Chapter 29- Half A World Away

Afghanistan flag, American flag, United States Marine Corps flag

Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.

Afghanistan, June 2010, AUP Station in the Town of Delaram

My heart changed after I saw those men and the torture they had experienced in the name of…War? Oil? Family? Religion? Unbridled hate? Mental illness? It made no sense to me.

When I joined the Marine Corps, everyone in my hometown was stunned. I grew up as a peace-loving hippie. I wore flowy skirts and a bell anklet that jingled when I stepped. I sang in the church choir, played the flute (and oboe and piccolo) in the marching band, was in Latin Club, and attempted to play soccer. I listened to music and read my heart out. To the typical outsider, I was just a normal Georgian country girl.

However, to people who truly knew me, I was severely…unhappy. My family wasn’t fantastic. I grew up with alcoholic parents and a father who was an emotional abuser who wasn’t afraid to hit me. I attempted suicide when I was 16 and ended up in the ICU for a few days before being sent to a mental hospital for the mandated 72 hours. My church had rescinded their offer for me to be the youth elder, and people would avoid me in the hallways at school. A year of therapy later, my boyfriend would be murdered after a fight we had and I would only be able to remember the last thing I said to him; “I hate you.” I had to leave my hometown.

Everyone said I couldn’t be a Marine, that I wasn’t strong enough, or hard enough. I forged my mother’s signature when I was 17 and graduated high school early. While everyone in my class walked across the stage and got their high school diploma, I was leading Marines in communications school. And I was great. I was proving everyone wrong.

In Afghanistan, less than two years after my high school graduation, I was seeing the ruins of men who had probably never driven a five-speed recklessly through the country-side, who had never gone streaking on their high school football field, who had never picked honeysuckle from the vine and sucked its sweet juices from the flower.  I didn’t know what it was like to grow up in a land of sand and sweat. I knew nothing of them but what the insides of their elbows looked like. But I know they felt the same fear that I did. I know they felt pain. And I know that my disgust with the human race, to include myself, would only grow.

I’m not sure what happened when I walked back inside the compound. I probably wandered back to the cot that held my pack and unhooked my flak. I’m sure I grabbed water and maybe some food since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Maybe I talked to Virkler about the men. I don’t know. I was so inside my own head, seeing the men’s screaming eyes and broken bodies, so that I was just going through the motions. I was trying to contemplate the circumstances of death and…why. This was no longer training. It was no longer something I heard about as tales from seasoned Marines. The war was real now.

I wanted to throw up. I wanted to run. I wanted to be held. I wanted to cry and hold their broken bodies.

And I wanted to kill. I wanted to use my thumbs and poke into the eye sockets of the men who murdered the innocent civilians. I wanted to see their eyes ripped out of their sockets while they screamed and know that I did it and that they felt pain for what they did. An eye for an eye makes the world blind? I didn’t fucking care. I was reduced to same as primal hate that caused those murderers to kill.

When Sgt. P said we were going to conduct a night patrol within an hour, I was ready.

Continue Reading In Chapter 30…