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Soldiers in Colorado Slayings Tell of Iraq Horrors


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: war, crime, ptsd, army, iraq, civilians, murder )

Steve
- 3371 days ago - news.yahoo.com
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Soldiers ...accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter after returning to civilian life described a breakdown in discipline during their Iraq deployment in which troops murdered civilians......



   

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Steve Howard (45)
Monday July 27, 2009, 5:56 am
In case the link does not work, this is the article in it's entirety:

Soldiers in Colorado slayings tell of Iraq horrors
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090727/ap_on_re_us/us_soldier_slayings
Sun Jul 26, 9:03 pm ET

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Soldiers from an Army unit that had 10 infantrymen accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter after returning to civilian life described a breakdown in discipline during their Iraq deployment in which troops murdered civilians, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Some Fort Carson, Colo.-based soldiers have had trouble adjusting to life back in the United States, saying they refused to seek help, or were belittled or punished for seeking help. Others say they were ignored by their commanders, or coped through drug and alcohol abuse before they allegedly committed crimes, The Gazette of Colorado Springs said.

The Gazette based its report on months of interviews with soldiers and their families, medical and military records, court documents and photographs.

Several soldiers said unit discipline deteriorated while in Iraq.

"Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated," said Daniel Freeman. "You came too close, we lit you up. You didn't stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley," an armored fighting vehicle.

With each roadside bombing, soldiers would fire in all directions "and just light the whole area up," said Anthony Marquez, a friend of Freeman in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment. "If anyone was around, that was their fault. We smoked 'em."

Taxi drivers got shot for no reason, and others were dropped off bridges after interrogations, said Marcus Mifflin, who was eventually discharged with post traumatic stress syndrome.

"You didn't get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong," he said

Soldiers interviewed by The Gazette cited lengthy deployments, being sent back into battle after surviving war injuries that would have been fatal in previous conflicts, and engaging in some of the bloodiest combat in Iraq. The soldiers describing those experiences were part of the 3,500-soldier unit now called the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.

Since 2005, some brigade soldiers also have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, DUIs, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides.

The unit was deployed for a year to Iraq's Sunni Triangle in September 2004. Sixty-four unit soldiers were killed and more than 400 wounded — about double the average for Army brigades in Iraq, according to Fort Carson. In 2007, the unit served a bloody 15-month mission in Baghdad. It's currently deployed to the Khyber Pass region in Afghanistan.

Marquez was the first in his brigade to kill someone after an Iraq tour. In 2006, he used a stun gun to shock a drug dealer in Widefield, Colo., in a dispute over a marijuana sale, then shot and killed him.

Marquez's mother, Teresa Hernandez, warned Marquez's sergeant at Fort Carson her son was showing signs of violent behavior, abusing alcohol and pain pills and carrying a gun. "I told them he was a walking time bomb," she said.

Hernandez said the sergeant later taunted Marquez about her phone call.

"If I was just a guy off the street, I might have hesitated to shoot," Marquez told The Gazette in the Bent County Correctional Facility, where he is serving a 30-year prison term. "But after Iraq, it was just natural."

The Army trains soldiers to be that way, said Kenneth Eastridge, an infantry specialist serving 10 years for accessory to murder.

"The Army pounds it into your head until it is instinct: Kill everybody, kill everybody," he said. "And you do. Then they just think you can just come home and turn it off."

Both soldiers were wounded, sent back into action and saw friends and officers killed in their first deployment. On numerous occasions, explosions shredded the bodies of civilians, others were slain in sectarian violence — and the unit had to bag the bodies.

"Guys with drill bits in their eyes," Eastridge said. "Guys with nails in their heads."

Last week, the Army released a study of soldiers at Fort Carson that found that the trauma of fierce combat and soldier refusals or obstacles to seeking mental health care may have helped drive some to violence at home. It said more study is needed.

While most unit soldiers coped post-deployment, a handful went on to kill back home in Colorado.

Many returning soldiers did seek counseling.

"We're used to seeing people who are depressed and want to hurt themselves. We're trained to deal with that," said Davida Hoffman, director of the privately operated First Choice Counseling Center in Colorado Springs. "But these soldiers were depressed and saying, 'I've got this anger, I want to hurt somebody.' We weren't accustomed to that."

At Fort Carson, Eastridge and other soldiers said they lied during an army screening about their deployment that was designed to detect potential behavioral problems.

Sergeants sometimes refused to let soldiers get PTSD help or taunted them, said Andrew Pogany, a former Fort Carson special forces sergeant who investigates complaints for the advocacy group Veterans for America.

Soldier John Needham described a number of alleged crimes in a December 2007 letter to the Inspector General's Office of Fort Carson. In the letter, obtained by The Gazette, Needham said that a sergeant shot a boy riding a bicycle down the street for no reason.

Another sergeant shot a man in the head while questioning him, lashed the man's body to his Humvee and drove around the neighborhood. Needham also claimed sergeants removed victims' brains.

The Army's criminal investigation division interviewed unit soldiers and said it couldn't substantiate the allegations.

The Army has declared soldiers' mental health a top priority.

"When we see a problem, we try to identify it and really learn what we can do about it. That is what we are trying to do here," said Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, Fort Carson's commander. "There is a culture and a stigma that needs to change."

