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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Art of War

I have told you before (A True War Story) that Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried may just be the most important book ever written. Not alone will it teach you about the im(morality) of war, it will tell you about the (im)morality of writing.

Dead Beat stole the rest from a media report:

A year after coming home from Iraq, AJ Jefferson is still fighting the war in eerie nightmares about the bomb that left him and two comrades seriously wounded.
"I've been told it's normal," the Army specialist said with a smile, "considering what I've gone through."
The 21-year-old soldier has been diagnosed by doctors with several ailments blamed on the attack, including severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He's also been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, or TBI, which often is accompanied by forgetfulness and restless sleep.
"I have the dreams every night," said Jefferson, who also suffered severe leg wounds that left him unable to run or stand for long periods. "There are nights when I can't sleep because all I'm thinking about is just re-enacting what happened in my head. My brain will not let go of it."
Jefferson opened up about his post-war nightmares over dinner at a steakhouse not far from where his 101st Airborne, C/1-33 Cavalry unit is based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His attitude about dealing with the nightly torment was obvious, as he joked around with a perky server named Amber who's not much younger than he is.
Between Amber's interruptions at the table to offer details on dinner specials and appetizers, Jefferson described the nightmares that began months after his return stateside in spring 2006.
"They were delayed after I got back," Jefferson said. "But more and more as time went by, the dreams started being about the attack and the feeling about helplessness out there on the ground."
The night terrors stem from the April 25, 2006, roadside bombing, which left Jefferson and buddies Sgt. Erik Roberts and Staff Sgt. Luke Murphy wounded and bleeding on the ground, and their vehicle on fire.
Heat from the flames ignited the humvee's ammunition, which popped off all around them. The trio's comrades, including Pfc. Shane Irwin and Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Rogers, helped get them to safety. Murphy lost his right leg, and Roberts' right leg was badly damaged.
Now, more than a year later, Jefferson's nightmares center on that midnight attack on their convoy in western Baghdad.
His sleep is filled with that "feeling of helplessness, lying out there on the street, not knowing if I'm going to die, if my buddies are going to die, if I'm going to get shot, if we're going to get ambushed. ... That's what a lot of the dreams kind of wrap around, it's just knowing I have no control of what's going on.

"In one dream, I'm cut off from my unit in Sadr City," he said, referring to the Iraqi capital's sprawling, violence-plagued neighborhood. "I'm in uniform and I'm running through a bunch of street markets. It's just me and nobody else, and I'm trying to find my way back to the guys, and it's a feeling of, 'What am I supposed to do?' That's what I get out of the dreams, just scared out of my mind."

In Jefferson's second recurring nightmare, he's riding on a humvee with the certain knowledge that he's the target of an inevitable roadside bomb attack. Despite that knowledge, he's using a video cell phone to record scenes of the road ahead, where deadly danger surely lies. The blast never happens. Jefferson simply continues to shoot video of the oncoming road.

Dead Beat is amazed but not surprised by this new phenomenon: before you engage in enemy fire you set up your phone to record your 'heroic' deeds just as you once might have taken a photo of your mate passed out or throwing up after a long night in the pub.

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