To do this piece, I must have read at least 50 stories from American soldiers. Including the most ridiculous, or most disgusting, or most terrifying experiences they had on tour, or at home after the fact. While it’s true that many soldiers are tortured for life from their experiences, many of them hide behind a veil of complete DGAF-ness.
It’s actually incredible the degree of callousness in some of the stories. For the most part, those will not be the ones in this article. While it can be disturbing how little some soldiers seem to care about what they did, it does come across as a front for a lot of pain. And ultimately, truly disturbing stories have made their way to this list instead.
Surely it’s no surprise that the United States isn’t the most innocent country with regards to conduct in war. War is ugly on all fronts. And there’s very little that ever seems to be done about that fact. Even if you change the wording, surgical strikes still result in the deaths of several people. Often innocent people. War is just not as precise as surgery. And let these American soldiers tell you about it…
15. Taking Selfies With Corpses
In Ramadi, Sgt. Mejia was faced with a young man carrying a grenade. Of course not interested in asking questions first, he and his men unloaded. When the youth was down, Mejia examined his clip, and discovered that he had been responsible for eleven of the untold bullets that were fired into the kid. “The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population that was supporting them.” Mejia even spoke of seeing soldiers taking selfies with them and the corpses of people they had killed. In front of the victim’s family! There are photographs proving this, including one where an American soldier is pretending to eat the spilled brains of a dead Iraqi. Talk about losing your moral compass.
14. Killing Civilian Pets
Crystal was fairly experienced with raiding homes in Iraq, as was the custom to both ensure no threat, and to instil fear. “…We’re approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, ’cause it’s doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it. And he didn’t — motherfucker — he shot it and it went in the jaw and exited out. So I see this dog — I’m a huge animal lover; I love animals — and this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he’s running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, What the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified.” He shouted for the dog to be put out of his misery. Afterward, he gave the family $20 (all he had on him) “and told them that I’m so sorry that asshole did that.”
13. Soldiers Are Encouraged To Dehumanize
Spc. Englehart commented on the incredible amount of racism, and dehumanization that was bolstered by the American military. “You can honestly see how the Iraqis in general or even Arabs in general are being, you know, kind of like dehumanized. Like it was very common for United States soldiers to call them derogatory terms, like camel jockeys or Jihad Johnny or, you know, sand n*gger.” And those soldiers who didn’t join in with this dehumanization of Arabs in both Iraq and Afghanistan were often ostracized by their own, fellow soldiers. The most disturbing part of this intense racism, and hostility is that such dehumanization was exactly the method undertaken by the Third Reich. All in an effort to make the slaughter of innocents easier. It seems not everyone learns from the past. But that can’t be too surprising.
12. The Trenches Were Disgusting
Stuart Cloete was only 17 when he was commissioned to the trenches in WWI. The terrors he saw…should only be described by him. “the sun swelled up the dead with gas and often turned them blue, almost navy blue. Then, when the gas escaped, the bodies dried up like mummies and were frozen in their death positions…” And these bodies were not always in prone positions. “The crows pecked out the eyes and rats lived on bodies that lay in abandoned dugouts…They were putrid, with the consistency of Camembert cheese. I once fell and put my hand right through the belly of a man. It was days before I got the smell out of my nails.” And that’s before Cloete detailed the inches of black flies that covered the corpses. Or the fact that when they had a chance to move corpses, they would often fall apart while being lifted. Lift and puke was basically the routine.
11. Medics Were Told Not To Treat Iraqis
Spc. Resta had one hell of a time as a doctor at base in Iraq. Med staff were told specifically not to treat any Iraqis unless it seemed they were going to die. “So these guys in the guard tower radio in, and they say they’ve got an Iraqi out there that’s asking for a doctor.” The guy had been badly beaten, and told Resta that there were people waiting away from the base to kill him. “I open a bag and I’m trying to get bandages out and the guys in the guard tower are yelling at me, ‘Get that f*cking haji out of here.'” Even the head doctor, when he arrives on the scene, tells Resta to leave him. With the tower guards, and the head doctor yelling at him, Resta caved into the pressure, and refused treatment…essentially sending this man out to die.
10. Charred Remains Of An Iraqi Soldier
Now to be fair, Kenneth Jarecke was a photojournalist, not a soldier. But he was part of a media pool in Kuwait and I think that’s more than enough qualification. He was so used to seeing pretty pictures of the area during Desert Storm, that he decided he would truly show what war was like there. Coming across a burned out car, there was an Iraqi soldier (one of Hussein’s) trapped inside. Jarecke could “see clearly how precious life was to this guy, because he was fighting for it. He was fighting to save his life to the very end, till he was completely burned up. He was trying to get out of that truck.” The disturbing photo showed the charred body of this man who was clearly stuck, but trying with every ounce of life he had, to escape the vehicle. When Jarecke got back to America, no publication would run the horrifying photos, leaving a veil of ignorance in the media.
9. Abu Ghraib Was A Living Nightmare
“I knew that a large percentage of these prisoners were innocent,” said Spc. Richard Murphy, while in charge of 320 prisoners at Abu Ghraib. This even included a mentally delayed, and legally blind inmate who was able to “maybe see a few feet in front of his face. I thought to myself, What could he have possibly done?” Murphy started at the infamous prison just a month before the inmates rioted, in protest to the way they were brutally treated. When all was said and done, nine prisoners were killed, and three badly wounded. Again, photographs were taken by the soldiers with them and their recent kills. The treatment that instigated the riot was one of torture and humiliation. Electroshock. Being chained and dragged along the ground (often by their testicles). Constant beatings. Every inmate had very good reason to rise up.
