiers say it is. Hell its even worse if the truth has to come out. Its a constant fu..ing nightmare trying to figure out where the guerillas are going to hit, how to keep the civilians calm, and also getting enough water and food to eat. That is one thing the media never really told the Americans about, how bad it was when our convoys werent getting through. We had to go to some Iraqi people and trade socks and underwear for some food and a little water.
CFTM-- You really did get that desperate because I saw it in the foreign media that the Iraqi civilians had stepped in and fed a whole bunch of troops that had been days without food.
USA-- -Yeah, that aint no joke about getting help from the civilians right after the invasion. We had a pretty good laugh about that and how the army owed them some money for reimbursement. We would not have starved probably, but when we got the food from the people it made sure we could still operate as a functioning unit. It was a near thing that several guys almost died of dehydration because we ran out of clean water for a few days.
CFTM-- Just keep going, I want to hear more about the hardships the military and Bush made you go through. I want the American people to know what a nightmare this war has become and what its doing to our service men over there.
USA-- Okay, well I can bitch about the problems like food being short and water going bad, but I want to tell people about how bad the attacks on US and coalition forces have gotten in the last month. In the last two weeks I was there we were attacked at least 20 times a day if you count all the shots we heard from random sniper or opportunity attacks. We were losing at least five men a day to injuries and there was at least one of our unit killed every twenty four hours.
CFTM-- -So you were getting one a day killed and at least five injured? Did you know many of the guys killed?
USA-- -Thats a real dumb fu..ing question to ask me. You know what my rank is, of course I knew them, I was the head NCO for years in our unit. I knew most of the guys who died and I held a lot of hands as they were dying. You tell me thats not gonna to give you nightmares!
I had one guy tell me all he wanted was to see his little daughter; she was born three days after the war started. He died in the sand holding my hand and crying because his daughter would never know him. Tell me thats fu..ing right. Where was George Bush when this kid was gasping for air and spitting his blood on foreign soil?
CFTM-- -I talked to you about this the other day. Do you think George Bush is the wrong man to order troops into battle when he ducked it himself?
USA-- -That asshole went AWOL and never showed up for duty and then he has the nerve to take us into two different wars that will be going on for years. I do not believe he should be president of this country, hes a complete idiot and hes controlled by madmen with a drive for only profits and getting oil.
CFTM-- -I just have to get this straight for the public, you are well educated are you not? I mean you have had years of leadership training and schools right? You sound very well informed and aware of the current lies and manipulations, which I have not found in some other soldiers.
USA-- -I have a four year degree in the economics field and I am not a soldier all the time. I am Reservist who just keeps getting caught on long duty assignments. Believe it or not I read authors like Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, and Jim Hightower, and went through three copies of Stupid White Men by Michael Moore while I was over there. I let people read parts of Mikes book and they were irate that Bush had screwed us so hard. I had parts of Best Democracy Money Can Buy mailed to me because I knew if I had the whole book it would get stolen in a heartbeat.
CFTM-- -So you might be quite a bit more aware and well informed about the real reasons for the war that others did not know. I dont know of many line soldiers reading Greg Palast or Noam Chomsky.
USA-- -I guess youre right and that might be why I am trying to speak out and let the Americans know that they are sending us to be slaughtered. If you dont mind I am going to cut through all the niceties and get down to why I am going against every oath I took and giving you this interview. I am doing it for the guys still over there and for the ones who are going. If Im not careful Ill end up back there for another six months.
CFTM-- -Alright tell me what it was really like and dont skip the gory details. I want people to be shocked and offended enough to realize why you spoke out and what it is doing to our military by sending them over there with blind flag waving and cheers of false victory
USA-- -Well the first thing I would like to thank Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Congress for is that nice huge cut they made to Veterans Benefits as soon as the war started. I am in the Reserves after years of active duty and now I cannot get PTSD counseling or many medical benefits I used to take for granted. I knew I would have the benefits because I was laying my life down for my country. Now my benefits are cut by around 2/3 and I have to go to either group therapy or pay for a private counselor out of my own pocket. What happens when someone like me has been through enormous battle stress and combat fatigue and then comes home to no counseling?
Ill tell you what is going to happen, he will either kill himself or take a bunch of people with him. Some of the guys coming back are going to have gone through the worst time of their lives with their buddies dying and getting hurt, and then theyll find out they got screwed out of any counseling. It is the greatest disservice America is committing against soldiers who fought for this country and may come back wounded or horribly scarred. Medical services, school aid to dependents, school aid for the vets, all slashed to the bare bones; mental health and drug and alcohol counseling are being eliminated or the waiting lists will be years long for whatever services manage to survive.
