Friday, August 11, 2006

The Iraq War is Tearing Lives Apart

I have written on this blog before about my son's childhood buddy, Bobby. Lucas and Bobby were playmates from the age of five. Bobby lived in the house next door to ours until 3 years ago when we moved. Bobby's parents have now moved away, too, but we keep in touch by e-mail. Bobby is a year older than Lucas. They spent winter holidays playing video games in their house or ours. They spent summers together playing Super Soaker, building forts in the woods, and doing the Slip n' Slide in our very slopey back yard. They went to each others' birthday parties--Lucas in June and Bobby near the 4th of July.

Bobby and Lucas were on the same Little League teams together and both of them spent a lot of time on the bench because they were not the greatest players--but they had fun. One of our Golden Retrievers stole Bobby's brand new Nike shoe while he and Lucas played video games. Jebbie ran outside with it and buried it under our Japanese maple tree. It took us all afternoon to find it and Bobby was very forgiving because Bobby loved our dogs. He never had a dog of his own so he adopted ours. When we brought Apolo home on Mother's Day in 2002, Bobby was in our back yard within minutes to cuddle our new puppy.

Bobby joined the Marines while a senior in high school after September 11. He wanted to serve his country and defend it from the threat of terrorism. Bobby is extremely bright--one of the smartest of all of Lucas's friends, but he was willing to delay college to serve his country.

After Bobby's first deployment to Iraq, he came back a hero. He was in great shape--all buff and handsome. No longer was he the smallish kid on the baseball team. I had never seen his prominent dimples so happy. He had not seen or done anything terrible that first time. He had proven to all of the kids in high school who made fun of him, that he was cool; he was a war veteran after all. If only.....if only when Bush landed on the U.S.S. Lincoln and declared the war to be over, he was being truthful. If only the war could have ended then! This was three years ago.

But, as I feared, Pandora's Box was opened and the war in Iraq continues to destroy lives in unimaginable ways. And we have only created more terrorists willing to destroy themselves to destroy us. Leveling cities like Fallujah in Iraq has done little to slow down the growing terrorism threat being hatched in dens on computers in suburbs of cities all over the world. It is beyond ridiculous to think that all of these young people born in London or Paris and willing to be martyrs are heading to Iraq to fight us. No, they are going to Pakistan for training and then back to London to carry out their horrors against us.

Bobby was injured in Fallujah his second time in Iraq. He fell off of a bombed-out building from the second story. He saw his best friend in the Marines get blown up right next to him. He was in some vicious combat but he survived and came home in one piece. His Mom had to start taking medications to handle all of the worry but her relief was huge when he got home.

Bush had other plans and sent Bobby to Iraq for time number three. Although we did not see eye to eye with Bobby's parents on politics in the past, we agree now on more than we don't. We all agree that Bush is responsible for the complete failure of the Iraq war to accomplish anything but death, ruined lives, and more terrorists.

Bobby is now at extreme risk for having his life ruined. This intelligent gentle soul who should be helping out our government to solve the terrorism problem with his computer skills is instead charged with murder. He was pulled out of Iraq after the death of an Iraqi civilian and thrown in confinement at Camp Pendleton along with seven others. Shackled and given no medical care, his parents now worry about post traumatic stress syndrome. They worry about Bobby's future if he is found guilty of murder. "Death penalty" has been thrown around freely.

We knew about Bobby's situation before charges were filed. His parents have the support of their friends--like us. We learned about the actual charges on CNN International in Venice, Italy. I started to weep in our hotel room---my darling little Bobby who as of three years ago had grown into a self-assured young man with a fabulous future. I do not know what happened in Iraq but I do know that our troops are stressed beyond imagination and are operating in an altered sense of reality.

Bobby says he is innocent. He is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. I know him; I believe him; his parents believe him; Lucas believes him; and his lawyer believes him. Something is wrong here. I fear that in an attempt to prove to the world that we are the good guys and civilized in the way we go to war, we are sacrificing some of our best and brightest. It is tragic. The unprovoked murder of Iraqi civilians is tragic but so is charging Bobby with murder and conspiracy.

Bobby's story has been in all three of my newspapers and on TV--locally and nationally. From what I have heard, Bobby is not accused of pulling any triggers. The story recently was included in our own Mukilteo Beacon:


This much is known, said Terry Pendleton sic [Bobby's father, Terry Pennington]: “Some Iraqi civilian ended up dead. Several days later, his family alleged he was murdered. I don’t think they named names.”

Yet, according to the Associated Press, investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service claim that, without provocation, the accused troops nabbed the victim, Hashim Ibrahim Awad, tied him up, put him in a hole and shot him.

The troops then allegedly placed an AK-47 in Awad’s hands and put a shovel in the hole to make it appear he had been planting explosives....

...Anyone who can is encouraged to help.

“Obviously, the commander-in-chief or secretary of defense doesn’t take my calls,” Terry Pennington said.

“If there’s anybody who’s politically connected, we need their help. Find us somebody in a position of power.”

We feel so helpless. Our church is praying for Bobby as we have been since he first was sent to Iraq. Obviously, we are giving Bobby and his family our total support and belief in Bobby's innocence. The least I can do is broadcast his plight a little further via this blog. Bobby's family has a webiste now devoted to the cause. It is not right for this life to be torn apart. It's not right.


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Bobby and his niece before his third trip to Iraq.