8. Warning Shots Can Kill
Convoys were always a dangerous way to travel. Waiting to be hit by an IED. Often, to maintain speed, drivers of civilians vehicles were shot, and many were run over also. Sgt. Flatt saw something truly needless after a car got too close to the rear of a convoy. “Basically, they took shots at the car. Warning shots, I don’t know. Well, one of the bullets happened to pierce the windshield and went straight into the face of this woman in the car. And she was — well, as far as I know — instantly killed. I didn’t pull her out of the car or anything. Her son was driving the car, and she had her — she had three little girls in the back seat. And they came up to us, because we were actually sitting in a defensive position right next to the hospital, the main hospital in Mosul, the civilian hospital. And they drove up and she was obviously dead. And the girls were crying.”
7. Mosque Massacre
Abu Talat who aided the allied forces in translation, was in a mosque when Americans, alongside Iraqi National Guardsmen opened fire on a praying congregation. “Everyone starting yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the greatest) because they were frightened [of the military forces]. Then the soldiers started shooting the people praying!” Talat was on the phone with a media outlet at the time of the incident. “They have just shot and killed at least four of the people praying. At least 10 other people are wounded now. We are on our bellies and in a very bad situation.” It was later confirmed that this count was very accurate. It seems that president Bush’s calling the war a “crusade” was indeed accurate enough. It’s incredible that both sides can call on the same “God” for help, but all they can do is kill each other.
6. Watching Children Get Shot
Spc. Michael Harmon was a medic during the Iraq war. When he was only 24, he was serving in a town near to Baghdad. He arrived to deal with a situation that had certainly got too far out of hand. An IED (Improvised Explosive Device) had gone off, and the American soldiers there just began firing in every which direction, not sure where the threat was coming from. “I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg…it just looked at me like — I know she couldn’t speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg? I was just like, This is — this is it. This is ridiculous.”
5. Staged Killing Of A Poor Farm Boy
Pfc. Justin Stoner witnessed a horrible execution that was staged to look like an attack. “They have had a lot of practice staging killings and getting away with it,” Stoner said. Morlock, 21, and Holmes, 19 were the two American soldiers who decided to murder a 15 year old farmer boy. Thought to be alone in the field, these two young men called the farmer to them. As he approached, they ducked behind a low, stone wall, and threw a grenade at him. Once it had gone off, the two men rose, and opened fire on the boy. Their commanding officer arrived to examine the situation. He later said “I just thought it was weird that someone would come up and throw a grenade at us.” In spite of the fact that he thought the boy might still be alive…he told the men to make sure he was dead…So two more shots were fired. The Staff Sergeant at hand, cut the pinky off of the boy, and gave it to the guys for their first kill.
4. A “Jew Hunt” In Vietnam
This story is relayed by the cousin of a Vietnam veteran, but is sufficiently hilarious, and disturbing enough to make this list. One night, a soldier from the same unit came up to the cousin, saying “Hey, Kupelman, I hear there’s a Jew in our unit.” Though the name alone might have been enough to suss the guy out, the cousin played along, and excitedly decided to join this ridiculously racist soldier in finding out just who was the Jew, saying, “Really? We should find out who it is!” For the rest of the night, they went from bunk to bunk, waking up each man in their unit. They would blast a flashlight in each man’s face, asking if they were the Jew. The storyteller concludes: “And that is how my Jewish cousin participated in a Jew hunt.” It’s clear that racism and hatred didn’t disappear after the Holocaust.
3. Convoy Killers
Sgt. Campbell happened to stop after a man was shot for merging onto the same highway a convoy was travelling on. He appeared to have three shots to his chest. “So I’m treating the guy. He has three gunshot wounds to the chest. Blood everywhere. And he keeps going in and out of consciousness. And when he finally stops breathing, I have to give him CPR. I take my right hand, I lift up his chin and I take my left hand and grab the back of his head to position his head, and as I take my left hand, my hand actually goes into his cranium. So I’m actually holding this man’s brain in my hand. And what I realized was I had made a mistake. I had checked for exit wounds. But what I didn’t know was the Humvee behind me, after the car failed to stop after the first three rounds, had fired twenty, thirty rounds into the car. I never heard it.”
2. A Bed Of Land Mines
Understandably remaining anonymous, this combat engineer did something absolutely ridiculous to almost literally scare the sh*t out of his fellow soldiers. Stationed in an old Iraqi bunker, there were all sorts of decommissioned munitions laying about. This included stacks of land mines. “so I picked up a anti personnel mine that had the fuse removed and waited by the entrance for my friend to approach. When he got in sight I yelled out, “heads up” and chucked the landmine at him. I’ll tell you, I saw the exact moment his asshole puckered up.” This is the same man who would nap on a bed of disarmed mines. It makes me wonder if he was really messed in the head, or just trying to make light of a pretty dark situation…though his final words on the matter really sum it up: “The beginning of a war is the best time to be at war. No brass, no rules, no f*cks given.”
1. Veteran Affairs Can Truly Cripple A Man
This story was given anonymously, but what happened to this marine is still disturbing. A lot of the entries have been the horrors on tour. This happened afterward, when dealing with Veteran Affairs. This poor guy suddenly couldn’t walk, and his face was also partially paralyzed (And this happened after his tour).“I finished treatment and got the bill which was over 100k… all my Dr bills are supposed to be covered. I went through the proper routes to make sure my bills were taken care of by the VA. Three months go by and I start receiving bills from the individual providers stating they were not paid.” He had to go through civilian doctors to be properly treated, and was diagnosed with Guillan Barre, which basically affects the body in the same way as polio. So now he’s paralyzed, broke, and suffers from severe depression. There is struggle no matter where a soldier is.