Branch of service: United States Marine Corps (USMC) Unit: 1st Battalion 7th Marines Alpha Co. 3rd Plt Rank: PFC Home: Chesterton, Indiana Served in: 29 Palms, Ca Aug'03-Jan'06/Kuwait Mar'03-May'03/Al Qaim, Iraq Aug'04-Apr'05
I grew up in Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Working-class family, father was a Union Ironworker... mother was a stay at home Mom. I graduated high school in May '02 and thought I would try my luck with the United States Marine Corps. I came out of boot camp a hard chargin' Devil Dog. School of Infantry trained commenced in Dec '02 and we graduated in Feb '03. We were then sent to Kuwait to await our departure to meet up with our future units. I (either fortunately or unfortunately) received a Red Cross message telling me that my mother had endured a brain aneurysm and the doctors and staff did not know how much longer she was going to make it. As a result, I was sent home on emergency leave and had the opportunity to spend time taking care of my Mom.
A few months after I returned home I was then sent to my permanent duty station, 29 Palms, California. (Biggest DUMP in the United States Armed Services). 1/7 arrived back on base in late Oct '03. We trained for a good year with 2/7 and 3/7 in broken down on-base housing attempting to replicate urban combat scenarios. (Never once did our unit during my time go to the MOUT training facility in Camp Pendleton, CA) We then deployed to Al Qaim, Iraq in Aug '04. During our deployment we were constantly in convoys patrolling the streets, looking for snipers, i.e.d.'s, land mines, "insurgents" or anyone else that wanted to engage us. This along with shooting at innocent civilians, destroying their property and beating up prisoners along with the occasional guard time made up the majority of what I saw and did during my 8 month deployment to the "Sand Box".
I was out-spoken during our deployment but didn't and couldn't even begin to comprehend G.I. resistance. At the time I was a largely an un-educated, poorly-read individual and knew very little of G.I. resistance and the legacy and or tactics of such movements within the military system itself. As the deployment moved on, my way of bucking the system and attempting to raise consciousness was through the form of reading chapters and passages out of the various books my father and friends were sending me. Chomsky, Vidal, Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, The Nation, and a few fellow Marines began to place much of what I was personally witnessing, into a political/social context. I began to see what exactly the Iraq war was all about and what exactly I was participating in. (An illegal, immoral, unjustified and unneeded occupation of a sovereign country). As if it was apparent enough that we weren’t spreading “Democracy” and “Peace” and winning “Hearts and Minds” through the lack of contact we were allowed to have with an ever increasingly hostile local population.
Upon returning to the states I began to find local peace activists in the community and began attending events and panel discussions at local universities and town halls. In the early part of 2007 a Vietnam Veteran came up to me at an event and asked if I had ever heard of the organization IVAW, my answer was, no. Since that day I have been a member and since that day I have been working together with veterans in the goal of ending this bloody, illegal and immoral occupation.
In February of 2008 a number of veterans and me decided that it was time to form an IVAW chapter in the state of Indiana. Since that day we have held numerous fundraising events, speak-outs, educating/awareness events, counter recruitment and generally reaching out to the community via activists, churches and or church groups/leaders, high-schools, colleges, and the community at large. We have been very fortunate to have already had a good base of activists waiting to help our chapter out, we have also been lucky in that our local media outlets are absolutely dying over coverage on this sort of topic and with the view point and credibility that IVAW holds. We look forward as a chapter in working with the IVAW Great Lakes region and its chapters, in creating a cohesive, organized, sustainable effort leading the way on the left and in the peace movement in order to end the occupation.