Monday, July 07, 2003

Mindless Collateral Damage Discovered and Beer Incident

7 July, 2003

Another journal, another group of stories to tell. With this journal, I want to tell the experiences of Kuwait and the days leading up to deployment. There is still a great deal that is untold. I don’t have much time tonight. I will tell of a young man who was caught by one of our patrols for making a threatening gesture with a homemade pistol. He also had coolers full of beer and liquor. All of this was brought to our headquarters along with the 18 year old. The ice cold beer seemed to have fallen from heaven! But, it had to be poured out, all of it – about 100 assorted bottles of liquor and 100 cans of beer from England and Holland. I grabbed my video camera and filmed the catch of ice cold beer. Mouths were watering all around. Jasper decided that all the beverages would be poured out in front of the foolish teenager. And so it was, he was placed before his stash on his knees, as soldiers poured out his inventory into the dirt. One idea was to put his face in the general area of the cans, but he said smelling or touching alcohol was against his religion. So, even though there was much jesting, his beliefs were respected, and he was allowed to maintain his distance. He was barefoot, so I poured some water on his feet. He seemed to appreciate it. I then put the bottle of fresh water (a real commodity here) to his lips, and he tried to drink. As he went to drink, he yelped, sensing the heat of the water. It was hot, but I drink water that hot all the time. He continued to refuse, so I gave the jailer his water. “These people were released by Saddam from jail before the war. This boy should be in jail,” said the Iraqi store owner who runs Johnny’s Market in our building. That I could not deny. He had pointed a gun at our troops – so he was lucky to even be alive. The boy could even have fully and legally sold the alcohol he had in his possession. Had he not pointed the gun, his pockets would be full right now. You see, it is a constant question of what is wrong and right. It seems we were right in this case. The boy was released today after 2 days of confinement. By U.S. Army standards, he should have been in jail for two weeks. He had to carry all his empty bottles and cans with him in a box, as he was dropped off at our gate and let free. Justice was done, and I found little fault in his punishment – considering how bad it could have been.
In other news, we’ve discovered that a few days ago, a convoy of support vehicles opened fire with heavy machine guns in our sector of Baghdad. Bullet holes riddled buildings for a city block. 3 dead, many injured. We are still trying to find out what happened. We didn’t even know about this until some community leaders came to one of our camps and demanded an explanation. I must say, CPT Powers of Alpha Company, a man I strongly disagreed with over terrorizing prisoners, is showing more signs of thoughtfulness and brotherhood with his Iraqi community. He is demanding and personally conducting an investigation on the shooting – seemingly (as I also believe) uncontrolled and mindless act of self-defense (if it was even that) by a group of trigger happy support pigs. I’m pleased to see CPT Powers coming around, or so it seems.
There are very real problems here, and I hope for the best – and I trust in God. I will try to improve the quality and scope of my writing. It’s tough, but I’ll try. Nora, I love you so deeply. I am coming home to you!

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