If you didn't read this, please do

Submitted by Roldo on Wed, 03/26/2008 - 16:45.

Below is a taste of the article from the Times mentioned a moment ago.

Six of the Fallen, in Words They Sent Home

Courtesy of the Wood family

 

Army Sgt. Ryan M. Wood, 22, of Oklahoma. More Photos >

Six of the Fallen, in Words They Sent Home

 

Unlike soldiers of some previous wars, who were only occasionally able to write letters, many who served and died in Iraq left behind an extraordinary electronic testimony.

By LIZETTE ALVAREZ and ANDREW W. LEHREN

March 25, 2008

By the time Specialist Jerry Ryen King decided to write about his experiences in Iraq, the teen-age paratrooper had more to share than most other soldiers.

Messages From the Front

Excerpts from the e-mail messages, journals and Web postings of six soldiers who died in Iraq since Jan. 1, 2007. Warning: Some entries contain language that could be offensive to readers.

 

Specialist Jerry Ryen King

Spc. Jerry Ryen King "I have to say that the events that I have encountered here have changed my outlook on life."

Staff Sgt. Juan Campos

Staff Sgt. Juan Campos "I can't wait to get out of this place and return to you where I belong."

Sgt. Ryan M. Wood

Sgt. Ryan M. Wood "It's a losing battle... and we're the ones ultimately paying the price."

Specialist Daniel E. Gomez

Specialist Daniel E. Gomez "If you're reading this, then something has happen to me and I am sorry."

Pfc. Daniel J. Agami

Pfc. Daniel J. Agami "I was convoyed up to northern Iraq to learn a new weapon system. It soooooooo cool..."

Pfc. Ryan J. Hill

Pfc. Ryan J. Hill "I can't stop asking why? The more I think the more I cry."




Courtesy of the King family

Specialist Jerry Ryen King More Photos »

In two operations to clear the outskirts of the village of Turki in the deadly Diyala Province, Specialist King and the rest of the Fifth Squadron faced days of firefights, grenade attacks and land mines. Well-trained insurgents had burrowed deep into muddy canals, a throwback to the trenches of World War I. As the fighting wore on, B-1 bombers and F-16s were called in to drop a series of powerful bombs.

Once the area was clear of insurgents, the squadron, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, uncovered hidden caches with thousands of weapons.

Two months later, Specialist King, a handsome former honors student and double-sport athlete from Georgia, sat down at his computer. In informal but powerful prose, he began a journal.

After 232 long, desolate, morose, but somewhat days of tranquility into deployment, I’ve decided that I should start writing some of the things I experienced here in Iraq. I have to say that the events that I have encountered here have changed my outlook on life...

The most recent mission started out as a 24-36 hour air-assault sniper mission in a known al-Qaida stronghold just north of Baghdad. We landed a few hours before daybreak and as soon as I got off the helicopter my night vision broke, I was surrounded by the sound of artillery rounds, people screaming in Arabic, automatic weapons, and the terrain didn’t look anything like what we were briefed. I knew it was going to be a bad day and a half.

Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007

A month later, Specialist King was sitting inside his combat outpost, an abandoned school in Sadah, when suicide bombers exploded two dump trucks just outside the building. The school collapsed, killing Specialist King on April 23, 2007, along with eight other soldiers, and making the blast one of the most lethal for Americans fighting in Iraq.

In that instant, Specialist King became one of 4,000 service members and Defense Department civilians to die in the Iraq war — a milestone that was reached late Sunday, five years since the war began in March 2003. The last four members of that group, like the majority of the most recent 1,000 to die, were killed by an improvised explosive device. They died at 10 p.m. Sunday on a patrol in Baghdad, military officials said; their names have not yet been released.

The next day we cleared an area that made me feel as if I were in Vietnam. Honestly, it was one of the scariest times of my life. At one point I was in water up to my waist and heard an AK fire in my direction. But all in all the day was going pretty good, no one was hurt, I got to shoot a few rounds, toss a grenade, and we were walking to where the helicopter was supposed to pick us up.

Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007

The year 2007 would prove to be especially hard on American service members; more of them died last year than in any other since the war began. Many of those deaths came in the midst of the 30,000-troop buildup known as “the surge,” the linchpin of President Bush’s strategy to tamp down widespread violence between Islamic Sunnis and Shiites, much of it in the country’s capital, Baghdad. In April, May and June alone, 331 American service members died, making it the deadliest three-month period since the war began.

But by fall, the strategy, bolstered by new alliances with Sunni tribal chiefs and a decision by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to order his militia to stop fighting, appeared to be paying off as the country entered a period of relative calm. Military casualties and Iraqi civilian deaths fell, and the October-December period produced the fewest casualties of any three months of the war. The past month, though, has seen an uptick in killings and explosions, particularly suicide bombings. Much of the violence has traveled north to Mosul, where the group calling itself Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia remains strong.

Everything changed in a matter of 15 minutes... About the time I was opening my MRE (meal ready to eat) I heard an explosion. Everyone started running towards the sound of the explosion. Apparently a suicide bomber had blown himself up killing four soldiers from my squadron and injuring another. Our 36 hour mission turned into another air- assault into a totally different city, the clearing of it, and 5 more days. We did find over 100 RPG’s, IED making materials, insurgents implacing IED’s, artillery rounds, a sniper rifle, and sort of like a terrorist training book and cd’s.

Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007

Unlike the soldiers of some previous wars, who were only occasionally able to send letters back home to loved ones, many of those who died left behind an extraordinary electronic testimony describing in detail the labor, the fears and the banality of serving in Iraq.

In excerpts published here from journals, blogs and e-mail messages, six soldiers who died in the most recent group of 1,000 mostly skim the alarming particulars of combat, a kindness shown their relatives and close friends. Instead, they plunge readily into the mundane, but no less important rhythms of home. They fire off comments about holiday celebrations, impending weddings, credit card bills, school antics and the creeping anxiety of family members who are coping with one deployment too many.

At other moments, the service members describe the humor of daily life down range, as they call it. Hurriedly, with little time to worry about spelling or grammar, they riff on the chaos around them and reveal moments of fear. As casualties climb and the violence intensifies, so does their urge to share their grief and foreboding.

 

A Last Goodbye

 

Hey beautiful well we were on blackout again, we lost yet some more soldiers. I cant wait to get out of this place and return to you where i belong. I dont know how much more of this place i can take. i try to be hard and brave for my guys but i dont know how long i can keep that up you know. its like everytime we go out, any little bump or sounds freaks me out. maybe im jus stressin is all. hopefully ill get over it....

you know, you never think that anything is or can happen to you, at first you feel invincible, but then little by little things start to wear on you...

well im sure well be able to save a couple of bucks if you stay with your mom....and at the same time you can help her with some of the bills for the time being. it doesnt bother me. as long as you guys are content is all that matters. I love and miss you guys like crazy. I know i miss both of you too. at times id like to even just spend 1 minute out of this nightmare just to hold and kiss you guys to make it seem a little bit easier. im sure he will like whatever you get him for xmas, and i know that as he gets older he’ll understand how things work. well things here always seem to be......uhm whats the word.....interesting i guess you can say. you never know whats gonna happen and thats the worst part. do me a favor though, when you go to my sisters or moms or wherever you see my family let them know that i love them very much..ok? well i better get going, i have a lot of stuff to do. but hopefully ill get to hear from you pretty soon.*muah* and hugs. tell mijo im proud of him too!

love always,
your other half
Juan Campos, e-mail message to his wife, Dec. 12, 2006.

When Staff Sgt. Juan Campos, 27, flew from Baghdad to Texas for two weeks last year, there was more on his mind than rest and relaxation. He visited his father’s grave, which he had never seen. He spent time with his grandparents and touched base with the rest of his rambling, extended family.

