Followers

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

IT WAS STILL DARK...

It was still dark. I got dressed in that darkness. When I was ready I grabbed an MRE (meal ready to eat) and got in the truck. I was going to go line the truck up in preparation for the raid we were about to go on. The targets were three houses where RPG attacks had come from a few days prior. Sitting there in that darkness listening to the briefing on how we were to execute the mission, I let my mind wander from the briefing and said a prayer. "Just one more day God, let me live one more day and we will go from there..." It was the same prayer I said every day because every day I did the same thing. I left the base. With a small team I would go out each day on different missions. I was their translator.

There were different people to meet each day. There were some who would kill you if they could. They would look at you and you could see the hate in their eyes. I also met with people who would have given me everything they owned. People, that were so thankful to us because we had rid them of Saddam. Well, this day was not really much different from all those other days so far. After the briefing we all got into our assigned seats and convoyed out to the raid site. I was to go in directly after the military police that would clear the building.

The raid began without a hitch. Inside one of the courtyards of one of the houses, talking to an Iraqi woman checking to see if her story correlated with what the detained men had said), I heard gunfire. It was automatic gunfire. Ducking next to the stone wall I yelled at the woman to get inside her house, and when the gunfire stopped I peeked my head around the front gate. I saw a soldier amongst the others who was pulling rear security by our vehicles. This soldier I saw was still aiming his M249 (a fully automatic belt fed machine gun) at a black truck off in the distance. His was the weapon I had heard.

I ran up near his position and overheard the Captain in charge of the raid asking what had happened and why had this soldier opened fire. The soldier kept his weapon aimed and answered that he was sure he had seen a man holding an AK-47 in the back of the black truck. I was amongst the four (along with the soldier who had fired on the black truck) who had been selected to go and see what was up with that truck.

We were out of breath when we got to the gun-truck nearest to the black civilian truck(a gun-truck is a HUMMWV or sometimes called a Hummer by civilians, with a .50 caliber machine gun on its roof). There was a group of four Iraqis walking towards us from the black truck. They were carrying a body. When I saw this I ran forward and began to speak (in Arabic) to the man holding the body but I couldn't say a word.

There right in front of me in the arms of one of the men I saw a small boy (no more than 3 years old). His head was cocked back at the wrong angle and there was blood. So much blood. How could all that blood be from that small boy? I heard crying too. All of the Iraqi men standing there were crying and sobbing and asking me WHY? Someone behind me started screaming for a medic, it was the young soldier (around my age) who had fired his weapon. He screamed and screamed for a medic until his voice was hoarse and a medic came just to tell us what I already knew. The boy was dead. I was so numb.

I stood there looking at that little child, someone's child (just like mine) and seeing how red the clean white shirt of the man holding the boy was turning. It was then that I realized that I had been speaking to them; speaking in a voice that sounded so very far away. I heard my voice telling them (in Arabic) how sorry we were. My mouth was saying this but all my mind could focus on was the hole in the child's head. The white shirt covered in bright red blood. Every color was so bright. There were other colors too. The glistening white pieces of the child's skull still splattered on that so very white shirt. I couldn't stop looking at them even as I continued telling them how sorry we were.

I can still see it all to this very day. The raid was over there were no weapons to be found and we had accomplished nothing except killing a child of some unknowing mother. Not wanting to leave yet, I stayed as long as I could, talking to the man holding the child. I couldn't leave because I needed to know who they were. I wanted to remember. The man was the brother of the child's father. He was the boy's uncle, and he was watching him for his father who had gone to the market. They were carpenters and the soldier who had fired upon the truck had seen someone holding a piece of wood and standing in the truck bed.

Before I left to go back to our base I saw the young soldier who had killed the boy. His eyes were unfocused and he was just standing there, staring off into the distance. My hand went to my canteen and I took a drink of water. That soldier looked so lost, so I offered him a drink from my canteen. In a hoarse voice he quietly thanked me and then gave me such a thankful look; like I had given him gold.

