Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How Human Are We?

It's time for another one of those posts. Yep, the kind of post that gets nutjobs at places like Vanity Fair all up in a tizzy. Maybe I'm pushing too far with this one- I'm writing about something that I feel many of you can never understand.

I left the billets early tonight for the mission. I racked my machine gun in the cradle, and sat on top of the truck. I plugged in my iPod, took a sip of coffee, and sat back to watch the sunset. Somehow, the setting sun always seems to look better here than at home; the sunsets are the one beautiful thing about this place. I watch as the dying sun slowly sinks, its rays falling across sand, mud, guard towers, satellite dishes, and all the other things that have come to mean home for a time. The sky is brilliant with golds and crimsons- here and there a tendril of flame licks up a wisp of cloud.

Some say the world will end in fire/Some say in ice/From what I've tasted of desire/I hold with those who favor fire

The sun has set, and Venus shines low in the sky in poor reflection. The others are starting to straggle out to the vehicles. It's time to prep for the mission. Tonight, we're going back up into the general area where we lost three of ours so shortly ago- not the same road- and this is the first time we've been back that way. I look around at my friends and try to read their faces. They could be scared, and most of us are, a little. They could be numb- just doing their job. Again, most of us are, a little. However, I think that most of us are out for blood. It might sound horrible, inhuman, even medieval, but the fact of the matter is that someone out there killed friends of ours, and we're going back into a place where we just might get the guy that did it. We'll never know if it was him, of course, but there's always the chance that we'll even the scales unknowingly.

Killing is not natural to sane people, no matter how often it has happened over eons. There are many ways that you can reconcile yourself in some way to the idea of killing another human. You can think of it as duty- you have a job, and that job requires violence. You can hate- the easiest of all excuses, and the most exhausting. You can look at it as simple survival- if you don't kill him, then he'll kill you. However you justify it, you are still in a war, and people will still die. It wears on everyone- the American deaths, the "collateral damage" we inflict on people in the wrong place at the wrong time, the innocents killed when some faceless murderer blows himself up in a crowd. Yes, even the enemy dead take their toll.

The headphones sing-
If I ever leave this world alive/I'll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight/Wherever I am you'll always be/More than just a memory/If I ever leave this world alive

One more mission.
One more chance to find a bomb.
One more chance to save a life.
One more chance to take one.

One more chance to die.


  1. Only those in the fight know the real hell of war and the real value of peace. God speed TD.

  2. I think I understand enough to know we are indebted to you all for doing the job.
    I wouldn't understand if you weren't out for a little blood. It's how we are wired. Eye for an eye and all. Do what you have to do and take care of yourself.

  3. (the deed of gift was many deeds of war)

    Thank you, and God bless.

  4. There's nothing better than getting up on a Sunday morning,sitting with a cup of coffee, and reading one of your thoughtful posts. I agree with Maxx and the Historian. For the love of God, keep your head down, don't get your ass shot off, prayers,etc.

  5. Take care, TD. Take good care.

  6. i wish more people read this blog td. it is important. and real. and vital. be safe. and honey? get 'em if you can!! yeah, that....

    smiles, bee

  7. Keep up the good work; rack that crew served and do your duty. If we get the right chance all will be righted as best we can. Back soon.


  8. td, one more thing, i checked and you are in FIRST place in the milibloggies today! and badger6 is 3rd... great going guys!

    smiles, bee

  9. What a thoughtful post, I am more impressed with you each day. Do what you need to do, keep the faith, and get your self home safe. We love you guys. I am going to direct my readers to your site today.

  10. Good Sunday morning Teflon Don.
    I found you from Sarge Charlie's blog, and am glad I did.
    You are an absolutely beautiful writer. You made me "see" and made me "feel" and made me "understand" because of the power and imagery of your words.
    Thank you for protecting our country.

  11. Powerful writing. While I will never completely understand b/c I am not there, you have helped me to see things through you eyes and increased my understanding by just a bit.

    Take Care!

  12. Teflon Don,
    I read the rest of your posts on your front page.
    Child, (I only say that because I'm in my late 40's - and your picture looks so young and innocent it's heartbreaking) you ought to turn this blog into a book when you get home !
    Do you KNOW how evocative you are with your writing ???
    Vanity Fair can go choke on their ignorance !
    I'm visualizing you all safe and sound.
    And I'm adding you to my links ! Whatever is in your soul that makes you YOU is special.

  13. teflon don,

    hmmm, and i thought what you said was beautiful.

    Ya'll be careful out there. you are thought of and cared for and big time heroes back here at home. i don't care what the f@&%tards in washington say, that is fact.

    anyhow, freedom through military victory. good luck.