That is one thing the American people still have not really caught on to is the fact that while they were screaming out Support Our Troops the current regime makers were fu..ing the military and veterans out of almost every social program and non essential service that would make life easier.
Bush really fu..ked us while we were gone. We found out about after being in the middle of heavy fighting for several weeks. It was one of the first things I read in Stars and Stripes, and I thought it was a joke because it was just to hard to believe Congress and our leaders would screw us that bad while we were fighting and dying.
CFTM-- -Glad you brought that up about counseling because I wasnt even aware of it. Are you alright to talk about some of the civilian casualties you witnessed and some of the horrifying images you told me about when we first started talking?
USA-- -I want to talk about some of the children I saw killed for no reason, maybe it will wake someone up who doesnt believe it was happening, or that it was very bad. I can tell you I will never forget the screams of the wounded or orphaned kids, or the wailing of the parents who lost their kids. The Iraqis and most Muslims have a very vocal way of mourning the dead by lamenting and wailing for the dead. There is no mistaking a mother or father crying out in pain for the loss of a child. They dont cry like that unless there has been a death. Sometimes after a bombing raid or an artillery attack you could here hundreds of people wiling and weeping.
I have several grown children with grand kids about the age of most of the dead children I saw in Iraq. I also have several kids who are about half grown and I saw a lot of Iraqi children that age wandering around in charge of three or four little ones because their parents were dead.
Let me tell you about the cluster bomb raid we saw wipe out a whole bunch of little kids. It looked like they had already lost their parents and were trying to salvage food from a destroyed Iraqi convoy by the side of the road we were on. The kids were way off to the side about half a mile away by then when we got the word that the Iraqi column was going to be hit with cluster bombs and we had to clear the area. We got on the radio and tried to get the air strike stopped but we were told it was too late to get it stopped.
We could see the body parts flying up into the air after the bombs hit. It was terrible and we could not do a damn thing but watch it happen and scream into the radio at the dumb sh.t pilot that was dropping the bombs. After the strike was over we went to see if there were any survivors and all we found was bits and pieces of little kids and here and there an arm or leg you could still identify.
CFTM-- -Pretty rough stuff to have to see. Did that kind of thing happen a lot?
USA-- -More than you can imagine until youve seen it over and over again. Man I dont want to talk about this sh.t anymore. It doesnt help to talk about it because it just makes me think about it again. I cant even get any counseling without having to pay for it.
Let all those people who support our troops in on that nice surprise that Bush gave us. Thats how much we really mean to Bush, the Department of Defense and all those other stupid assholes who keep saying how good were doing over there. Let those patriotic morons go and fight and die for our country. Let them leave their families behind for months and maybe come back home in a box. Ill be the first one to salute them or honor them when they die.
Its just like Nam was in the beginning. I was twelve when my dad got back and Ill never forget the pain and agony he lived with the rest of his life. Its kind of what I feel now, I suppose. I never thought I would ever serve in some stuff thats so much like Nam it isnt funny. Now I really see what my pop went through, and if I could I would go back in the past a few months, I would go AWOL or turn conscientious objector on them, but its too late for that now.
I damn sure will not go back over there even if they throw me in Leavenworth. I never could understand how a guy could be a conscientious objector until what I just went through. I wish more guys would stand up and tell Bush and the Pentagon they will not fight their war for oil. We should not have to die for these rich bastards profits and enrichment.
CFTM-- -Thank you for taking the risk and talking to me. I know there will be other soldiers who cant speak out who will thank you for having the courage.
USA-- -It isnt about courage its a matter of whats right. This war is killing the poor or middle class American men and women who went in the armed forces to have college or some kind of better future. You dont see the rich kids joining up or any Senators kid dying in Iraq. Its us little guys who are dying over there or getting disabled for life. Where are the leaders that are supposed to be looking out for the little man? They are elected to look after out interests not the interests of Cheney and Halliburton, or any of the rest of the fat cats piling up the profits while the blood of our soldiers flows over their hands.
CFTM-- -Anything else you want to say to America? Any final thoughts or words?
USA-- -Yeah! Wake up America! Your sons and daughters are dying for nothing! This war is not about freedom or stopping terrorism. Bring us home now! We are dying for oil and corporate greed!
- Jay Shaft: Editor, Coalition For Free Thought In Media. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia/
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