“I was a naive young man. People join the service for all sorts of things but I joined to kill people and not go to jail. What I didn’t know then is what I would trade to achieve this twisted purpose.

My platoon was to ambush a car full of combatants firing mortars from a hospital at Camp Ramadi. When they finished three cars left the compound and spread west, north, and east. My platoon ambushed the car traveling east. As it approached the reinforced OP my platoon opened fire but the car continued to drive. I fired at the drivers face first, shooting without hesitation, remorse, or consideration to his humanity. I kept firing until the car came to a stop in the road in front of our OP. I fired at least 25 times at the drivers head and I had no idea if I had connected any shots. Two of the three men were killed and a third got out and started to run away but a fellow Marine shot him with a tracer round in the torso. He struggled but continued to flee. My squad gave chase.

I was tasked to test the hands of the dead for gunpowder residue with a kit I was not trained to use but I did it anyway. When I approached the car the driver and the man in the back driver side seat was clearly dead. I looked at the driver, the man I shot at and his face was unrecognizable as a human. The head rest was obliterated and he was caught on his seatbelt leaning forward, his face just a few inches from the steering wheel. Brain matter, blood and other bodily fluid was everywhere and the smell of death was overwhelming.

When I opened the back door to test the passengers hand his arm flopped out. When I grabbed his left index finger his muscle and skin slid on his finger bone and stretched. I vomited. It was in this intimate moment with men I fired shot at I understood how wrong I was and just how disgusting my perception was of war.

I have not killed anything I didn’t have to since this moment. I heard once “when you kill, you kill yourself.” On that day part of me died and it took years of helping innocent people to revive humanity in myself. This is the true cost of war. A person’s sense of humanity.”

– Anonymous US Marine. 3/7 I Co. Ramadi, Iraq. 2006.

This story was documented by Battles and Beers. Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.

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