The former commander of the group in the 10th Mountain Division of the US Army, Brian Mokenhaupt explains why more than anything he wants to go to war and shoot people. As an illustration, used portraits of Marines from Kilo Company, which is one month after the shooting killed 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.
Brian Mokenhaupt: "A couple of months ago I stumbled upon a site with lots of pictures and videos from Iraq - such as those in the news usually do not show. I watched the snipers rebels kill American soldiers, and how to blow up the markets of plastic filled with cars. All this was accompanied by the usual propaganda for the soundtrack - a characteristic of metallic timbre in music and loud rhythmic singing. To create a voltage held in the frame reporters empty road. Then it appeared an army jeep and followed the explosion - "mushrooms" of dirt and smoke, flying through the air ... pieces of metal to another recording and photographs rebel killed, mine roadway, on the third I saw the remains of victims of shootings and bombings blew themselves up - sight not intended for human eyes. I was sick of these paintings, but their familiarity delayed, returning peace of mind, and I could not stop and be satisfied - all clicked and clicked the mouse, switching the image. Probably because the addict feels, take the dose after a long break: and nice, and the sick, and all colored with the same feelings. On my skin crawl, the stomach sucked. I got up - my legs gave way - and went to the kitchen to prepare dinner. He began to cut the onions, but soon noticed that my hands were shaking. He paused, but the tremor was not appeased. Then I drank beer. I leaned against the kitchen table - at home, in America - and all life here suddenly struck me as strange.
I returned from Iraq more than a year ago, and to my relatives, so many things survived, while for a long time has become the past, which is best firmly forgotten. But in quiet moments of relief engendered a sense of guilt in me. Perhaps they feel that I am in the same delighted with his return as they are from what I can see again. Perhaps they think that if I could start all over again, I would not have gone there. Well, maybe, and I would not go. But I miss Iraq. Not enough of this war. War in general. And it is very difficult to understand why this is so.
Lance Corporal Joshua Palmer
20 years old, born in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
The second platoon of Kilo Company of the Third Battalion of the first Marine division of the US Army. Haditha, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2005.
I'm glad to be back home that get away his uniform, that every morning I wake up next to his wife. I'm worried about friends who have remained in Iraq, and I regret that they are still there. When I was with them, longing and painful realization that I had no power over their own lives, often made me truly hate war. I did not like to feel the occupier, I was not sure that our cause is just. Is it worth it to kill and die for it? Chaos and suffering that I saw were awful and repulsive. But the war displaces and distorts our vital reference points, shedding light on those areas that most people still remain dark and unexplored. And when these areas are covered, they become part of us.
Once at the party long before the army, I heard a conversation. My friend, who served several years in the Marine Corps, told friends that after spending at least a day with a pistol tucked in his belt - even if nobody will see it - she will feel differently. For better or worse, but it will be a different look at the world. Armed man feels his strength. She did not agree, and he shrugged. There was no point in arguing: he simply told her a piece of the truth. Of course, he was right. But that's not all.
I spent hours watching the world through a rifle sight, watching the course of everyday life. The women hung laundry on the roof. Men were traded in the market over the mutton ham. Children went to school. I looked at them and hoping that my presence will make their lives better, and someday I will see it - it will be a kind of redemption. But at the same time, I looked for a man who would do something bad; finding, I would have shot him. When you take up a weapon with intent to kill, as if you are entering into a very strange and serious game. Every morning someone wakes up with a desire to kill you. When you walk down the street, they are waiting, and you, in turn, want to kill them. It's not blood lust - it's just work that you have undertaken to perform. And if you're an American soldier, you have a complete set of tools to accomplish it. You can shoot a rifle, throw a grenade, and if this is not enough to cause the tanks, helicopters and even fighter jets. Rebels something also know how they can turn a morning at the market in a nightmare, spread apart human flesh, to make out of the jeep pile of charred metal. All of you - members terrible magic show, both powerful and helpless. Everyone knows that the war attracts men. At what age boys for the first time put your finger on the trigger? Long before they fall in love with a girl, they fall in love in a war, or at least in the way the image of: guns, explosions and male prowess. When we are with the neighborhood kids were playing in the war, this was neither fear nor sorrow, nor cowardice. Death was a time - count to sixty, and then you can jump in and play again. We did not know about the darkness. Boys are not much different from the boys - they also love the unknown and is also inspired by the dreams of honest performance of duty, and heady feats of power that gives the weapon. Over time, many war dispels such illusions, and very often people are convinced that the exemption from the prohibition on killing accepted in a normal society - it is not really free, but serious, lonely burden. But even in its worst, the war is not like anything else. We lack the thrills, and the war is more than reimburse this shortfall. The war seemed to rip off your skin, and you live with the bare nerves, reveling in the bright impressions, when everything seems to be abnormal, and at the same time, exactly as it should, and this paradox does not cause the slightest surprise. And then you die again bypasses the party, and if you are born again, intoxicated with life and laugh at death. Gunfire and explosions hit on your nerves, but you still want to hear them.
