11 April 2003 (The Dogs of War)

I’m pissed off, so what better thing to do than write in a journal?

A few days ago, I wrote about destroying an anti-aircraft gun with a thermite grenade (incendiary). Well, someone got upset about that. I don’t know if it was CPT Somers or Mr. Young, but Mr. Young told me that if we can’t get a replacement grenade that I need to write a memorandum about why, when, and where the grenade was used. That whole thing makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why even give soldiers weapons if they aren’t supposed to use them? For crying out loud, I destroyed an anti-aircraft gun with it. It’s a freakin’ war and someone’s worried about where a thermal grenade went. Next they’ll be asking why I need more ammunition or MRE’s.

I went to SFC Lollar to get some more ammunition: 9mm rounds and another thermite grenade. He said he could get me some more 9mm rounds, but it might be tough to get a thermite grenade. I told chief the deal and he said no more using these things without his permission. I told him I can make those decisions and he reiterated no more using those things without his permission. I told him that I don’t need to be wearing Staff Sergeant rank then and made the attempt to take it off. Unfortunately, it was sew-on rank. So, I decided to do something I don’t think I need to ask for permission to do: I’m taking a nap after writing this. I don’t need to ask for permission to use a weapon in defense and writing a memorandum for the use of such things is ludicrous.

2050Z, 11 April 2003, Friday

I can’t sleep. It’s almost midnight local time. Every time I close my eyes images of the past few weeks run through my head. Things are calming down so fast that all that’s left is reflection. There are also a couple of dogs outside that keep barking. I swear that in the morning I’m going to ask the commander for permission to kill them. I probably could have gotten to sleep a long time ago, but the dogs kept me awake. That made me angry which kept me thinking about other things that made me angry. Then all the things I’ve seen during this war kept flashing through my mind. When I close my eyes I see dead people. I see myself nervously sitting in a foxhole waiting for the enemy to suddenly jump out of the bushes only to be mowed down by claymore mines and machine guns. I see artillery rounds exploding within feet of me. I see myself getting shot at from less than ten feet away and having to kill and injure people who are forced to fight me, but would rather be with their families. I see the innocent faces of all the people I’ve met that have nowhere to go. I see the Iraqi children clutching their parents’ hands and thighs.

No one ever came to pick up that first sergeant we were talking to earlier today. Once it started getting dark, we had to have him leave. We weren’t going to guard him and we didn’t want to make someone else have to watch him either. The only other option was to tell him to leave in the most polite way. This was a guy who came forward and gave us all sorts of information about where the enemy was and what their disposition was. He said that he is a dead man now. He has no home to go to. He is from Basrah. We let him go to sleep in the streets after I told him that we don’t do that to people who help us. He can’t go to a hotel because there aren’t any open. We used him and sent him out to fend for himself. We might see him again. I hate myself sometimes.

I’m going to kill that dog, I swear. I’m going to either shoot him or hit him as hard as I can with the strongest pole I can find. That dog will not bark again. I will hurt it so that it cannot move and then bury it either alive or dead. I don’t think I’m even going to ask for permission. I’m just going to walk up to it and hit it with all my strength. I could not get back to sleep if I wanted to. The barking must stop.

11 April 2003, Friday

Okay, I’m back. I couldn’t catch the dogs. Every time I got close they just ran away. Of course, they were barking the whole time. If I weren’t so afraid of shooting one of our soldiers, I’da just shot at them. I couldn’t get close enough to hit this with a shovel I found. I think the dogs probably sensed their imminent death if they let me get close enough. I even tried sweet talking them into coming close and pretending nothing was wrong. They didn’t buy it. So, I’m back in my cot still trying to get to sleep. At least I had a nice long walk chasing those stupid things. I think I was out there about an hour. I guess I’m more surprised no one mistook me for the enemy and took shots at me. Of course, I’m in the middle of one of the most fortified positions in Iraq right now. We’re living at Saddam’s parade ground. It’s the place with the huge hands holding the swords over the road.

Well, I’m gonna try to get some sleep, but I swear if I go without any longer I won’t be sane enough NOT to shoot those dogs.