Join 3,552 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Phone call from Iraq
October 28, 2005 10:47 AM   Subscribe

"Hey Mom it’s me." Something my son always said every time he called, but this time his voice sounded unusual. He had a really serious tone in his voice and the automatic gunfire in the background was loud and more constant than usual. My heart began to race and I took a deep breath. "Hey, I'm trapped on a rooftop and I don't think we are going to make it out of here, so I just called to tell you that I loved you and that I am thinking of all of you."
posted by caddis (114 comments total)

 
One more reason it is time to go home.
posted by caddis at 10:47 AM on October 28, 2005


Good lord, it reads like it's like a videogame. The Iraqis got killed in the fly-over, right?
posted by Peter H at 10:53 AM on October 28, 2005


He called his mommy when he thought he was going to die? What a fag! My mom would threaten to bury me in a dress and then hang up.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:53 AM on October 28, 2005


This is awfully touching and all, but... I'm not a militarily-minded person, but aren't there good reasons that soldiers shouldn't be communicating with civilians from the battlefield? I mean, let's say this guy was high-ranking and the other side had somehow tapped his parents' phone line, and something he said gave away tactical details? Farfetched in this scenario, but you know....
posted by gurple at 10:57 AM on October 28, 2005


He had time to place an international call during a fire-fight? Was it a casual fire-fight? Did anyone serve drinks? smoked weiners?
posted by Pecinpah at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2005


One more reason it is time to go home.

Because soldiers contact their family from the front lines? I'd thought they'd been doing that for hundreds of years, via letters, couriered messages, email and even phones.
posted by dhoyt at 10:59 AM on October 28, 2005


OnStar: Hello, OnStar.

Customer: I'm trapped in an unarmored Humvee and there are insurgents all around me!

OnStar: I’m unlocking the vehicle now, sir.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:01 AM on October 28, 2005


but aren't there good reasons that soldiers shouldn't be communicating with civilians from the battlefield?

Yeah. Like getting distracted, teary-eyed or nervous and being unable to kill because you're talking to your kids or your mom.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:02 AM on October 28, 2005


"Um, excuse me Ali, Hassan, could you guys hold it down, I'm trying to talk to my mom?"
posted by Pollomacho at 11:03 AM on October 28, 2005


Maybe his mom could have yelled at the bad guys... tell them to play nice?
posted by Tacitus at 11:06 AM on October 28, 2005


This is kinda cool in a fucked up kind of way.

Glad he made it off the roof alive.

BRING THEM HOME. There is no point to what these soldiers are being asked to do. Iraq is not our country. We have no business being there. There is no victory to win.
The only victory is coming home alive.

Cut and run from this foreign policy mistake. Run like hell.
posted by three blind mice at 11:08 AM on October 28, 2005


I'll send $100 to anyone that posted prior to this that has either 1. been in Iraq, or 2. has a son, daughter, husband, or wife in iraq. (other than Caddis, who seems to get it, for that my thanks).
posted by HuronBob at 11:10 AM on October 28, 2005


and... three blind mice, he gets it too...thanks
posted by HuronBob at 11:11 AM on October 28, 2005


How about a father --

I'll email you with my PayPal info.
posted by dhoyt at 11:12 AM on October 28, 2005


Don't get me wrong, HB -- hell, if I were out there in that situation and I had a phone, I'm sure I'd do the same thing the soldier did. I'm just genuinely curious -- seems like there would be issues.
posted by gurple at 11:16 AM on October 28, 2005


dhoyt, my best to you, and to your dad... I wish him a safe return

but... i actually left out father and mother on purpose... I probably should have left out spouses too, but that relationship seemed to fit what I was thinking.
posted by HuronBob at 11:17 AM on October 28, 2005


Mayor Curley, STFU, please.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 AM on October 28, 2005


Curley, I think you're starting to lose it buddy.

This "it's the soldiers' fault" bit you've been pushing is getting pretty untenable. If you think that having a standing army is unncecessary, you're as naive as you are reactionary.

I know we've had this go round before, but these people are being used, and misused.
posted by stenseng at 11:18 AM on October 28, 2005


i had no idea they could make calls from the battlefield like that.
posted by bliss322 at 11:19 AM on October 28, 2005


stenseng, the mayor dosen't care waht he's pushing. He just likes sounding "outrageous," because he thinks it impresses people.
posted by jonmc at 11:20 AM on October 28, 2005


I'm not sure about it all. I mean, its nice that he wanted to say good bye and all, but look what it is doing to his parents. How many false alarms will they stand?

