Wednesday, December 27, 2006

James E. Dean -- An Iraq War Casualty

From the Washington Post this morning comes this tragic story:

Reservist Due for Iraq Is Killed In Standoff With Police

Army Reservist James E. Dean had already served 18 months in Afghanistan when he was notified three weeks ago that he would be deployed to Iraq later this month. The prospect of returning to war sent the St. Mary's County resident into a spiral of depression, a neighbor said.

Despondent about his orders, Dean barricaded himself inside his father's home with several weapons on Christmas, threatening to kill himself. After a 14-hour standoff with authorities, Dean was killed yesterday by a police officer after he aimed a gun at another officer, police said.

How awful it must have been for this young man who had already honorably served his country for 18 difficult months in the sometimes forgotten war in Afghanistan to hear that he would be sent back into war again. It seems indecent, the demands we place on the few among us who serve. How many James E. Deans have there been - broken people being told their first round of sacrifice was not enough, that they must go back and sacrifice some more while the vast majority of their countrymen stay safe and untroubled here? Vietnam was rough, but at least we didn't keep sending people back to it time after time, not unless they volunteered. Tours were extended in Korea, and the war must have seemed endless to those serving in World War II, but the difference here is that it is the reservists and National Guardsmen who are being called up over and over to fight in a war without discernible territorial gains, without uniformed and readily identifiable opponents, without front lines and rear echelons. In this war no one is really in the rear, opponents are not in uniform and the daytime good guys can be the night time bad guys. The people we fight for are indiscernible ethnically and linguistically and visually from the people we fight against. We gain no territory and we see no cessation of violence. It just goes on endlessly and pointlessly, a savage war involving conflicts older than our nation.

James E. Dean, a "good country boy" according to his neighbors, is an Iraqi war casualty as surely as if he had been hit by an IED. We should all shed a tear for this young man, and the many others like him who manage somehow to hang on, but who are every bit as broken and traumatized as he was. Rest in peace, James E. Dean.


Sunil said...

Very sad - yet another casualty...
Just ran into your blog and I bookmarked it.
Nice reading this...

Catzmaw said...

Thank you. For some reason this poor man's situation really got to me.