142 votes

My personal testimony of the Iraq "war".

I was commenting on the thread The Guardian: "I worked on the US drone program. The public should know what really goes on", and another person suggested I write DP original about my experiences.

www.dailypaul.com/308922#comment-3299669

I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in September of 2000, at the age of 19. Two weeks shy of my 1 year anniversary, 9/11 happened. I spent the next two weeks keeping F-15 fighters fueled up in case they needed to respond quickly over the skies of Seattle. Then I was deployed to Spain for 3 months to fuel tankers that would go up and fuel the bombers that were flying from the U.S. nonstop to pummel Afghanistan. Another 6 months after being back at my home base, I asked for and received a 3 year tour to England, which required me to add 10 months onto my 4 year enlistment.

When the U.S. built up in preparation for an invasion of Iraq in early 2003, I was shipped off to an Air Base in Kuwait. It was an incredible feat of logistics watching the base build up from nothing to upwards of two hundred fighter planes and all the support that it required. I remember people writing things on bombs to be dropped, things about how this was payback to Iraq for 9/11. Once the attack on Iraq commenced, It was extremely busy for about 2 weeks, and then the "shock and awe" was over. It was on the ground troops (for the next 9 years) after that. I volunteered to drive a fuel truck up to a captured Air Base in Iraq, but I wasn't needed for that.

I remember at one point when I was out working, thinking about my principal in elementary school. After standing up to a bully once, he told me that violence was never the answer. I looked around at all the high tech machinery of death, and I started laughing hysterically to myself. Look around I thought. Sometimes violence is the answer. At the time, I had been very heavily indoctrinated with tribalism. Obviously those faceless unknown Iraqis were somehow of less value, and I believed in the lie that such a thing as a "surgical strike" existed.

I never contemplated the notion of human error, or that a child would only need to be in the vicinity of dropped ordinances to be traumatized for life. Thinking about such things in my immature mind would be unpleasant, logic was an inconvenience, no need for any of that.

I opted not to reenlist in the AF, for a few reasons. All of the guys that were of high moral character were not re-upping. All of the awards and early promotions were going to the most slimy of my peers. I had a brief marriage fail by being gone all the time. That, and I was a manchild like the military wants you to be. I wasn't in any hurry for a promotion, as the biggest factor to my getting out was that I would soon be a Sergeant, and I wouldn't just be hearing propaganda, I would be expected to sell propaganda. I had too much integrity to lie, and I was too cynical to believe in what I would be selling.

I wound up working as a contractor over in Iraq, the money was great and I still bought into the idea of a war on terror being legitimate, despite my awareness of how pathetic beauracracies are. In 2008 the base I was on was getting routinely attacked by insurgent rockets. I got to feel things from the other end, the shoe on the other foot, being terrorized from the sky at night by people trying to kill me. While sitting in a bunker one night, I was imagining what my own splattered corpse would look like should one of those Soviet rockets land on me. I was filled with hate, deep dark hate. I was imagining there was probably just a few guys out there somewhere with a pickup truck, jerry rigging rockets, and attacking us.

I was mad that the mighty Army could not get them, even though they attacked the same night every week, in the same window of time. I wanted them dead, how dare they threaten my life. I was so angry that I was fantasizing about how great it would be to line them up on their knees and personally walk down the line putting a bullet in the back of each of their heads. I don't say this to sound like a tough guy, this is mentally the place I was in. I would have been cool with it.

I had plenty of time to think over there, and on a level I respected the insurgents. They were risking their lives, and it was me on their land. I always find it stupid when someone calls a suicide bomber a coward, there couldn't be a harder thing to do really. It isn't any different than charging a machine gun nest in WW2. At least charging a machine gun nest, there is a chance you will make it through.

What really started to change my world view was when an Army vet my age, that I worked with as a contractor, first put forth the idea that 9/11 might have been an inside job. When he said it, I thought it was crazy. I thought no way, it would have undermined my belief in everything my life had evolved around for the past 6 years or so. He was a high moral character guy, and very smart, so I didn't dismiss it as him being an idiot. Once I started looking into alternative theories, and considering the corruption around me, as a contractor, and in the military, the bigger picture was making more sense.

