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Preston Wheeler, Keven Dagit, Christopher Lem and Sascha Grenner- Case: Left Behind.
September 28, 2006 1:40 PM   Subscribe


 
Holy Shit.
posted by chunking express at 1:49 PM on September 28, 2006


Now that's 'cut and run.'
posted by brain_drain at 1:50 PM on September 28, 2006


Two months after the ambush, Halliburton notified him he was fired, citing a "work-related" injury.

What the fuck? One guy manages to not die, and he gets fired? Very cool.
posted by thekilgore at 2:01 PM on September 28, 2006


Halliburton: Proud to Serve Our Troops. "A few small challenges getting supplies through".
posted by dhartung at 2:22 PM on September 28, 2006


That video is one of the more harrowing things I've seen in a while. This is a good indication of just how fucked things are over there.

It's also a good indication of what a cancerous blight companies like Halliburton are. The worse things get, the more they stand to make, and they don't give a rat's ass about ANYONE, including their own people.
posted by stenseng at 2:24 PM on September 28, 2006


They took the jobs for the money. They gambled and lost. Why are we all shocked when this kind of stuff happens -- over and over again. The fact that the army may have screwed up is a side issue IMHO.

IT"S A WAR ZONE!!! WAR...ZONE. BY DEFINITION PEOPLE WILL GET KILLED.

Civilians should simply stay othe f*%K out of a war zone. That includes these 4 guys and Jill Carroll and the quaker from Virginia who was kidnapped and murdered and, for that matter, the hired mercenaries too. You can't protect people from their own greed and/or stupidity.
posted by bim at 2:27 PM on September 28, 2006


I originally deleted this comment, but what the hell:

Outrageous that our taxes aren't being spent on protecting mercenaries.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:29 PM on September 28, 2006


Mother Courage.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:54 PM on September 28, 2006


Maybe Halliburton executives should start wandering around Ho Chi Minh City and asking the people if they want to hire someone to drop napalm bombs on them.
posted by nasreddin at 3:07 PM on September 28, 2006


"You can't protect people from their own greed and/or stupidity."
"Outrageous that our taxes aren't being spent on protecting mercenaries."


It's really hard to understand how you've missed the point here. Unarmed civilian drivers have been misled, betrayed and then sacrificed by the military and Halliburton.
Regardless of whether they should be there in the first place, you don't lure the nerdy kid into the graveyard with your gang and then leave him to the dogs.
Or do you?
posted by NinjaTadpole at 3:09 PM on September 28, 2006


Why are we all shocked when this kind of stuff happens --

Because "this kind of stuff" is completely terrifying and shocking. No matter how many times I read about it, view or listen to it. I find myself emotionally destroyed.

And if you don't, I guess I'm asking you, why don't you find this shocking?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:14 PM on September 28, 2006


Ninjatadpole said -- Unarmed civilian drivers have been misled, betrayed and then sacrificed by the military and Halliburton.

Mislead? Betrayed? Were they under the impression that they were delivering a load of ice cream to the local Piggly Wiggly? Jeezus.

We invaded Iraq in March 20, 2003. The attack on the four people in question occurred on September 20, 2005.

There have been COUNTLESS stories since the invasion -- including in the two and a half between March 2003 and September 2005 -- on Halliburton and its dirty dealings and its f%#kups and U.S. military f%$kups which have resulted in people getting killed.

There have also been countless stories about military folks gettting killed by improvised explosive devices even when they were following "procedure."

And problems with lack of properly armored military vehicles and the lack of proper body armor for soldiers were common knowledge. Did these 4 civilian drivers think that their safety was perfectly guaranteed by the military? The military can't even guarantee their own safety in Iraq.

You would have to be living under a rock to think that you could waltz into Iraq, do your truck runs and be immune from potential disaster -- despite all the promises of army protection. As I said, it's a war zone and shit WILL happen.

The people who were killed let $$$ cloud their better judgment. I'm sorry that they lost their lives and for the resulting grief for their families. But this was a tragedy of their own making.

yobananaboysaid -- Because "this kind of stuff" is completely terrifying and shocking. No matter how many times I read about it, view or listen to it. I find myself emotionally destroyed. And if you don't, I guess I'm asking you, why don't you find this shocking?

The drama in the wording of your question is a bit misplaced. To see someone die right before your eyes is shocking. I never said that it wasn't.

