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.
4. Human Experiment Pictures
I still can’t shake the pictures out of my head. We discovered them inside a strange laboratory we found inside a Special Republican Guard barracks that had been plunked down inside an amusement park. When I cracked open the photo album, my jaw dropped. There in front of me were the most horrifying images of experiments being performed on newborn and infant children. Picture after picture, page after page, the binder was filled with the most extreme deformities and experimental mutations one could imagine. One baby had an eye that was shifted toward the middle of its head. We turned the books over to our lieutenant as valuable pieces of intelligence.
5. Bomb-Making Materials In a Mosque
Well after the invasion we were tasked to conduct city patrols and build rapport with local sheiks and mosque members. On one occasion we revisited a mosque where the sheik had previously been warm and friendly. Yet this time something seemed a little off. As we made our way through the mosque compound, we were told there were certain "praying houses" we weren’t allowed to enter. But when a Marine walked through a side hallway and passed by a door that had been left ajar, he spotted a huge bottle of nitroglycerin and assorted bomb-making materials.
When I think about my gang member past I shudder in shame. But if there was one lesson I learned from my past it is that there is a profound moral difference between using violence to destroy lives and using violence to save lives. Terrorists do the former; soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines do the latter.
Antimilitary liberals need to learn the difference between the two.