Fort Carson officers are trained to help troops showing stress signs, and the base has doubled its number of behavioral-health counselors. Soldiers seeing an Army doctor for any reason undergo a mental health evaluation.

___

On the Net:

Colorado Springs Gazette: http://www.gazette.com

 

Steve Howard (45)
Monday July 27, 2009, 6:11 am

Please make sure to go to
 

Steve Howard (45)
Monday July 27, 2009, 6:14 am

Well the link disappeared, so just copy and paste this in your browser for more info and video:

http://www.gazette.com

People need to know this and most news organizations won't report this problem unless it's so big they have to.

We would not see this type of thing if people were not sent to wars that are absolutely unnecessary.

 

Eleanor B (909)
Monday July 27, 2009, 12:17 pm
I got the link ok and it makes very sad reading. The young people here are scarred for life because how can you just kill on orders and not be scarred because they know it is wrong? The last British man who survived being sent to war against Germany in the First World War so called died the other day could not speak about his experiences until he was 100 years old and then he said that all war was legalised murder, it was not worth one life. But we are being told how he represented a generation who were brave - yes they were brave but they died for the Biritsh Empire who feared the rise of the German Empire. It's all money - then and now. His words have fallen on deaf ears. His words are being wilfully ignored. It disgusts me what Gordon Brown and the queen had to say about his passing. It makes me so sad. He knew about the waste of life. And the waste of life goes on in Afghanistan. We hear nothing about the Afghanis who have died and now we are supposed to think that the Brits who have died must not die in vain. They must go on. Obama was so wrong to up the attacks on the Afghanis. His use of drones also is unforgivable much as I wanted to be happy he was elected. Let him read the history- go back not just to the Soviet invasion but a hundred and fifty or so years and learn what happened to the Brits then. Will they never, ever learn? And will young people ever choose not to go out and kill and be killed because they have no work? I hope the rising number of casualties will persuade them to stay at home, even if they have to be on the dole. Killing is wrong and no amount of jingoism will make it right. I just hope the British people will be sickened by the number of British soldiers who are dying to start to oppose this horrible adventure on the coat-tails of Bush even if they have not been told of the horrendous suffering of the Afghanis - as they have not. Thank the government and their pal Rupert Murdoch for that.
 

Eleanor B (909)
Monday July 27, 2009, 12:25 pm
It is the same with Iraq. I was with a hundred thousand people who objected to the invasion of Iraq on the streets of Glasgow. There were about 2 million in England. The invasion of Afghanistan was done so quickly nobody really realised it was happening. Same with the bombing of Belgrade. All due to Tony Blair. This warmonger, this war criminal now wants to be presiden of the European Union. He knows know shame. I wish there were a hell he could be consigned to along with Bush, Cheney and anyone else who was involved in all these illegal wars and invasions. At least Roberet McNamara had the good grace to say he was wrong - even though he had no part in the actual decisions regarding Vietnam. May he rest in peace because he deserves it in my opinion. I can't imagine Bush, Blair, Cheney (Christians???) ever admitting to war crimes.
 

Renee Castille (64)
Monday July 27, 2009, 12:45 pm
my dad was in the u.s. army
 

Wolfweeps Pommawolf (251)
Monday July 27, 2009, 5:18 pm
Noted.
This so reminds me of the book written by Tim O'Brien "THE THING THEY CARRIED".
It speaks of our soldiers..in fact every soldier goes into war carrying certain things along with them. But the things they carry back are entirely different.
This saddens me that no one cares. I care. I care that these young people went into a war that should have never of happened. Now we have the walking wounded who have been forever changed, and the American people are not demanding that our nations warriors are suffereing...
Shame on the military for the damage they have done.
 

Wolfweeps Pommawolf (251)
Monday July 27, 2009, 6:02 pm
If any of you have the time or the inclination the book: ""the Things They Carried" - Tim O'brien - 1986"
Summary:
This story of a company of young U.S. army infantrymen who, in essence, are carrying the Vietnam War on their backs, is read and appreciated today as much as when it was first published. Veterans from World War II to the war in Iraq find that it captures the realities of war, while probing the unrealities that frontline soldiers are forced to live out in order to survive—on both physical and psychological levels. These unreal, even surreal, demands on men are related to morality, courage, and fear. O'Brien leaves the reader unpeeling the truth, which like the proverbial onion has many layers.
Another important aspect to the story is that it speaks in what the author has termed story-truth. O'Brien makes the case that the stories people tell and retell can sometimes yield a deeper understanding than cold hard facts. In its very structure, "The Things They Carried" mimics the theme of hard facts versus ampler truths about war. The soldiers of Alpha Company carry heavy loads of supplies through the countryside of Vietnam. What they bear is meant to allow them to carry out missions against the enemy and stay alive. In his narrative, O'Brien returns again and again to add more information on the mounting list of things the men carry. He details specific names and functions of weapons, equipment, and personal belongings, citing the weight of each, down to the ounce. But these lists are sprinkled with a tally of the things each man carries in war that are heavy in a different sense: memory, longing, superstition, love, and fear. In addition, O'Brien presents anecdotes that in contrast to the precise and factual lists, demonstrate how individuals really cope in lethal situations and how group dynamics can force soldiers into behaviors that are neither human nor humane.

 
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