I couldn't stand working in Iraq much after that, so I quit and went back home. I was having extreme anxiety problems, I couldn't be around more than a person or two at a time, I had nightmares, and I didn't fit with civilians. Nothing they talked about seemed important, and I was wired round the clock for fight or flight. I went to the VA hospital, hoping to get some counseling and work some stuff out. I found that other than an initial interview, the only thing they would do is put you on anti-depressants. The only thing beyond a minute of small talk was to ask you about the medication, and adjust the levels. No counseling was available. America does not support its troops with bandages, only bullets.

The drugs made me like a zombie, no lows, but also no highs. I couldn't do the zombie thing more than a few months, and without tapering, I got rid of the brain chemical altering pills. I experienced psychosis and extreme paranoia. I thought people were hunting me, that my food was poisoned. I wound up back to back days in police handcuffs being delivered to an emergency room.

I had been aware of the staggering suicide numbers, and the drugs, and lack of counseling to combat the self hatred for harming others offensively, as the reason for the numbers. I kept working up the nerve to off myself, just to make the pain stop. I was rehearsing with a gun barrel in my mouth even (Mauser 8mm rifle). At this point though I had a baby boy, and a fiance overseas. I had a father that wasn't around, and a crappy childhood, so how crappy would it be for me to check out on my kid. My pain had to stop though. I was raised without any faith growing up, no church, none of that. It however was time to exercise some faith, or die, so I dropped to my knees and begged Christ to forgive me. From that point I started to heal, I swear I felt a supernatural spirit moving through my body a few times after that. Holy spirit.

I have since united my family from overseas and become a different person. I look at my 4 year old son now and I see hope in the world that I didn't think existed. I don't mean for any of this to be a religious debate. I was an atheist too. I used to mock people that needed an invisible sky daddy. I do now believe in God, but that is because first I met the devil, and he was me.

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Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your message of hope. I pray others struggling with darkness will receive this message and realize to let go and let God...

If my need to be RIGHT is greater than my desire for TRUTH, then I will not recognize it when it arrives ~ Libertybelle

Shalom

Seth, sir,
Your commentary has really pushed me to think about writing about my AF experiences. As was previously said, sometimes it seems too close to talk about, either internally or from external forces.
I would like to say I am ex-Air Force and while I am "out", daily the trauma of thinking about ending the world in a nuclear holocaust haunts me. I wanted/had no part in it. I called in my personal cavalry and resisted to be the tool they tried to force me to be to the full extent of my abilities. (Sometimes the winning play is not to play at all->see embedded youtube)
Today I see the world in a very unusual light as a result of my experiences and I attempt to be a foundational piece for friends who are still "in".

All the best,
2008Richter aka USAFA '08


http://youtu.be/NHWjlCaIrQo

You should do a write up too.

I have been very surprised how viral what I wrote went, within the DP. I never thought it was going to get so much attention, and everyone commenting has been very thoughtful and supportive.

Maybe what I wrote and other similar writings might be something someone can show to a High Schooler they know thinking about joining the military. I didn't know anyone in the military to talk to when I joined. The military was completely foreign, and it was a year before things really changed with 9/11. I really didn't expect anything other than peace time when I was in. I knew there could be a war, and I understood that as well as a 19 year old could. My son will not be joining the military.

I'm surprised that you're surprised that your post is so popular

...here on the Daily Paul.

Much of what you wrote is the very essence of our underlying philosphies here.

That is, your opinions AFTER you changed your mind and saw the error of U.S. interventionist policies.

You do have a conscience - unlike most of the military who follows the "might makes right" dictum.

In their minds, if you are the biggest bully on the block, you can do no wrong and the rest of them had better see it our way or else.

Because you were there in the middle of it, your new found opinions have all that much more credibility.

Your story should go viral to the NATION not just here where we already agree 100% with you.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

Wow, amazing story

Brought me to tears..

Great story, thank you for

Great story, thank you for sharing. Liked, and even sent the link to some of my friends who are vets that are going through what you went through.

Saying that, I'll propose an idea to you to help fight against the VA and veteran suicides.

I listened to a lot of Adam Kokesh's podcasts. Whether you agree with his stances or not he spoke about his time after his service and gave a story parellel to yours. He went on to join / create a group called 'homefront battle buddies' or something that was just a bunch of vets talking through the psychological and ptsd related problems that civilians would never understand.

Given your unique situation and experiences, you would be prime to start a local group of veteran talk group. You can relate to what any of those veterans are going through, and guide them out of it. Kokesh mentioned being cannabis friendly as an alternative to VA prescribed anti-depressants (with suicide thoughts side-effects) because it allowed some people to open up to colleagues who would otherwise be introverted.