-Hey mom, I just gotten my leg blown off and I'm bleeding to death, just wanted to say I love you.. Oh, wait, the medic is here... Nevermind, he says its just a scratch..
posted by c13 at 11:20 AM on October 28, 2005


I hate it when I do that... sweeping generalizations that is.. gurple, your comment didn't bother me... and, I didn't mean to be snarky towards anyone else as well... My thought was coming from the perspective of a parent who has lost a child.. that article tore right at me...
I intended to encourage folks, no matter how they felt about the war, to consider carefully how they respond to this...

sorry folks... long week, lots of stress....
posted by HuronBob at 11:20 AM on October 28, 2005


Mayor Curley = Asshat.

See above.
posted by BeerGrin at 11:21 AM on October 28, 2005


Lotta sarcasm here for a guy who wanted to say goodbye to his mother before being shot to death in a country half the world away before his life even really got started.

Must be nice to be as clever as all of you.
posted by xmutex at 11:23 AM on October 28, 2005


dhoyt, my best to you, and to your dad... I wish him a safe return

He's been back two years. But he was able to email me with regularity while outside Baghdad, and plenty of marines around him were able to make phonecalls from time to time. I dunno about in the middle of a firefight, but certainly anything's possible. The linked letter was touching, but neither stirs a "That's why we need to bring 'em home!" or "That's why we need to stay the course!" sentiment in me. The history of war is full of moments & emotions like this one, though technology will continue to alter things.
posted by dhoyt at 11:25 AM on October 28, 2005



re: didn't know they could do that.


These guys have sat-phones, but it's definitely not the norm for those to be off-base. Also, I can gaurantee if his higher ups heard about this, they'd give him a serious dressing down. Sets a bad example, as you might imagine.
posted by Parannoyed at 11:30 AM on October 28, 2005


Wow, how tough it must have been for his mom to be on the other end and helpless.

I'm glad he made it out alive that time and hope he continues to do so until he makes it all the way out alive and intact.

The reality and surreality of it must have been all but unbearable. And probably still is.
posted by fenriq at 11:33 AM on October 28, 2005


For fuck's sake, I was joking about the absurd quality of calling a loved one during a gun fight. I have never used the term "fag" earnestly in my life. And my mother would not threaten to bury me in a dress-- she would nag me about something. Possibly about how stupid I was to agree to protect US business interests with my life.

(The last sentence was inserted just because the folks that were correcting me secretly wanted me to do it so they could get more indignant. I seriously didn't intend to mention my "they're reaping what they sow" position until those three fucking prigs above starting pointing to the chips on their shoulders.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:33 AM on October 28, 2005


I'm with Mayor Curley. Why should we believe this isn't fabricated propaganda?
posted by driveler at 11:34 AM on October 28, 2005


three fucking prigs above starting pointing to the chips on their shoulders.)

Well said, Captain Irony, owner of enough shoulder chips to build a treehouse.
posted by jonmc at 11:35 AM on October 28, 2005


Well, I guess I'm not really with the Mayor. But I still call bullshit on this story.
posted by driveler at 11:36 AM on October 28, 2005


Revision

Mayor Curley > asshat.

I was kind of surprised. he has seemed a good dude previousl
posted by BeerGrin at 11:37 AM on October 28, 2005


For what its worth, Mayor Curley, I thought your original comment was intended as humor and (yes) actually laughed. It struck me as a Colonel from Monty Python sort of thing.

---

As for the article, hope the family is reunited soon. While the story does set off my B.S. alarm just a little bit, if it is true, well, damn, what a situation for the mother to be in. And, of course, the soldier.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:40 AM on October 28, 2005


driveler, I'm skeptical too. But it could have happened.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:42 AM on October 28, 2005


It was even before Gulf War I, Huron, does that still count?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:44 AM on October 28, 2005


"He had time to place an international call during a fire-fight? Was it a casual fire-fight? Did anyone serve drinks? smoked weiners?"

My god, aren't some of you people snarky? If it were your son over there you would be damn glad to have the chance to talk with him before he died. I wouldn't care how many false alarms I got, if I got to hear his voice before he died it would all be worth it. I'm amazed he could call but glad he could and glad this is something families have to help them deal with it all.

That was horrible to read. I don't know how people with family members over there survive day to day. If I knew my daughter was in constant danger like that with nothing I could do about it, I think I would die from the stress and sadness.
posted by aacheson at 11:50 AM on October 28, 2005


I wouldn't care how many false alarms I got, if I got to hear his voice before he died it would all be worth it.

I wouldn't have called. Just saying...
posted by c13 at 11:52 AM on October 28, 2005


A very sappy story from a far-left site called Buzzflash.com, if this were on the red side everyone would be calling this out as fake. Google hasn't found any credible articles (i.e. non-blog related) on this author.

I'm also surprised as others have commentated, on the ability a soldier would have to make an international call from a satellite phone from a fire fight. This is the same military that used to open up and go through people's letters to make sure they didn't give anything away? I realize technology has taken away the ability for the military to censor like they used to, but unencrypted sattelite communication that relays to international networks? Even if it was his perhaps a clandestine sat phone he bought, don't those have to be aimed and set up to communicate, or are they at the point where they operate exactly like cell phones?