For people who know this is no secret: the war-ons. Sometimes it amazed me, sometimes my love for war inspired me disgusted with myself, but I still could not stop loving her. Even in times of relative calm, the war is brighter, louder, faster, more interesting, more tragic, destructive - it all more. And even then I knew that someday I will miss her, in this life, so strange and unusual. Today, the war there were only individual episodes and feelings, and somewhere in these memories hidden cause of sadness with a touch of regret.
Lance Corporal Jeremy Newman
19 years old, a native of Long Beach, California.
The second platoon of Kilo Company of the Third Battalion of the first Marine division of the US Army. Haditha, Iraq, Oct. 24, 2005.
On one job, we jump from the car and go into the night. I lead a detachment in the dark through the canals and fields to the city, and on, through the narrow streets of trampled earth. All are asleep, or at least sit under the roof. We look into the gate and over the wall into the yard and the house. In some places shimmer TV screens. A woman washes dishes in the sink. In the distance is heard a dog barking. Nobody knows what we sneak down the street. We stop at intersections, check carefully, not hiding anyone around the corner, we direct the gun at the car standing at the gate, on the balconies and windows of the shops. Everything is clear. We continue to move. From a small little shops in front and hear the laughter of men's voices. Perhaps before these people were sitting outside in the evenings, but now they are inside, where it's safe. To be more precise, safer. Opens the door of sheet iron, and out of the shop a man with a cigarette and a lighter in his hand. Has not stopped smiling, he breathes in the cool night air. Then his eyes rolled out on his forehead, he shies ago, panic-stricken, and nearly falls, I'm just a couple of meters away. I mumble a greeting, and we're going back into the darkness.
But the other night. We got lost in a sandstorm. I'm sitting next to the driver, trying to make out the road in this whirlwind, and us go three jeeps. Headlights not illuminate nothing but swirling dust. We traveled on these roads for months, and we know them well, but now it does not help. So we're going slowly, trying not to fall into the ditch and not to break into someone's kitchen. We swear, and laugh. The situation is ridiculous, but we have a lot of fun. And yet somehow the jeep of my platoon the night in flames, and it turns into a terrible and beautiful swirling flowers of red, yellow and orange, at the time of dispersing the darkness. By some miracle we managed to survive again - for the umpteenth time. Again the night, and McCarthy whine; Cherry light his cigarette leaps in the dark. He sad that he will remain on duty for the gun, and go with us. Today we left the camp early in the morning, then came back for dinner and are now preparing to storm the house of an arms dealer. This is our first real raid. I was shaken, habitual movement adjusting on their shoulders a heavy body armor. Then - helmet, first aid kit, maps, radio, ammunition, a rifle, and so on. Now I look like everyone else - I became a part of this strange destructive organism. We are going around the satellite map deployed on the hood of the jeep, and planned route. Wells, commander of the group, explains how we should act. Quickly get inside. Monitor the danger zones. If he is armed, kill him. I look obvozhu group, the faces of friends, so well familiar to me, and I feel our collective strength, this notorious power. Of course, it plays a role a feeling of comradeship. We share with each other and humiliation, and the euphoria and the fear of death. But there is also something more: the subordination of self, willingly or unwillingly, soulless mechanism. Do I believe in the justice of the war? Never mind. Drop it and live for the moment, where there is little that can be understood and even less control, where the whole world narrowed to one street, one house, one room, one door.
After midnight, we climb into the car, they leave a string of camps and sent to the correct house. I'm sitting in the back seat, and I have a little fear grips; Abdominal burn. I think that we are. I will break in the door. What if he starts to shoot, hit me in the face before I have time to cross the threshold? And if there are two or three? If he throws a grenade at us? I think and think about it, scroll the different scenarios in mind, plan their activities, know how to comb the room, as the thrusts in the two rebel turns his chest, and a hot ball inside dissolves.
We are out of the car a few blocks to the target and dive into the night. As always, the dogs bark. We're going to have a high wall surrounding the house, and on the radio give the machine instructions to block streets. The action should pass quickly. But before you start chaos now, while we huddled in the walls of my comrades and the body pressed against me, so that I can hear them panting and his own, comes a moment when you can appreciate the importance of, the absurdity, the novelty and excitement of what is happening. Is this reality? Hearts beat strongly. Hands pressed weapon. I need to calm down. The rest of the world disappears. Who knows what's on the other side?
