‘Not us. We’re not going.’
Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’ that pulls the unit apart.
For all his dark humor, the “Hero of Burger King,” as fellow soldiers teasingly called him, was deeply rattled by the carnage of the explosion at the fast-food court. At Apache, he expected trouble. But not at Burger King.
“That affected me,” he said. For the next few days, he said, he slept in the open-ended concrete bunkers positioned between the housing units.
It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.
Though their commanders moved them from the combat outpost to safer quarters, members of 2nd Platoon would stage a revolt they viewed as a life-or-death act of defiance. With all they had done and all they had seen, they now were consumed with an anger that ate at the memory of the good men they were when they arrived in Iraq.
“A scheduled patrol is a direct order from me,” Strickland said.
“‘They’re not coming,’” Strickland said he was told. “So I called the platoon sergeant and talked to him. ‘Remind your guys: These are some of the things that could happen if they refuse to go out.’ I was irritated they were thumbing their noses. I was determined to get them down there.”
But, he said, he didn’t know the whole platoon, except for Ybay, had taken sleeping medications prescribed by mental health that day, according to Ybay.
Strickland didn’t know mental health leaders had talked to 2nd Platoon about “doing the right thing.”
He didn’t know 2nd Platoon had gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally in Adhamiya — that several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre.
“We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”
They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”
Ybay had gone to battalion to speak up for his guys and ask for more time. But when he came back, it was with orders to report to Old Mod.
Ybay said he tried to persuade his men to go out, but he could see they were not ready.
“It was like a scab that wouldn’t heal up,” Ybay said. “I couldn’t force them to go out. Listening to them in the mental health session, I could hear they’re not ready.”
At 2 a.m, Ybay said, he’d found his men sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They could not sleep. Some of them were taking as many as 10 sleeping pills and still could not rest. The images of their dead friends haunted them. The need for revenge ravaged them.
They are alive because they refused their orders. Other soldiers that pulled the patrol are dead. A First Sargent in another company says he can't take it anymore and blows his head off in front of some of his soldiers.
I hope your having fun shopping for your government sanctioned Christmas... With everything else going on in this country and around the world, that is what is really important, right?