Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One Soldier's Story: Must Read and See

Watch this video and read this story.

Raw Video: One Soldier's Story

It's 26 minutes long, so you will want time and space to do it. I believe this is one of the best interviews to come out of Iraq about the war, its realities and the multifaceted battle space and enemies that our men and women face.

A shorter video with highlights is here (some images may not be work safe):

One Soldier's Story

His story, One Soldier's Story:

Four days before his death, Army Staff Sgt. Darrell Ray Griffin Jr., an infantry squad leader in Baghdad, sent an E-mail to his wife, Diana. "Spartan women of Greece used to tell their husbands, before they went into battle, to come back with their shields or laying on them, dying honorably in battle. But if they did not return with their shield, this showed that they ran away from the battle. Cowardice was not a Spartan virtue ... Tell me that you love me the same by me coming back with my shield or on it."

His wife wrote back and asked if he was okay. He never answered.

He was on his second tour in Iraq with 9 years in the military. He was in Najaf in January 2007 when the Army of Heaven was destroyed. He talked about finding hundred of dead and wounded, not only a large number of fighters, but women and children. He said in his video interview that he could not understand why these men would bring their wives and children into this compound and then fight from it. The amount of death was so horrific that he could barely fathom it:

I witnessed so much carnage on this particular day that words and descriptions of the horror would become trivial in attempting to paint a picture of what I saw ...

I achieved my 8th confirmed kill in this village when I opened a door to what I thought was just another small room and upon entering, saw human bodies strewn on the floor, wall to wall, that had been placed there because the room had obviously been established as a casualty collection point. One man lying close to the door had been pleading for me to help him and kept pointing to his injured leg. I did not want to commit to entering the room because I had a blind spot to my front left and did not want to be engaged by any survivors; the room was strewn with massive amounts of AK-47's, magazines, grenades and other assortments of weaponry. I motioned for the man to crawl out and he would not or could not comply. He then looked dead into my eyes and suddenly began to smile at me while he reached for his AK-47. I lifted my rifle and fired 8 rounds into his forehead from about 3 feet killing him instantly ...

His father noted the many people who tried to get him to use his son and his story to stop the war:

"My emotions have [been] on a roller coaster going from extreme anger, to sadness, to helplessness, to acceptance to confusion and then all over again," he wrote me five days after his son's death. And the elder Griffin has been pressed by many of his friends and colleagues in Southern California to join the ranks of the antiwar movement and use the story of his son's death to help end the war. "They just don't seem to understand or accept that my son loved the Army—that the Army saved him in many ways—and that the thing he hated the most was politics getting in the way of finding real solutions for the Iraqis."

Finally, I think that this is the most fitting tribute to such men as Sgt. Griffin:

Diana Griffin is moving from Fort Lewis, Wash., to be closer to her family in Southern California. And she remembers the chaplain coming to the door. "The President of the United States ... " he began. That's where her memory of the event stops. By her bedside, she still keeps a book on the 19th-century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard that her husband hadn't finished reading. She didn't speak at the microphone to the assembled mourners at the funeral, but after the echoes of the graveside 21-gun salute faded into the din of the nearby freeway, she said this: "Today, Darrell has come home on his shield."

Hat Tip: Milblogs

No comments: