Cruelties of US Soldiers in Iraq27 July 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Soldiers from an Army unit that had 10 infantrymenaccused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter after returning to civilian life describeda breakdown in discipline during their Iraq deployment in which troops murdered civilians, anewspaper reported Sunday.Some Fort Carson, Colo.-based soldiers have had trouble adjusting to life back in the UnitedStates, saying they refused to seek help, or were belittled or punished for seeking help. Otherssay they were ignored by their commanders, or coped through drug and alcohol abuse beforethey allegedly committed crimes, The Gazette of Colorado Springs said.The Gazette based its report on months of interviews with soldiers and their families, medicaland military records, court documents and photographs.Several soldiers said unit discipline deteriorated while in Iraq."Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated," said Daniel Freeman. "You cametoo close, we lit you up. You didn't stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley," an armoredfighting vehicle.With each roadside bombing, soldiers would fire in all directions "and just light the wholearea up," said Anthony Marquez, a friend of Freeman in the 1st Battalion, 9th InfantryRegiment. "If anyone was around, that was their fault. We smoked 'em."Taxi drivers got shot for no reason, and others were dropped off bridges after interrogations,said Marcus Mifflin, who was eventually discharged with post traumatic stress syndrome."You didn't get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong,"he saidSoldiers interviewed by The Gazette cited lengthy deployments, being sent back into battleafter surviving war injuries that would have been fatal in previous conflicts, and engaging insome of the bloodiest combat in Iraq. The soldiers describing those experiences were part of the 3,500-soldier unit now called the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.Since 2005, some brigade soldiers also have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, DUIs,drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides.The unit was deployed for a year to Iraq's Sunni Triangle in September 2004. Sixty-four unitsoldiers were killed and more than 400 wounded — about double the average for Army brigades in Iraq, according to Fort Carson. In 2007, the unit served a bloody 15-monthmission in Baghdad. It's currently deployed to the Khyber Pass region in Afghanistan.Marquez was the first in his brigade to kill someone after an Iraq tour. In 2006, he used a stungun to shock a drug dealer in Widefield, Colo., in a dispute over a marijuana sale, then shotand killed him.Marquez's mother, Teresa Hernandez, warned Marquez's sergeant at Fort Carson her son wasshowing signs of violent behavior, abusing alcohol and pain pills and carrying a gun. "I toldthem he was a walking time bomb," she said.Hernandez said the sergeant later taunted Marquez about her phone call."If I was just a guy off the street, I might have hesitated to shoot," Marquez told The Gazettein the Bent County Correctional Facility, where he is serving a 30-year prison term. "But after Iraq, it was just natural."