Corporal Francis Woolf
22 years old, a native of Crestwood, Kentucky.
The third platoon Kilo Company of the Third Battalion of the first Marine division of the US Army. Hit, Iraq, September 22, 2005.
One, two, three - go. We tear down the gate and rushing through the yard to the house, holding at gunpoint the windows and the roof. Wells is accelerated with a battering ram - a short heavy tube with handles - and sends it to a massive wooden door. The lock is broken with a bang, the door flies off its hinges, and we, as hundreds of training before, dug inside. Nobody shoots me in the face. Grenades do not roll down to the feet. I kicked open the door. We inspect the dark bedroom, lighting their torches fixed to rifles, running from room to room. Of course, he was gone. We searched the house: gut-wrenching boxes, tear away mattresses, punching holes in the ceiling. We find rifles, grenades and hundreds of pounds of gunpowder. And then, around dawn, lie down on the thick carpets in the living room and fell asleep, tired and relaxed.
During this raid was followed by dozens of others. We often rounded up late at night - people woke up from what breaks them outlandish soldiers in the bedroom. Women and children screamed in terror. Looking at it, I imagined what it would be to me, if the soldiers knocked the door at night in my own bedroom, and I could not do anything to protect his family. I would hate these soldiers. But I still enjoyed raiding with their stress and unpredictability. And in the soul we continued to struggle with mixed feelings.
My wife came to Iraq, when I served there for the second time. She settled in the north and began to train Iraqi journalists. She spent the evening in restaurants and teahouses in the company of their Iraqi friends. We talked on his cell when enabled unreliable communication, and she told me about this life that I could not even imagine, on holiday with colleagues and invitations to visit. I had no friends, Iraqis, except for a few of our translators, and guests were not invited me. I told her about my life, about the agonizing days and frightening seconds, and she was worried, as if out of all this, I have not stopped to think and ask questions, and would not become a passive participant in the events. But she did not judge me, but I did not tell her that sometimes take pleasure in their work, which at times try not to make far-reaching conclusions, and all this is more like a game. I did not say that death is always close and if at the same time, somewhere far away, but wherever it was, about her for some reason you do not think about. We are more fortunate than many others: we both returned home. Two students killed my wife - they were among dozens of journalists killed in Iraq - and the guys with whom I served, dying still. One of them returned home and committed suicide on Thanksgiving Day. Another exploded in Baghdad on Christmas Day.
When I thought about it, it felt like a cad because I missed the war, and wondered, I am one or not. It turned out that not.
Seeing on the Internet those videos, I called to some of his friends, retired from the army, and found that they, too, miss the war. Wells was almost killed in Iraq. Sniper shot him in the head, surgeons cut off half of the skull, and he had gradually become himself again in the hospital for months. Now, it lacks the then thrills. "I do not want to seem like a psychopath, but it feels like a god - he says. - Maybe it's not the best way to produce the adrenaline rush but there is a buzz. " Before Iraq, he did not watch horror movies. Now he is looking for them to tickle nerves to experience a sudden shock - even if only for a moment.
McCarthy is also not enough of war. He saved the life of Wells, his bandaged head perforatum. Now he delivers construction materials teams who build big hotels on the beaches of South Carolina, and waits for the police department will consider his application for a job. "The monotony is killing me - he told me, going to the warehouse for the reinforcement party. - I want to be sent to the raid. Want something exploded. That anything has changed, and today. " He wants to obscurity: "Anything can happen, and it happens. Suddenly your whole world shatters, and now everything has changed. It is a life full of risk. You live on the edge. And you're the bad guy for ten miles around. "
Mortal danger sharpens the senses. This is a simple animal instinct. We begin to better discern what our world is the smell, color and taste. It distorts and enriching experience. Now I can get what I want, but I'm not as good as when it was not available to me. One evening, in Iraq, we McCarthy stood on the roof and listed everything that we would like to eat. We stopped for homemade pizza and ice-cold beer, and then over our heads long machine-gun fire crackled. We cross to the other side of the roof, but the arrow had disappeared at the end of a long alley. Today I remember the pizza and beer is more alive than if we McCarthy really ate it.
Lance Corporal Stephen Parker
20 years old, born in Athens, Texas.
The first platoon of Kilo Company of the Third Battalion of the first Marine division of the US Army. Haditha, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2005.
