• Chapter 106: The “Why?” Question

    May 20, 2016
  • In the First Iraq war, the Iraqi dictator racked up 16 violations of the law of war under the Hague and Geneva conventions, according to an unclassified report written by Pentagon lawyers in 1992. Some of them involved “gruesome” tortures by amputation, electric shock, electric drills, acid baths, rape, forced self-cannibalism, dismemberment and ax beatings, according to the “Report on Iraqi War Crimes: Desert Shield/Desert Storm,” a copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily.

    U.S. officials say Saddam and his henchmen have, among other things:

    • Abused the flag of truce by pretending to surrender and then firing on U.S. Marines.
    • Executed and likely tortured U.S. prisoners of war.
    • Disguised themselves as civilians, then fired on U.S. troops.

    The November 1992 Pentagon report accused Iraqi troops of systematically carrying out grisly acts of torture against Kuwaiti citizens “with the approval of the national leadership in Iraq.”

    “The evidence establishes that there were at least two dozen torture sites in Kuwait City, most of which were located in either police stations or sports facilities,” the report said. “The gruesome evidence confirms torture by amputation of or injury to various body parts, to include limbs, eyes, tongues, ears, noses, lips and genitalia. “Electric shock was applied to sensitive parts of the body (nose, mouth, genitalia),” the report said. “Electric drills were used to penetrate the chest, leg(s) or arm(s) of victims.”

    Invading Iraqi soldiers also allegedly beat Kuwaiti civilians, crushing bones, skulls and disfiguring their faces, according to the catalog of abuses. Some victims were soaked in acid. Others were beaten while suspended from ceilings. Axes were allegedly used in some beatings. “Women taken hostage were raped repeatedly,” the report added. But it gets worse: “Eyewitnesses reported Iraqis torturing a woman by making her eat her own flesh as it was cut from her body,” the report said.

    The findings of war crimes were a result of evidence collected by the Army’s 199th Judge Advocate Detachment in St. Petersburg, Fla., the 208th Judge Advocate Reserve Detachment in Washington, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Document Examination Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. According to the report, that evidence included: U.S. documents, captured Iraqi documents, videotaped and written statements of eyewitnesses to war crimes, prisoners of war, “human shields,” Kuwaiti victims, and graphic videotape and still photos of war crimes.

    Here is the carnage by numbers, according to the report:

    • A total of 1,082 Kuwaiti civilians were killed.
    • Some 120 babies “were left to die after being removed from incubators that were taken to Iraq.”
    • More than 150 children between the ages of one and 13 were killed “for various reasons.”
    • Fifty-seven mentally ill individuals were killed “simply because of their handicap.”

    Among U.S. military personnel, 21 individuals were captured and held as prisoners of war by Iraq. “All of the prisoners of war were the victims of war crimes committed by Iraq,” the report said. The Clinton administration finally released the report in March 1993.

    When I hear about these things it makes me ask, "WHY?" Why would anyone do such things? I will never learn the answer to that burning question, but I can answer my own "why" question. Why should I get involve? Why can't I be like some who simply turn a blind eye to the injustice in this world and say, "Poor people. Well, at least that's not happening here." Well, to answer that question, I wanted to make sure I provided the different perspectives of the war, first from an Iraqi citizen, then from the Kuwaiti citizen, and then I'll address my own perspective of participating in this war.

    Many Iraqis did not like living under the Saddam regime and some how thought the war was about liberating them. The Iraqi child called it, “the lie called the “liberation of Iraq”. He even asked the question, “How can criminals—Western governments—liberate people from another criminal—Saddam?” He was sorely mistaken about the objectives of the Coalition, which was only authorized to liberate Kuwait, not Iraq.

    For Kuwaitis the war was about kidnappings, beatings, rape, torture, and in some cases, death. It was total destruction of their once beautiful country. For 29-year-old Abdullah Jasman, it was a nightmare he could only hope to one day wake up from, “…you can see the metal frame. They put you on that, naked, with both legs spread and they spread you open all the way. They raped one of my friends here. They raped him. They were laughing. They said, 'This is what your Emir did to you.’”

    Michael Kelly, who interviewed Abdullah Jasman, described how he saw Kuwait city for the first time after the war: “The city the Iraqis left behind appeared to have been worked over by a huge army of drunken teenage vandals. They stole everything they could, from air conditioners to cigarettes, in a citywide smash and grab.” One Kuwaiti I talked to said, "Our country has been destroyed. Now I know what a war zone looks like."

  • So why did I get involved? Why did I volunteer? I'm sure I could have used a few excuses to talk my way out of going to war. I could have started with not signing up for the Marine Corps to begin with. I could have avoided putting my name on the list of those volunteering to go.

    Believe it or not, there are men and women who will do almost anything to rescue those who are in trouble. Those are the men and women who are first responders and/or military. When I was in high school, I learned about terrorism from the acts of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator who was responsible for the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. soldiers, injuring dozens and killing two soldiers and one U.S. citizen. I was a senior in high school that year and I remember telling a class mate that year, that I was "going to drink Gaddafi's blood." Of course I didn't mean that literally, but that I had no problem with joining the military and going to fight against terrorists. Gaddafi was also believed to be behind the bombing of the 1988 Pan Am flight 103 which killed 270 people. Sooner or later the evil that men do will catch up to them, as it did to Gaddafi, but it takes someone willing to stand up against them and for those who cannot stand on their own.

    It didn't matter that my own life could be lost in the war. As I sit here thinking about how many times I could have been killed in the war, I sometimes wonder how I survived. I contribute it to the answered prayers and nothing else. Just how close did I come to death? Let's start with the SCUD missiles. Before I had even left the port of Al Jubayl, there were SCUD missiles launched at us deep into Saudi Arabia. If you recall, I mentioned in one post hearing a loud boom in the middle of the night and being told to get up and don our gas masks. It was a SCUD missile that narrowly missed us, and another one aimed at us was taken out by one of our Patriot missiles. Not everyone was so fortunate. In a later post I described how one SCUD missile destroyed a large building in Dhahran that was being used as a temporary American barracks. Twenty eight Americans were killed and one hundred were wounded.

    When I participated in the artillery raids, a few Marines were killed. The raids were very successful, however, I was a little reckless during my first one. I was standing in the back of my humvee when we started taking an artillery pounding. Then they started landing way too close and I decided to get out of the truck and into a fox hole.

    When the Iraqis decided to invade Saudi Arabia and took us by surprise, I was in my first firefight. I took a picture of my humvee where an Iraqi bullet landed. I heard it buzz over my head. Three and a half feet lower and I would have had a 7.62mm bullet in my head.

    I don't even want to talk about surviving the HARM missile attack that killed my friend, Aaron Pack. But I was sitting in the humvee with him just a few hours earlier.

    Making it through the mine fields alive was another example of how things could have gone differently for me. Not one, but two mine fields that I drove through, and a third one that I walked through. Not only the mines, but there were close calls with several unexploded Cluster Bomblets. If I had stepped on one, or run over one, I might have lost limbs or life.

    Then there was the firefight with small arms fire on day one of the ground war. Although none of us were hit, it was not a good feeling knowing that several machine guns were firing at us from fortified positions. That same day we had to endure incoming artillery and missiles during the ground war. All of this while driving through mine fields and being shot at was very stressful. And to add to that, we got the call over the radio that there was a possible chemical attack in our area. We had to continue with gas masks on.

    Another friend of mine was killed by a an Iraqi grenade. Only it wasn't thrown at him by Iraqis. it was something he kept in his pack. I think several people, including myself, had kept one as a souvenir. Turns out, that was a really bad idea. Lance Corporal Lang was killed as he was retrieving it from his pack on March 1, 1991. After that happened, everyone was told to turn in any Iraqi munitions we were holding. I had nightmares about trying to turn mine in and it going off in my hands killing me.

    I guess I'm one of those people that is wired differently and showed little fear when it came to standing up to bullies, terrorists, and criminals. And Iraqi soldiers were all three. Someone once asked me if I would do it all over again. My answer is, "Without a doubt, and without hesitation."

    If you've seen the movie American Sniper, you'll remember that Chris Kyle had four tours in Iraq before calling it quits. He enlisted and served his country because he was angry. Not everyone will get it, but I know how he felt. One of his friends asked him, "Do you have some kind of savior complex or something?" His wife asked him, "Do you want to die? Is that it?" I know how he felt and I know that he could not really answer the question, at least not in a way that they wanted to hear. Of course he didn't want to die, but he didn't want Americans dying and knew he could do something about it. That feeling he had deep inside can be described as a storm. There is a storm raging inside that won't go away on its own. You have no choice but to face it and weather the storm. And to weather the storm within the soul means answering that inside voice that says, "You have to do something." And in the end, you want to be able to look back and say, "I did everything I could, even if it meant going down with the ship."

    To describe it in another way, I hate injustice more than I love life. Things that make me more mad than anything else is to see someone causing pain and suffering to the defenseless; animals, children and elderly for example. I just cannot imagine a world that sits by and does nothing and allows evil to exist. I see "us against them," "good versus evil," "winning and losing," and I don't like to lose. Chris Kyle didn't like hearing about Marines and Soldiers getting killed because every American death was a victory for them. In my case, I didn't like hearing about bullying, terrorist, or what the Iraqis were doing to Kuwaiti citizens. I cannot do nothing and let them get away with that. Even if I can't win the fight, I still must fight. If I don't fight, the storm within me rages on until it finally consumes me.

    "I was born for a storm and a calm does not suit me."
    - Andrew Jackson
     
  • “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” 
    ― Albert Einstein
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