Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Realities of War

Check out the Soldier in the Sanbox. My brother in law, Army SSGt Frank Lefler who is stationed in Samarra, Iraq has a chilling post, describing a mission where a gunner on the Humvee in front of him was shot. The soldier will recover, but Frank's reaction is sobering:

I guess when you think about getting into a life threatening situation you sort of think along the lines of heroics or how will you react. Well our reactions were a result of our training, but what you feel while it is all happening is a completely different story. Less than a minute after the shot went off we knew that the wound was likely not life threatening. Not to downplay the wound, the bullet had struck the soldier in the shoulder shattering his bone and causing a lot of damage, but under the hands of the medics shock was probably his worst enemy. As I took up a security position and scanned the horizon for the sniper a million things tried to run through my head at once, only none really succeeded. The only thing I could really think about was the scene unfolding about 4 feet behind me. The medics were working inside the well protected perimeter we had provided, cutting away the wounded soldier’s clothing and armor. Occasionally I glanced back over my shoulder. He was bleeding pretty badly, they had controlled it, but there was way more blood than I had expected or imagined. He was moaning and convulsing slightly as the medics treated his wound and fought to keep him from succumbing to shock. As I looked back towards the horizon I felt a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes, familiar enough, only I hadn’t felt anything quite like this ever before. It wasn’t sadness for the soldier exactly, that was part of it, but really it felt like I was feeling every emotion simultaneously. It was completely overwhelming. As I fought back the emotion and tried to concentrate on security one emotion
surfaced and grew along with the lump in my throat, rage. With every faint moan
and every drop of blood that spilled the feeling grew until it nearly consumed me. I have never felt rage before or real hate for that matter, but I think I know now what it is. I don’t even know exactly if my rage was directed at the sniper or the situation or what… I do know that who ever it was that fired that shot, he is lucky he didn’t show his face. Ultimately, after several tense minutes we finished the job we had come to do and we all packed up and left.

Once back at the FOB it all began to sink in. Knowing that it was sheer chance that had chosen that PFC to be the target at that moment. Understanding that sometimes you really are just a spectator of your own life, and that you can only do what you know to be the right thing and hope for the best. Also knowing now what it means to hate. That to me was the real kicker.

Say a prayer for him and his buddies and for the rest of them--they are ordinary people doing extraorinary things, so that we can live in peace. And if anyone has any question about the nature of their sacrifice, check Christ's words on the topic, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13


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