Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Another Letter From The Front

Another letter from one of the troops in Iraq that I thought you all might like to read. Jesse's family has given me permission to post. I don't think that you'll will find this in the media.

Rick Kerr

Jesse's email =


Hey all,

There are moments which test us to our limits. These moments truly give us insight into what we are and are not capable of doing. I had several of these moments in one day. I pray I never have these moments again.

Today was another successful mission. We drove through another hostile (read: HOSTILE!) city. How hostile? This place is so 'hot' that no US troops have gone near it for almost a month. The last ones that did go in, were badly shot up and dodged explosions all the way out of town. We had no security element, no weapon bigger than a 7.62mm machine-gun, and quite frankly a few people in the group who have little to no situational awareness. We went anyway. So, I am capable of following orders.

I have rarely been so afraid in all my time here as I was while riding through the city. I was in the 'trace-element,' the last vehicle in the convoy. I faced backward the whole time. Unless the enemy came up behind us (they never do. They almost always hit from the side.) I wasn't going to see anything until it was way too late. We drove through alleys so narrow that we couldn't even open our doors all the way. There were power-lines so low that I had to put down my weapon and hold our antennas down to keep from having our commo fried. I couldn't even keep track of all the open windows and doors (read: sniper lairs) or all the people up on rooftops watching me with murder in their eyes. I did my job all the same. So, I am capable of putting my fate entirely in God's hands and trusting that He will protect me (a big step for a self-control nut like me!).

I saw a father beat the hell out of his son today. I don't mean cuffing him or slapping him. This man was punching his own son in the ear, nose, jaw and temple with a closed fist. The boy's crime: waving at me. I shoot at the Expert level. From 20 meters, braced, in a slow-moving Humvee I could have picked which kneecap to shoot off. I didn't do it. We are not allowed to interfere in civil disputes. Against every instinct in my body and heart, I let that man crush his son's face right in front of me. So, I am capable of restraint.

It's bad that the adults don't like us. It's worse that they teach their children to hate us. Saddam has RUINED the elderly and middle-aged. He has ruined the 30-somethings and the college-aged. The only people who could make a difference are the children. The 18-and-under crowd are the ones who will save this country. And their parents are ruining them. Everywhere we went in the town today, kids were giving me the 'bird' and yelling at me "DIE, DIE." A few pointed their hands at me and made 'bang-bang' noises. One of them actually pointed something at me. It had a stubby barrel with a box-like body and a pistol grip. I brought my rifle to bear, thumbed off the safety and put my sight-picture on the center of his chest. I thank God with all my heart that he threw his hands up and started screaming. In my mind's eye he was holding an AK-74U, the shortened Airborne/Special Forces version of the AK-47. When he raised his hands I saw that it was a few pieces of lumber with some pipe attached, sloppily painted to resemble a rifle. There is no doubt at all in my mind that the boy was told to point it at me so that I would shoot him and bring the whole city against us for the murder of a child. Let me tell you that if his nerve had held; if he had pointed his mock-weapon at me for a heartbeat longer, I would have cut him in half. I would have done it for Dave, my team chief. I would have done it for Will, our driver and for Fahmi, our interpreter. I would have done it for myself because I deserve to live and see my wife and son. So, I am capable of killing, even a seven-year-old boy.

There are things I have never wanted to know about myself. That is one of them. I pray that none of you will ever have to discover these traits in yourselves. I pray that you all live the rest of your lives in peace, oblivious to the darker limits of your capabilities.


Beati Pacifici
"Blessed be the Peacekeepers"


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