Fear and Loathing in Iraq: Oct 31, 2004

Chris Sachs in the Army

Hello everyone, and welcome to another week of Fear and Loathing in Iraq. I will have to continue next week with part III of my trip to Kenya, because 1. We’re on the eve of the election and 2. I need to write about an interesting Email I received from a fellow soldier. It turns out that one of people that reads my weekly newsletter must have quite a different opinion on what is going in the world and must be pretty upset with me because they forwarded some of my Emails to a master sergeant in the 277th Quartermaster Company, a reserve unit out of Niagara Falls, NY. I was contacted by this soldier and he expressed his opinion about me and what I write. I have copied the Email and posted it below for you all to read.

SGT Sachs,
I have read some of your e-mail you have been sending home. I understand you have a right to voice your opinion while wearing that uniform. Also understand something coming from another NCO who has been there and knows what it is like. Your lack of professionalism is appauling. This recent letter telling of things going there is absolutely disgusting. Watch what you say in those letters home before you find yourself in serious trouble. People who shouldn't read some of those things, are getting the wrong info and twisting the information the wrong way. Grow up lead like a NCO before you you say something in one of those letters you regret. Yes I now what it is like there. I used to make the supply run between spiecher and anaconda (thru samara) weekly. I was the NCOIC on all of them. The good ones, bad ones, and ugly ones. I never whined to my family and friends about what I was doing. So i'm tell you stop the whining and complete the mission. Ramadan will over soon enough too.

MSG ##############.

The first thing I did after reading the letter was to lean back in my chair and let out a heavy sigh. I then showed the letter to my 1SGT, who is also a master sergeant by the way, and asked him if he has ever heard of the guy. He said “nope” and tossed the letter aside. I went and got the letter back and wrote a reply thanking him for writing, for taking care of the soldiers, and that finally I think we would have to agree to disagree.

Now I am not sure which person out there forwarded my newsletter to military personnel, and I really don’t care, but all I ask is that the person who did, if there was malice meant behind it, to please just ask me not to send you my weekly newsletter. I write these weekly news letters to friends and family so that they know from a first hand basis what life is like out here, and what life and war is like for a member of their family or a friend. I do not force my opinion on anyone, I do not write what is going on out here because I want to cause a ruckus or stir up the shit or get people into trouble or whatever, I am just writing about how I feel and what I see. If one of you out there disagrees with me and my opinion and don’t want send friendly email debates, then please, by all means, block my address or send me an Email saying that you do not want to hear from me. I will no longer send you letters. It is that simple. And many people who receive my newsletter forward them to their friends and family, and so if it was forwarded to you, then please contact the person who forwarded it and ask them to stop. Too easy.

Now for a while I have been reading news articles, Op-Eds, Blogs, Stars and Stripes opinions, chat room posts, etc. Now what really gets me are the ones who claim I am a bad soldier, or unpatriotic, or helping the terrorists or a bad person or a heathen or a whiner or a sinner or whatever name they want to paint me with. It is actually very funny, and I could see their point if I didn’t do my job, refused missions, let my soldiers fend for themselves, filed for conscientious objector status, or went AWOL or something like that. But I have done none of those things. I would now like to go over a few of my highlights during my three years in the Army.

