A different kind of casualty of War

blackfox

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I read this earlier today, and for some reason it just stuck with me. The quote of the Marine telling residents that they were "innocent civilians" and would not be harmed as he went through yards with his assault rifle after shooting two Police officers, really bothered me.

As the article states, there is rampant speculation about possible motives, including a gang history and a desire to impress said groups with this action. There is also the possibility that he really didn't want to go back to Iraq and/or the psychological stress of Iraq broke him. The quote I mentioned seems to give credence to at least some variation of this explanation.

In any case, this is very sad. I can't help but wonder how many other soldiers will come back psychologically-scarred and/or if we will see more instances like this one. These potential costs far outweigh the 200-some billion pricetag of the War in Iraq imo.

Opinions? Comments?

Kin of Marine Who Shot Policemen Ask if He Is a Casualty of War

By DEAN E. MURPHY
Published: January 14, 2005


CERES, Calif., Jan. 13 - A surveillance camera captured the gun battle in this small central California farm town in terrifying detail.

A marine on weekend leave from Camp Pendleton on Sunday night instructed a clerk in George's Liquor Store to call the police. When patrol cars arrived, the marine pulled an assault rifle from beneath his poncho and began firing. Both Sgt. Howard Stevenson and Officer Sam Ryno were hit.

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"He walked over to where Sergeant Stevenson laid suffering from several gunshot wounds and shot him in the back of the head," said Lt. Bill Heyne, the lead investigator on the case for the Stanislaus County sheriff. "It was an execution of that officer."

The marine, Lance Cpl. Andres Raya, 19, who spent seven months in Iraq last year as a motor transportation operator, then walked to a muddy alley around the corner, a place where he used to pick oranges as a student on his way to Ceres High School. He slipped from one backyard to the next, telling some residents they were "innocent civilians" and would not be harmed.

Before the evening ended, as police officers from across the region responded to the shootings, more than 200 rounds had been fired, both Sergeant Stevenson and Corporal Raya were dead, and "small town America," as the police and fire chief here (he has to do both jobs) called Ceres, was desperately debating whether the young marine had deliberately gotten himself killed to escape possible return to Iraq.

"It is going to take a great deal of work to sort out what happened," Lieutenant Heyne said.

Some here blame the violence on Corporal Raya's wartime experience, which friends and relatives say was so traumatic that he cried during his home leave at Christmas about having to report back to Camp Pendleton. They suggest Corporal Raya, whose wish throughout high school was to be a marine and then a Ceres firefighter, might have invited the confrontation with the intention of erasing forever the awful images in his head.

But others say they see a vicious criminal who authorities say had a past association with gangs. They see drugs or alcohol as the more likely spark of his deadly rage, and they question how he was able to get the outlawed assault rifle used in the shooting spree.

The sharply differing viewpoints have spiked tensions between the authorities and many Hispanic residents, some of whom have repeatedly tried to erect a shrine to Corporal Raya on a dirt patch in the alley where he died only to have it removed by the city. At one point, graffiti against the police was splattered on a garage and fence in the alley. On Wednesday night, the authorities blocked access to the alley with barricades.

At a meeting about the killings in the high school cafeteria on Tuesday night, some angry and tearful Hispanic residents accused the police of ignoring their grief. One woman, Hilda Mercado, said after the meeting that no matter the circumstances, she was proud that Corporal Raya "died like a true Mexican: He died standing on his feet." Others said there were rumors that Corporal Raya had been trying to surrender, but that the police killed him anyway, something the police dismiss as unfounded.

Law enforcement and other city officials are scheduled to meet with some Hispanic community leaders on Friday to try to breach the divide. The Rev. Dean McFalls, a priest and former police chaplain in Ceres, said that the tensions were not new, but that the Corporal Raya he knew several years ago would have disapproved of them.

"There is a general sentiment among some people against authority and against the police," said Father McFalls, who accompanied Corporal Raya's parents and a dozen other relatives to the police station on Tuesday where they prayed at a memorial to Sergeant Stevenson. "This young man in his earlier life would not have encouraged any of this anti-police rhetoric."