I also agree with C13, who the hell gives their parents scares like that. It's kind of sick in a way, along with the fact that instead of being resourceful and figuring out a way to escape the situation resigned himself to calling his parents. I'm not expecting Rambo, but come on. I don't know any soldier who'd do that, but I do know journalists on both the left and the right who might embellish or completely fabcricate a story for their cause.
posted by geoff. at 11:54 AM on October 28, 2005


Parannoyed:
These guys have sat-phones, but it's definitely not the norm for those to be off-base.

It's probably an Iraqna pay-as-you-go phone. Really spotty service, but cheap and available in a lot of places. Troops aren't technically supposed to have / use them but they do anyway. I was a contractor so it didn't really matter. If you've got the cash it's a much more convenient option than the phone banks on base.

I had one memorable call with my parents one night on an Iraqna phone.

"Sorry mom, I've got to call you back. Wires got crossed again and there's some guy talking about a bomb on the other end"

"Sorry mom, it's hailing and the phone won't work in my hooch"

"*loud explosion about 20 m away* Sorry mom, rockets again, I better get to a shelter."

"*50cal fire in the background* Sorry dad, I better go" [somebody was making a run on the base entrance and I wanted to get back to the command center]

My dad told me later that my mom had a fit when she got off the phone. I tried to keep things to email from then on.
posted by xthlc at 11:56 AM on October 28, 2005


I agree that people are becoming too cynical about these stories. I pray for the young man's safety from both the war and from roaming charges.
posted by horsewithnoname at 11:59 AM on October 28, 2005


Forgot to mention that the Iraqna phones are just normal GSM mobiles. I popped one of the SIM cards into my SE T610 and it worked just fine. I eventually switched back to the Iraqna phone though because the antenna was much better (which turned out to be very important).
posted by xthlc at 12:00 PM on October 28, 2005


Also, sat phones are available and widely used, although typically not by your average soldier. They work just like cell phones, except they're a bit bigger with a fat antenna, less reliable, don't work indoors, and stupid expensive (like $1.50 per minute).
posted by xthlc at 12:04 PM on October 28, 2005


uh, hi! First post.

Wasn't the crux of the piece the media silence/censorship? She has first hand knowledge of battles that go unreported despite 24 hour news coverage?

I think that's the essential point, though it is wearying to maintain outrage over that old hat.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:06 PM on October 28, 2005


I may be snarky because I served my time (during the last 'Gulf War') as a medical corpsman attached to the Marines (Semper Fi), and a story about some dumb kid calling his mother during a firefight just strikes me as foolish. That's a phenominal way to get the guy next to you killed. Jackass.

HuronBob: Sorry to hear about your loss, and you can keep your hundred bucks.

aacheson: You can fucking shove it.
posted by Pecinpah at 12:11 PM on October 28, 2005


In lieu of really knowing whether the story is bogus or not, it does show the power of propaganda. There are ways of appealing to people that are pretty much guaranteed to get a response.
posted by 327.ca at 12:11 PM on October 28, 2005


First - true or not, I’d never do this to my mom. I wrote a letter with everything I wanted to say in it to be sent upon my death. Never happened. Just kept updating it.

Other than that all my calls home were pleasant. Even after some serious shit. I called my mom from the hospital because she was going nuts since she hadn’t heard from me in a while. I told her I was fine, just busy. Met a girl (not true) and all that so I was distracted. Not a damn thing wrong. Never saw combat. Wasn’t me. Our unit was just support. Taking it easy. Guarding the rear. Etc. etc.
Never would have called her from a meatgrinder.

Second. I probably would have been too preoccupied covering my ass and other asses to call home anyway.
If he were under me, once we got out of there - I wouldn’t have put it on his record (because I understand it) but I’d’ve slapped the living shit out of him for it. It’s not a McJob, you don’t punch out and take a break. It sounds like he’s regular infantry, so he should be better disciplined.

But it also sounds like he’s young enough that if he were at home he would be flipping burgers. The tragedy of war is they send kids to do men’s jobs.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:12 PM on October 28, 2005


Jeez, the responses in this thread. Have I wandered into LGF by mistake?
posted by jokeefe at 12:13 PM on October 28, 2005


armitage_shanks, that would be a glorious parody video.
posted by shoepal at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2005


If anything I think the story points out the lack of day-to-day reporting available to family about what's up in Iraq.