If you lead it, you could help a lot of people not pull that trigger you were practicing for. It breaks my heart to know the suicides per day, and wish I was in the position to do something about it. Being a civilian doesn't give me that opportunity to connect like an enlightened veteran would.

I'm sure there are national organizations that would help someone start a local chapter, but if you don't want to be tied to a top down organizaton just do it yourself. Word would spread and people needing support will come. A simple ad in the newspaper / social media world would be enough to get the ball rolling.

Either way, I'm sure you are not alone with what you have posted.

In liberty.

Incredible post, thanks for

Incredible post, thanks for sharing. You were never the devil, Seth, you were young and still figuring out how the world works. The devils were the ones who used you.

I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be. Albert Einstein

Phxarcher87's picture

you sir

are the soldier i respect. if you don't continue to tell your story loud and clear on the hilltops i am going to kick you in the nuts if i ever meet you. of course that's after i buy you a beer.

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" - Mark Twain

Thank you Seth...

for sharing your experience. I am Ex-Air Force, and know what you are feeling. I started my Air Force career enlisted, I obtained my degree, and became an officer. It wasn't until I became an officer that I saw what a farce/joke our government, and the heads of our military were. I can only say what I am saying now because too much time has past that I am no longer a target for the games that our government likes to play, although you never know. Once again, thank you for sharing your experience. For those of you that do not believe that 9/11 was an inside job, or that our government had nothing to do with it, all I can say is you are 100% wrong, it was an act of treason. Any of those still in Congress since 2000 are all involved, and know the truth. All I ask is that if your Congressman/woman were in office then, and are still running, whether they be Republicans, or Democrats, please do all that you can do to get them out of office, or the total destruction of our United States will happen shortly. Peace to all of you, and I hope this new year will find you all safe.

Great Story

I rarely hear people speak of the same kind of experience I had when I gave up and turned to God. I was in a similar place, albeit different circumstances, but I too felt what you felt. I still don't know what happened, but no day since has been darker than those I left behind. That was over 13 years ago and counting.

Thank you for sharing. Great read.

Dark days indeed.

Must be why they say it is always darkest before the dawn.

I too

have experienced the holy spirit. For some reason it seems that we generally only become aware of it when we are having a profound experience. I believe in the reality of God and Yeshua and hold them in the greatest reverence, but I don't consider myself to be religious or that I ever will be.

Freedom is a byproduct of acceptance - judge not.

Holy ghost.

I am curious, do you feel the sensation of powerful chills/or warming, running down the spine and pulsing out to your arms and legs? Also the sensation that your consciousness has connected with some off world source, and that the physical sensation is like a right in your face confirmation that says, "what you just thought, you are right on the money with that one, atta boy!, you put another piece in the puzzle".

Certainly I am in a lower brain wave frequency when this happens. Unconcerned about the day to day minutia of this life.

I have.

Exactly like you say. You are not alone. That is why I know for sure that God is real.

Not that I require outside

Not that I require outside confirmation for belief, but it's nice to know that I am not the lone nut. Lol.

Yeah.

I wish people would talk about it more. It is no longer blind faith when you feel God come literally into your heart.

Bump

Good to see what war actually does..

Michael Nystrom's picture

revco

I would like to hear your experience as well. I can't speak for others here at the Daily Paul, only myself.

This is very intriguing to me:

I rarely hear people speak of the same kind of experience I had when I gave up and turned to God.

Everyone has a different path to God, including me. I'm interested to hear others paths, including yours. And the positive reception to seth's post is encouraging. It means that people are interested to hear about other people's journeys, too, and not just rebroadcast headlines from Drudge.

It is like that story about all the blindfolded people at different parts of the elephant. Everyone is holding on to the elephant, and everyone is describing what they feel. Everyone feels -- and describes -- something different.

So can you see the foolhardyness of criticizing and attacking others? We're all just describing a different part of the elephant. Like Robert Anton Wilson said: Its all data! Don't get all personal about it.

Someone's describing the ear; someone's describing the leg; someone's describing the trunk; and someone's describing the tail, and comparing it to the end of the tail. IT IS ALL DATA! No need for Ears to get mad at Tail No need for Leg to get mad at Trunk.

It is data. What does the data describe? What is the big picture?