Corporal Raya grew up in The Camp, a neighborhood of subsidized housing near the high school where Mexican immigrants, including his father, found shelter for their families while working in the nearby fields. For many teenagers in The Camp, a job fighting in Iraq is considered a dream ticket to somewhere better, which has made ever more poignant the mystery about why one life from The Camp ended so badly. ...CONT...
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/14/national/14marine.html
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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blackfox said:
I can't help but wonder how many other soldiers will come back psychologically-scarred and/or if we will see more instances like this one. These potential costs far outweigh the 200-some billion pricetag of the War in Iraq imo.
my theater company is remounting its original production of Let There Be Light...!, which deals w/ WWII soldiers returning w/ shell shock. it's based on the John Huston documentary of the same name.
 

mactastic

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I've already run across stories of homeless vets from Iraq with serious PTSD symptoms. And of course there aren't enough funds for their mental health care, coupled with the fact that seeking mental health care is viewed as a sign of weakness both in the military culture and in American society at large. We'll be seeing many more of these vets I think as time goes by, because one of the major factors in their mental health is their conviction that they are 'doing right'. The longer this war drags on with shifting rationales, a lack of WMD, and a very blurry line between the insurgents and the civilians, the more mentally scarred vets we will see.

The cost of war never includes the care the vets require both physically and mentally. I'd like to see the troops supported in these areas. :(

As for the marine in this story... I don't know until I hear more facts what his motives for the shooting was, but it certainly isn't beyond the realm of possibility that there was some kind of war-related trauma involved. Doesn't make it right, but there have been many vets with vivid flashbacks and other problems that can contribute to this kind of event.
 

miloblithe

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From what I've heard and read, the percentage of troops considered by the military to be psychologically unfit to return to duty in Iraq is substantial. It's high (maybe 10%) even among elite troops (rangers, etc), and can only be higher among regular troops and guardsmen.
 

miloblithe

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Nov 14, 2003
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Iraq is not ripe for democracy, no. I was listening to the radio and a U.S. colonel was talking about how, obviously, it's not in our interests to release information on where the polling stations would be, or even how many polling stations there would be. And reading about candidates and how they have to campaign in secret--not even revealing their names--because campaigning in the open would cost them their lives.

This is not, in any meaningful way, going to be an election.
 

Desertrat

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Jul 4, 2003
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I never saw combat, but in my 1954-1958 time in the Army I met many who had "seen the elephant" in WW II and in Korea. In the very few discussions of "battle fatigue", a shrug was the more common "answer", along with, "Well, there's just no way to know how it'll get to ya."

Some folks can make a wall around the Bad Scenes, compartmentalizing their emotions. Others can't. It's not any issue of good or bad; it's just poeple being different...

I had a buddy who'd retired from the Army as a Green Beret Master Sergeant. Five full rows of ribbons, with more Purple Hearts than there was room on the ribbon for oak leaf clusters. Two Silver Stars. Thirteen years in SE Asia. 83 insertions behind NVA lines. MAC/SOG sneaky-pete stuff. (I'd read his 201 file.)

Sounds like a Hard Charger, right? In the late 1980s, he was still waking up screaming from nightmares. You just never know.

OTOH, my father went into Europe in August of 1944 and fought on through VE Day. He was in charge of that patrol that got to the Remagen Bridge ahead of Patton. It was not until his death that I learned of his Bronze Star and Purple Heart. After the war, he came back and went to work and kept on with his life with no particular comment about "those days". A few minor stories, usually "humorized" for entertainment value...

You just never know...

'Rat
 

Desertrat

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Aw, "the busies" and some house guests and all that. Even cut back on moderating over at The High Road for a while. There's a real world out there, as well as the Internet. :D

'Rat
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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Deja f---ing vu.

I'm old enough to remember when soldiers came home from Vietnam and did stuff like this, enough to give Americans the impression that most Vietnam vets were messed up in the head.

Believe me, whenever this nightmare of a war is over, we will have exactly the same kind of problems we had back then: plenty of soldiers returning home requiring psychological help. And for some of them it won't work, and we'll be reading occasional stories about some Iraq veteran "gone psycho".

I feel bad for the guys who get so screwed up from the horrors they suffer over there; I feel sorry for their unwitting victims; and I feel sorry for all the vets who end up suffering suspicious looks because of stuff like this.

And as far as I'm concerned, you can blame that cop's death on George W. Bush, however indirectly.
 

SPG

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Besides the usual horrors of war, think of how much it is compounded for those guys who went to Iraq thinking that they were hunting down the terrorists who attacked us in 2001 only to get caught up in a brutal occupation. That's got to be a hell of a hit to take when you find out that the reasons you came to fight for were a hoax. I guess in WWII the reasons for fighting were clear at the end of the war.
 