I'm reminded of this scene in Three Kings:

DARLENE: What was that?
TROY: The wall just exploded.
DARLENE: I thought the war was over, honey.
TROY: It is and it isn't, babe. Can you do me a favor and call the C.O. on base?
DARLENE: You want me to call the C.O.?
TROY: Tell him I'm stuck in a bunker near 223 north outside Karbala --
DARLENE: What do you mean 'stuck'? I thought the war was over.
TROY: I'm gonna be fine, honey, I don't want you to worry, I tried to do something for the family, and I want you to know --
DARLENE: Know what?
Another MORTAR SMASHES through the wall, covers Troy in dust.
TROY: That I love you.
DARLENE: What's happening, Troy?
TROY: Tell Krystal --
Soldiers push at the door, trying to open it.
DARLENE: Troy?
TROY: Tell Krystal I'm a rich man and if things work out she'll be taken care of no matter what --
DARLENE: What are you talking about?
The door is kicked open and soldiers enter.
TROY: Gotta go, gooney-bird, I love you--
The soldiers punch Troy in the face, drag him from the room.
DARLENE: Troy?
She waits for a moment, tears in her eyes, and hangs up.
posted by artlung at 12:21 PM on October 28, 2005


A very sappy story from a far-left site called Buzzflash.com
posted by geoff


If you think that Buzzflash is far-left, then you have led a very sheltered life, my friend. It's anything but far-left. It should actually be called MainstreamDemocrats.com.
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:23 PM on October 28, 2005


Hate the war.
Love the troops.

Mayor Curley... Here in Canada, we have a chain of stores called Canadian Tire. Big hardware chain. Maybe they have something similar on your planet. Pop in sometime. Find the paint section. On a shelf near the semi-gloss exterior latex, you'll find a bin of wooden-handled wire brushes. Pick one up -- biggest one you can find. Take it to the cash, pay for it. Take it home, find a quiet spot.

Then drop your pants and shove it right up your ignorant fucking ass, would you?

Mike
posted by Mike D at 12:24 PM on October 28, 2005


Novato? Only steers and queers there.
posted by pmbuko at 12:28 PM on October 28, 2005


Cut and run from this foreign policy mistake. Run like hell.

Isn't this the sort of thing that many on the left cited as the worst pattern in US foreign policy -- i.e. Afghanistan -- the sort of thing that "breeds terrorism"? While I share the wish that nobody should die a needless death, I just can't see how doing the cut and run move would do anything but empower those who would seek to do the US harm. Right or wrong, we did go into Iraq... and that means we have a responsibility to the people of Iraq, the citizens of the US and the world to leave it in a better way than we found it...

The truth of the matter is that there is no running from anything in the realm of foreign policy these days. It _will_ come back to us in one way or another.
posted by incongruity at 12:30 PM on October 28, 2005


Mike D: That suggestion isn't very nice. :(

This story sounds bogus to me.
posted by dsquid at 12:30 PM on October 28, 2005


Mike D,

It was a fucking joke, you fucking tool.
posted by Optamystic at 12:32 PM on October 28, 2005


and at that very moment this young man was being shelled on the rooftop not knowing whether he was going to live or die Exxon executives were laughing themselves silly on the floor of their boardroom that they were about to announce a 9 billion dollar increase in profits.
posted by any major dude at 12:34 PM on October 28, 2005


As I was reading the story, all I could think was "get off the stupid phone and protect yourself!". I, for one, don't think that a battlefield is the place for a cell phone.
posted by bluesky43 at 12:36 PM on October 28, 2005


It's amazing how people who've never been anywhere more dangerous than South Jersey know exactly what they would do if they honestly felt they were going to die any second.

As far as him scaring his mom - yeah, I guess he should have waited to see if he died first before calling her.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 12:48 PM on October 28, 2005


The new Harper's has a moving article by Frederick Busch about phone calls from his son, who is in Iraq.
posted by muckster at 12:55 PM on October 28, 2005


ditto bluesky43.

However, calling someone on the cell phone is probably a better response than panicking or freezing up.

incongruity, I was against this war when it started, for it when it looked like we could reach a point where we could handover power to the Iraqis with some safety at a later point, but what do we do if despite all our resources we're only making things worse?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:58 PM on October 28, 2005


oops, that should read... before it started.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:59 PM on October 28, 2005


Such a lot of sound and fury over a cellphone ad.
posted by Sparx at 1:01 PM on October 28, 2005


I had a guy who was stationed in Iraq bid on (and win) one of my Ebay auctions. Seriously. It was a part for an MG he is restoring back home in South Carolina. We exchanged a few e-mails and I just sent him the $25 part for free. Seemed like the least I could do. But it did make me wonder under what conditions he was surfing the Web.

And yes I am confident it was legit.
posted by punkfloyd at 1:06 PM on October 28, 2005


it's very unwise to begin an anti-Curley snark with the words "Here in Canada".
just sayin'
posted by matteo at 1:10 PM on October 28, 2005


you'll find a bin of wooden-handled wire brushes [...] shove it right up your ignorant fucking ass
It was a fucking joke, you fucking tool.

Now that's funny.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:25 PM on October 28, 2005


Curley made me laugh, which for me is enough. YMMV.