Later that day those of us who had been selected to go inspect the black truck were filling reports out about what we had witnessed for the investigation. The Captain who had led the raid entered the room we were in and you could see that he was angry. He said, "Well this is just great! Now we have to go and give that family bags of money to shut them up..." I wanted to kill him. I sat there trembling with my rage. Some family had just lost their beautiful baby boy and this man, this COMMISSIONED OFFICER in the United States Army is worried about trying to pay off the family's grief and sorrow. He must not have been a father, otherwise he would know that money doesn't even come close... I wanted to use my bare hands to kill him, but instead I just sat there and waited until the investigating officer called me into his office.

To this day I still think about that raid, that family, that boy. I wonder if they are making attacks on us now. I would be. If someone took the life of my son or my daughter nothing other than my own death would stop me from killing that person. I still cry too. I cry when the memory hits me. I cry when I think of how very far away I am from my family who needs me. I am not there just like the boy's father wasn't there. I pray every day for my family's safety and just that I was with them. I have served my time, I have my nightmares, I have enough blood on my hands. My contract with the Army has been involuntarily extended. I am not asking for medicine to help with the nightmares or for anything else, only that the Army would have held true to the contract I signed and let me be a father, a husband, a daddy again.

Signed,

Sgt Zachary Scott-Singley

27 comments:

UrbanTiki said...

Sometimes, words can't help. They can't fix the situation, relieve the pain, make things disappear. And sometimes, they brings things closer than you want them to be.
I think your words serve two purposes: 1) as a catharsis for you, and 2) as a wake up call for the reader.

I've always prided myself on my ability to tell right from wrong. It's something I've always been good at, and something I strive to pass on to my kids. However, this situation seems to tug at me both ways, and as hard as it is for me - politically active, passionate about my country - it must be so very hard for you guys. I can't possibly imagine, and I don't pretend to. What you've seen and experienced, IMO, defies the logic of human existence. But, I know you must find some kind of purpose; a goal to justify this horrible situation. There's no doubt that your leaders do that on a constant basis, and must reinforce these concepts to you guys - just to keep some semblance of moral. It's a necessary evil, IMO.

I don't know what I'll tell my children when they grow older, as the final chapters haven't been written. I certainly know what I'd say for the span until this moment, and rest assured it would include the bravery and sacrifice of you all. And although I'll regret so many things about this debacle, one thing I'll be proud of is the conscientious members of the military who were not afraid to speak truth to power.

For this, we owe you everything.

Trevor said...

This is a moving and powerful story. I hope there is a greater meaning to it all that I don't understand yet...and I hope you find a peace within yourself even when there is none without.

Some days nothing makes sense.

halle said...

:(

hang in there...

sume said...

Thanks for having the courage to share such a shattering experience. I wish I had something inspirational to say, something that would help.

My adopted father served two tours in Vietnam. I know it was a painful experience for him. He still has the nightmares. He brought me back from Saigon as his daughter, the face of an enemy and an ally he would see everyday of his life. In a foreign country, it's hard to tell who's a friend and who's an ally when there are no uniforms to go by. I'd like to think adopting me helped him to heal somehow; to find peace.

What I learned from him was that life happens. We're not in complete control all the time. If you're Christian or Muslim, it's God's will. If you're Buddhist, it's karma. If you're an atheist, shit happens. I think the important thing is what you make of it, what you learn, what you become. Most people don't want war, but it happens. It can make you a monster or a hero.

Peace does come, people do heal. My father is proof of that. By some standards, we should have become enemies again after my conversion to Islam, but we chose not to.

You stay safe and be careful.

Scupper said...

I know this won't be a very comforting thought, but I think if there is any meaning to this, it's that you were there, and you most likely saved the other Iraqis' lives by being there, to help communicate, to identify that they were not hostile, and to bare witness to what had happened.

Had you not been there, perhaps the other soldier who shot the boy may have continued firing on them out of fear or shock, or another soldier might have. Any number of outcomes that, I know I don't have to describe to you, could have gone down, but didn't, because you were there.

I know those Iraqis may be fighting against US Forces now, but that day, at that moment, you probably saved their lives. That fact isn't any less important or true because they now fight against you. You had you head together for everyone when the XXXX hit the fan, and that saved Iraqi and American lives. Hang in there man.

Rob Barac said...

My god. I am so touched to hear content like this from a soldier on the frontline.

Kudos to you sir.

Anonymous said...