Desertrat

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SPG, I have no way of knowing how many guys in Iraq will think or do think that being there is part of a hoax.

I do know that it's not universal, based on articles in Soldier of Fortune magazine. (I don't have much use for the ads, like most folks don't.) There are too many positive interviews by guys who've been in combat and who were bloodied in combat, of guys who are now under the gun.

As near as I can tell from various sources, the apparent consensus among US troops is that the aim of the mission is valid.

'Rat
 

mactastic

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Desertrat said:
SPG, I have no way of knowing how many guys in Iraq will think or do think that being there is part of a hoax.

I do know that it's not universal, based on articles in Soldier of Fortune magazine. (I don't have much use for the ads, like most folks don't.) There are too many positive interviews by guys who've been in combat and who were bloodied in combat, of guys who are now under the gun.

As near as I can tell from various sources, the apparent consensus among US troops is that the aim of the mission is valid.

'Rat
And as near as I can tell from various sources, the apparent consensus among US residents is that GWB should be president. Doesn't mean everyone feels that way though...
 

Thanatoast

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Desertrat said:
As near as I can tell from various sources, the apparent consensus among US troops is that the aim of the mission is valid.
How do they feel about how they were led there, though? Doesn't that count for anything? That was the biggest bait and switch in history. I suppose if you're going through hell for something you have to believe in it to make it make sense. Were these issues addressed in your reading?

BTW, good to see you back :)
 

takao

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Desertrat said:
As near as I can tell from various sources, the apparent consensus among US troops is that the aim of the mission is valid.
perhaps ...

the only one i know personally in the region is somewhere in kuwait (an internet friend of my mother) isn't very happy there at all...
his hopes were rather big before the 2nov ;)


(but i have to admit the souveniers available there which we got sent as christmas presents to our family are a _blast_...sadly i wasn't fast enough to get my hands on the "operation iraqy freedom" t-shirt ;) )
 

IJ Reilly

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I still have a very cheesy "US OUT OF IRAQ!" t-shirt somebody gave me back in 1991. I had no idea it would become so fashionable again.
 

Desertrat

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Call all this "guesstimation", okay?

During the latter stages of Vietnam, I think a lot of the guys there were really hacked at how they were being wasted. I use that term in both ways: Killed, and not utilized in a proper military manner. Example: Take a hill; leave; retake the hill with more guys getting killed, believing they'll just pull off once more.

In Iraq, I think, a helluva high percentage of the guys are proud of the way we cut through Saddam's forces. Now, they see progress in those areas away from the Sunni Triangle. Lights, running water, hospitals, schools. Guys in those areas see a positive picture in line with Bush's stated aims.

In the Sunni Triangle? I don't know about how many believe in their mission and how many just want way away and right away. If there are any grins and if there's any bitching, the morale is generally okay. Your typical GI is gonna bitch if you were to hang him with a new rope.

I think the "hoax" aspect will come in if for whatever reason we give up and quit.

But, hey, this is just a bunch of surmise.

One thing about SOF magazine: Those reporters have the respect of the troops. The GIs know the background of these guys, and from a military point of view they're an impressive bunch. SOF reporters are gonna get more of the straight, honest opinion from the troops than any civilian type.

Parenthetically, I ignore the glorification stuff in SOF, and have sorta trained myself to just not really see the ads (same as for TV, for that matter). Most of the ads appeal to what are called "Gunshow Commandos": Overweight clowns who wear camo outfits and walk around gunshows with scowls on their faces, "looking bad". If they had to run a hundred yards, they'd make fifty on their feet and the next fifty on a gurney.

But SOF articles are indeed informative.

'Rat
 

SPG

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I suppose there are a lot of guys who think we're doing the right thing in Iraq. I really don't know if that's the majority or not 'cause I hear plenty of stories about guys who aren't happy about it...then again I stopped reading Soldier of Fortune in Junior High so I don't get too much exposure to the guns and glory crowd.
I'm not optimistic about how these guys will feel when we wind up abandoning Iraq to a bloody civil war or after we grind on taking casualties from IEDs for another ten years and wind up with the same result. History will not look favorably at this episode and I doubt that the participants will be especially proud of the way it turns out even if they do maintain a bit of pride about their own actions.
 

IJ Reilly

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Support for War in Iraq Hits New Low

Most no longer back the administration's basis for invading, but a majority say U.S. troops should stay longer to assist with stabilization.