It's NOT shocking, though, that consciously putting yourself in harm's way (as these 4 guys did) might lead to....well...a person being harmed. That's exactly what happened. No big surprise there.
posted by bim at 4:12 PM on September 28, 2006


Unarmed civilian drivers have been misled, betrayed and then sacrificed by the military and Halliburton.

The average rotation for a truck driver over there is less than a year. Anyone involved knows exactly what they're getting into, and can leave at any time (sans pay, of course.)

I know a guy who went to go be a truck driver, he left his wife and kids at home to make a big score. He knew the risks.

All the money they are making is coming from our pockets, too, and if not for the widespread misery we've caused, there'd be no profit to be had.

I have quite a bit more sympathy for soldiers.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:15 PM on September 28, 2006


BTW, good FPP, taosbat. :)
posted by bim at 4:19 PM on September 28, 2006


Thank you, bim.
posted by taosbat at 4:22 PM on September 28, 2006


"this was a tragedy of their own making."
Well, if they deserved to be abandoned, helpless in a firefight, left to their deaths that's cool then. At least we know where one another stands.

My idea of "sides" is very old fashioned. I would have imagined that the unarmed, contracted civilian help (carrying supplies to help for the army I'm hypothetically part of) would be on "my side". And I don't want to appear hopelessly sentimental, but leaving this soft underbelly of "my side" receiving "speed holes" from the "other side" while other salaried fighting members save their protected skins seems quite a harsh decision.


I've never been part of the military, active or reserve; I've met soldiers at fayres but I suspect the gap between these two worlds is quite pronounced. I say this with no lack of inexperience.
My hopelessly naive recollection of artificial, hyperbolic war movies would suggest that if, as a soldier, the civilian convoy you are tasked with protecting through a predictably dangerous situation comes under fire, you protect the convoy while getting the hell out of there.
Bearing in mind your own experience, what would you expect from an army escort?
posted by NinjaTadpole at 4:49 PM on September 28, 2006


"supplies to help for the army"? Remove one of these words and try again.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 4:51 PM on September 28, 2006


Sorry - Mother Courage and Her Children . It’s a play by Brecht

"BTW, good FPP, taosbat"
2nded
posted by Smedleyman at 4:54 PM on September 28, 2006


IT"S A WAR ZONE!!! WAR...ZONE. BY DEFINITION PEOPLE WILL GET KILLED.

Please read some of the linked articles and reconsider the particular circumstances of the situation.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 4:57 PM on September 28, 2006


Sadly, ninja, real life is not a John Wayne movie. And the situation in Iraq bears little resemblence to the war effort in Europe when the Americans stormed Normandy Beach to liberate Europe. It doesn't appear that our presence in Iraq is particularly welcomed.

These days it's rare for people to people do the heroic things. Especially when a lot of soldiers may just be poor kids looking for a job. And their stuck in a place where their efforts are little appreciated.
posted by bim at 5:00 PM on September 28, 2006


I read the articles and watched the videos, secaucus. Perhaps you should do the same before dropping in to enlighten everyone -- with drivel.
posted by bim at 5:03 PM on September 28, 2006


“These days it's rare for people to people do the heroic things. Especially when a lot of soldiers may just be poor kids looking for a job.”
Incorrect characterization.

“My idea of "sides" is very old fashioned.”

And incorrect from first principles. If you are in the U.S. military - KBR, etc. is not on your side.
...did I mention Mother Courage? It’s a very good play.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:03 PM on September 28, 2006


bim, I think your politics are overwhelming your humanity.
posted by languagehat at 5:07 PM on September 28, 2006


languagehat -- I think your self-righteousness and generally condescending attitude are becoming tiresome. Give it a rest.
posted by bim at 5:26 PM on September 28, 2006


/plenty of Bunny Greenhouse (say, whatever happened to her anyway), KBR ripping off the gubbmit, serving outdated food in filthy conditions (not merely dirty - dried blood, feces, rat parts, etc) and such - on the web and on mefi actually - and meanwhile they're making a bundle shipping you contaminiated year old $80 boxes of bacon (that you can buy somewhere else for $12, but are forced to purchase because it's Rumsfeld's buddy)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:16 PM on September 28, 2006


I imagine the driver of truck 5 pissed himself pretty good. I just hope he made it home alive so that he can tell all his friends how stupid this shit is. "Jesus Christ lawrd, save us all!"
posted by snsranch at 6:35 PM on September 28, 2006


I dunno what a "f%#kup" is, but that sure looked like a royal fuckup to me.
posted by stenseng at 6:42 PM on September 28, 2006


Thank you, too. Bunny Greenhouse; and, I think truck drivers are not the folks to blame for the lousy rations; rather, aren't they the ones to thank for delivering whatever they've got to give...even if they're getting paid better than a bunch of draftees? At least the draftees had guns. Or is that the curse of Mother Courage?