  • At basic training I was voted the most improved soldier
  • At AIT I was selected to be the platoon guide, and kept the job the entire 16 weeks, while most others were rotated through their position.
  • At the end of AIT I was runner up for Soldier of the FTX.
  • Since being with the 557 Medical Company I have never once been late to a formation.
  • I have never once received a counseling statement (a military version of being written up).
  • I have never had an Article-15 (lost rank or money or time).
  • I have been through a vehicle rollover and pulled my soldier/driver out through the window and took care of her, for which I was given an AAM.
  • I earned my Schutzenschneur (inter-country rifle program), earning Gold.
  • I have stood before a military promotion board and received the highest score among all soldiers present, including the E-6 board.
  • I have maxed out the number of military correspondence course credit hours possible.
  • I was the ONLY soldier in my company selected to go to Turkey during Operation Iraqi Freedom. While there I volunteered (yes, volunteered!) to work at the E701st aid station and was one of only 20 soldiers out of 1500 during the whole three months to receive a coin from Major General Mortensen.
  • I was selected and sent off to Armorer school to add to my duties by fixing weapons.
  • I was selected to replace the training NCO and still hold the assignment.
  • During our training to go to Iraq I was given a COA by the Sergeant Major for my speech I gave to the troops in Germany about how to maintain their weapons in the desert.
  • - In Iraq I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and given soldiers of my own to lead and train. My first sergeant later publicly applauded me for taking the most troublesome soldier (which no other NCO could handle) and getting him so squared away he too was promoted out here.
  • - I was given two coins by brigadier generals and on 25 Oct 04 I was given a coin by a Major General of the Canadian Army who is part of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
  • - I have assisted in numerous convoys and volunteered for more than I was told to take. Remember, my job in headquarters normally keeps me behind a desk.
  • I volunteered (yes, volunteered) to teach EMT recertification out here and had 15 soldiers recertified, including 3 from the fire station.
  • I helped rebuild the MWR building to give the soldiers more room to relax.
  • I worked for 32 hours straight once because a soldier was sick and could not work, so I volunteered to do her shifts.
  • And I assisted in menial chores that I could have had others do, or just stood and watched like so many other NCOs do.

Yes folks, that is me. I am a bad soldier. I am a piece of shit. I am unpatriotic, rebellious, a bad leader, unprofessional and bad for morale. Keep your soldiers away from me, I am a bad influence, I weaken the army and aid the terrorists. Shame on me, I am a whiner, a wimp, a complainer, a curmudgeon, a little bitch, and I have no place among real soldiers. How dare I wear this uniform, how dare I stand among real patriots, how dare I call myself an American. That’s right folks, call your congressman, call my leaders, call my platoon sergeant, and call the Secretary of Defense. How dare such a lower caliber of human feces defend you good people! Why I should be sent to Abu-Ghraib and have a floor lamp shoved up my ass!

What the fuck do people think I have been doing out here? What the fuck do people think I stand for? I am allowed to criticize, I am allowed an opinion, and I am allowed to let people know what is going on out here as long as I don’t give away secret information— which I never have. I am allowed to complain, and I am not alone. Come here to my company, to my battalion, to my brigade, Hell, come to the base chow hall at dinner, all you hear are people complaining. That is how you get through this whole fucking mess is by complaining because it makes you feel better. I have never met a soldier who didn’t complain. Even my last first sergeant, who was as HOOAH as the damn Army can get, complained like broken record.

If people don’t like the fact I criticize Bush, well get in line motherfuckers, because there are thousands here who do. Thousands. Come to the MWR not far from here and look at the screen savers that make fun of Bush. Read the writing in just about every port-o-potty on this godforsaken post criticizing this war and our current administration. Look at the stickers people stick up around the base making fun of this whole mess. Look at the military trucks rolling down the road with big white chalk writing “One Weekend a Month My Ass!” all over them. I have been to probably 15 different bases here in my 11 months and they are all the same: complaints and criticisms all over the place. Of course many talk big and yet will still vote for Bush, but they complain all the same.

Most of the people who call themselves patriots are ignorant, ill-informed on world affairs, have never traveled the world outside of a military auspice, never spent time talking to foreigners and learning life from other pairs of eyes. They wrap themselves in the American flag and think that is all it takes to be a patriot. They think that no matter what their government does it is OK and anyone who ever digs a little deeper into the matter is a communist or sympathetic to some enemy out there. What the fuck do people think it takes to be an American? I would love to know what their opinion on being a REAL American is, so that when I see one I will know to steer clear of them.

I am not saying the soldiers here should follow their conscience and throw down their arms in protest, there has to be discipline in the military. But how dare someone, anyone, tell me that I am unpatriotic or un-American. These are the same people who have such weak minds and such ignorance and lack of education that they don’t understand anything else but simplicity: He bad, kill him. No kill him? You bad. I am tried of this Cro-Magnon attitude, this Neanderthal mentality that permeates our ignorant war hawks out there. Don’t they see that 99% of the wars and bullshit we have to deal with are because of their fucked up bumbling in the first place!

