- Posted February 5, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on
Shock & Awe.. from a parents perspective
When my son announced to me that he had joined the Marines in 2002, I was both proud and mortified at the same time. I gave him the only advise I knew, whatever happens, NEVER QUIT. Keep pushing yourself foward.
Being ex-military myself, I knew what was about to go down, and I knew my son was going to be right in the thick of it. Little did I know, just how right I really was. Austin's unit, K. Co 3/4 out of 29 Palms Ca. was not only in the fight, but they were leading it. Tip of the Spear, all the way to Baghdad!
As the parent, I was glued to CNN and other media outlets, trying to get a glimpse of my son's unit. So much embedded media, I was sure I would see something.. Days went by and nothing.. Then one day, as I was watching Tariq Aziz on one side of a split screen saying something to the effect of the Iraqi army had repelled the invaders or something equally silly while the other half of the split screen was a giant crane pulling down a statue of Saddam. My phone rang and I nearly jumped out of my skin.. Quickly I answered it, and I hear yelling, loud equipment, sparadic gunfire and then my son's voice. He proceeds to tell me that I wouldn't believe the scene he was involved in... They had reached Baghdad and they were pulling down a statue with a giant crane...
I did a doubletake on the screen I was watching and sure enough in the background was a tank with 3/4 scribbled in white chaulk on it... Elated I got to speak to him for about 5 minutes. He proceeded to tell me stories that to this day, I lose sleep when I think about them. Stories of RPG's landing mere feet from him throwing him to the ground. Stories of sniper rounds taking chunks of cement walls out mere inches from his head. Stories of an IED which should have killed his entire squad, but failed to detonate..
My son, when he came to me in 2002 to tell me he had joined, was a goofy normal young man. He enjoyed motorcycles, video games and all the things a young man likes.
When he came home after serving 3 combat tours in Iraq. The goofy kid was gone, and had been replaced by an angry thug. Things he used to love to do, no more would he do them. Being in a crowd made him anxious and hostile... so even tasks like going to the supermarket became almost a seek and destroy mission.
PTSD? You bet, with a side order of 1000 yard stare added for flavor. Now.. 5-6 years later, some of the goofy kid has started to resurface, but for the most part that person no longer exists and a bitter, traumatized combat veteran is all that is left. But every day, he keeps trying.. and every day I swear I see a little improvement. We talk of things that he did, as he tries to come to grip with the violence which he unleashed upon other human beings. He tries to get past the images of death and destruction, some of which he caused which haunt his sleepless nights. He vents on me in great detail desperately trying to offload the guilt he carries with him from the war. The guilt he carries not for misdeeds done while in the thick of combat, but rather just the combat portion of it and the violent and sudden path to Allah that he sent many an Iraqi soldier down.
I worry about my son daily, hearing news stories about veterans just like my son, which all of a sudden jump off a building or hang themselves etc. I worry that he may never regain the person he was before all of this. I worry for all of the parents of sons and daughters who feel what I feel now. So much anguish... so much worry.. So little payback for all of this...