Donald Rumsfeld

I've got the feathers friend
You got the tar
They're running rails down the street
And whe'll ride the lot right far
Out to the old cottonwood my friend
The old cottonwood...

posted by taosbat at 7:17 PM on September 28, 2006


Civilians should simply stay othe f*%K out of a war zone.

Does that include Iraqi civilians? How many extra bedrooms you got?

Certainly these drivers are paid a lot more than grunts. But they were still grunts, and they were still shafted. I don't know what the RoE might be in a situation like this -- apparently it was "get who you can to safety and come back with more guns" rather than "the safety of these people is in your hands, bring 'em back alive" -- but this isn't strictly about shock that people got hurt. In other words, nice try at a hand-wave.

Of course there's an emotional reaction to seeing a tape like this. But an intelligent person can draw some rational conclusions.

Key points:
* Inadequate provision for escort. Speaks to manpower issue.
* Inadequate training. Speaks to overreliance on NG. Surely it might have been safer to take a roundabout route, or find a quiet and defensible place and call for reinforcements before moving. I haven't been over there and I could tell instantly when they got on the wrong road, because it looked exactly like the kind of place to stage an ambush, and wouldn't a well-planned convoy thoroughly avoid such places?
* Inadequate supplies. No maps? Double you tee eff? If somebody had maps they would have figured out they were on the wrong road long before they had to double back.
* Obvious widespread hatred for US troops, even US civilians. There weren't any sympathetic Iraqis helping these guys out.
* Obvious widespread danger in a random part of Iraq just for taking a wrong turn. "Nobody expected the insurgency" ... and they still don't seem to grasp it.
* Incredible callousness on the part of Halliburton toward its employees. Halliburton is the Vice President's company. Where's the fucking school spirit, Dick?
* Surprising callousness on the part of the VNG toward Halliburton people, supposedly their buddies serving them all those delicious meals and everything. But it must be just as tiring to have to treat every single convoy like you're making a North Atlantic run hoping against U-boats. When do they become literal milk runs?

I also think it's incredibly telling that we can't get more Iraqis or even Arabs to take these jobs. Or, that we don't trust them.

For the record, I don't think that one rational conclusion is, "Hey, war is hell". The sky is also blue. That's a truism, and nothing more. If you're looking to learn from a situation, you move beyond truisms and into factors that you have some control over. May we presume that is not one of your goals?
posted by dhartung at 8:17 PM on September 28, 2006


Civilians should simply stay othe f*%K out of a war zone.

Does that include Iraqi civilians? How many extra bedrooms you got?


Iraqi civilians aren't being handsomely paid to be in a war zone.
posted by mikoroshi at 7:42 AM on September 29, 2006


Does that include Iraqi civilians? How many extra bedrooms you got?


Iraqi civilians aren't being handsomely paid to be in a war zone.

Iraqi citizens are without a doubt being killed and victimized by the war. No one said that they weren't. The pictures of bodies torn apart, especially kids, are horrible.

The points that you raise though have nothing to do with this particular thread, dealing with someone's voluntary insertion of themselves in a war zone and what we should infer about all that. :)
posted by bim at 10:17 AM on September 29, 2006


These guys are making their fast cash on the backs of dead children. Volunteers get sympathy, not war profiteers and carpetbaggers.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:25 AM on September 29, 2006


“Or is that the curse of Mother Courage?”

Haliburton, and indeed Cheney, is Mother Courage.
But that’s the thing. One can argue that the war is wrong etc. (and I’d happen to agree) but the troops are there to serve. Certainly there are folks who joined as just a job, but I’ve never seen one (who wasn’t a draftee) in a combat position.
That takes a certain level of commitment. Altruism. Idealism. Whether those qualities are misguided or self-deluding or what have you - people join because they want to serve. Do something ‘good.’ They do not put themselves in combat merely to make money.
I have no respect, for example, for mercenaries. I do respect (some of) their skills, in the sense I respect any mark of excellence.