Do I do my job? Yes I do. Do I do my job well? Yes I do. Do I have a right to complain and bitch about stupid things I see? Yes I do. Do I wear the uniform of a U.S. Soldier? Yes-I-do! It may be hard to believe, all you jingoistic arrogant cavemen out there, but you can be a good soldier AND criticize illogical ideas and stupid politics. So if one of the people sitting there on their fucking couch in the safety of their home think they are more patriotic than I am, or have the secret formula to being a TRUE American, then by all means, please share it with the rest of us. We would love to know. (And by the way, did you know that almost 90% of the leading Republicans out there HAVE NEVER SERVED IN THE MILITARY! And these are the ones constantly harassing the nation about patriotism and pointing fingers. Now go look up the percentage of leading democrats that have served in the military—you will pleasantly surprised.)

I follow the words of an American president, one long before Bush and a whole deal smarter. Theodore Roosevelt said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President...is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." I believe in that statement and I follow that statement. And if someone wants to call the local JAG office and try and have me arrested under Article-88 or Article-92 of the UCMJ, then be my guest. But they better bring a whole goddamn truck because they will be taking many other people as well. You think I am the only one to think the way I do? I am just one of the few that will say something. Try watching a movie called Fahrenheit 9/11, or reading dozens of websites, or hell, for that matter, go out and buy a new book just released called Will They Ever Trust Us Again, which is a compilation of hundreds of letters written BY SOLDIERS — selected out of tens of thousands of emails by soldiers — who are against this war and the current administration. Most of the soldiers in that book allowed their FULL NAME to be used; they bravely chose not to be anonymous. Go to www.optruth.org and read thousands of emails from soldiers criticizing this failure.

Watch the DVDs Unprecedented, Uncovered, Unconstitutional, Outfoxed, The Control Room and other documentaries about the things going on over the past 3 ½ years. Read the Economist, the Atlantic, Harper’s, Newsweek, Time, Foreign Affairs, and the Nation. Watch the BBC, CNN World, PBS, listen to NPR. Read some of over 90 books published criticizing our current administration (the most in history, by the way). Travel outside the U.S. for once and meet new people. You know why you should do these things? Because all the people who call me and others like me unpatriotic usually have never done these things. They are ignorant, small-minded, simple and lack the creativity to think outside the box, are afraid to learn more about the world, and choose to blindly follow anything they are told because that is what makes a true American!

Now on to the election. As I mentioned before, I have already voted, there is nothing more I can do except to ask people to look deep within themselves and follow their gut. You know this is not where America should be right now. You know we are not a stronger nation right now, you know things are screwed up and getting worse. This is not the America I envisioned it would be like years ago. You can blame a very small part of it on 9/11, but the way this country has evolved since then is just illogical, it is not smart, not patriotic, not uniting, not safe, not constitutional, not good and needs a wake up call from the insanity we have blindly been led into.

What has happened to my country? Right before our eyes it has weakened, been tainted, and we have lost our standing among the entire world. We have made terrorism worse, foreign and domestically. We are polarized, paranoid, angry, fearful, completely uninformed, mislead, and mismanaged. We have the most secretive White House we have had since Nixon and the people have never been more disconnected from their government and their democracy.
This election doesn’t have to be Kerry, or Nader, or Badnarik, or Cobb, or Halpin, or Powell, or Nelson, or Witort, or Hacker, or Winn, or Klemmensen, or Moffi, or Brown or even Pridgen, but it just should not be for Bush and his current administration. They have done real damage that will take years to fix, not including the psychological and constitutional damage done, and we will have rebuild friendships all over the world and try and repair the U.N. debacle and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

This will be the last newsletter I write before the election, and after Nov. 2nd, whether Bush wins or not, I will be through writing about politics. I have done all I could. I have never voted before now, nor cared much about politics, and I have found that politics is a never ending argument and it causes nothing but stress and misery, and unless I get a president that is just so god-awful off the chart bad, like now, I plan to never follow politics ever again.
I wish everyone well out there, and I miss you all. Support the troops, but not the war.

Take care.

--Chris Sachs

P.S. It was just announced the day before yesterday that the First Infantry Division will be extended for up to three months. This is being done not because we are losing the war on terrorism; this is being done because we are “winning the war on terrorism.”