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i would like to share this with all


USMarine
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It was my battalion of marines that tore down the statue of Saddam Husein in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. while storming the city of Baghdad i was on patrol through the streets as we pushed from block to block further into the city. i was the last man in my patrol, and behind us were our armored Amtracs (amphibious assault vehicles) and out tanks by about seven hundred meters. We were patroling down the street when i heard squeeling tires from behind. i turned around and there was a car with two people in it that had cut our vehicles off and were driving towards us.

I yelled to my squad leader to tell him what was happening and he told me to give them some warning shots. i fired two shots into the grill of the car and it slowed down just a little bit. we had problems with car bombs before, so this vehicle was of great concern to us. i told him that the car wasn't stopping and he said; "You know what you need to do." with that he told the rest of the squad to start running as they left me behind to take care of the car. I sighted in on the car, and it picked up speed racing towards me as the rest of my squad kept running in the direction we were headed.

The car showed no signs of stopping and was closing fast, so i fired at the windshield from left to right, hitting the passenger in the throat and then nailing the driver in the head. the car was about fifty meters from me as i killed the driver and it went out of control and crashed into a telephone pole, and then bounced into a wall. i reloaded my weapon, turned around, and ran to catch up with my squad. I'm not telling this story because i am proud of killing people, or any crap like that, i'm telling this story because i am impressed with the level of trust i have gained in those who have written me back about other things that i have posted.

I also wanted to tell this story because of this; It wasn't till a month later that someone talked to me about that kill, and i honestly didn't have any form of memory about it, but as they described it the memory came flooding back and seemed to overwhelm me for a couple of days. it didn't overwhelm me because of the killing anyone that threatened me and my marines, it overwhelmed me because i hadn't remembered it, and i felt like a monster for not remembering something that i had done that was so horrible.

Well, my point of all of this, is that the form of exposure therapy that i am doing right now is where i write down my story from the beginning to the end and then read it over and over again till i honestly can't think any more and want to literally puke. but as i do this theropy things come flooding back, and answer questions as to why i did certain things and felt the way that i did. I strongly strongly encourage everyone and anyone to do this type of therapy and want to thank you all for letting me share stories that i haven't been able to tell to just anyone else. i would love to hear back from anyone, it's awesome to know that there are people that you can relate to and talk to.

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Marine,

You are doing the kind of therapy that is most likely to help you recover. I'm glad that you've been hooked into this early, and that you are doing the work, which is obviously painful. The way out, unfortunately, is through.

I'm also glad that we've been able to be helpful to you and to offer you some comfort and support. It's always nice when we can do that. We can do so little it seems sometimes, and yet, sometimes what we can do, by supporting one another, is what is most needed.

I would not beat yourself up about not remembering the event, which was traumatic by any definition. You probably dissociated it. Like, a circuit breaker in your memory went off at the time of the event to prevent you from having to be "electrocuted" by the "voltage" of the event. Think of it like those GFI electrical outlets by the sink that have a trip when they get wet and stop allowing current to flow.

Not that you're asking directly, but maybe you are indirectly. I think that you did what you had to do. What any of us would have had to do if we were in that place and time. It sucked. It is not desirable to have had to do that. It has scared and wounded you. But it was necessary to do so that you could remain alive and so that your fellow soldiers could also remain alive. Which is the name of the game. I recall working with some veterans (when I did that sort of thing) who perpetually asked themselves why they survived when others died. I never knew the answer to that question. A lot of it seems random and probably there isn't a good answer.

It's not good to remain dissociated; that is not associated with good outcomes in general. But you have not remained dissociated - your fellow soldiers helped you to regain the recall, and you are presently in possession of it. So that is good.

Please, in the future, mark the title of your post with some sort of warning that it contains a graphic description of violence, so that people reading it have a little warning what they are about to encounter. You could insert a [violence] tag or something. I don't want to censor you in the slightest, but I do want to allow for people who might read this to be able to choose whether they wish to encounter this sort of story. I would hope that most people can handle it as we are presently at war, and what happened to you is what happens in all wars. This isn't abuse; it's just what soldiers are asked to do. But we also want to give people the ability to choose what they can handle, and not everyone may feel comfortable with this level of violence.