January 19, 2005

WASHINGTON — Support for the war in Iraq has continued to erode, but most Americans still are inclined to give the Bush administration some time to try to stabilize the country before it withdraws U.S. troops, the Los Angeles Times Poll has found.

The poll, conducted Saturday through Monday, found that the percentage of Americans who believed the situation in Iraq was "worth going to war over" had sunk to a new low of 39%. When the same question was asked in a similar poll in October, 44% said it had been worth going to war.

But when asked whether the United States should begin withdrawing troops after Iraq's election Jan. 30, 52% said the administration should wait to see what the new Iraqi government wanted. More than a third, 37%, said the United States should begin drawing down at least some of its troop strength.

Americans are almost evenly divided over how long U.S. forces should stay in Iraq, the poll found: 47% said they would like to see most of the troops out within a year, while 49% say they could support a longer deployment — including 37% who say the troops should remain "as long as it takes" to secure and stabilize the country.

The results suggest that while Americans have grown more pessimistic about the chances for success in Iraq, most are willing to give President Bush some time to try to turn the operation into a success.

"We are seeing lower support for the war, but I would have expected it to be even lower … given that the main rationale for the war — the weapons of mass destruction — turned out not to be there," said John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University who is an authority on wartime public opinion.

Mueller noted that support for the war had been falling gradually since the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, but that the erosion had not produced a majority in favor of early troop withdrawals.

"Support for this war is now lower than support for the Vietnam War was at the Tet offensive," Mueller said, citing the 1968 battles that were a turning point in U.S. public opinion then. "But in Vietnam [after Tet], the war continued for several years, and many people continued to support it through enormous casualties."

In Iraq, he noted, the number of U.S. casualties has been far lower than in Vietnam, a probable reason that public pressure for withdrawal has not mounted higher.

On the other hand, public support for increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq — a proposal Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and several other members of Congress have made — is negligible, the poll found. Only 4% of respondents said they would favor increasing American forces after the Iraqi election.

Respondents to The Times poll were downbeat about the results of the war in Iraq on several counts.

Asked which side — the United States or the anti-American insurgents — was winning the war or if it was a stalemate, 58% said that neither side appeared to have the upper hand, while 29% said they believed the United States was winning and 10% said the insurgents were winning.

Respondents were divided on whether the Jan. 30 election was likely to be a turning point leading to a significant improvement in Iraq's stability: 31% said they thought it would have a positive effect, 34% said they expected no significant effect, and 27% said they thought the election would actually lead to more violence.

Respondents also were divided on whether the election would help advance democracy in the Middle East, one of the Bush administration's main goals: 47% said it would probably advance democracy, but 45% said it probably would not.

But 59% said they favored holding the election on schedule despite fears of violence on election day. Over a third, or 35%, said the vote should be postponed.

Almost half, or 45%, said they believed the war had destabilized the Middle East; 24% said they thought it had a stabilizing effect. In April 2003, 52% thought that military action against Iraq would stabilize the situation in the Middle East.

And a large majority, 65%, said they believed the war in Iraq had harmed the United States' image around the world. Only 10% said the U.S. image had been helped.

The Times poll, supervised by polling director Susan Pinkus, surveyed 1,033 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-iraqpoll19jan19,0,7592168.story
 

Lyle

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Jun 11, 2003
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blackfox said:
Opinions? Comments?
A follow-up on the original story, for what it's worth:
CNN said:
Raya, who drove a truck in the Marines, spent seven months in Iraq in 2004, and family members said he told them he did not want to return.

But he had a "significant amount" of cocaine in his system when he was killed, and a video camera left behind at a school burglary indicates that he was a member of an area youth gang, Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jason Woodman said Sunday.

In addition, the next destination for Raya's unit is Okinawa, Japan, and not Iraq, Woodman said. He said Raya never saw combat in Iraq, nor did he take part in the assault on Falluja in November, as he had told relatives.

"There's a lot of tough talk that goes on with a young man," Woodman said. "It does appear that he may have misled them a little bit about his involvement over in Iraq."
It doesn't make the story any less tragic, but it perhaps sheds more light on how it came to this.
 

Zaid

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Feb 17, 2003
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^^^^^^^
IJ Reilly said:
Does it even matter any more?
Bush has already stated that "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," and with a republican dominated congress ...

I reckon monkey boy's second term is going to be interesting*
It would seem that he thinks he can now just do whatever the hell he wants, and whats worse is that he'd be right.

*Interesting in the kind of way that makes you wish for a return to american isolationism