I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell. — William Tecumseh Sherman
“Do you still think about war?”
I let my finger hover over the keyboard after I fire off the text message. I expect the responses might be slow or nonexistent, but a green bubble appears.
“I swore I would never be this person, and yet, I think about it every day,” my old…
“Hollywood” was the moniker they gave me.
Amid the simulated explosions, flash-bang grenades, and pop pop pop of simunition, my elbow rested on a concrete window ledge. Using the ledge as a prop for my left arm, I jammed the opposite hand’s index finger in my ear to muffle the sound. One might think I was on a radio calling in simulated air strikes, but this phone call was far more important than bombing Special Forces soldiers dressed in Middle Eastern thawbs attacking our position. No, my fraternity brother was in dire need of directions. …
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
— Siegfried Sassoon, “Suicide In The Trenches”
The deep divots in the wall accentuated the blood splattered everywhere. It looked like a child had flung cans of paint across the room, which drank in the color. Bits of human remains coated the floor. Some men retched. Others — like me — couldn’t turn away from the horror. A few victims had been decapitated, and someone had strewn their organs along the streets. The…
A true war story is never moral… If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever.
— Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
“Would you do it? I mean, kiss Brad Pitt’s dick on national television for a hundred grand?”
I stare at a small figure a ways off as he bends to dig in the sand. Where the sky meets the…
I screamed as the searing white heat of a bullet ripped through my hip.
No one knows how they’ll respond when injured, but for most, it’s with a string of expletives. True to form, I yelled “fuck.”
All around me, fellow soldiers bled while cries for medics echoed off the sparse mountain terrain. Soviet DShK rounds shredded the earth as I crawled behind a large rock. I yelled for a medic while the other soldiers continued to run up the side of the steep incline where Taliban held the high ground. I watched more DShK rounds rip through men, dead…
I went to the market
Where all the families shop
I pulled out my Ka-bar
And started to chop
Your left right left right left right kill
Your left right left right you know I will
“You can shoot her…” the First Sergeant tells me. “Technically.”
We’re standing on a rooftop watching black smoke pillars rise from a section of the city where two of my teammates are taking machine gun fire. Below, the small cluster of homes we’ve taken over is taking sporadic fire as well. …
The Veterans Administration foreclosed on the house in Illinois where Uncle Dave raised the girls, so he slept in his truck until the repo man took it. Then it was my old room at my parent’s house in Philadelphia. That didn’t work out, and he ended up under a bridge in Las Vegas. Next it was an old soldiers’ home in Wisconsin, where after forty years he finally got some help. In the end, he had his own trailer in the downstate woods.
“You’d love it down here, buddy,” he told me. “You can take a piss out the front…
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