The military newspaper, Stars & Stripes, has been running a series of stories on the daily life of soldiers who are fighting in Iraq. Today’s story tells about an incident that happened and was not revealed to the American press. Men of Charlie Company has been engaged in continuous fighting in Adhamiya province which led to the deaths of many of their comrades. One day, First Sgt. McKinney, who was on a patrol to deal with road mines, halted, sat down, and said: “I can’t take it anymore.” He placed his M4 under his chin and fired a shot. His grief stricken driver called company headquarters saying in a voice shook by fear and anguish, “This is Apache seven delta. Apache seven just shot himself. He just shot himself.” A few days later, Charlie Company’s 2nd Platoon was ordered to clear a road of IEDs. For some reason, at the last moment, the task was given to Alpha Company. As soldiers proceeded along the highway, a Bradley hit a large mine causing the death of five men. The next day, the 2nd Platoon of Charlie Company met and decided they could no longer function as a professional military unit in Adhamiya and refused to go out on a mission. The Sergeant Major and Captain Strickland ordered them to proceed, but they refused. They were read their rights, but refused to move. Finally, the platoon was disbanded and no judicial action was taken against the men for their rebellion.
This is merely a single incident, in telling this story, Stars & Stripes is not attempting to indict the men for failure to complete a mission. It is an incident, perhaps a minor one, perhaps not. Captain Strickland said in dealing with the men he felt he was experiencing a “truly Jekyll/Hyde moment for me.” He knew the men were brave, they had demonstrated it repeatedly and many of their comrades had died in the effort. The real tragedy is that American soldiers were sent to fight a war that never should have been fought over an issue that never existed — the WMD. They were sent by a president and his colleagues who knew nothing about war and death except what they had seen in John Wayne motion pictures. They exposed these fine young men and women to death and to the horror of witnessing friends die. This was simply a single incident in a war that has no end. Unfortunately, although these men grieved and twisted and turned all evening, their president sleeps soundly tonight.