Mark

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I just read your post about what happened with the car in Iraq, and I am so proud of you and your ability to tell the truth. As I mentioned before, you will never be able to forget what happened to you over there, and more importantly, you shouldn't. You cannot confront the enemy without turning around to face it... that is a simple fact of combat, and a simple fact of trauma. If you try to pretend nothing happened, you will spend the rest of your life pretending. It is only by facing our fears that we learn that they can be defeated. By staring your enemy in the face, you will learn that there is nothing to fear from it... in this case, your enemy is the memory of what happened. Only by looking at it from all angles will you learn that there are infinite angles from which to view it... this may get a little philosophical, but, that is what I have to offer right now... When you look at what happened from your perspective, all you might see is the violence and loss of life. If you try to look at it from a historic perspective, you may see that the sacrifice you made by taking action will ultimately affect the future of Iraq... similarly, the actions of the driver have historic impact in that the stories told by his family will no doubt relate his brave attack on what was once perceived as invading force. No life is ever lived or lost without reason... we cannot always see the reasons from our limited perspective, but we must strive to find purpose in all of lifes mysteries. Never assume that just because something seems certain, it is certain. I am struggling to remember a quote I heard once... to paraphrase: "There is more in heaven and earth than can be dreamed of in man's philosophy" The simple defenition, as I see it, is that just because we cannot find meaning in the events that take place on earth doesn't mean there is no meaning behind them. Just because we cannot find justice in the actions of mankind, doesn't mean there is no justice. Just because the events we are forced to wintess seem dark and pointless doesn't mean they have no point. Perhaps by shifting your perspective you will find new purpose in your experience. I am by no means trying to diminish what you lived through, or what you are currently living through... all I am trying to say is that perhaps by widening your focus, you will find new ways to view the events that are currently shaping your life.

I hope you find some comfort in what I am saying...

Regardless, keep writing, keep thinking, keep feeling... you will get through this. The simple fact that you are reaching out means that you will find your way through the darkness...

Keep it up,

Jimmyfay2

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For the rest of the time I was in Iraq after my incident, I would go months without thinking about it. Then have a dream and wake up with it on my mind. But my brain would quickly stifle it. Bury it. Kill it again.

It wasn't until after I got back that I started having some major issues from it. Of course, I had some pretty significant issues going on with the brain injury, so it was easy while over there to not think about it. Also while over there, I put myself 150% into my work. If you were to ask my commander, platoon leader, maintenance officer, 1SG on down to the newest E-1/W-1 in the company, they would tell you I worked 20 hour days, made sure everyone was taken care of, turned wrenches myself, always volunteered to do the aircraft recovery missions, always volunteered to do the convoy work, always kept so busy that people simply couldn't understand how I kept going day after day. I had to remain so focused on working and stay so flippin busy that at the end of the day, I would fall exhausted onto my cot and immediately be asleep. Once everyone found out about my brain injury and the issues I was having, I really got my ass chewed out. But I told them, there was no way I was going home in the middle of all of that.

I didn't tell anyone about the boy. The only people who saw it were my co-driver, and he wasn't talking either, and the MP vehicle directly behind me. At least, no one ever mentioned it, so I assume no one else saw it. But the MP said something to me later on at a fuel stop. There I was, an E-6, and there he was, an E-4. And a YOUNG E-4 at that. He walked up to me while i was cleaning my truck off and said, "Hey Sarge, forget that shit. It's the dude's fault for shoving that kid out there like that. Don't let it eat ya up."

But I never said nothing to anyone about it. I did nothing BUT think about it up until that explosion a week later. My co-driver and I never spoke of it. He and I actually avoided each other like crazy. He always looked at me like he was scared of me. Like I was some monster. I couldn't handle the whole company looking at me that way, so didn't say a word. I really regret that now.

I don't know Marine. Now, years later, that event and many others keep clawing their way into my life. Working MEDEVAC, there's a different mission involved than what yours was. But this one incident seems to of been the "gateway drug" to other experiences I've had over the years. It seems like my brain simply wants me to be miserable, knows how much I detest being "sick". Seems like I'm destined to be tormented by this crap because as long as I have one side of my brain telling me I deserve to suffer, the other, more realistic side, isn't getting much done.

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