Living Memory

Memory is a funny thing. Things can hide in the back parts of your brain for years and you can forget they ever were. Then something comes along that sparks the right neuro-chemical pathway and it wakes up. Sometimes it’s a happy pleasant memory. Other times, not so much. Either way, the memories exist and are very real. We are all collections of our memories, and they affect us.

I bring this up because I found a web page during my self-referential googling on Friday. My former unit commander has a web page about a friendly fire incident during the first Gulf War. The page was interesting, if somewhat unsettling, reading. I don’t have first hand knowledge of everything he says. However, where my experience overlaps his account, everything he says matches my personal knowledge or recollection of events.

The final conclusion of the story is one of the reasons that many veterans fell a deep ambivalence about their military service. He got hung out to dry to protect other higher-ranking officers. Anybody that’s ever served can recognize this pattern. The worst part of it? He was an excellent officer. He focused on what was important and tried to keep the bullshit to a minimum.

I guess in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I was CPT Friesen’s HMMWV driver before we deployed to the Gulf. Due to a long and not very interesting chain of events, I was reassigned to a line platoon before deployment and then after deployment I ended up back in Headquarters Platoon. At the time of the incident, I was the First Sergeant’s track driver. All of the people involved at the troop level are familiar to me.


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