Voices from the front lines

February 20, 2008

I read several moving blogs today written by soldiers serving behind enemy lines in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The insights provided are incredible. Images of their daily lives, that are both frightening and funny at the same time. In this post, from ruminations of a soldier medic, you can feel the confusion and intensity of a first time firefight:

Every one looked at every one else as we started hearing booms. They started getting louder, so we all started throwing on our body armor and helmets. My guys all went outside to investigate. At this point, I was kind of scared, but I didn’t really know what to expect. This was the first time something like this has happened to me. I ventured outside cautiously to find out what was going on. The shooting, the booms, all the sounds you don’t want to hear-they just kept escalating. They weren’t going away.”

There are a lot of perspectives that we have a hard time understanding about these soldiers. They are all serious, hard working, dedicated, and well, so young. From Eighty Deuce on the Loose in Iraq:

“OK, heres where the Infantry guy thing comes into play. First off, consider our situation. We are a bunch of males, many of which are straight out of high school. We now live together, work together and pretty much spend 24/7 with each other. And to make matters worse, you coup us up inside a Humvee for 10’s of hours at a time. Its going to get crazy. “

Some of the stories are funny. Gallows humor at times, but there are many belly laughs out there. Bill and Bob’s Excellent Afghan Adventure is full of them:

“There is an old saying that the only difference between an Army story and a fairy tale is that a fairy tale starts with ‘Once upon a time,’ and an Army story starts with ‘No shit, this really happened…’ “

While funny at times, Bill and Bobs’ writer uses real statistics in his skewering the of media and the New York Times in particular, on their sensationalist story about Global Terror War veterans and the violent crimes some have committed since returning from theater.

I found many that had unique photos from behind the lines, which were particularly fascinating to me, because I have seen so few of them on the news. Army of Dude (best. name. ever.) has tons of photos, as does Leave the Gun (is it a Godfather reference? – “leave the gun, take the cannoli”). Finally, how can you not like a guy called Dude in the Desert. Simple. Easy.

Snipers - by Leave the Gun

These stories are not being told in the mainstream media, and these soldiers “outside the wire” know it. Their insight is invaluable in us really understanding the war in Iraq, the forgotten war in Afghanistan, and any other place our kids are dying. Read their stories, understand their emotions, and support our troops. Not by buying a new magnetic sticker for your SUV, but by listening to them, by recognizing their sacrifices, and by respecting them.

These are serious young people, and they are serving in chaotic and dangerous places because they said they would. They have earned your respect.

Here’s a couple of ways you can support our troops:

Learn more at 1000 Reasons, or over at Vet Voice.

Send em some love over at Soldiers Angels or AnySoldier.

Get the facts straight over at FactChecker.org

Support Peace