How do you even define the big picture?

At any rate, you have to make an attempt. What is the big picture that you're interested in seeing? And then, how do you best see that bigger picture?

- - -

Revco - What happened to you!?

but no day since has been darker than those I left behind.

What was that day like?

13 years means back to 2001.

I found the whole book interesting because I knew what he went through (was in the South Towwer). We get his whole life up until that point.

Basically what happened to him made his life interesting.

But everyone's life is downright fascinating.

So share it! Share that fascination of yourself!

"God" seems to be a very hotbutton issue around here.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. - Alan Watts

Michael

Michael...I don't want to take away from the Seth's story, but I'll share because you asked. (And you're sort of a big deal around here.)

It's not too complicated, really. I don't like to delve into the darkness of it, but basically I was at the point where I wanted to off myself too. I never grew up with a faith in God and really didn't want it because of what I saw of other "Christians" out there. (What I didn't know was people had nothing to do with it!) I was sitting there with a gun in my mouth and told myself that I'd at least try to pray before I ended it.

I spent over two hours in prayer begging God to turn things for me. I needed something real because I was done. From what I can remember of the day, a remarkable lightness came over me...it was as if my troubles dissolved and I was lifted above it all. I have no logical explanation, but something changed. I continued to pray fervently that entire night, praying for this new feeling to continue and to never return to that darkness.

The next morning, I took off work and traveled to my nearest church, found the first available pastor and told him of my experience. He spoke to me sensitively but firmly rooted in faith...and ultimately I was encouraged to give my life to Christ. I was dubious at best, but I accepted the challenge...anything was preferable to going back to that place. I did just that and spent hours in prayer, both with others and on my own. I didn't leave the church until that night, reading through Corinthians and other recommended passages in the book. Needless to say, I continued with the effort and the feelings I begged to have gone never returned, and that feeling I got lasted the better part of two years before I finally felt like I had my own strength back.

My path since has been both great and treacherous. I'm no religious nut and I don't care what people think or believe, but I can't deny I was saved that day in the most literal of senses. (Nor can anyone convince me otherwise.) I've encountered many obstacles to my faith since, and still have difficulties with many Christians (gay haters, zealots, burn-in-hell types, etc.), but I've determined it has nothing to do with anyone else. I'm still not perfect, I don't even attend church with regularity...but I do believe and I do talk about it with others fairly often.

To this day, I still find it funny how I ended up taking the least desired and probable path with my life. Reading Seth's story, I was reminded how few times I actually hear/read the kind of transformation I experienced...an actual touch by the holy spirit...but this post was one of them. To me, it's the verifiable proof, but it's finicky and certainly not at our disposal. I just appreciated reading a similar experience that was just as real for someone else.

Michael Nystrom's picture

Good. Thank you for sharing

I don't have much to add, except for my gratitude for you for sharing, and I'm glad that things changed for you as well.

One sentence stood out: I have no logical explanation, but something changed.

I think that there is nothing "logical" about God and our own experiences with God. Really God exists outside the confines of our workaday, logical world. And that is a good thing. But I think it causes people to discount their own experiences, which is too bad. Especially when people don't trust in themselves. I'm glad that you were able to listen, and hear, and heed what you experienced.

This is another sentence that stood out: I've encountered many obstacles to my faith since, and still have difficulties with many Christians (gay haters, zealots, burn-in-hell types, etc.), but I've determined it has nothing to do with anyone else.

I see the challenge, and your solution. Your relationship with God has nothing to do with other people. This is so true. No one's relationship with God has anything to do with anyone else. I wish everyone understood this, but we are all on our own journey.

Thank you revco! Thank you seth. Sharing your stories is an act of love. I hope that you both will continue to inspire others in the new year, and beyond.

Thank you.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. - Alan Watts

I'll share my story

because it seems as though there are people who genuinely want to know. I don't tell this to many people at all.. most of them have no reality on it to begin with so it's just words to them. I have never been religious, and although I've had Christian friends etc all my life, I have had, and still do, a strong caution towards subscribing to any faith.

My awareness of God started properly about 5 years ago when I was going through a health crisis. My endocrine system was malfunctioning and pumping adrenalin into my body in waves, often without much reprieve 24 hours a day. This was the worst experience of my life and I would describe it as a living nightmare.

