22 July 2003

hey rumsfeld, war IS hell...

i found this letter posted on altercation, another good blog on msnbc.com.
It's from the cousin of a G.I. who just got back from iraq.

This weekend I finally had a chance to catch up with my cousin in-law who just got back from Iraq last week. Twenty years old he is now a different person than when he left and not in a good way. His pictures tell the story. The first few rolls are of him and his buddies clowning around and striking posses with their various weapons in Kuwait.
It looks like a regular old NRA wet dream, young boys and guns. The sad thing about the pictures is how young they look. When you see the Marines on TV in full combat gear they look very menacing, but strip them down to t-shirts and baseball hats and you see what the kids that they really are.
The pictures at first almost made it look like a good time. There was regular college hijinx going on. It was Frat Row Baghdad style. In the latter rolls the mood started to change. You never saw any of them without helmets or vests on.
He told me the night they rode into Baghdad was the scariest night of his life. The vacation was over and the shooting began. An RPG scorched the hood of his Humvee. They felt the heat in the cab. He estimated that he was 1-2 feet away from being blown to pieces. Which is a lot better than one of his friends fared.
Last he saw that guy all they could find was the body and a bunch of brains sprayed all over the inside of a truck, no face or head left. He also fared better than the family he watched get killed. His unit emptied their weapons into a home when they took fire. He watched as a four year old was, in his words, “vaporized.”
After looking at about three rolls of film I asked him where the rest were. (He took 12 in all). He told me that he threw them away. Everything that happened after the first three rolls he wants to forget. He said he looked at them once and wanted to vomit.
Do you really need the Kodak version of a scene that is already burned into your mind? The biggest tragedy of all is that his belief in America has been shattered. He went over there idealistic. He was protecting US and freeing the citizens of Iraq. Now he just feels used. “It was all a f**king waste,” he told me without emotion. And he is one of the lucky ones; he is home.

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