Our soldiers, sold out and honoredI highly recommend Major K. for those wanting an unfiltered view of what is going on in Iraq on the ground. In back to back posts he gave us the following pointers.
This site currently profiles the story of Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith and his gallantry that lead to his posthumous Medal of Honor award. This young man is probably more characteristic of our brave armed forces than we will ever know or appreciate. May God be with him and his family and his brothers in arms. We civilians should thank our lucky stars every day and night for the generations of young unknown men like Paul Smith who have guaranteed our freedoms and way of life by putting their lives on the line.
This story is not as happy. The story is, commonly, without detail that would allow an independant evaluation of the situation. Basically, the Army has convicted a tank commander holding the rank of Captain of "assault with intent to commit manslaughter" for putting a bullet into an enemy soldier whom he claims was mortally wounded and suffering. The prosecution was going for "assault with intent to commit murder". Since CNN, classically, did not give us any details (like a professional medical opinion on the state of the victem at the time of the shooting), it is hard to determine if this is a case of a Captain stepping over the line or of the politically correct pressure on warfare today putting a Captain who acted in a time honored manner of humanity behind bars for a decade for doing his duty.
I do not intend, without a lot more data, to pass judgement on who is stepping over the line in this particular case. I point the story (with HT to Major K.) out to illustrate the reality of the war that we send these men into. Many American men for a couple of centuries, and many other honorable fighting men going back many centuries before our little experiment was launched, have had to put a bullet into their own comrades to end their suffering in circumstances that most of us thank God we cannot imagine. The vast majority of these men who will see the images of their comrades in death for the rest of their lives have received no medals or accolades for their sacrifice. They do not even burden their loved ones with the stories. They bear their burden quietly and alone.
Clueless ACLU types will say that this judgement is not one that should be made by a front line soldier. I would argue that it often belongs nowhere else. War is not the sterile environment that we live in within our little x-urban existance. All too infrequently a soldier from PFC to Colonel has to make a life and death decision. Sometimes that decision is whether to put a bullet into a best friend or a battlefield enemy to end their suffering. In a perfect world everyone who had to make that decision affirmatively would receive our Medal of Honor and all of the stature and benefits that go with it. In the real world most of them suffer quietly with their nightmares that not even their wives understand. Occasionally we are presented with the stark reality that men who make the right decision are put behind bars for doing exactly the right thing. For this we should be ashamed.
Again, I have no knowledge that tells me if this is the situation in this particular case. I pray that it is not but I suspect that it is.