Sgt. Scott-Singley. May by the grace of God you, and others serving a second
tour beyond your discharge date due to Stop Loss, come home soon to your
families. From your lips to God's ear, may our prayers be heard.

Mother of a Stop Loss Soldier.

Anonymous said...

Dear Zach
your sister and I send our love. i apologize for my lack of communication to you over the last few months. I have no excuse, i have always been poor at communicating with loved ones who are away. Anyways I have been reading your blog as often as I can and I am blown away with your ability to write. You paint a crystal clear picture of whatever your subject is and it never fails to move me, either to laughter or tears. I feel very lucky to have a brother like you. I know you are changing lives all around you and that there is a reason for you to be where you are, even though its the last place you want to be.
Ingrid wrote an email to our congressman in Oregon and we were extremely frustrated to find that the only way to send our message was to subscribe to his newsletter! It made me feel as if our letter won't even be read and they just want to circulate their newsletter. But oh well...At least we are trying to get our message heard. I have faith that more and more Americans feel the way that we do and that the tide is turning in favor of withdrawl. Ingrid and I love you and are praying for your safety.

Love (and kisses)
Dan the man

Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks for your insights.
I'm a journalist in Australia, and we rarely read such honesty from US troops. Keep up your writing and keep safe.

Valkyrie said...

I've wanted to become a pen pal with a US soldier. I really want to support you guys over there.

Is there anything (small item) you need? I want to do my part to boost your morale.

Anonymous said...

Speechless.

-Ted

Anonymous said...

My son, your hurt and compassion move me to tears. Thank you for loving that little boy and his family and the soldier that made the shot. I love you so much..keep talking. I go to bed tonight with love, prayers, and possibility for you. Love and kisses from your mom.xoxo

Patrick Barry Barr said...

Interesting, this thing called Religion. It seems to be a contest to show whose God is greatest, because while you are praying for God to take you safely through another day, in a far off land full of petroleum, the Iraqis are praying to their God to protect them from the Americans who love to level cities like Fallujah to save it, praying to their God so that the Americans don't kill another 100,000 of their innocent brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. Religion!

Anonymous said...

Your words are so sincere, my emotions are of sympathy for all who are caught in this war. I’m an Arab Muslim and u’d probably would think I’d hate Americans soldiers, but not really as all of you are just humans doing your orders yet I do hold the government accountable for these killings. Its not one nations war it surely effects the whole globe but sadly some more directly than others. I feel sorry for you to live with all this hope all of this stops some day soon. Wish you a safe return to your family & loved ones

Glenn Condell said...

Thank you for your honesty and for demonstrating that the Abu Ghraib mindset, dead in heart and mind, has not permeated the US Army.

How is it that good people like you are forced to take part in this evil? Why can't decent people like you ever get near positions of power in America?

Virtually everything that comes from your government or your media reeks of bullshit from miles away. It's good to see that some people at the sharp end of American power have retained their human dignity, their capacity for independent thought, and the balls to express it.

Anonymous said...

Your words have touch me deeply. May God keep you safe and bring you home soon to your family.

Dan F said...

My nephew is 19 (also named Zach) and in the Army (still in training). When he enlisted he had romantic visions. Before he enlisted I tried to tell him that there are worse things then being maimed or killed. Killing an innocent man or woman or child or family is much, much worse. It does not end with those killed, it wrecks you and all those who knew that innocent person.

This is what the dogs of war are. The price is not just 1500 dead Americans and $X-hundreds-of-billions of dollars. Sgt. Zachary Scott-Singley is part of the bill. His conscience is part of the price. His family is part of the price. The family of the Iraqi toddler are part of the price. And millions just like them. The bill is too large and can never be paid.

I wish I could have shown my nephew this story before he enlisted. This war (all war) makes good men do evil. It makes ordinary Iraqis strap bombs to their bodies and it makes good soldiers shoot toddlers in the night.

Thank you for sharing this story Mr. Scott-Singley. I am in awe.

www.OneSoldiersStory.com said...

Great writing...You should check out www.OneSoldiersStory.com when you get an opportunity. It is for writers like you.

Anonymous said...

:o omg

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, unfortunate event.

The Seriously Ill said...

