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Local serviceman shares his feelings on Iraq

February 01, 2004|by Kevin Hurlbrink

Thanks for the link. It was pretty cool seeing how they transported the USS Cole. It was also pretty sad, looking at that gaping hole in the hull of the ship and knowing poor Pat (Roy) never had a chance, and probably never knew what hit him. It's crazy - servicewide, men and women do their jobs every day, myself included, and you never expect anything tragic, or terrible to happen to you. It seems after looking over your shoulder for so long, you think to yourself if you've made it this far, God obviously has a greater plan for you in life.

You end up convincing yourself that even if something were to happen, you wouldn't be the one to perish at the hands of the enemy. Looking at that picture really hit home. It shows that no matter how lucky you think you are, or what you think lies ahead in your future, it could all end in an instant. No choices in the matter, no argument, nothing; that's it.

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I was looking at a Web page on the Internet a few weeks ago called "The Faces of the Fallen." The same thing applies. All of those who have been deployed in this war probably left the states thinking the same way I did. "I'm going to Iraq, going to make some extra cash, do my six months or a year, come back to my family and live happily ever after." It seems that's not the case for so many.

I read on the Web page of people killed by friendly fire, people killed in ambushed convoys, by suicide bombers, vehicle accidents, helicopter crashes, drownings, people dying in their sleep, or doing PT.

It's sad because I know all those hundreds of people thought the same way I think now.

I've been in almost all of those situations and every time I've thought nothing is going to happen to me. Every time I lie down to sleep at night I don't consider the possibility of not waking up, or when I do PT in the morning, I don't consider the fact that this may be my last jog, when I board a helicopter, it's not going to get shot down or malfunction, my convoy isn't going to get hit.

Why do people tell themselves that? Is it because that's what they really think, or is it because that's what they have to tell themselves to carry on in their normal day without being a scared-witless wreck?

After being here for some time, you get used to all of the things that occur around you, mortar rounds landing in your compound, RPG's being shot at convoys or at your camp, convoys being hit, people dying.

You get used to hearing, seeing, or experiencing all the misfortunes that war brings. You become numb to it all without even realizing it. I remember thinking the first time I heard a mortar round explode on my camp, I thought it was only a matter of time before they zeroed in on my site and we'd all be blown to hell; now...just a little jump, and some nervous laughter at who jumped the most. When did the change take place?

I don't remember waking up one morning and saying to myself I'm not going to be scared anymore. I suppose it was just a gradual change. You harden yourself to the situation not because you want to, but because you have to.

What is really sad to me is that so many men and women have given so much the past few years between Afghanistan, Iraq, and all over the rest of the world.

In just a few years the press will die down, things will probably go back to the way they were, and everyone won't necessarily forget but certainly won't remember all the grizzly details. It happened to Pat and the USS Cole.

I've run into this several times. I make mention of my childhood friend dying on the Cole and people don't even know what I'm talking about. What's stopping Iraq or Afghanistan from falling off the map, becoming a forgotten incident (war). I just hate to see all of my brothers and sisters in service to our great country give everything, time away from their families, away from everything they've ever known, give their lives in so many cases, for what? So everyone can forget!

So the war opponents can look back and say I told you so. It saddens me to know that everyone over here is in a Third World country to liberate a people stricken by poverty and abused by a relentless dictator in so many ways for so many years.

It saddens me to know that while we the coalition is over here doing what we have to do to accomplish a mission, we are going to come home to a country that's divided. Isn't it an Americans duty as a citizen to not necessarily agree with what action our government has taken but to at least support it? It seems too late to point fingers now, and criticize who should have done what, and when.

Why can't our country unite, like the most powerful and proud people in the world should be?

To me it seems that a lot of the people in our country are thankless, and don't have a clue what sacrifice is.

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