I similarly concur with finding it a questionable move to be making personal calls mid-firefight and personally subscribe to an ignorance-is-bliss philosophy. I can live without listening to one of my loved ones dying/getting shot/blowing up, even if it means the last time I heard their voice was a few days earlier. In the realm of Special Moments I Will Treasure Forever I don't think a death rattle via cellphone is gonna qualify.
posted by phearlez at 1:31 PM on October 28, 2005


if i know i'm down to my last few minutes, i'm pretty much going to do whatever the hell i want to do
posted by troybob at 1:54 PM on October 28, 2005


i'm pretty much going to do whatever the hell i want to do

"Operator? Yeah, can you connect me to the White House switchboard? Thanks..."
posted by matteo at 2:02 PM on October 28, 2005


“if i know i'm down to my last few minutes, i'm pretty much going to do whatever the hell i want to do”
posted by troybob at 1:54 PM PST on October 28 [!]


Reasonable in other situations. If others’ lives depend on how you react in a lethal situation and you decide to - do whatever - as opposed to covering the other men in your unit, I’d kill you myself.
(It’s why you have a sidearm)


*disclaimer* not that that is what the person in the article was doing. But it does seem fishy.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:02 PM on October 28, 2005


> finding it a questionable move to be making
> personal calls mid-firefight

You know NOTHING of the physical situation. If he's with a full squad, for instance, on a roof, with only a handful of lines of fire all of wihch are covered, then the fact that he's not on-trigger is irrelevant.
posted by spincycle at 2:25 PM on October 28, 2005


I've talked to soldiers in Iraq who were using their own sat phones.

Keep in mind that while many of the soldiers in the desert are kids, many of them are 30 - 40+ year old National Guard members, who may have had a comfortable lifestyle *before* being shipped overseas as though they had joined the full-time service. Thus, sat phones and laptops are a lot more ubiquitous than they might be if the field were filled with 18 year old recruits.

That said, the story itself is tragic because we're sacrificing so many people (on both sides), for no valid reason that I can find.

This one billion dollar a week war habit of the neocon chickenhawks is an addiction the country could have lived without.
posted by dejah420 at 2:27 PM on October 28, 2005


This one billion dollar a week war habit of the neocon chickenhawks is an addiction the country could have lived without.


Not these guys!
posted by matteo at 2:34 PM on October 28, 2005


My skepticism was triggered when the article referred to the brother having received voicemail from the soldier as well. I can understand wanting to get in touch with loved ones, but why call his mother and brother and *not* his dad?
posted by ooga_booga at 2:43 PM on October 28, 2005


I think it sounds kinda bogus. The thing that gets me about that post is how calm everyone appears to be.
"Hi, mom? It's me. I think I'm going to die now."

"You're a good man, son. I've been planning this speech for a while, thinking you might call when you were about to meet your Maker. How else could I spit out exactly the right words like this? I'm so proud of you."

"Thanks mom. I'm always thinking of you, because I'm a hallmark perfect son and surely wouldn't be swearing like a sailor right about now. I'm not thinking about my girlfriend or anything. No, I'm thinking about the woman who birthed me."

"You're a wonder, son. All those years of working underpaid jobs were worth it."

"Well, better go die now."

"Bye!"
I mean, possibly mom has tidied it up in the transcript, but it just seems a little...I dunno. No offense meant or anything, but it just smacks of parental fantasy.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:45 PM on October 28, 2005


Pecinpah, mellow the hell out. Telling me to "fucking shove it" because I am calling people snarky is so juvenile and reactive it seems like a joke. You look like a friggin idiot and fool by overreacting so much.

Since it didn't happen to you and you find the idea "foolish," well apparently that gives you the right to be a total asswipe. Whatever.

Who's to say what people will do when they think they're going to die? You took it "like a man" and protected your buddy, he called his mom, someone else takes a smoke, someone else dies firing shot after shot, someone else jerks off, someone else cries like a baby, someone else freezes and doesn't move, someone else prays. Who's to know what they will do?
posted by aacheson at 2:45 PM on October 28, 2005


“You know NOTHING of the physical situation. If he's with a full squad, for instance, on a roof, with only a handful of lines of fire all of wihch are covered, then the fact that he's not on-trigger is irrelevant.”
posted by spincycle at 2:25 PM PST on October 28 [!]


