Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why There are Rules that People Bemoan..

I was reading obits of soldiers who have recently made the ultimate sacrifice in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM when I came across this (my bold):

Army Spc. Demetrius L. Void

Demetrius Void was always focused on academics in high school: Teachers said he never shied away from asking for help and had a competitive nature.

"He kept at it until he figured out that calculus," said math teacher Sharlene Foster. But Void also always wanted to be different. He decided not to apply for college and instead chose to follow his family's tradition of military service.

"He said he was tired of school," said his uncle Keith Void. "He said he was tired of being smart." Void, 20, of Orangeburg, S.C., died Sept. 15 at Kandahar Airfield of injuries sustained when a military vehicle struck him while he was jogging. He was assigned to Fort Hood. The military has said it is investigating the hit-and-run accident.

Demetrius Void was disciplined before he joined the Army, being active in the JROTC at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.

"He greeted students at the front desk and said, 'You can't go in there until you get your pants up. ... This is an order,'" recalled Angelia Fersner, the school's guidance counselor, who called Void her "acting secretary."

Void is survived by his mother and two brothers.

A Reservist friend of mine once worked in a civilian capacity as base security lead for Habbaniyah/al Taqaddam in Iraq. He dealt with all injuries and KIA situations, including body recoveries of soldiers lost off base in IED attacks. Because of that job, he will never sleep a full night without vivid and dramatic nightmares for the rest of his life. One of the KIAs that he described to me while recalling his time there was an on-base vehicle accident, which is no less tragic than any other way to go.

You may not like the MPs, and you may be quick to draw the "power trip" card anytime they nab you for doing 31 in a 20 zone in your Toyota Hilux, but there may be a reason for it.

3 comments:

kad barma said...

There is always the importance of fairness and consistency of enforcement, but fully agreed that public safety is a thankless and under-appreciated job both in and outside the armed services.

I've also always found it unfortunate that we make distinctions about "combat" casualties, because, to me, "in harms way" begins long before the bad guys start firing. There can be no asterisk about making the choice to put ones life on the line for ones country, and then losing ones life in any way related to that process.

I also get steamed when people start trying to differentiate between purple hearts. Yeah, Max Cleland's sure was a doozy, but that can't ever be the point. Putting onesself in harms way is an extremely courageous and selfless act. Paying any price for that, however small, is a greater sacrifice than so many others make. That needs to stand for something all on its own. Shame on the cowards who would claim to be able to differentiate, especially for political or other personal gain.

C R Krieger said...

The thing about the most recent American wars is that more people die of enemy action than from disease.  In the Spanish American war the numbers were 332 killed, 1,641, wounded and 2,957 died of disease.  In his book on World War One, Historian John Keagan notes about the African campaign that "disease killed or incapacitated 30 men for every man killed in battle on the British side."

This case of an accident falls into the same category as disease, in my mind.

The other thing is that that for the Purple Heart, at least for the Army and Air Force, you could only get it for enemy combat action up until the first Persian Gulf War.  By that time "the American War of War" had greatly diminished friendly casualties, but at the cost of increased fratricide.  Friendly kills are very bad, but when overall casualties drop dramatically, they are perhaps an acceptable cost.

Kad's comments are excellent.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Englander said...

Thanks much for adding those comments into the discussion. Much agreement in the un-importance of distinguishing the various types of deaths..and Cliff, I could be VERY mistaken about this, but I believe the Purple Heart is still for wounds received from enemy only. Sounds like I need to go do some Google searching, but I always thought you still couldn't get it for friendly actions..