Demise of a Hard-Fighting Squad
Washington Post, May 12
“Among the four Marines killed and 10 wounded when an explosive device erupted under their Amtrac on Wednesday were the last battle-ready members of a squad that four days earlier had battled foreign fighters holed up in a house in the town of Ubaydi. In that fight, two squad members were killed and five were wounded.
“In 96 hours of fighting and ambushes in far western Iraq, the squad had ceased to be.
“Every member of the squad — one of three that make up the 1st Platoon of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment — had been killed or wounded, Marines here said. All told, the 1st Platoon — which Hurley commands — had sustained 60 percent casualties, demolishing it as a fighting force.
” ‘They used to call it Lucky Lima,’ said Maj. Steve Lawson, commander of the company. ‘That turned around and bit us.’ ”
Authorities find missing ex-soldier blinded by Iraq blast
(Associated Press, May 11)
“DUNBAR, Pa. — A former soldier blinded by shrapnel while serving in Iraq was found alive Tuesday night, a day after he disappeared after telling an ex-girlfriend he was depressed, police and his family said. …
“Salvatore “Sam” Ross Jr., 23, of Dunbar Township, will be admitted to a veterans’ hospital psychiatric unit for observation, his aunt, Tina Pifer, told The Associated Press. …
” ‘I just don’t understand what low he’s at right now because everything seemed to be coming together with building his house,’ Pifer said. ‘But, you know what? This kid is suffering so bad from depression. People just don’t understand the things this kid has been through over the last two years.’ ”
[I thought there was something familiar to me about Ross when I first read about his disappearance the other day. He’s one of the injured soldiers featured in Nina Berman’s “Purple Hearts — Back from Iraq.”]
Iraqi police vent anger at US after car bombings
(Australian Broadcasting Corp., May 10)
“Iraqi police hurled insults at US soldiers after two suicide car bomb blasts in Baghdad killed at least seven people and left 19 wounded, including policemen.
” ‘It’s all because you’re here,’ a policeman shouted in Arabic at a group of US soldiers after the latest in a bloody wave of attacks that have rocked Baghdad this month.
” ‘Get out of our country and there will be no more explosions,’ he told the uncomprehending Americans staring at the smouldering wreck of a car bomb.”
Army to Spend Day Retraining Recruiters
New York Times, May 12
“Responding to reports about widespread abuses of the rules for recruitment, Army officials said yesterday that they would suspend all recruiting on May 20 and use the day to retrain its personnel in military ethics and the laws that govern what can and cannot be done to enlist an applicant.
” … At least one family in Ohio reported that its mentally ill son was signed up, despite rules banning such enlistments and records about his illness that were readily available.
“David McSwane, a 17-year-old who lives outside Denver, also recently caught one recruiter on tape, advising him on how to create a fake diploma, and another helping him buy a product that purportedly cleansed his system of illegal-drug residue. This week, a CBS affiliate in Houston, KHOU-TV, played a voice mail message from a local recruiter that threatened a young man with arrest if he did not appear at a nearby recruiting station.
“Army statistics show that substantiated cases of improprieties have increased by more than 60 percent, to 320 in 2004 from 199 in 1999. Recruiters and former Army officials say they are related to the extraordinary pressure being put on recruiters, who must meet quotas of roughly two recruits a month. The strain is breeding not just abuses, they said, but also stress-related illnesses, damaged marriages and even thoughts of suicide among some.”