Don’t know if you’re addressing my comment(s) - since I did qualify them - but whatever situation he’s in, he should have his head in the game.
If the lines of fire are covered, if he’s got nothing to contribute, etc. - whatever the if’s are, while I understand his reaction, I’d like someone under me paying attention to the situation. The more intense the situation, the more serious about that I would be.
If it’s more drawn out and low key and they had nothing to do but wait on air support, swell.
But we do know SOME of the physical situation since it’s described.
The piece says he was actively firing and had to put the phone down to do so. This bothers the fuck out of me. It also says they were overrun earlier and had to retreat and are on a rooftop.
Also, if air support doesn’t come in in a minute they will all be dead. Going by that bit of physical description I’ll assume it’s not a low key encounter and the whole squad is engaged. Since, y’know rooftops have 360 degrees and getting flanked is no damn fun. I’d want every set of eyes and every idea I could get. You don’t need to be actively firing to contribute. In fact since he said they’re low on ammo I’d want as much selective fire as possible vs. supressive fire, which means LOTS more attention.



Worrying my mom that my life is in imminent danger is a personal decision not subject to debate. It’s not to my taste. He wants to live his life that way, it’s his business.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:52 PM on October 28, 2005


“Who's to know what they will do?”
posted by aacheson at 2:45 PM PST on October 28 [!]

Their non-coms.

They should be trained and be completely predictable under fire. You start crying like a baby or take a smoke break while were all being shot at and you are going to get others killed.


In what fucking way does the immorality of the war justify cowardice in the face of the enemy?
*disclaimer* not what happened here.

You are trained to do your job, at least in some branches of the service.

I have no idea how to convey to some of you just how crucial discipline is in a combat unit.

This discipline and the need for it has nothing to do with someone loving or being nice to his mom or that he’s scared he’s going to die or that Iraq was a bad move.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:00 PM on October 28, 2005


umm..tom clancy fantasy camp notwithstanding, i was simply trying to say (in light of some of what is said here) that personally, it's rather meaningless to me what people think of me after i'm gone, and i don't subscribe to the whole jesus afterlife thing, so those last minutes are mine free and clear...this, of course, does not presuppose that i would want to put the lives of others in danger
posted by troybob at 3:23 PM on October 28, 2005


"tom clancy fantasy camp notwithstanding"

Durwha?

"it's rather meaningless to me what people think of me after i'm gone, and i don't subscribe to the whole jesus afterlife thing, so those last minutes are mine free and clear."
posted by troybob at 3:23 PM PST on October 28 [!]


Yeah, I've probably had too much coffee today. Sorry.


So what you’re saying is - outside of a combat situation, you aren’t planning on making peace with God or sacrificing a chicken to AbaJobu or whatnot.

...what would you do with those last few minutes? I mean, would you call your mom or other loved one and say “Well, that’s it for me. See you.” or whatever, or would you do something else?
Just curious. No sarcasm here.

I’ve been there. I just kept swimming, having nothing better to do. I had nothing on me I could fuck around with like a game boy or anything.Call Vegas maybe. Max out your credit cards, bet it all on ‘00’ in roulette?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:33 PM on October 28, 2005


And the winner of the 2005 Momma's Boy Award goes to...
posted by nlindstrom at 3:36 PM on October 28, 2005


And the winner of the 2005 Momma's Boy Award goes to...

Presenting this award is nlindstrom the 2005 Pompous Judgemental Motherless Macho Man Asshat award winner.
posted by 27 at 3:52 PM on October 28, 2005


I can't really see any reaction to this essay ( or whatever the hell it is) except snarkiness.

What is the point of the piece? War is dangerous? The media didn't cover a fire fight even though someone's son thought he was going to die? War is bad because people might get hurt?

Christ on a crutch--the only reasonable remarks here were the really, really inappropriately funny ones.
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:55 PM on October 28, 2005


...not as much not worried about making peace with god, but just not particularly worried about the consequences of my last-minute actions in a keys-to-heaven kinda way, or in a what-will-people-think kinda way or what-will-i-leave behind kinda way...so if i feel like freaking out, maybe i'll freak out...or if someone vaguely karl-rove-ish were standing next to me, i might force them to face this question as well...if i thought calling family might not freak them out, i might do that...

i don't think i could honestly say ahead of time what i would do, though...just fantasize...

and it's nice you didn't actually end up 'there,' by the way
posted by troybob at 3:57 PM on October 28, 2005


"and it's nice you didn't actually end up 'there,' by the way"
posted by troybob at 3:57 PM PST on October 28 [!]


Thanks. Glad you're not dead either.


I dunno. I've always wanted to throw my feces at someone. Seriously. I suppose I'd fling poo at someone I didn't like as a last act.

...don't know what's prevented me up to this point. A sense of occasion perhaps. Decorum.


I don't think I'd freak out. If it were a plane going down or something. Something like that I'd get a Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove sort of thrill out of.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:17 PM on October 28, 2005


Hey, I was there last time around and saw some mild combat, (me being shot at by multiple unseen shooters) and I surely didn't have time to call my fuckin' Mom! I don't exactly think that this story is a fraud, but that guy is just dumb.

If it's not safe TO DRIVE YOUR FUCKING CAR while on a cell phone, do you think it's a good idea to call Mom while YOUR BEING SHOT AT?