I also believe that I had a couple of very minor heart attacks as a consequence, I say minor because although I was aware that there was something seriously wrong, it didn't kill me and I didn't end up in hospital. A corresponding symptom of this was that I was having nightmares which felt like the real thing, and I think that I was close to dying a number of times.

One night in particular it was at it's most intense, and although I was awake, I lost the sensation of my body and then heard a sound. The sound can't be described adequately with words, but it would be closest to describe it as a thousand monks humming in deep pulsating unison. At first it was something that I was hearing, but I quickly felt myself dissolve into it and then became aware of everything in the universe all within this sound.

I think that what I have just described will only have meaning if you have experienced it or something like it yourself. It was profound. The next part has so much stigma that I don't know if it is worth recounting, but I will for those people out there who can relate. Some time during that same night, some angles called out to me ( in words which came out as song ) and basically suggested that I give Jesus a hug. This I was eager to do, but as I moved to do it I had a sudden panic that I was dying, and so I fled back to my semi lifeless body.

I had this experience before I considered Yeshua to be real, in the sense of him as the avatar which he is ascribed as by religion. Now I know that he is real, and also that so is God. I think that God is experienced differently for every individual and that it is beyond any finite description. I think that it is known as love, and that all love is of God. This is probably the only way that we can know it within the construct of physicality.

Freedom is a byproduct of acceptance - judge not.

Good job

You can not change the past but you can choose your future paths using the experience and knoledge you have gained. Most important is to share with the next generations so they do not have to spend the years to learn what took away many years of your life. The best years.

sovereign

Young man, I Love because HE made you

The Essence of Your Salvation

Forgive yourself and look upon yourself with love. Always remember that you are connected eternally to God. You are a divine creation, and you do not want to fear your divinity any longer. You do not have to perform to anyone else’s standard to be loved; you are loved unconditionally. You do not have to be mistake-free; you are always loved. You do not have to win; you are loved regardless of the outcome or the score. All the reasons that you may have adopted to hate yourself are the result of a rigid belief that your EGO is the dominant force in your life. Your ego believes you are what you do, what you have, what others think of you. Your ego believes you are separate from everyone else, and separate from God. Thus, that ego is always judging, evaluating, and comparing you to others. When you don’t measure up, you engage in self-contempt. Then you review how many times you failed and turn those self-perceived failures into self-hate. As a spiritual being, you do not have to perform, compare, win, or anything else. Your worthiness is a given. You are a piece of God. Always connected. Remind yourself of this truth whenever you resort to any form of self-hatred. Forgive yourself and you are sowing love in your energy field, as well as providing yourself with a spiritual solution to the “problem” of self-contempt. This concludes my suggestions for learning to sow love where there is hatred. I know in my heart that no person can love another unless he loves humanity first. The ability to sow love stems from this inner sense of feeling connected to, rather than separate from all living creatures, all of humanity and God as well.

I wish I could take credit for writing this……it’s from Wayne Dyer book “Spiritual Solution to every Problem”. It captures the Essence of my Salvation when I was a young man and changed my life. I always knew what it was but was never able to express it and therefore I could not share it with others. It may not be the same for you, we are all individuals…….but it also expresses what I think is the Essence of Liberty. To love all humanity as God loves you.

But Goldspan!

Don't forget to include that James Corbett and Karen Hudes are IDIOTS, and how they should NEVER be listened to.

Truth will not be denied.

"Forgive yourself and you are sowing love in your energy field"

oh, and don't forget to click your heels three times!

LOL!!

Base1ass

I love idiot too!....including you!

Man you really do make this too easy.

I love idiot too!....including you!

Profound Goldspan.

Are you TRYING TO SAY that Corbett, Hudes, and this brave Soldier aren't standing up for the same thing?

You can't break apart the truth Goldspan. But it's fun to watch you jump from one issue to the other to try to destroy it.

“That don’t make no sense”

This fellow is you kin ….right?

Another profound post by you Goldspan

Got a Winter Garden in? I do. Do you study the Bible? I do.

Are those the actions that piss you off about me? You are in trouble.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWXCLVCJWTU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsCRDNxIH4I

More places for you to troll my friend. ;) Happy New Year.

Why are you under the impression

that I waste my thoughts on you? Obviously you must think a lot about me…..good that means you are questioning everything you thought you have known since you met me. The more you proceed to tell me how wrong I am……. only affirms my convictions…..but as far as you are concerned I do love a lost cause……you certainly are a pain.