When Kessinger was killed it was sort of unexpected. I mean, we were a few short weeks from leaving that shit hole so I was thinking that missions wouldn’t be so balls to the walls. Rumor had it that those guys in that truck were up on a berm that they probably shouldn’t have been up on because the whole area was black. But we had some Colonel that was looking for his full bird promotion so he wanted to see if he could get a few more bad guys prior to us leaving Iraq. Well, when you go looking for trouble, trouble usually finds you first.
After five months of pulling countless shifts at the TAC, staring at some piece of shit radio, shootin’ the shit with the Battle Captains and sleeping on cots and eating Calzones, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pissing in a piss tube, my soldier and I finally got a call we were always hoping for. To recover a fucking vehicle in the combat zone. Expect, we were going out to recover the vehicle Kessinger was in. And when we got there, only the chassis was left. Apparently they had rolled over a pressure mine with about four 155mm rounds underneath. Kessinger’s body was thrown from the vehicle and from what other soldiers told me…one of the doors landed on his upper torso. And for that moment, he was still alive when they found him.
Leadership has a tough job. When shit happens like this, they have to be able to keep their men under control. Everyone has to keep their shit together. But it’s hard on everyone. I wasn’t there to actually see Kessinger (we arrived moments later) but all those images still haunt the fuck out of me to this day. It’s like not being there was worse than actually being there. And like I’ve said many times before in previous blog entries. Sitting in that goddamn radio room was a huge waste of time for me and my troops. I got to the point where I didn’t even fucking care what came over the net anymore.
I hold a lot of guilt for Kessinger’s death. Maybe not as much as the next guy, but it’s still there. My role in Iraq was so minuscule and minute that I wish I could go back and be apart of something bigger. I wish I was given the opportunity to do more. It’s like I can’t let go of that combat tour.
I wonder how long I’ll feel like this.
I wonder how long.