Marco  Martinez

Liberals often like to say that "violence is senseless."

That’s wrong.

Violence isn't senseless. Senseless violence is senseless. And I should know. Before being awarded the Navy Cross and having the privilege of becoming a Marine, I was a gang member. Sometimes it takes having used violence for both evil as well as good to know that there's a profound moral difference between the two.

People often ask me whether I still support the war. I never hesitate when answering: "Absolutely I support completing the mission," I tell them, "Now more than ever."

I was honored to have been given the opportunity to fight in Iraq on our country’s behalf. And it was that experience—and five things I saw firsthand—that illustrate the foolishness of those who would equate American military power to that used by thugs and tyrants.

1. Mass Graves

I was part of a group that was tasked with guarding Saddam’s mass graves. And let me tell you something: anyone who could look straight down into those huge holes at the skeletons and remains and see what that monster did to 300,000 of his own people would have no doubt that we did the right thing in removing him from power. Saddam’s henchmen would tie two people together, some with babies in their arms, stand them at the crater’s edge, and then shoot one of the people in the head, relying on the weight of the dead body to drag them both into the hole. This would save on rounds and also ensure that both people died, one from a gunshot, the other by being buried alive.

2. Tongue-less Man

You never know how precious freedom of speech is until you meet somehow who has had it taken from them—literally taken from them. During a patrol we came upon two hungry Iraqi men scavenging for food. When our translator began speaking with the men I noticed that one of them had a stub for a tongue. Through the translator we learned that the tongue-less man had spoken against the regime and that Saddam’s henchmen had severed his tongue. Saddam had quite literally removed the man’s freedom of speech.

3. Adrenaline-Fueled Fedayeen Saddam

I couldn't for the life of me understand why the ninja costume-wearing terrorists we encountered in a series of hellish firefights just wouldn’t go down—even after being shot. Once my fire team and I cleared a terrorist-filled house in a close quarters shootout, I saw dead bodies all around the kitchen. I looked up at the countertops. Scattered everywhere were vials of adrenaline, syringes, and khat (pronounced "cot"), a drug similar to PCP that gives users a surge of energy and strength. That’s when we realized that our zombie-like attackers were zealots who came to fight and die.


Marco Martinez

Marco Martinez, a recipient of the Navy Cross, is author of the new book Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero (Crown Forum).