Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This Is Us? Really?

My roommate, my Tokyo partner in crime and self-discovery and altogether life-experience amazement was the one to fill me in on the pitifully brief details.

Two girls. Underage apparently. One dead on arrival, the other unresponsive. In some barracks on Fort Lewis. I was an hour drive away from all of this, and I still don't even know what day it happened on. I just showed up and there it was.

Too young to even BE in the fucking barracks. And whose barracks was it? We sure as shit don't know. I pray it wasn't the barracks of our brigade, not for our sake, but for theirs. No one deserves to live their final moments in these pisspoor laughable prison-like containment cells, regardless of the great company they may have had.

Shit, maybe it was one hell of a night, and they were into more than they could handle, chemicals to deviate and alter the mind, really Jackson Pollack the night with reckless abandon. I don't know the specifics. All I know is that it ended with someone's daughter dead, and the other supposedly incoherent. I'm not chasing the story. I'm not that guy. I don't have a future as a journalist because of things like this. Respect for privacy. Not that I'm even privy to confidential information. But if it were to happen to anyone I knew, on either side of the equation, you can bet your Patriot Acted-ass that you'd hear no more.

You haven't heard the specifics of the things that make me clench my teeth into cracked shards, so why would I talk about strangers?

Here's my take, ladies and gents. The Army is the fucking Jungle. This is where your sons and daughters go to become corrupted and disturbed and sent to foreign countries to either cause and bear witness to death, or fuck like stoned test bunnies. No one is innocent in a third world country and you would be fucking insane to think that a Porta-Shitter is a place that your kid would not fuck someone. After a while, you can't even SMELL shit. This species prevailed for a reason. We'll fuck ANYWHERE. If we had to, we'd fuck on the wreckage of Princess Di's car and JFK Jr's plane, and if we had the gear we'd dive down to the ruins of the Titanic to bone there harder than Leonadro DiCaprio ever could.

But two underage girls? I'm as baffled as the rest of you. I just shrug and think "drugs". As far as underage, I'm not surprised. Fuck, in my own hometown, some of the Airmen cruise our high school girls for tail. At the time, I thought the dudes that lived off post, I mean off BASE, threw decent parties. In retrospect, oh my fucking GOD are they laming it out.

I'm getting off subject. On an issue I've specifically chosen not to follow too closely, I've already learned more than I wanted to. Someone's daughter DIED here, and another was in critical condition. But they'll still call us soldiers, everyone but those families. See if they put those yellow magnets on their cars now. You remember me going off about how we are so different from the commercial bullshit? A repressed fraternity governed under psychotic inhumane rules that we no shit EAGERLY AGREED TO (myself included).

I talked to a cab driver on post about this, and these fellows are more connected than I, they are veterans AND they listen to the drunken drivel of wretched hyenas like me. This person said that even the POST COMMANDER would suffer because of this.

Now normally, I am all for fucking The Man right back for my reparations, wanting to trade a good friend for an opportunity-seeker, switch 'em out real quick and let the asshole take an explosion or gunshot wound, but this, this is out of control.

You can NOT punish a POST COMMANDER for the actions of one or two soldiers. At the platoon or company level, its bullshit, because they cannot control their soldiers 24/7, but if heads roll at the platoon and company and BATTALION AND BRIGADE AND DIVISION AND POST LEVEL, then my distaste for bureaucracy DOES have some level of merit, because that is wrong. WRONG.

"Heads will roll" is a statement that a yes-man issues to a superior to appease him, fuck the underlings to keep things on an even keel. That's bullshit. Down to the level of CQ (for those of military knowledge; the rest of you, just fucking google it), CQ should receive no more than a slap on the hand. No loss of rank or pay, maybe some bullshit extra duty to be a public spectacle as to how serious this is, but for fuck's sake, why compromise the career of an upcoming E5 or E4 because of something they had little control over.

CQ CANNOT watch over every room all 24 hours. And that's the small picture. You have CQ for one company. Now zoom out to one battalion. You quadruple the responsibility. Zoom out to brigade, you MORE than quadruple responsibility again. Zoom out some more, to EVERYTHING ON YOUR INSTALLATION, EVERYTHING THAT HAS THE NAME "FORT LEWIS" STAMPED TO IT. You want to punish this one man because of one infraction out of THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF SOLDIERS? A man who has built his life with this Army, who has seen this shit come and go time and time again, you want to bleed HIM out because of it?

