The Night Stalkers are going home


I was reading Thunder 6’s blog, 365 and a Wakeup. In his latest post, Last Days at the FOB, he has really out done himself. He has written a very moving account of how this deployment has affected him:

But I am not earth, nor stone, nor air. I am creature of blood and bones… and I have changed. I am leaving this FOB a different man then the one who arrived at these chill gates those many months ago. I’ve sipped from the poison chalice of loss. Felt my veins run with chill blood and my face streak with hot tears. And I’ve watched as the reapers scythe whistled through the desert air. Mortal things cannot brush shoulders with eternity without bearing the psychic scars of their meeting. And so I am changed.

I too have changed since I first started reading Thunder’s blog. I had experienced the overwhelming grief of the loss of my nephew. He was killed in Kuwait March 5. 2004. My first reaction was this is a cruel joke. Mike isn’t really dead. Soldiers die in battle. They don’t get killed by terrorists ramming their vehicles from behind. I wanted to know more about how he died.

I spent my every waking moment searching the web for news accounts of Mike’s death. I read and copied every article I found. I didn’t just read American accounts, I read ones in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. I looked for pictures of the accident. I went to support sites in Kuwait and elsewhere to help. I hoped I would find something more about how he died.

One of my brothers and I wanted to go to Kuwait. We wanted to personally find out how he died. I wanted to go find the “bastards” who killed him with so little conscience, cowards who didn’t even have the guts to fight face to face. I wanted to re-join the military so I could fight these cowardly, faceless men. But I was too old. So I started trying to find other ways to go on my own.

It was about this time we found out Mike wasn’t killed the way we had initially been told. He was killed by a moment of carelessness on the part of the driver of his vehicle. The man made an illegal turn into the path of a car traveling in excess of 100 mph. I was glad to finally know the truth. But I felt even more betrayed when I learned the truth! Now I was left with all my anger and hatred. I could not find a way to re-focus it.

It was about this time I found my first milblog. I don’t remember the name. Then I found American Soldier’s blog. It was great. As I read his blog, something inside of me changed. I spend my time now in a new quest. I decided to take my energy absorbed by anger and hatred and try to turn it into something useful. I started by trying to offer support at a support site for soldiers and their families. By this time I had found other blogs from the sidebars on American Soldier’s blog.

As I began to go to the different blogs, I felt like maybe I could offer to some of our troops what I never got to do for Mike. He was killed so soon after his deployment I never got to write him a letter or send him an email. Sadly, his deployment turned out to take less time than originally thought and he would have come safely home in a couple more weeks.

The blogs saved me. I was so lost. Every day I felt like I was sinking deeper. I never slept. I rarely ate. All I did was stay on my computer day and night. But as I began to build up a list of milbloggers I found myself begin to pull out of the darkness surrounding me. As I read about their families, their battles, their pain at the loss of a fellow soldier, I felt a little of my pain refocus on their pain, their loss, their triumphs. Several of them were especially moving. A Day in Iraq, 365 and a Wakeup, Firepower Forward-TCEF, Doc in the Box, Strength and Honor, and Turning Point are a few of those blogs. There were several others but I cannot remember their names now. They were all riveting in their own way. They each had their own unique style. Each one gave us an accounting of what it was like to be deployed so far from home. They let us know what it was like to face the enemy, pain, death of a fellow soldier, death of the Iraqi, especially the children. It was all there. They spoke of the hardships and the spoke of the triumphs.

We had a front row seat right in our homes and witnessed the re-taking of Fallujah. We watched Deuce 4 re-take Mosul. I cried over every death. I felt the pain of loneliness they felt being so far away from their families. I felt their helplessness when a family member back home was seriously ill or died. I felt the joy of the birth of every baby and the pain of not being there to share that wondrous moment. I felt the joy of shared letters from home. The pleasure and warmth of reading the pictures and letters from school kids at home. I smiled too at the scenes of kids during “operation soccer ball” as the Iraqi kids excitedly grabbed a soccer ball. I felt the shyness of the little Iraqi girls stepping forward for candy, school supplies, and shoes or a stuffed animal. I felt the pain of not having one more toy for the child off in the background too shy to step forward.

I felt as if I could almost hear the screams and feel the smoke of being trapped in a vehicle just hit by an “RPG” or one that just hit an “IED” as fellow soldiers tried to bring those solders out to safety. I felt the emptiness inside at having to kill for the first time. I shared the rage that wanted to kill everything in sight at having to watch helplessly a a a buddy lay dying from his or her wounds.

I could almost taste the fear, rage, and helplessness that was like a gorge of bile in the pit of my stomach. All this and more I shared through the eyes and words of these young men and women. With each struggle, each death, each triumph, I felt my own rage that had so consumed me for all these long months begin to be redirected or dissipate.