But there is a sharp and definite contrast between someone sworn to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States at the potential cost of their lives and someone out there who just wants to profit from warfare.
Indeed, isn’t that exactly the criticism of and scorn earned by Rummy and Cheney? (Who was the head of Haliburton? Who was Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf war?)
Now some people don’t have all the info. Some do. But certainly there are many guys on the ground in Iraq waking up to what’s cooking dispite being denied the kinds and amount of information many folks back home have.
Someone who signs up now to join the military might be a deluded fool or might be altruistically thinking they will be fighting terrorism and looking for OBL (or both, or whatever) but someone driving a truck over there... no, they don’t deserve death, but deserve doesn’t have anything to do with it. They gambled and lost. It happens. That doesn’t mean I should hedge the guy’s bets with my life. If so - what exactly then is my mission in Iraq?
And indeed - thinking about that’d wake more than a few people up.
But I think - despite the bullshit, despite the lies, I think the troops there are trying to complete the mission. I think they are actively working to build and hand over a working open-system government to the Iraqis.
I think that at least some effort towards that mission must be allowed, if only for the sake of the illusion, but not too much.

We can’t give them the men or material. We can’t mobilize production onto an actual war footing. They might actually then complete the mission, and that’d get in the way of profits, wouldn’t it?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:03 PM on September 29, 2006


Haliburton, and indeed Cheney, is Mother Courage.

Except Haliburton and Cheney have lost nothing and no one of consequence to them and they shall profit handsomely from the thousands of deaths they created.

Certainly there are folks who joined as just a job, but I’ve never seen one (who wasn’t a draftee) in a combat position.

I have seen folks who just joined for a job, any job, end up in the combat arms. My son has seen them, too. However, it is true that the vast majority of combat soldiers anyone I know has met exhibit "a certain level of commitment. Altruism. Idealism. Whether those qualities are misguided or self-deluding or what have you - people join because they want to serve. Do something ‘good.’ They do not [intentionally] put themselves in combat merely to make money." I know some folks who just joined for a job and ended up in the combat arms who actually learned their commitment, altruism and idealism 'on the job.'

There sure is "a sharp and definite contrast between someone sworn to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States at the potential cost of their lives and someone out there who just wants to profit from warfare." I still think truck drivers are not the folks to blame for the lousy rations; rather, aren't they the ones to thank for delivering whatever they've got to give...?

Although we don't know how much patriotism (however deluded) might be part of some individual civilian's decision to sign on with Haliburton, there's no doubt they're in it to score some good money. A lot of soldiers time their reinlistments so they get the tax benifits of being in a combat zone when they get their bonuses. I'm not saying that's all the same. I am saying it's not all different.

But Cheney and the folks who run Haliburton and the rest of the scum who brought us the Iraq war, that's different. There is no hint of idealism in Cheney, et al; rather, it's a purity of greed.

I don't think the truck drivers should be honored; but, I do think they should be mourned. I think all of those who are caught up and lost in Bush's great folly should be mourned; and, yes, 'deservin's got nothing to do with it.'

Some of those folks may have "gambled and lost;" but, who thrust the game upon us all? I think it's proper to mourn the little people who were out to score the cash for what...a new house? ...their own tractor-trailer? ...college money? I think the leaders should hang.

That doesn’t mean I should hedge the guy’s bets with my life. If so - what exactly then is my mission in Iraq?
Gloria Dagit said one of Keven Dagit's co-workers asked Army officials after her son's death why the civilian contractors had been abandoned by U.S. troops. He was told that Army tactics called for U.S. troops to leave, then regroup, and then return later with a larger force.

"By doing that, three men were killed," Gloria Dagit said.

The U.S. Army has since announced that its tactics have changed and that U.S. soldiers will stand and fight when convoys are attacked, according to the March 31, 2006, European edition of the Stars and Stripes newspaper.
And indeed - thinking about that’d wake more than a few people up.

Yeah, well, I know my son feels deeply that he and the rest of "the troops there are trying to complete the mission. ...they are actively working to build and hand over a working open-system government to the Iraqis."

We can’t give them the men or material. We can’t mobilize production onto an actual war footing. They might actually then complete the mission, and that’d get in the way of profits, wouldn’t it?

Sad to say, I couldn't have said it better myself, Smedleyman.