Zach,

I hope you get to go home and leave the Army soon, but we need thoughtful, sensitive and ethical people like you in Iraq and Afganistan. Every one who dies in war, even our enemies, are human and loved by someone. When an innocent child dies, that focuses our attention on the humanity.

I am always amazed when I hear people say prayers asking that God watch over our troops, which they should, but they neglect to pray for the innocent civilians in the cross-fire, let alone our enemies. Jesus told us we must love our enemies. Can't we just pray that the war end and no one else die?

Cavcom278 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cavcom278 said...

FRIENDS

im cold and tired and ready for sleep
cause we rode all night , in it hip deep
tring to stay alive just one more night
with nowhere to go and one more to fight

for the mission comes first and true to call
we just can't stop,we can not fall
from up in the gun truck,we hear the call
get back in,they need us all

the tears come hard when the terror stops
for my friend lays quite and i see the drops
it starts as a stain,then fills up his shirt
i can't stop the flow,i can't stop the hurt

so we drive like hell and waste no time
for a second lost is never regained
so waste no time and live every day
because thats what a soldier said that day.

time heals all wounds or so they say
but the scene plays again,day after day
it won't go away,i can't stop to say
i did my best on that cold winter day

in all this time of darkness
with this war we make on man
but if he is my brother
should i take his life instead?

do i have the right?
or is my cause so just?
i'm just another soldier
on my journey into dust,

but the light shine's through the darkness
and i see it up ahead
it's hope,for all mankind
and peace across this land.
still here allways here
by ssg john s. jones
iraq dec 2004
FOR MY FALLEN BROTHERS 2/278TH ACR

Anonymous said...

VERY INTERESTING -

1. The garden of Eden was in Iraq.

2. Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of civilization!

3. Noah built the ark in Iraq .

4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.

5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Ira q!

6. Isaac's wife Rebekah is from Nahor, which is in Iraq.

7. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.

8. Jonah preached in Nineveh - which is in Iraq.

9. Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the ten tribes of Israel.

10. Amos cried out in Iraq!

11. Babylon, which is in Iraq, destroyed Jerusalem.

12. Daniel was in the lion's den in Iraq!

13. The three Hebrew children were in! the fire in Iraq (Jesus had been
in Iraq also as the fourth person in the fiery furnace!)

14. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the "writing on the wall" in
Iraq.

15. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews captive into
Iraq.

16. Ezekiel preached in Iraq.

17. The wise men were from Iraq.

18. Peter preached in Iraq.

19. The "Empire of Man" described in Revelation is called Babylon,
which was a city in Iraq!

And you have probably seen this one. Israel is the nation most often
mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is
Iraq! However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible. The names
used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia.
The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers, more exactly between

the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The name Iraq, means country with deep

roots.

Indeed Iraq is a country with deep roots and! is a very significant
country in the Bible.

No other nation , except Israel, has more history and prophecy
associated with it than Iraq.

And also... This is something to think about! Since America is
typically represented by an eagle. Saddam should have read up on his
Muslim passages...

The following verse is from the Koran, (the Islamic Bible)

Koran (9:11) - For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a
fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the
lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair
still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of
Allah;
and there was peace.

something that was sent in an email to me

Anonymous said...

the above Koran 9:11 is a hoax!! Must be a Bush stalwart for buying those hoax. The above dude must still think Iraq had WMD.

http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/k/koran-war.htm

This is what God said in Koran 9:11

"But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith; and we make the communications clear for a people who know."

Chalibi must loves the above dude.

Hubert said...

Get away from this hellhole! The whole world is against the useless killing. The leaders of the country´s aint listening to the people.

Religion is stupid, believe in yourself.

Hubert

http://vleeschnochvisch.web-log.nl/

Heather Ann said...

Thank you for sharing this moving account with us! It is tragic that anything in this world would bring us to such situations! I included a link to this blog in a poem I wrote today. You can see it at:

http://gehmflor.blogspot.com/2007/05/just-go-on-living.html

Contrary to what a previous comment stated, I believe in a God who cares for both American Soldiers and Iraqi civilians and also everyone else in the world! I believe God is heartbroken as well by these tragedies and has promised one day to create a new Earth and to wipe away all our tears! This whole world is enemy territory - the enemy is Satan!