The other night, I had the opportunity to sit down with my hubby and get inside his head about the conflict in Iraq. When we talk on the phone, our conversations are usually filled with, "I love you, I miss you, I can't wait to see you". My husband is also super OPSEC, so he won't tell me anything over the phone. I was glad to get the chance to ask him the questions I've wanted to know. And he surprised me on a lot of his answers - his views have changed drastically since the day he left for Hell.
Erin: What do you think about America's involvement in Iraq?
Mark: At first I thought it was ridiculous. But now, I realize that there are people who care about their freedom - which has changed my outlook. Overall, I would say that I agree with America's involvement in the war.
Erin: Do you agree with the people who think we went to war for oil?
Mark: I don't think it's about oil. There was evidence of weapons of mass destruction. We weren't willing to take any chances, so we went in there and fucking got him (Saddam Hussein).
Erin: What gets you through your long deployment?
Mark: Being constantly busy. Also knowing that I have a mission coming up, and executing that mission. And talking to my wife. And haji movies.
Erin: What is the one thing you would like to say to people who think we shouldn't have gone over there?
Mark: You don't know until you've seen kids running down the streets asking for food, no shoes on. There are Iraqis who work for on post for two dollars a day, and feel wealthy. The country is fucked up, and we are there to help. You shouldn't say anything unless you've experienced it.
Erin: What do you think about the job President Bush has done as your Commander in Chief?
Mark: At first I thought he was trying to finish a war that his daddy started. But now, I think he's the best damn president we've had in a while. He really knows how to take care of his soldiers.
Erin: What are your feelings about the soldier who confronted Donald Rumsfeld about lack of armor?
Mark: If you don't feel fucking safe, then go Active Duty or go to the scrap metal bin, and fucking weld the shit onto your vehicle. Fuckin' quit bitchin'.
(He explained to me that the Army and the National Guard have different funding...So he's never had any problem with armor...Thus the reason to go Active Duty. He also says that on every post there is a scrap metal bin, so if you need a piece, you just go grab it. Red Six gives his opinion here.)
Erin: Would you say that the Iraqis you've come in contact with are grateful or resentful for America's presence in their country?
Mark: Grateful. I have yet to come across an Iraqi that hasn't shaken my hand or put their hand over their heart and said, "Slalom Alecum" (Peace be upon you). I have NEVER been treated poorly by an Iraqi.
Erin: How long do you see our forces being there?
Mark: There is no way to know for sure, but I think eventually it will be a permanent duty station. I don't see the fighting stopping anytime soon.
Erin: Do you feel that Iraq has become a better place since you arrived there?
Mark: I can't say because when I first got there, I wasn't going out on missions. So I have nothing to compare it to now. But just by the noises I hear, it seems worse. We hear mortars and small arms fire everyday, whereas a few months ago, we would go weeks without hearing anything. It just goes to show that you can never become complacent.
Erin: Tell me a story about your deployment that you would like to someday tell your grandchildren.
Mark: Well, a lot of what I've seen I want to forget. But one of the stories I would tell would be about two Iraqi kids I came in contact with. We had just raided a house, and school was letting out. Two Iraqi twin boys came up to me and a buddy. They were showing us their English books, and asking about our handcuffs. One of them pointed to my ink pen. I pulled it off of my uniform and gave it to him. In return, they gave me and my buddy a piece of candy. It was a good interaction. I hope when they are older they remember us, because I will remember them.
Call me sick, but I love hearing this stuff. I can't wait to hear more.