The mercenaries should hang with their masters. They are of a kind.
posted by taosbat at 2:17 PM on September 29, 2006


“Except Haliburton and Cheney have lost nothing and no one of consequence to them”
I don’t particularly believe in a soul. But certainly there is some karma payback (secular or otherwise). The least of which is, they are stuck being who they are, having done those acts. And indeed, they and their offspring will be reviled. Think he’d be able to walk down the street without his money to protect him? Hell, he’s the Veep and people still shout “Fuck you” at him.

“I still think truck drivers are not the folks to blame for the lousy rations; rather, aren't they the ones to thank for delivering whatever they've got to give...?”

Again - deserve isn’t the issue. And - they’re not delivering that for me. They’re doing it for money. I’ll walk into Hell for someone fighting along side me and commited to the same cause. Anything more is gravy. Why aren’t you in Darfur risking your life for people you have no stake in and who have no stake in you?

“I'm not saying that's all the same. I am saying it's not all different.”

It’s entirely different. What’s wrong with maximizing your take home once you’re already committed? My kids shouldn’t eat because I want to serve my country? It’s like saying all sex is the same and a person who has multiple partners is the same as a person who is faithful to their spouse because it’s all just sex. Ridiculous. The commitment changes everything no matter how similar the basic moves are.

“Some of those folks may have "gambled and lost;" but, who thrust the game upon us all? I think it's proper to mourn the little people who were out to score the cash for what...a new house? ...their own tractor-trailer? ...college money? I think the leaders should hang.”

We can agree on all that.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:22 PM on September 29, 2006


The mercenaries should hang with their masters.

These gentlemen were unarmed. Whatever they were, they weren't mercenaries.
posted by dhartung at 5:30 AM on September 30, 2006


Hi dhartung, I know Keven Dagit, Christopher Lem and Sascha Grenner-Case weren't mercenaries. When I typed that, I was responding to Smedleyman's statement: "I have no respect, for example, for mercenaries."

I was wondering about Sascha Grenner-Case because he (or she, since the name isn't gender specific) was described as coming from the same town my mother lives in. Your statement, "These gentlemen were unarmed." got me to call my mom to find out if she knew anything.

She called the local paper today but they said they'd never heard of Sascha Grenner-Case (or Sascha Greener-Case, an alternate spelling I noticed in one of the articles I linked to). So, in the newspaper of the listed hometown for Sascha, there was no obituary.

While I was waiting for my mom to call the paper, I dusted off my old copy of Mother Courage and read it. That was worthwhile.

I found this memorial picture of Sascha Grenner-Case. And I found this news release:

And the mail moves on

By Claude D. McKinney
Gulf Region North
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Anaconda, Iraq — Joint Military Mail Terminal (JMMT) Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The tone of the ribbon cutting and dedication service was set by the Chaplains prayer.

Dear Lord, I ask this day that you look with favor upon this facility and all that passes through it. Bless…The letter from home with pictures of a new baby, Care packages sent by a school, A Mother's Day card mailed by a young soldier, and all those things that bring us closer to home. I also ask, Lord, that you bless those who handle and sort the mail, and those who face sandstorm, intense heat, and IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] to bring these special things to us…The unsung heroes like: Mad Max, Bulls Eye, and Sascha, whom we honor today. Thank-you for all who risk of themselves to ensure that we never lose contact with the ones we love. Amen.

In his keynote remarks, Colonel Philip Smith, Commander of First Personnel Support Command, expanded on the contents of Lieutenant Colonel (Chaplain) Barbara Sherer, the 3rd Corps Support Command Chaplain's prayer. The new Joint Military Mail Terminal (JMMT) building at Logistics Support Area (LSA) Anaconda, was being dedicated in remembrance of Christopher (Mad Max) Lem of Madison, Wisconsin, Kevin (Bulls Eye) Dagit and Sascha Greener-Case both from Jefferson Iowa. These three were killed in Iraq while driving trucks delivering the mail on September 20, 2005.

...

Following Smith’s remarks, Idilman together with Major General Bruce Casella, Commander of the 377th Theater Support Command, unveiled a commemorative plaque honoring Lem, Dagit, and Case, then together with Air Force Colonel John Roop, Commander of the Mission Support Group, cut the ribbon which officially opened the facility.
posted by taosbat at 8:19 PM on October 2, 2006


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