By now I had already decided to start my own blog. I wanted to let people know about these blogs. I also was disgusted by the turn the media had taken in covering the war. Politics were back to business as usual. Support for the war, the President, and more importantly “the troops” is greatly affected by constant biased news coverage. It is also affected by the political moves in Congress. Constant partisan politics threatened to turn this whole thing into the same muddled mess of Vietnam. Many tried and still try to point out that the two are the same.

But that is not the case. There is no similarity. Vietnam was in the middle of a civil war. We didn’t really learn the truth until long after that conflict was over. The fear of the spread of Communism and nuclear proliferation blinded many to the realities in Vietnam. Also, Vietnam never attacked and killed our people all over the world and in America proper. It never declared war on our nation and threatened to obliterate us and take over the world. The terrorists have.

But many people in America find it hard to grasp being at war with an ideology. There is no single country right now that these people call home. They are like fleas or cock roaches. They spread their hatred and filth everywhere. They prey on the poor and weak.

All these events and circumstances are what led me to blog too. I wanted to direct people to what the troops were actually doing and saying in Iraq and Afghanistan. I also wanted to give the untold story not covered by the media. Or at least try to let people know that there was more to each and every story. I studied and still study the history of the region for a better understanding of why this war happened. I was surprised to find that much of what we are experiencing now can be traced back to World War I and unfinished business, betrayed trusts, and secret treaties.

Continually in all the subsequent conflicts in the region, the same pattern followed where problems were left unresolved once armed conflict was done. Fear of restarting armed conflict allowed other radical movements to surface. Greed or special interests also were part of the problems. A total lack of moral responsibility on the part of the major developed nations, self interests, and greed created this mess we all find ourselves living in right now. Most of it had to do with “old imperial” nations that just wouldn’t let go but the U.S. played their role in this mess too. There are no major powers they are not part of the problem. Now they all need to do their part to fix the problem.

America helped to rebuild Japan and Europe. The resulting devastation from World Wars I and II left Europe devastated. Our troops provided support and safety throughout Europe as nations began to rebuild. However none of these countries significantly rebuilt their military. They didn’t need to. Our troops were deployed there at their requests. Instead they focused on economic rebuilding. This was a very grievous mistake in the long term. Besides dependence on our troops for obvious reasons there is also the economic dependence around our bases.

I am not certain if this is a desirable situation. It appears that unfolding events in Europe of late are proving this to be a dangerous situation for world stability. We also need to do a revamping the United Nations, which is controlled by primarily non-Democratic countries. But these topics are another issue.

Needless to say I was hooked on blogging and milblogs. But a strange thing began to occur. Well, maybe not strange, but unexpected. I never expected to care so much for these bloggers and soldiers on a personal level. When they didn’t blog for a while, I knew something was up. I prayed fervently that they were OK. Some of the milbloggers were killed. However I never knew them. But it was a reality check for me. I knew it could happen at any time. Then I thought about the families and loved ones of these troops. I began to realize from my own experiences some of what they lived with on a daily. Not only do we owe these troops our undying gratitude and support; but, we owe their families the same. These loved ones suffer in silence every day. They dread the ringing of the door bell, the ringing of the telephone. In many cases they live just about at the poverty level. Yet they carry on and they survive because that’s what they have to do.

God Bless all our troops and their amazing families. I will never look at war again in the same manner as before. I am eternally grateful for all that the milbloggers have shared. I for one would like to make sure that you know your blogs have a much more profound effect than even you could anticipate, at least where I am concerned. For that I am eternally grateful. Thank you for sharing your life and that of your family with me and others. Thank you for helping me to carry on when I felt I couldn’t. I understand the concerns that the military has with the blogs. However, I feel that there are ways around those concerns that don’t jeopardize lives and “the mission.’ The importance and values derived from the milblogs is invaluable. For some of us, like myself, they are healing. I only hope that in some small way my ramblings here and on your blogs give something back to you that you need that makes a difference as you have given to me. I don’t think that I am the only person that you have all helped. Over two thousand men and women have lost their lives. I don’t have to tell you that. But that is over two thousand hearts that you have unknowingly helped to heal.

Go home in peace Thunder6, you and your fellow soldiers. Know that we are all so very proud and grateful for all you and yours have sacrificed. May your journey be uneventful until you ring that doorbell and feel yourself wrapped in the arms of those who love you. Know that you take home with you a piece of my heart and too. Thank you! Semper Fi!

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~ by devildog6771 on January 10, 2006.

2 Responses to “The Night Stalkers are going home”

  1. Dave, as a matter of curiosity, which part did you disagree with? It might makefor a good discussion.

  2. Dave

    Interesting topic… I’m working in this industry myself and I don’t agree about this in 100%, but I added your page to my bookmarks and hope to see more interesting articles in the future

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