I'm obviously no fan of the Army or its system and I want to depart from it as soon as humanly possible, but there is no fucking way I want to see a lifetime soldier who has become a General Officer be punished for the fuckup of some barracks-dwelling soldier.

Common fucking sense. You don't have to fuck the whole chain. Even the CQ had limited power. The individual(s) responsible can be dealt with. As for the rest, fuck, BRIEF them and leave it at that. Keep it out of the records. They can't walk the halls of the barracks every fucking night to try to prevent every possible travesty. Yes, they are accountable for all of us, but you cannot send the shitstorm that high when the incident comes from such a low level.

I don't even know what unit or brigade this happened it, but I'll still be sickened, offended, and enraged if it goes beyond the lowest level that it has to.

As for the families of the girls, there is not a single thing I can say to excuse what happened, I can't even successfully apologize on the guilty party(ies) behalf. But how would you handle this in a civilian event? You wouldn't attack the entire extended family. The parents, probably, but not everyone.

That's all I have to say about it. I am honestly hurt that it happened here, I want to be able to relate to every last beating heart in uniform on this post, but that's not the case. Just don't cast us all in the fire. Most of us, even the angst-ridden hate-filled short-timers are ok people.

I promise you all, we are ok people. Some of us may need some adjusting to say the least, but we are good and honest people. We have been waging a bullshit war for each other, for your sons and daughters, while the world forgets about Afghanistan, which was actually justified.

But then there was Baghdad, for some reason.

And Baqubah

Not counting the wounded, I can still find and shake their hands. Or the guys who had near misses. I don't even know everyone who did. Minor wounds. Next to death but what-the-fuck-saved-me moments.


From here I lose track. I haven't even scratched the surface. It's not that I've forgotten anywone, it's that after a while, you get flooded with how many people got fucked up during this weird ordeal we signed up with psychotic eagerness.

No one is punishing high ranking officers, and it isn't because of the contract we signed. Don't crucify someone who had nothing to do with something horrible.

Fuck You Very Much, World,

The Goddamn Suspect


Anonymous said...

When I heard about this, and saw it was at your base, my first thought was hoping it was far from your own barracks, and not eve your platoon/battalion/etc.

Then I wondered what, if anything you would say about it.

Someone fucked up. But like hell I'm going to blame anyone but the screwknobs who left those girls to die. But sick as I am? I'd let you and the others on post mete out the justice.

Much love for you Suspect.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there dude. You didn't do it, and wouldn't do it. We have a fucked-up society, however, that pulls this kind of shit all the time. I'm sorry.

themorethingschange... said...

A heart wrenching post my man.

"...I don't have a future as a journalist because of things like this. Respect for privacy..."

The very reason I changed my major from journalism to english - couldn't bring myself to "intrude" -- plus I tend to bloviate...

" my own hometown, some of the Airmen cruise our high school girls for tail. At the time, I thought the dudes that lived off post, I mean off BASE, threw decent parties. In retrospect, oh my fucking GOD are they laming it out..."

This statement is yet another reflection of just how much you've grown as a man these last difficult years.

My personal opinion is that the military has lowered the bar by allowing so many exemptions, and it can't be blamed on this war(S) alone. When my son was at Great Lakes NTC he told me about guys who got the deal from the judge, got the exemption from the Navy, then declared during boot that they were gay and got out. One guy in his class went another way, climbed up a building and threatened to jump. He got out too. Those guys didn't hurt anybody because thankfully they were discharged.

But yeah. There are bad apples. They're everywhere.

A wise man told me this; take the soldier/airman/sailor population, figure 2% of that number, and you have your likely number of trouble makers.

For what it's worth, I believe you can't see the forest for the trees right now. And I think that journalists tend to favor the bad news. So while it may feel like it at the moment, you're not all being tarred with the same brush.

red said...

themorethingschange said it..."A heart wrenching post"

The story is spreading, but don't expect it to take center stage. Fortunately I think there is enough else going on.

I can't begin to speculate on the 'whys', 'hows', or 'what were they even DOING theres' of this story. I hate to sound so callous, but underage girls die at parties on a surprisingly frequent basis. I should know. Stony hearts and cast-iron stomachs come with the job. I won't tell you not to feel bad about it, because frankly I'm glad to see someone feel bad about it. Far too often, no one feels bad about it. Go ahead and hurt. Hur for them, for their families, and for your whole fucking base. It's going to haunt them for a long time. Am I saying that that's right? No. Because it isn't right. That's just the way it is.

Sorry to be such a downer, Suspect. I really, truly wish that I could be a bright spot here, but I can't. I don't think you would appreciate me feeding you a line of crap about 'don't worry it will all be ok' so I won't.

I will tell you this. Hang in there. Everything is going to be seriously fucked up for a while. Everyone is going to be upset. Everyone is going to be tense, angry, scared, and every other thing. Eventually, everyone WILL move on. They won't forget, and the hurt caused by this mess won't go away. But you and everyone else will get PAST it, even if you don't get OVER it.

Best of luck, Suspect. I hope that agreements can be made and things can be settled in such a way as some semblance of normalcy can return soon.

bigD said...

Hey Suspect,
Why is it always harder when sh*t like this goes down right in your own backyard? That's when we all say..."Not here. This is a nice neighborhood."

I guess it has to feel like such a waste of precious life after all you have been through and all you have seen. And a rough reminder of all those who would give just about anything to have a second chance at life.

Why is it always harder when young people die? I don't know, it just is! It is a tragic loss and a hurtful reminder of the insanity of humanity.

I don't look at this as a military problem at all. It goes way deeper than that and it actually has nothing to do with the military. I guess I will withhold judgment until there are some actual facts but, my list of "what's wrong with this picture" would include:
1) alcohol
2) drugs
3) sex
4) lack of parental supervision
5) lack of good judgment
6) lack of any one "good" guy or gal who would maybe see what was happening and TAKE ACTION, whether that meant calling police, starting CPR, or caring enough to figure out what was going on and putting a stop to it.

While my son was away at school, there was a story every couple months or so about another young life lost due to alcohol intoxication, drugs, rape, and other crimes of violence.

Military bases do not have a corner on the market of stupid decision making.

Ryan, you have always been an "honest and OK" kind of guy to me!
I am sorry you have to go through this right now. It takes a lot of emotional and physical energy to empathize with the sadness of others and to care about what happens in this crazy f*cked up world. This kind of sh*t should make you angry. I'd worry about you if it didn't!

God(s) bless you Ryan, you are ever in my thoughts and prayers.

themorethingschange... said...

Felt the urge to read this again today because there is SO MUCH context here.

Your blessing and your curse is that you're a sensitive human being. It brings great joy in the smallest things and it brings great pain as well.

The Ft Lewis story doesn't seem to be making big ripples on the national stage, and what kind of statement does that make....In fact, neither of my family members in WA have mentioned it, so maybe the epicenter will be the extent of the coverage.

This is a story of two girls making bad choices and a soldier(s) who took advantage. Sadly, its a story thats all too common.

It may take a concentrated effort to ignore the tautological (!) press. You'll just have to take my word for this -- their voice seems so much louder when its your town/your profession/your neighbor.

And, here's a thought - no, a reminder - mainstream journalism may not be your forte, but I can totally see you in the "alternative" press. It's a weekly here but, IMHO, it tells a more honest story. And I'd bet a years worth of disability payments Seattle has one! Pick one up and see what you think.

Warmest love ~P~

membrain said...


Anonymous said...

cory's pass expired, so went to get him another one yesterday...turns out the base here won't give out 30-day passes anymore. they wouldn't explain why, but i'm guessing it has to do with what happened there.

people make stupid choices. it sucks those girls made such a bad one.


Anonymous said...

cory's pass expired, so went to get him another one yesterday...turns out the base here won't give out 30-day passes anymore. they wouldn't explain why, but i'm guessing it has to do with what happened there.

people make stupid choices. it sucks those girls made such a bad one.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what Jen said sucks. I bet this also hinders visitor's policies *again* and you responsible soldiers with things like siblings and girlfriends are going to feel the burn of it again.

Young people scare me sometimes, trying to be so much more mature so much earlier and the things they think are a "good time"! No one enjoys being young and thriving anymore.