But within days, he would lose five men, including a respected senior non-commissioned officer. Master Sgt. Jeffrey McKinney, Alpha Company's first sergeant, was known as a family man and as a good leader because he was intelligent and could explain things well. But Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rausch of Charlie Company’s 1st Platoon, a good friend of McKinney’s, said McKinney told him he felt he was letting his men down in Adhamiya.
"First Sergeant McKinney was kind of a perfectionist and this was bothering him very much," Rausch said. On July 11, McKinney was ordered to lead his men on a foot patrol to clear the roads of IEDs. Everyone at Apache heard the call come in from Adhamiya, where Alpha Company had picked up the same streets Charlie had left. Charlie's 1st Platoon had also remained behind, and Rausch said he would never forget the fear he heard in McKinney's driver's voice:
"This is Apache seven delta," McKinney's driver said in a panicked voice over the radio. "Apache seven just shot himself. He just shot himself. Apache seven shot himself."
Rausch said there was no misunderstanding what had happened.
According to Charlie Company soldiers, McKinney said, "I can't take it anymore," and fired a round. Then he pointed his M4 under his chin and killed himself in front of three of his men.
At Old Mod, Charlie Company was called back in for weapons training, DeNardi said. They were told it was an accident. Then they were told it was under investigation. And then they were told it was a suicide. Reynolds confirmed that McKinney took his own life.
A week later, without their beloved first sergeant, Alpha Company would experience its first catastrophic loss on a mission that, but for a change in weather, was supposed to go to Charlie Company.
On July 17, Charlie's 2nd Platoon was refitting at Taji when they got a call to go back to Adhamiya. They were to patrol Route Southern Comfort, which had been black -- off-limits -- for months. Charlie Company knew a 500-pound bomb lay on that route, and they’d been ordered not to travel it. "Will there be route clearance?" 2nd Platoon asked. "Yes," they were told. "Then we'll go."
But the mission was canceled. The medevac crews couldn't fly because of a dust storm, and the Iraqi Army wasn't ready for the mission. Second Platoon went to bed.
They woke to the news that Alpha Company had gone on the mission instead and one of their Bradleys rolled over the 500-pound IED. The Bradley flipped. The explosion and flames killed everybody inside. Alpha Company lost four soldiers: Spc. Zachary Clouser, Spc. Richard Gilmore, Spc. Daniel Gomez and Sgt. 1st Class Luis Gutierrez-Rosales.
"There was no chance," said Johnson, whose scouts remained at Apache and served as the quick-reaction force that day. "It was eerily the same as June 21. You roll up on that, and it looked the same."
The guys from Charlie Company couldn't help but think about the similarities -- and that it could have been them.
"Just the fact that there was another Bradley incident mentally screwed up 2nd Platoon," Strickland said. "It was almost like it had happened to them."
The battalion gave 2nd Platoon the day to recover. then they were scheduled to go back out on patrol in Adhamiya on July 18.
But when Strickland returned from a mission, he learned 2nd Platoon had failed to roll.
"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."
The above is from Kelly Kennedy's "'Not us. We're not going.' Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’ that pulls the unit apart" (Army Times). The New York Times skips the topic of Iraq today.
Added: Elaine here. Gina called me about the entry that went up this morning. C.I., Ava and Kat are flying home on Saturday morning. Due to the fact that C.I. likes to note all community sites posting, the entry on Saturday morning is delayed until the last community sites have posted. Mike was posting C.I.'s entry today and pulled in a draft C.I. didn't use yesterday to add to this entry. I've pulled that out and posted it on Friday but C.I. may pull it. It was a draft which might have been a time issue or it might have been something else. Gina read the original version up here this morning and called me to ask if I'd read it. When I did, I broke up the two and that required, due to my own lack of knowledge, pulling everything else from the entry now up on Friday and copying and pasting what was supposed to be Saturday's entry into this screen. I'm sure there was an easier way but that's the only way I knew.
The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:
Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
and Ruth's Ruth's Report
RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs on Air America Radio stations, XM radio and streams online at 1:00 p.m. EST:
This week on RadioNation: Wishing for a Post-Civil Rights Generation?
Nothing of interest on the erased terror tapes? AZIZ HUQ of the Brennan Center takes issue with the Bush junta's line. ['GILLIGAN']* takes a look at the pundits who hail Obama as harbinger of a post civil rights generation. Waiting for Godot is a hit in New Orleans, but so is public housing. BILLY SOTHERN brings the good news and the bad. And MICHAEL RATNER winner of this year's Puffin/Nation prize, on racism, Guantanamo and what he calls America's Coup D'Etat...
Waiting . . . in a Wasteland:
Don't forgetRadioNation is heard on Air America Radio Sundays at 1 pm EST and on XM satellite and non-commercial stations nationwide. It can also be heard via podcast. To bring RadioNation to a station near you, write to Peter@thenation.com.
Just Out: THE CONTENDERS (Seven Stories). FLANDERS, RIDGEWAY, GOLDSTEIN AND DAN SAVAGE on CLINTON, OBAMA et al.. BUY it or ORDER IT today. For more information, go to LauraFlanders.com
*"Gilligan" lost the right to be named here when, last spring, writing of Darrell Anderson for the Guardian of London, he failed to mention that Anderson was a war resister and, apparently so determined to white-wash reality, provided a hearts & flowers piece that was far from reality.
Michael Ratner is, of course, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a co-host of Law and Disorder which airs on many radio stations across the country including WBAI where it airs Mondays at 10:00 a.m. EST.
WBAI tomorrow will offer a two hour special edition of The Next Hour airing from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (over the airwaves in NYC, streaming online everywhere) whose topic will be Norman Mailer and the guests will include Jimmy Breslin, Joyce Carol Oates, Patricia Bosworth, Frank McCourt as well as members of Mailer's family: his widow Norris Church Mailer, sons John Buffalo Mailer and Michael Mailer, nephew Peter Alson as well as Jason Epstein who was once known as Mailer's editor and one of the founders of The New York Review of Books but these days his noteriety is eclipsed by that of his current wife Judith Miller whose published work this decade benifitted so much from the assistance of fellow Hollywood High alumni Richard Pearle.
Shonna was the first this week to note Margaret Kimberly's latest Freedom Rider column, from "Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Neocon in Black Face" (Black Agenda Report):
Ayaan Hirsi Ali first came to fame in the Netherlands, after emigrating there from Somalia. She was elected to the Dutch parliament and became known for criticizing that nation's Muslim immigrant communities, especially for their treatment of women and girls. The story of a young, pretty, African woman finding success and prestige in a foreign land was tailor made for Hollywood, or for right-wingers looking for the perfect person to excuse government sponsored mass murder.
The fairy tale story is just that. Ayaan Hirsi Ali exults in the lowest depths of self-hatred. She has become well paid and famous because she demonizes her fellow Muslims. As with black Americans or any other group of despised people, the self haters, the Uncle Toms, are given a clear path to fortune and favor.
Ali's political party soured on their relations with her when it was revealed that she lied in order to enter the Netherlands with refugee status. It turned out that the famous politician was like millions of people from poor countries who will do anything to live in wealthy western nations.
When Ali left the Netherlands to live in the United States, her true ideology came to light. She became a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, one of the most powerful right-wing think tanks in the nation. Other AEI scholars include John Bolton, Lynne Cheney, David Frum, Newt Gingrich, Charles Murray, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and John Yoo.
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