We speak with nostalgia even how stuffed into a bag the dead body, because it was then. Bullet reversal soldier femur, shattered bone and torn artery, so he quickly bled to death on the sidewalk. We turned around and undid the nylon bag and put it next to the corpse. And then hesitated for a moment: no one wanted to get down to business. I took the dead man's hand and dropped it - perhaps instinctively, and perhaps out of disgust. He was still so close to the world that if sucked out of my life trying to either return, or take me with him. He spied on us a half-open eye. I stared at him, this bulky dead body, and then took him by the wrist, thick and warm. The man was huge - two meters tall, weighing 110 kilograms We tensed, rolled it into a bag and fastened out of sight. The platoon commander gave two neighbor kids five dollars, so they washed the blood puddle, have already started to curl. But the wall was handprint - having received a bullet, a soldier tried to stay on his feet. Sometimes I think about it and I am glad that I never had to zip up in the same bag of his friend. Or find yourself in it himself.
But the memories, good or bad - it is just one of the reasons why the war for so long does not release from his embrace returned home the soldiers. The war was urgent and intense, the most important event - all the time in the news and on magazine covers. But at home in everyday life man is hard to find this feeling of being needed again. And it is not only vague prospects and low-paid jobs in provincial towns. In my days of service absolutely strangers sent me a box of candy and cookies. During my two-week furlough strangers met me at the airport with jubilant shouts and hugs. One evening when I had dinner with my family in the restaurant, a man at the next table bought us a bottle of wine for $ 400. Of course, in those moments, I always felt a little out of place, but still it was nice. I would not go back, but I often want to find yourself there on pyatidesyatigradusnoy stupefying heat or chilly wait when you miserable and tired, you look at the black and green world through the night vision device. At times it seems to me that I walk in the fog and all the feelings I have dulled because my exposed nerves tightened insensitive skin scarred. And sometimes I think about the war: I want to go home. It's like a shot in the heart, instant regret for past happiness. Longing, sadness. I try to imagine myself in Iraq as he was then, and I can not. Only sadness and a strange emptiness in his heart.
My friends who are going to return to Iraq or have returned there, does not burn with enthusiasm. Any sympathy for the war poisoned by practical considerations on how to do their job and survive in combat. We Wells and McCarthy can talk about the war with nostalgia, because we are now in a different world. And even we almost do not talk about it, because it departed in different directions and the next few are those who can understand.
Upon my return, people often ask me about Iraq, and most of all, I replied that there was not so bad. The first few times my wife surprised complacency. Why did not I tell them how it all happened in reality? But I could not really explain my feelings. The war really was not so bad. Yes, there were bombings and shootings, and nervous shock, but it's just a job. Honestly, do not fight so hard. Do you react to the situation and try to survive. There's no electricity bill, no payments for a car or everyday hassle. You just go to work, come back alive, and the next day all over again. McCarthy calls it a clarity and purity. Well, perhaps. But I was sure that those who have asked me, do not understand this. And why is it - I often thought that they just want to tales of war, want to hear about the blood and meat grinder. Those who really want the truth, can find it myself. But as a rule, people want to just tickle nerves. We all love. We dream about a life outside of our routine. That's why we like the tragedy, like to hear about war and death - it draws us apart from the will. We are staring at the accident and see how people are humiliated in a reality show, and in a hurry to talk about the latest disaster to friends, like, telling the story, we do it to her, even if only briefly. We are trying to diversify their lives for others, because we need a modicum of darkness. The war attracts us because we are so far from its reality. Perhaps we are in a different way to treat the bombings on the screen, if you knew, like a shell whistles in the air like a numb the noise the brain and the ringing in my ears, if we were familiar tension that you wait to see if the car would explode, standing next to you at the traffic lights, and whether the bomb in your house at night to please, when you sleep. I do not think that Iraqi soldiers ever have to miss the war. I can afford this luxury. I went back to a peaceful country that does not know the war within its borders for almost half a century. Yes, our guys sometimes come home in a coffin. But we live here, not knowing other tragedies and horrors of war: in our cities is not rampant chaos and panic, a neighbor does not kill the neighbor, not violence plunges people into hopeless depression.
Still, I miss the war.
Every once in Iraq, leaving behind barbed wire, you stop in front of goal, to make final preparations. Remove the magazine with thirty rounds, weighing half a kilo. And inserts it fiksiruesh pressing palms. Then the shutter handle is pulled back and released. The gate slides forward with metallic mouse-sending in the trunk of the first cartridge. Click-clack. If I hear the sound of fifty years, I remember it instantly and accurately - the sound is full of possibilities. On the diving board into the water, said school science, you possess the potential energy. When you fly down - kinetic. And I go out of the gate, just make step to jump, transforming its energy. "