The day he was scheduled to return to war, Sergeant Campos and his wife went out dancing and drinking all evening with friends. Calm and reserved by nature, Sergeant Campos could out-salsa and out-hip-hop most anyone on the dance floor. At the airport, his wife, Jamie Campos, who had grown used to the upheaval of deployment, surprised herself.

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thanks for sharing this Roldo

I had missed it. I admit I had cordoned off a part of myself on this topic. I had succumbed to Bush's plan - don't show the caskets, don't show the footage. This though is the real deal. I had a good cry, even some screaming alone in my house - upsetting only myself and the dog however.

Then I went for a walk to calm down. I called my sister whose son teaches US History in a High School in New Hampshire. I told her, I am sending this to Seth and suggesting that he have his students read it aloud in the classroom. Then they can do one of three things, enlist, revolt or turn a blind eye again on the stupidity of war.

Later she sent this to me.

Finding Political News Online, the Young Pass It On

It reminded me that I had just sent what you posted to her and her son and that a few weeks ago my other nephew had blasted out an email with a link to Obama's speech about race broadcast on Youtube.

Maybe there is hope for grassroots change with this newfangled technology. Maybe one thing we could find support for would be a war crimes tribunal with George and Dick in the pyre.

What do we do?

I want to believe that talking out loud in cyberspace makes change, but what if we are just spinning our wheels? We are all so downtrodden by the machine in this country.  I can shake my fist at George Bush and Dick Cheney, but what does it accomplish?  Our society is so brainwashed and semi-conscious.

talking out loud in cyberspace makes change

It is not just talking out loud in cyberspace but rather a digital revolution that makes a difference, for and against change... if we only knew what our cyberidentities look like in the US government's eyes... but that is "Homeland Security". It is still up to people to make choices in how they live their lives and if they are stuck in the old economy they are part of the problem for the new economy, and the world. So,  Cleveland, eat a Whopper, throw back a Bud and get ready for yet another failing season yelling Wahoo.

Disrupt IT

opening the world in my breakfast room

This medium has changed my life. I so appreciate being able to air my questions, sometimes have them answered, exchange ideas, correspond, connect with the like minded and with those who can teach me.

I will forever be grateful to Jeff Schuler who said "I have been listening to Paul Hawken at the Long Now Foundation..." I went home, googled the talk and wow! Hope springs eternal. I had lost it, but in that moment, that aside, I found a new gateway. Realneo has brought me so much learning and so much support.

I won't be eating any whoppers and would more likely savor a Dortmunder Gold, the Indian's scores mean nothing to me, but I do relish the thought of some warm walks along the rivers and lakefront, maybe a kayak adventure with Ed Hauser and plenty more changemaking and learning from all of you via this little machine with a flickering screen.

I heard last night that my post about Apalachicola is being shared with their Chamber of Commerce. Whoda thunk? But with the www, we can do these things.

Trickle down to Apalachicola

You are new economy. That means you live everywhere, including Apalachicola (and Cyburbia, the Planning Community), all the time, and IT will allow you to physically return to Apalachicola any time you like (which it seems you like very much). Glad to hear they are picking up your wisdom down there... they should make you their economic development director.... I'll build realApalachicola for them and we'll relax on the porch at the Gibson Inn... my family needs a vacation and that sounds just about right. See if you can set that up.

Disrupt IT

new media revolution

I wholeheartedly agree that social computing has been transformational for me on a personal level.  I am constantly impressed at the power these technologies have in proliferating activism, for better or worse.   I'd certainly put Van's work and integration with new media technology in the 'betterment' column!

Michael Monsoor

  When does the nightmare end?  Rest in peace Michael Monsoor.

How much more of this do we have to endure? 

Nothing is sacred in this country.  Nothing. 

Waste and our forgotten fallen

  My sister sent me this link.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/2008-07-01/btl.php

We go on, day after day, and forget the carnage.   It's time to say enough is enough.