I speak only for myself when I write and my opinions are my own. In this case, my opinions are somewhat informed but only that. Rallying to the cause of a soldier run amok is instinctive, madness ensuing during a firefight is something we can disapprove of yet understand. Prisoners being handled roughly, corpses being disrespected – that shit is going to happen. But the coldly plotted execution of children and unarmed civilians is anomalous and unthinkable. This is the act of a madman. And this madman had more than a few circumstances in his life to send him off the rails – marital issues, financial issues, troop losses, combat injuries (and I still don’t understand how you lose part of your foot and not receive a Purple Heart.)
And there is TBI and PTSD to be included in this witches brew. I think there is a measure of embarrassment as veterans regard this soldier, too. Many of us have endured some bad days during our service; we can rationalize a world of errant behavior from one of our own…but this event will be one virtually impossible to embrace. I don’t know what additional facts will be revealed during his courts martial…but I hope he receives more justice than his victims did.
You know, I never had a flicker of doubt in my perception of Lt William Calley. I regarded him as a punk, an officer lacking character, maturity and judgment; unworthy of his command and as guilty as anyone who pulled a trigger that sorry day in My Lai. His moral cowardice sullied every infantry officer before or since his commissioning. It’s a filthy job, war. And when someone breaks under the strain, it is always dispiriting. There are no good outcomes here. In war, so it goes.
18 March 2012