Holy shit.
posted by snsranch at 4:31 PM on October 28, 2005


Re the possibilty that this is fake, the letter is signed by a woman who gives her location as Novato, which is here in Marin County, CA where I live. I just went over to the Marin County phone book, and she and her husband (whose name is Mark, btw) are listed, with an address at Hamilton AFB. Looks real enough to me.
posted by JParker at 4:38 PM on October 28, 2005


OK, so this is a professional soldier taking time, during a firefight to call home to mom to tell her he is worried he might die soon. Color me skeptical. His responsibility is to be ready for action at any moment.

To make a phone call while a battle is raging seems like a gross neglect of duty to me.

Imagine trying to explain after the fact "I thought it was OK to make a call, how was I to know that at that moment they would come charging through the door".

The whole thing sounds like something Cindy Sheehan might have written.
posted by Polarisman at 4:38 PM on October 28, 2005


It's horrifying. In a situation like that, you CANNOT have enough eyes or ears. If this is a true story, the guy deserves an ass beating.

(I do take into account, however, that a large number of service members are just kids. What the hell do they know?)
posted by snsranch at 4:50 PM on October 28, 2005


I give it 10 days before being on Snopes
posted by pieoverdone at 4:57 PM on October 28, 2005


pieverdone: I agree, I just re-read it and it's stupid. I really hope that this "Mom" isn't just pulling a publicity stunt. If so, it stinks. If not, He stinks.
posted by snsranch at 5:30 PM on October 28, 2005


snsranch, that's why they have basic training. When I read this I thought it was BS too. Funny that only Buzzflash picked this up.
posted by Eekacat at 5:38 PM on October 28, 2005


"Hey Mom it’s me."

"Hello, it's me.
I've thought about us for a long, long time.
Maybe I think too much but something's wrong.
There's something here that doesn't last too long.
Maybe I shouldn't think of you as mine."

posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2005


I agree it sounds a bit far-fetched, but I'd believe it.

No results for "mackey" on a Google search of North Bay Progressive site. Most Google references are to a library student.

Frederich Busch's article about his son in Iraq in this month's Harper's is a well-written father's perspective on the war.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:44 PM on October 28, 2005


he lived... not supposed to make me cry :(
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 6:24 PM on October 28, 2005


but look what it is doing to his parents. How many false alarms will they stand?

If more sons and daughters called home like that I'm pretty sure we'd see a lot less people so willing to let them be there in the first place, especially for such shit reasons.
posted by zarah at 6:41 PM on October 28, 2005


Cell phones for troops sound very stupid to me. GSM is easily crackable, so vulnerable to intelligence gathering. And what better way to locate troops than looking for tell tale cellphone signals? If I were in charge I would be forbidding cellphones to troops. dhoyt compared this to writing a letter. dhoyt, do you know what a military censor does? A well-run military monitors its soldiers' personal communications and constrains them to the minimum consistent with morale.

I am skeptical about whether this is true. If it is, I'm amazed at your Army allowing it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:03 PM on October 28, 2005


A day or two (or three?) after 9/11, I was working as an EMT down at Ground Zero, and we finally got cell phone reception back. We weren't doing anything at that moment, so I called my grandmother to let her know I was okay. Suddenly, 1 Liberty Plaza began to sway terrifyingly overhead, and as everyone began to run away, I shouted into the phone, "Oh, f**k, Grandma, I gotta go, I gotta go!" Then we lost cell reception again, and I couldn't call her back for hours. I felt horribly guilty for having put her through that.

I wouldn't presume to judge a soldier in this young man's situation. Especially since I know nothing about the on-the-ground (or on-the-roof) conditions there.

If any of it's true, of course.
posted by Uccellina at 7:21 PM on October 28, 2005


Aacheson, you sound like a comfortable person. Maybe you just shouldn't write about things you know nothing about.

Oh, and fucking shove it.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:21 PM on October 28, 2005


Hippie.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:41 PM on October 28, 2005


Pecinpah, the 1970 store called and asked me to let you know that they're completely out of hippies.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:27 PM on October 28, 2005


I can't really see any reaction to this essay ( or whatever the hell it is) except snarkiness.

Weelll... as the mother of a (just about to turn) 19 year old son, I guess I have a different perspective on the manly art of war, and duty, discipline, and all that big brave stuff.

(Snark is not personally directed at you, leftcoastbob, but at many others in this thread.)
posted by jokeefe at 9:57 PM on October 28, 2005


A well-run military monitors its soldiers' personal communications and constrains them to the minimum consistent with morale.

That sounds pretty fucked up, and needlessly cruel to me. If I were running a military, I would allow the maximum constant with keeping classified material secret. I don't run a military, and neither do you, but what I wonder is why you think your fantasies outweigh the personal, first person anecdotes already posted in this thread? Why, exactly, would it be hard for a military person to use a cell phone in a city with cell service?
posted by delmoi at 10:10 PM on October 28, 2005


I am skeptical about whether this is true. If it is, I'm amazed at your Army allowing it.

