Please note: This film includes images which some viewers may find distressing.
Courtesy: The Guardian
‘THE UGLY OF WAR’
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SGT. SCHACHT, MEDEVAC CREW CHIEF: A soldier was trapped between the turret and the radio mount. An RPG had went off, and it went into his groin, and it just completely shredded him, or it shredded his testicles, his penis. His leg was completely mangled. We went in there and we did what we had to do to get this guy out. We may have hurt him, but we got him out of that Humvee. We pulled him out. And he was asking for us to shoot him, because he’s in so much pain and he knows that he’s messed up bad. And that’s where I become very angry at him and I tell him to shut up, because I’m not not going to shoot him, but he’s going to be alright, he’s going to be fine. There’s more guys in this other Humvee, in this [inaudible] Humvee, and they’re messed up, they’re peppered. There’s gunshots. There’s so much that you just—you lose track of who’s where, and what’s this, and did we talk to this guy already, did we already load him up, where are the medics at, where are the ground medics, where are our flight medics at. And you’re lost. You’re just like, “What the shit is going on?” The first patient, she had her left leg completely blown off. Her right leg was into a mush. It really wasn’t much left but muscle. Her left arm was gone, and it was bandaged up. She was one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen before, and she was adorable, but she was covered in blood and dirt. And it was very hard, ’cause I have a—and she might have been seven, eight years old. I have a five-year-old daughter. It’s very hard dealing with kids. Once we realized that these kids were bad off, we threw them on the bird. I took my daughter—or my—sorry—my girl. And my little girl was five years old, and she had—her left leg was mangled. There was really nothing left of it. There was just muscle tissue. It was bad. That was the longest flight I’ve ever had. It was only a couple of minutes, but it was the longest flight. The little girl with the tri-amputees, she had a thousand-yard stare, where she’s just kind of staring off into space. She was already given drugs for pain, but she was already fading out. My little girl, I was holding her hand and I was comforting her as best as I can. It’s very hard, because they are scared of the US soldiers. And it’s very hard, because there’s a language barrier, and you’re trying to. But love is an international sign, and everybody can speak that international language. You can hold them and show them affection, but show them that it’s going to be okay, even though they are scared and there’s nothing you can do about it. I had a very hard problem, a very hard time. I could not look at the girl with the tri-amputees. It was very cowardice to know that this was this little girl’s last breaths on earth, and she was in the back of a helicopter, and there was nothing I could do about it. There was—I—it was hard just to know that she was going to die and that I didn’t have the common courtesy to at least look at her and hold her. And that’s something that’s rough, and it’s hard to look at somebody knowing that they’re going to die and there’s nothing you can do about it. Our little girl, she was fading away. And if only we can get her fast enough, only if we can get her into the FST [forward surgical team] fast enough, we can maybe save her. And once we pulled them out, we had to make the decision, because we still had three or four more urgent surgicals in the back of [inaudible], we had to make the decision to put on the fricking ground and take off. And that was—you can’t. You can’t do that. You can’t, as a human, leave another human hurt on the ground. But we had to do it. And, you know, we’re 24 years old, we’re, you know, 25, 26. We’re young. Who says we need to make that decision? But we had to, because we had to save those other lives. I’ve never had so much blood in a helicopter before. And you’re there, you’re washing, but you can’t wash it all out. Like, there’s always stuff there. It’s always in your nooks and crannies. The smell is always there. It’ll never go away. And that was the worst mission—one of the worst missions I—that was the worst mission I’ve ever been on. It shut me down for awhile. I was very numb towards life in general. I was very angry. I was very angry with the US. I was angry with the insurgents. I was very angry with locals. I was just angry towards the world, because they’re kids, and they had nothing to do with this battle that is going on, and they’re just innocent, sitting in the room, and a fricking mortar blows up in their house. There are some times when we have really bad missions where we can talk with each other and we’re fine. The army provides combat-stress people. They don’t necessarily work all the time, because the fact that they’re not out there, they’re not getting shot at, they’re not dealing with the death, they’re not dealing with the wounded, they’re not dealing with soldiers crying and want to go home, they want to see their mom, they’re sorry for everything they’ve done wrong. They don’t hear that. And when you try to explain that to them about your nightmares and about your—you get these feelings, and all they can do is nod their head and, “Yes, we understand.” No, you don’t understand. And it’s very frustrating to deal with, and that’s why we really heavy on each other and we hold onto what we have. And our unit, the second platoon, is probably, I would say, the tightest unit there is, ’cause we have been through hell and high water with each other. It has been absolutely insane. Our guys, we would die for each other and we would do anything for each other. And that’s hard to break down to your friends, your family, to your wife, to anybody. And unless you’re there, it’s hard to explain about that. This job is a great job. It is a very, very difficult job, and it breaks you down. It breaks you down mentally and physically. I love this job. This is the best job I’ve probably ever had. The problem with it is that I will pay for it later on in my life. I pay for it now. I have the dreams. I have the—. It’s hard. You will never—your brain does not forget the stuff that it sees or what you see. And the problem with the medevac is that, with a ground unit, yes, the ground unit may get into a firefight three, six, maybe ten times out of that year, those guys, maybe. But with the medevac you see the ugly of war every single day. You see everybody’s horrors. You see everybody’s firefights. You see everything every day. And it’s just, like, man, will this never stop?
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