What Would Chesty Do?

Ed Raymond

Let’s see. We send our young “volunteers” to war from poor small towns in poor counties. They choose to get out of a dull town and make something of themselves. They can’t afford to go to college, so they will risk limb and life because the GI Bill may be the ticket to their idea of Nirvana. So at first they are willing to participate in an overseas war in “romantic” places completely different from their own experiences. 

   But then the war zone turns to horror as they scrape the body parts of friends torn to bits by mortars and IEDs off their uniforms. It turns to horror when they hear of fellow soldiers or Marines emasculated, tortured, and beheaded by the enemy. They get their service numbers tattooed on their extremities so if they lose a significant body part in a blast, with a little bit of luck, it may be reattached.

   But then in our innocent, isolated world, where we were told to power-shop as a war sacrifice, we are “upset,” “disgusted,” outraged,” while the politicians scream phrases such as “utterly deplorable” and civilian shrinks seek their 15 minutes of TV fame by saying four Marines pissing on dead Taliban “almost tops other more ghastly war crimes.” 

    I understand the four Marines pictured relaxing in the famous “urination” video were members of a sniper unit. People should understand that’s about killing quietly and efficiently—and being killed quietly and efficiently. When you are close enough to have an enemy in your sights, you are also close enough to be in the sights of your enemy. Most snipers are ordinary people turned into killers because they can shoot straight. In some ways, it is a simple combat life. As one sniper said, “You wait for a target to show himself, then you take your shot and get the hell out of there.”