I'm pretty certain it's true. The Army (and I believe the Corps) forbids it, but they don't bother to enforce it much. The US military is far, far more permissive in terms of controlling soldiers' behavior than many others in the world. Soldiers are, instead, expected to use their brains to a certain extent. They're taught about OPSEC (have it drilled into their heads is more like it) and then left to apply it. This is why we have such fantastic non-com officers that arise from the ranks, and why an SSG feels comfortable making decisions that would paralyze a major in a Russo-styled military org. When you expect a basic level of smarts and good conduct from your soldiers and make that part of your culture, amazingly enough they actually adhere to it.

Mobile phones are actually very useful for lower-level commanders to have. I saw them used several times to relay basic, non-sensitive information when other communications broke down (which was frequent). And, frankly, the ability for insurgents to pick out useful things from the mobile network is probably limited and not worth the exhaustive effort required to find out that Johnny is scaring his mom.
posted by xthlc at 11:07 PM on October 28, 2005


"That sounds pretty fucked up."

Well sure. Military discipline is fucked-up. Marching is fucked-up. Drill is fucked-up. Doing what you're told with no questions is fucked-up. Nonetheless, that is how most armies work (xthlc's comments noted).

"your fantasies".

I'm not a soldier, I don't think you're a soldier. My fantasy's as good as yours, thank you.

"Why, exactly, would it be hard for a military person to use a cell phone in a city with cell service?"

I don't think it's hard at all. I just think it's a bad idea. xthlc's just confirmed it's against the rules, even if they are rarely enforced.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:22 AM on October 29, 2005


jokeefe, on further reflection, you are entirely right. The snarkiness shouldn't be directed toward this mother who is (justifiably) concerned about her son, or even against the son who called home in the middle of battle. I am, however, more than a little pissed at BuzzFlash for posting this and exposing both of them to the snarkiness. Instead of asking what was the point of the essay, I should have asked what the point was of BuzzFlash posting it.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:50 AM on October 29, 2005


If my little brother called me or my mom during a firefight, I'd expect him to already have been wounded and blinded and concerned that he might bleed out.

Not that every serviceman is like my little brother. But this particular serviceman, if he exists, doesn't sound like the ones I know.
posted by bugmuncher at 12:22 PM on October 29, 2005


leftcoastbob: so shoot the messenger for some people having a 'snarky' reaction? sheesh, better go live in a cave where you can avoid the net, newspapers, tv, people and all possible sources of stuff that might make people 'snarky'.
posted by TrinityB5 at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2005


...the 1970 store called and asked me to let you know that they're completely out of hippies.

Then who are all these hacky-sacks for?
posted by Pecinpah at 1:51 PM on October 29, 2005


I can't really see any reaction to this essay ( or whatever the hell it is) except snarkiness.

What is the point of the piece? War is dangerous? The media didn't cover a fire fight even though someone's son thought he was going to die? War is bad because people might get hurt?

Christ on a crutch--the only reasonable remarks here were the really, really inappropriately funny ones.
posted by leftcoastbob


leftcoastbob: so shoot the messenger for some people having a 'snarky' reaction? sheesh, better go live in a cave where you can avoid the net, newspapers, tv, people and all possible sources of stuff that might make people 'snarky'.
posted by TrinityB5


WTF, TrinityB5? I'm not shooting the messenger for some people having a snarky reaction; I'm merely saying that this essay is pretty much a piece of shit to be posted on BuzzFlash. And I think that BuzzFlash is something of a piece of partisan shit web site in the first place.
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:56 PM on October 29, 2005


My my, Pecinpah, pompus self-rightousness abounds with you. Maybe you should calm down about things that you are so in a snit about you sound like a horse's ass. You're working yourself up into a lather and I really couldn't care less how many times you tell me to fucking shove it. *yawn* I respectfully disagree with your opinion and you're rude and boorish.
posted by aacheson at 6:11 PM on October 29, 2005


ah, ok, i see, thanks for clarification, LCB. still, can't really control people's reactions - 'snarky' or otherwise - by censoring stuff, even if it is crapola.
posted by TrinityB5 at 8:26 PM on October 29, 2005


Yes, let's all condemn the media for showing this as having happened!
posted by clevershark at 10:59 PM on October 29, 2005


Indeed. Let's all believe everything we read.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:42 AM on October 30, 2005


The story broke my heart...but then again I'm a mom w/ 2 wee boys...I'm supposed to be all sappy about stuff like that. =)
posted by laurenbove at 1:53 PM on November 1, 2005


« Older Einstein Speaks from Beyond the Grave......  |  WoWFilter: It's official.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments