Sunday, October 8, 2017


Life goes on because it has to, not because we want it to.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


I didn't know you still felt that way about Joseph, even after all of these years. I guess I always thought heartbreak got easier to deal with as we got older . . . I was wrong. Maybe it never does.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Yankee Alpha Sierra Lima India November

In a single breath you rendered my life's work obsolete.
I am learning to hate you as a self-defense mechanism.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


These days at best are a shadow of what they should have been.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I Don't Care Where I Go When I Die

Death is no escape, it is merely trading one hell for another.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Officers Wounded During Monday's Rampage Confirmed Dead: Source"

Officer Painter and I were browsing Twitter during our first break earlier this morning when the Buzz Feed appeared with Breaking News. We both watched in stunned silence as a picture of myself and another officer appeared on the Twitter home page, situated beneath a headline blaring in all caps, "Officers Wounded During Monday's Rampage Confirmed Dead: Source."

The first thought that came to mind was something akin to fear: "Man, I must have really messed up this time. I mean, they've got my picture up on Twitter! What on Earth did I do?"

Only then did the article itself appear, explaining that two officers were wounded in Monday's terrorist attack during a music concert in Manchester, United Kingdom. They were rushed to a local hospital where they later succumbed to their injuries.

The whole room went quiet at this development. I looked over at Officer Painter to gauge her reaction and she just stared at me for a minute, white as a sheet, her expression a mixture of confusion and horror. Honestly, she looked like she had just seen a ghost. 

In that moment I suppose she thought she had.

Word spread quickly around the station. Several officers forwarded the article to friends and family. Others pulled up a chair alongside us to read the article for themselves. About a dozen different officers asked to take a picture with me to send as an addendum, proving I was still alive and that "the Mainstream Media" had "fucked it up again."

I smiled for the camera because I didn't know what else to do.

"Dude, how does it feel to be dead?" Sergeant Chavira asked with a grin, slapping me on the shoulder with a meaty hand.

"Everything still sucks, so nothing has changed," I laughed.

After awhile I asked to be excused from the floor.

Twitter removed the article from its site about an hour later. I never received anything in the way of an apology or an explanation for it. As far as I know, no officers were killed during this particular terrorist attack.

Regardless, being told that you're dead when you are indeed very much alive is certainly an unsettling feeling. I don't recommend it.

(The British media confirmed Thursday morning that one officer was killed in the Manchester terrorist attack. At this time the identity of the slain officer is being withheld by authorities, as is their right.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Suicide Blast Kills 24 At International Airport (On Surviving A Suicide Bombing - Part II)

I walked away with only a bloody nose, a concussion and multiple lacerations and contusions caused by flying shrapnel and debris.

Had I not taken a knee to double-knot my boot laces at the exact moment the bomber completed the circuit to his suicide vest . . . well, suffice to say mine would have been a closed-casket funeral.

Pink mist doesn't take up much room in a standard-size casket.

I found out later that the suicide vest had been packed with improvised shrapnel, a pre-formed fragmentation matrix consisting of nuts, bolts, ball bearings and nails, to ensure the maximum amount of collateral damage would be inflicted upon the target.

I know this because the navy corpsman ended up pulling six nails out of both of my forearms. Thankfully the velocity at which the shrapnel entered my body was significantly diminished prior to piercing the skin - I was left with only superficial flesh wounds that healed with time.

The woman in front of me however was not as lucky. The fact that those same nails shredded her internal organs and helped shatter every bone in her body before hitting me likely undercut most of their momentum, inadvertently saving my life as a result.

Suicide Blast Kills 24 at International Airport (On Surviving A Suicide Bombing - Part I)

The suicide bomber chose to attack a crowded aviation security checkpoint during rush hour. Most of the victims were early-morning commuters boarding flights bound for Baghdad International Airport. Several checkpoint security officers, who only moments before had clocked in for their respective shifts, perished in the blast as well.

I recall a young man in the crowd yelling in Arabic - "Get down!" - as he attempted to wrestle the initiator switch out of the bombers hand but by then it was too late. The bomber had positioned himself in the center of the crowd, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to complete the circuit and ignite the incendiary hidden beneath his jacket.

The resulting explosion transformed the security checkpoint into a bloodbath. The aftermath is a blur in my mind but I do remember  leading a group of survivors out of the airport and to safety. I also remember stepping into a puddle of something human and not knowing what it was and attempting to shield a young girl's eyes of that sight as she exited the terminal.

In hindsight that was probably a moot point.

Dying in Perspective

Everybody does it, which means it's nothing special.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Love nothing and nothing you love can be used against you.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


I looked through the gap in-between a cinder-block wall and a chain-link fence to find you kneeling there, naked and bestial. A feral skeleton tucked away behind alabaster skin left obscured beneath a layer of mud, droplets of coagulated blood and tissue littering your sandy blond hair like gemstone jewels catching the sunlight.

There is no doubt in my mind had I been home at the time of your ambush I would have perished in much the same way as the rest of my family; I can still see their discarded viscera and limbs littering the garden, warm to the touch, desecrated by your teeth and claws.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


There is beauty in anguish no longer. Bid the memories of the past to rot where they lay, twisted and yellow from the passage of time.

Monday, March 6, 2017


As a teenager I allowed sadness to consume me, allowed it to seep beneath my skin and around my bones, caressing me like a lover while defiling everyone and everything I ever held in high regard.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


I waded through all of those God-forsaken memories, decrepit and dusty but still razor-sharp and ready to separate flesh from bone...

Friday, March 3, 2017

Claire (Like Maple Leaves in Autumn)

You are something else - a Canadian girl with a Maine identification card who loves competitive shooting, who disagrees with the idea of war but respects the men and women sent to fight them, a teenager who enjoys reading about world events and savors the prospect of attending an institute of higher education rather than taking a year off to travel the world - what a refreshing dichotomy of personality traits.

You took my breath away across a crowded room without even trying. We just need to figure out this whole living-in-different-countries thing.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Robert on Killing in Iraq

"I much preferred helping people over killing them."

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Truth Weighs Nothing

When I was younger I promised myself that I would never put the procurement of wealth above personal happiness. No employment opportunity was worth spending my days unhappy and embittered.

What an optimistic fool I was.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Being A Bastard

Hate is too easy; therein lies its charm.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tobias (All The Ways We Kill And Die)

I need to clarify the rationale behind the decision I made on the day that you died, for the sake of our boys and my own weary conscious.

The human body can incur a finite amount of trauma before it begins shutting itself down. You were damn near dead when Cody and I found you and I am certain that you were as aware of that fact as we were.

When that grenade hit the deck I made a split-second decision - the one that saved Cody's life and my own and in return sealed your fate.

Throwing Cody and myself to the ground saved our lives; there was nothing I could have done in the split-second before the grenade exploded to free you from the restraints that held your body in place.

Did you realize it was game over when the grenade landed at our feet? A typical M67 fragmentary grenade has a kill radius of 10 meters; this one landed less than three feet from you with the fuse cooking away.

The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy told us that the pattern of burns left on your body by the incendiary were consistent with that of an individual attempting to shield themself from an explosive detonation, which is to say that despite understanding the futility of your actions, despite knowing there would be no escape . . . you turned away, in spite of yourself.

Was that one final action an unconscious attempt at self-preservation induced by the brain to save the body, as useless a gesture as it was? Or was it an intentional decision made in spite of the knowledge of your own imminent and assured demise?

All I can say for certain is that you were still alive when Cody and I dove for cover and when the smoke cleared . . . you were not. The sight of your body - charred black from the blast, pockmarked with shrapnel, the chain link cutting into your hands and feet - is the image I carry with me to this day.

Higher commended me for getting the rest of our boys home alive and in one piece - "the ideal example of exceptional leadership under fire," as it was referred to in the formal citation. But the words of my uncle, a career infantryman, are the ones that I remember most clearly.

"Son, war is simple: You bring your men home alive or you die trying. If you don't die trying then you didn't try hard enough."

Do I feel guilty about getting the rest of our boys out of that God-forsaken hellhole alive but not you? Believe me, you have no idea.

Let me put it this way: I have come to understand that it isn't the men who make it back home that you remember.

It's the ones who don't.

I have learned this truth the hardest of ways.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

San Pedro

I had convinced myself that with the persistence of time the unpleasant memories of the past would fade into obscurity.

Now I see that this could not be further from the truth.

Memories do not fade into obscurity; they simply stay where you leave them, lying in wait for the day you return.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

At My Darkest

You loved me at my darkest without ever asking why.
I regret never telling you how much that meant to me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


I drove down that street I parked on the night you saved my life and the image of your face came to mind for the briefest of moments...

You knew I was hurting and was waiting to be there for me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Thank You All The Same

It's just weird to know that people care, because I know I never have.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017