Posted by: joshjasper | May 26, 2009

In Remembrance of

Yesterday most of us spent the day with family, remember those who have given their lives for the service of our country.  This holiday brought back memories for me of when I was in the Marine Corps.  Although I spent only 4 years in the Marines, I was fortunate to meet many fine people from all over the world.  It is of course quite ironic that not so many years ago I was trained to be a machine gunner, taught the mantras of “death before dishonor” and “one shot, one kill”, and here I am now spending every day trying to end violence as we know it.

These memories of my military career also reminded me of one of my closest friends while in the Marines.  I spent my entire time in the Marines being stationed with Carlos Lopez, sharing rooms both in southern Maryland and out at 29 Palms, CA.  We did everything together.  I am actually the godfather of his eldest child.  A few years back I lost touch with Carlos and tried to catch up with him via his family in Texas.  I knew he had continued his career in the Marines after I completed by term and that he was stationed in California.  What I didn’t know was that his duty station was not of a military base, but that of a state prison.

Carlos had fought in the Iraq war twice while stationed in California and was back at Camp Pendleton gearing up for a 3rd deployment to Iraq when tragedy struck.  From what I later learned from his wife, Carlos and the family were driving home one night from a party and an argument ensued with his wife.  The details are unclear, but in short, Carlos became enraged, verbally threatened his wife, and stabbed her 30 times in her arm and kidney with a knife.   Thankfully, his wife lived and fully recovered.  Carlos was found guilty of assaulting his wife with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to prison.

I remember the one time I met with Carlos and his family when I lived in Los Angeles.  I wanted my wife to meet my good friend from the Marines.  We drove to where Carlos was stationed and had dinner with his friends and family.  After dinner, Carlos shared with us the artifacts he had collected from the war in Iraq.  He had photo albums filled with pictures of him in combat action, along with items found in the various cities.  Most of these items were taken from the Iraqi men that were killed, including photos of their families, coins, and letters.  It was clear to me then that Carlos had PTSD from his experience in the war, and that he was not yet able to process his feelings/thoughts about taking the lives of so many when at war.

I do not excuse what Carlos did the evening when he assaulted his wife, but I do think that we can learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others.  Too many men and women arrive home from war, not receiving the needed counseling, only to continue the violence in their homes.

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