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Ask A Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 05/27/2008 10:31:12

Good Morning.

Today is our 1,896th day in Iraq.

We'll start as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from the warron terra, courtesy of antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 4083
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 3944
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3622
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3224
Since Election (1/31/05): 2646

Other Coalition Troops: 312
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 507

I usually edit out the links to the casualty lists, but seeing that yesterday was Memorial Day,
you should go and take a look.
There have been 4,392 coalition deaths -- 4,080 Americans, two Australians, 176 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, one Czech, seven Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, four Georgians, one Hungarian, 33 Italians, one Kazakh, one Korean, three Latvian, 22 Poles, three Romanians, five Salvadoran, four Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians -- in the war in Iraq as of May 26, 2008, according to a CNN count. (Graphical breakdown of casualties). The list below is the names of the soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen whose deaths have been reported by their country's governments. The list also includes seven employees of the U.S. Defense Department. At least 30,112 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon.


We also find today's cost of war increasing at about $10,000 every 3 seconds.
As I write this, it's passing through $ 523, 132, 950, 000.00



And now, we'll turn this over to guest blogger George Masters, who published this column in yesterday's Boston Globe. (No need to write a thank-you letter; the Globe knows we appreciate the donation.)

Missing in America

I'm driving. Jack, my copilot, sleeps in the passenger seat. His chin rests on my upper leg. The car in front of us wears two "Support Our Troops" ribbons on its backside. One is yellow, the other red, white, and blue. Both were made in China. On the right-rear bumper is a black and faded MIA sticker. The driver of the car probably means well, but by now I've seen too many ribbons. While the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq kill and maim, I can't help but think how they are also shaping the future of returning veterans. Many of these men and women will come home and go missing and you won't even know it. Returning from a war is more than getting off an airplane and putting on civvies. Combat changes a person. It changed me.

I'm driving angry. I want to tell the guy in front of me: You want to support the troops? Get them the hell out of the line of fire. Or, if you think this war is such a necessary enterprise, haul your butt on over there. If you're too old, pull your kids and grandchildren out of college and send them.

I'm driving sad. You want to support our troops? Give the man some space when he gets home. Give the woman a job. Don't tell either of them how you would have been there if you could have, and then spin off a bunch of excuses. He may keep to himself. She might be missing an arm. He could be in a wheelchair knowing he'll never chase his kids down a beach again. Both may drink a bit. She may smoke pot, dress wild, and date too many guys. She might like to play her music too loud and dance alone in her room. He could go to the movies for hours and come home and cry and cry. Don't lecture them. Don't tell him to forget about the war - he can't. Don't try to tell her how she's escaping reality. She's had all the reality she can stomach. He may carry what you call an attitude. She might have an extremely low BS tolerance, a quirky sense of humor you don't really understand.

Listen up: If you've never hunted humans, if you've never been hunted, if you haven't been shot at on a regular basis, try to appreciate what this person has been through. Then get down on your knees and pray, and thank your lucky stars it wasn't you.

I'm driving lost. It's Vietnam, 1968, Quang Nam Province. I work up a spit of bleeding gums, saliva, and bug juice. I wonder about the skeletons we passed an hour ago. Sprawled outside four fighting holes, two of the skeletons lay mostly intact, arms reaching, legs cocked as if trying to crawl back to their open graves. The third had no skull. Turning my head, I scan the hot, windless valley. Single file, I follow Valdez, the radio man, 10 meters to my front. Where Valdez steps, I step. Heat worms up through the soles of my boots. Toes bleeding, heels aching, my swollen feet fester in the canvas and leather. An M16 bandoleer is slung over my shoulder, and the magazines inside clink lightly. Two grenades, like giant steel eggs, hang off my flak-jacket pockets. C-ration cans clank against the sticks of C-4 explosive in my kangaroo pockets. I hate being in the open like this. Breathing shallow to keep the burn out of my lungs.

Too scared to let my mind wander, I do anyway. I remember a girl back in The World - her face, the way she looked at me when we ate ice cream. I talk to myself. Mumble silently is more like it. Watch where you put your feet; look for movement, a wire, a vine, a slight depression. Don't stare, you'll get hypnotized. Scan. Doing it without thinking, repeating the movements like an endless rosary, my Marine squad stretches a hundred meters single file along the floor of Happy Valley.

I'm driving home. The car in front with the ribbons turns off. I go straight. Rolling down the windows, I crank up Rod Stewart on the radio and scratch Jack between his soft and beautiful ears. He likes his window all the way open. He moves there to put his face in the breeze. You want to do something for our troops? Bring them home.