  14. You explain it well to those of us who cannot understand. But I respect you and thank you for what you do. And I never judge.

  15. As always, I thank you for your thoughtful writing. And for serving our great country. I pray for your safety every day.

  16. Its been 35 years since I sat in your seat bud, feels like yesterday.

    Do your job, stay focused and let God sort everything else out in his own time. I have always believed in good and evil and the confrontation of evil is any good soldier's job. I am confident you will live up to your brother's long history of duty and honor.

    We will all keep you in our prayers .

  17. Such eloquence! You always leave me speechless, but thoughtful.

  18. To quote what appears to be your favorite poet, "Freedom is moving easy in harness." I think you've got it. God bless.

  19. Anonymous19/2/07 10:26

    As always, I wish that I had your talent for evocative description.

    But I think that vengeance is quite human and is very understandable where you are. I think that it needs to be checked so it doesn't consume, but I don't think you should feel bad about experiencing it. I know that soldiers fight for country, family and of course freedom. But even more you fight for the guy beside you. Why wouldn't you feel vengeneance?

    I hope that you don't mind getting advice from someone who considers herself a liberal, but just in balance, don't let the negative take over. Stay centered. Stay safe. Stay sane.

    I don't think that we should've gotten into this war. But we are there now. And I think that the politician's should do something that they should've done from the beginning. Get the heck out of your way to let you win. So, there is a liberal view that you probably don't hear very often, but it does exist. I'm going to go hug a tree now.

  20. At last! A writer with the quality of Colby Buzzell; your words reach all readers and your perception touches all hearts. God's speed to you and your fellow warriors. Our respect and appreciation run very deep.

  21. Ti leggo dall'Italia e penso che anche qui dovrebbero leggerti in molti.Good luck.

  22. I found your blog through Random Dreamer and am very glad I did. My son is over there and your blog helps me feel it's not quite so far away.

    Life here is much too disconnected from the war.

    Thank you for everything you are doing.

  23. Thank you. My son, sitting at the Miramar Brig, would tell me "good to go" I am sure, on your comments. He and his squad mates had to run this gauntlet in their minds in Hamdania.

  24. "You can look at it as simple survival -- if you don't kill him, then he'll kill you."

    The above is what kept me in the game and sane, long ago and far away.

    Fear, anger, hate all have their part but if you rely on them they will let you down and screw you up.

    To be able to stay alive, you have to be at the top of your game. You have to use all your senses, all your intuition, all your training.

    And you can't do that if your full of fear, hate and anger.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas
    Oh, you left one out..."One more chance to stay alive".

  25. Anonymous21/2/07 19:36

    I come to you by way of Blackfive. I'm staying because of your writing.

    A dear friend who served over a year ago had to shoot an attacker who opened his assault with a grenade at the gate. He said he shot the man even though he wasn't aiming at him. All I could think to say was that the attacker was aiming at his brother, which was worse.

    I doubt those few words were enough to settle his troubled mind but he did politely indulge me. But then again, he never talked about it again. The few more times I tried, very tentatively, to bring it up, he quickly changed the subject.

    I know that every soldier finds his own way to cope, at least for the time being. It's the dealing with the memories later....

    I know that for now, the dot of the evolution point of my ability to understand what My Soldiers endure is still far too close to the beginning. I will never stop trying. Nor will I stop trying to somehow make it better.

  26. I found you through Badger 6, and like others, kept reading because of the quality of your incredibly evocative writing.

    I won't pretend I understand what it's like for you over there--I know I can't imagine it. So I'll just say that I think the desire for revenge--"to get the guy who did it"--is entirely understandable in the circumstances. People can control how they act, but they can't control how they feel.

    Keep writing--and a shout out to a fellow Flogging Molly fan:

    You said that it would
    Now everything should
    Be all right....

    Stay safe.

  27. Love Robert Frost - he's been one of my favorite poets since I was a kid.

    Stay safe.

  28. I found you via Sarge Charlie and am very pleased to make your acquaintance.
    You men and women mean the world to me and my husband and we are keeping you in our prayers collectively and individually as we get to know you.
    Your writing makes the war so much more personal and your words are electric. I will put your link on my blog and send it to as many of my friends as I can.

  29. Anonymous22/2/07 12:53

    Wow! This really touched me. My son just left to Iraq a few days ago. I came to your site via Blackfive - and I'm here to stay. Stay safe and God bless you and all our soldiers! Army Mom in California.

  30. Gordon, I never read this post before for some reason... I'm glad I finally did.
    I wish I could be there for that day when whoever is responsible for killing my man was killed.
    I know that sounds sick, but I'm serious!
    I'm praying for you. Come home safe and sound!

  31. an eye for an eye, right?

    plus i love that you're listening to flogging molly.

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