Monday, July 28, 2008

Read: "The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell" by John Crawford

Read: The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: an accidental soldier's account of the War in Iraq by John Crawford, 2005, 157322314X.

Really well done. A string of stories of his time there, not a timeline narrative.

Crawford joined the Army after high school, spent three years in the airborne, then joined the Florida National Guard for college tuition. Crawford- as all the book blurbs proclaim - was two credits shy of graduation when he was called up for the invasion. Heck, Crawford was on a Caribbean cruise, during his honeymoon, checking his email in the middle of the night when he read a message from his dad that his unit was calling him up.

Crawford's infantry unit joins in the invasion and spends over a year bouncing from place to place in Iraq getting attached to other units. Their leadership seems more intent on getting advancement opportunities. Their body armor is 20 years out of date, the Humvees don't even have doors, their night vision units gradually break down and are not replaced; all the bullshit and nonsense that NG units suffered through in 2003-2005. They are given multiple dates for their departure but are always delayed and sent elsewhere to help someone else out. At one point they are attached to an armored unit to provide security and an armored unit sergeant comes in to tell them they are staying. While doing so, the dick head sergeant pulls his handgun out and uses the attached laser to point at each member of Crawford's squad for emphasis.

Crawford started writing down his stories while still in Iraq. Crawford and his fellow soldiers are at work every day for over a year and wearing down to nothing. Marriages and relationships are breaking up during the long deployment and dudes are popping lots of pills and getting Turkish whiskey from the Iraqis. They hate almost every hajji (Iraqi) they meet and when Crawford gets home he walks right out of a gas station when an Arabic looking fella is working the counter. He never directly addresses the really difficult things: dead friends, shooting some roadside kids, a ruined marriage. He dances around those issue and by doing so makes the sadness clear.

Crawford seems to heavy some heavy PTSD when he returns. He drinks too much, moves every month and lost his wife. He's a good enough writer that I dislike him out of jealously.

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