George Masters, a writer in Brookline, served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam and is currently at work on a novel. Send comments to [email protected]

213 comments (Latest Comment: 05/28/2008 10:56:48 by Random)
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Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 12:44:58
excellent post Tri. I was thinking Sun night as we watched the laser show how people seem to forget the realities of war, and cheer and whoop and hollar at images of soldiers and flags like it's a sports competition instead of blood and death.



oh, and morning folks... :coffee:

Comment by Scoopster on 05/27/2008 13:21:04
Morning Tri & Bob.. great opening today!



Awfully quiet here.. very odd

Comment by Mondobubba on 05/27/2008 13:31:22
Meh.

Comment by Random on 05/27/2008 13:31:31
*taking refuge here instead of SMS liveblog*

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 13:31:56
Perhaps everyone is sleeping off yesterdays' festivities...

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 13:48:39
Good morning everyone.



I was just working late and going to bed late.



Some mornings I feel like I need a cattle prod to get out of bed.

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 13:52:00
The SMS blog is busy but it's the usual sniping because of the pro-Hillary trolls.

Comment by m-hadley on 05/27/2008 13:53:30
Mornin' Everybody :yawn:

Moving kinda slow this morning Back to the grind - it's a long day for me today too - I'm here until 8pm tonight - ugh.

Cheers,

mfaye :hug:

Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 13:56:28
Morning all :hug:





Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Got my shed all put together (granted it's a Rubbermaid shed but still it too some conjoling) eveythings back where it's supposed to be. Next house project - attic fan.

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:02:34
I have a friend that thinks this long drawn out primary season is good for the party because it's drawing record numbers of people to the polls to vote. Personally, I think we are past the point of positive and - with all the negativity surrounding the race (regardless of where it comes from) - we're now well into an area of diminishing returns.



This needs to end so we can ALL join together and focus our energies on dismantling the Republican machine.

Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:04:58
Quote by BobR:

I have a friend that thinks this long drawn out primary season is good for the party because it's drawing record numbers of people to the polls to vote. Personally, I think we are past the point of positive and - with all the negativity surrounding the race (regardless of where it comes from) - we're now well into an area of diminishing returns.



This needs to end so we can ALL join together and focus our energies on dismantling the Republican machine.






Sounds strange but I'm going to equate it to a Spree candy - it started out really sweet - all great candidates for us to choose from. Now it's gone all sour and not in a good way.



Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:06:21
Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:08:55
Good morning mfaye and mala.



I was kept busy this weekend with work. I hope the next pay check makes up for it.

Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:09:36
Very cute :D

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:10:05
Dueling soundbites....



Sorry Shane-O, I think DJ won that one...

Comment by Shane-O on 05/27/2008 14:11:02
Quote by BobR:

Dueling soundbites....



Sorry Shane-O, I think DJ won that one...
DJ's first hour?



Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:12:34
I missed the one in the first hour since I was still asleep. Momma will probably play both in hour 3.



Hi, Shane-O.

Comment by Shane-O on 05/27/2008 14:14:23
DJ's first hour on Clinton's comment was really good. I decided to stay away from the subject - he handled it well. The "Shaft" one was not DJ, however. I think that one kicked both our butts!!

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:21:13
Quote by Shane-O:

DJ's first hour on Clinton's comment was really good. I decided to stay away from the subject - he handled it well. The "Shaft" one was not DJ, however. I think that one kicked both our butts!!


ahh... my assumption there. I retract the statement and offer my apologies...



Yes, the Shaft one was what I was referring to and yes it kicked-ass...

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:21:24
To me, it would depend on what she looks like.

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:22:29
This coffee must be broken - I am still barely keeping awake

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:23:19
Quote by livingonli:

To me, it would depend on what she looks like.


:huh: Did I miss something?

Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:26:15
Quote by BobR:

Quote by livingonli:

To me, it would depend on what she looks like.


:huh: Did I miss something?






I was just wondering the same thing :scratchhead:

Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:28:37
FOX NEWS-KILLING OBAMA JOKE







Comment by Shane-O on 05/27/2008 14:30:29
I think it was E.J. Dione (I could be wrong) who said it best this weekend: any apology that contains the word "if" is not an apology at all.

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:31:53
Quote by wickedpam:

Quote by BobR:

Quote by livingonli:

To me, it would depend on what she looks like.


:huh: Did I miss something?






I was just wondering the same thing :scratchhead:


I was responding to the story about the hospital worker.

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:32:40
Why can't Fox News be taken off the air?

Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:33:21
Quote by livingonli:

Quote by wickedpam:

Quote by BobR:

Quote by livingonli:

To me, it would depend on what she looks like.


:huh: Did I miss something?






I was just wondering the same thing :scratchhead:


I was responding to the story about the hospital worker.






ohhh - I think it was a guy.



Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:37:05
Quote by livingonli:

Why can't Fox News be taken off the air?


There's that pesky 1st Ammendment...

Comment by Raine on 05/27/2008 14:37:44
Good morning everyone!

Just got back from the Airport. Ms MArgaret is on her way back to NY.



What a wonderful week.

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:38:26
Quote by BobR:

Quote by livingonli:

Why can't Fox News be taken off the air?


There's that pesky 1st Ammendment...


True. I guess my only hope is people tune out and it starts bleeding money again. Not that Murdoch isn't afraid to sink money into his right-wing propaganda outlets.

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:39:06
Hi Raine. Sounds like you were a busy beaver while your friend was in town.

Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:39:52
Quote by Raine:

Good morning everyone!

Just got back from the Airport. Ms MArgaret is on her way back to NY.



What a wonderful week.








Ya know what I found out this weekend? Amtrak picks up in Manassas and goes all the way to New Orleans - Via Atlanta. Only 95.00 each way.



To quote Star - Just sayin'.



Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:41:14
I'm glad Momma's weekend cookout was civil... ours - not so much.

Comment by Raine on 05/27/2008 14:42:04
Quote by wickedpam:

Quote by Raine:

Good morning everyone!

Just got back from the Airport. Ms MArgaret is on her way back to NY.



What a wonderful week.








Ya know what I found out this weekend? Amtrak picks up in Manassas and goes all the way to New Orleans - Via Atlanta. Only 95.00 each way.



To quote Star - Just sayin'.

Whenever you want! I would love for you to visit!



Comment by Raine on 05/27/2008 14:44:20
Quote by BobR:

I'm glad Momma's weekend cookout was civil... ours - not so much.
:(



It got heated. I got heated.





Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:44:23
Quote by Raine:

Quote by wickedpam:

Quote by Raine:

Good morning everyone!

Just got back from the Airport. Ms MArgaret is on her way back to NY.



What a wonderful week.








Ya know what I found out this weekend? Amtrak picks up in Manassas and goes all the way to New Orleans - Via Atlanta. Only 95.00 each way.



To quote Star - Just sayin'.

Whenever you want! I would love for you to visit!





Mom needs employment first - but I was thinking about ya'll's kind invitation :D





Comment by TriSec on 05/27/2008 14:45:00
hoooboy. Mrs. TriSec (aka, the "live-in Luddite") has a new cell phone!



I'd imagine the entire network crashing and satellites falling to the earth in a matter of minutes. Better take cover.





Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:45:54
Quote by BobR:

I'm glad Momma's weekend cookout was civil... ours - not so much.






I wished for some of that beer ya'll made while I was working hard on shed construction.



Comment by wickedpam on 05/27/2008 14:46:38
Tri - Got your PM - let me do a little digging and see what I come up with for ya!

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:46:39
Quote by Raine:

Quote by BobR:

I'm glad Momma's weekend cookout was civil... ours - not so much.
:(



It got heated. I got heated.





Damn this primary campaign.

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 14:47:31
I'm wondering. Did we manage to finish off the beer that was brought to DC?

Comment by Raine on 05/27/2008 14:51:00
Katie Couric will make an announcement on the TODAY show?



I am glad if she goes back to today. She was good there.

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:51:40
Quote by wickedpam:







I wished for some of that beer ya'll made while I was working hard on shed construction.



Contact your local distributer! :lol:

Comment by BobR on 05/27/2008 14:53:12
Quote by livingonli:

I'm wondering. Did we manage to finish off the beer that was brought to DC?


Nope. So many people were drinking vodka that the beer got overlooked. I know ShelaghC took some home, but I ended up taking one of the two cases back home with me.

Comment by velveeta jones on 05/27/2008 14:55:16
Morning all. I was out running errands. Back now and watching "blood diamonds"



Yikes.



Diamonds SUCK! (sorry for any diamond wearers, but really........ why should we buy any diamonds if as long as there are conflict ones). My opinion only.

Comment by Scoopster on 05/27/2008 14:55:27
Comment by TriSec on 05/27/2008 14:57:34
Quote by wickedpam:



Ya know what I found out this weekend? Amtrak picks up in Manassas and goes all the way to New Orleans - Via Atlanta. Only 95.00 each way.



To quote Star - Just sayin'.





Well gee, I wonder why it costs $345 for the 3 of us to take the Acela Regional from South Station to Union Station, then? It's about twice that on the Acela Express....



I think you could almost fly to DC for less....and even with $4 gas, I can certainly drive the 450 miles for less than that.



What's wrong with this picture?



Helloooo? Mr. Nominee, are you listening? There's a former governor of Massachusetts that would love to fix Amtrak, if you ask him and give him some money...







Comment by Scoopster on 05/27/2008 14:59:32
Amtrak prices seem to have come down quite a bit lately..



I remember a few years back it cost me over 200 bucks to go one way from New Haven to Providence.. now it costs about the same as a Greyhound ticket.

Comment by livingonli on 05/27/2008 15:00:03
I just know that my car can't do long trips anymore. Until I get a new car, I would either have to rent a car or find alternate means to get to my destination. (train or plane).