Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Winter Soldiers Tell Their Heroic Tales: Hart Viges

Winter Soldiers deliver the boons of their repeated trips to Hell and back

HART VIGES: My name is Hart Viges. I joined the Army right after September 11th and asked for Airborne, asked for Infantry, ended up with 82nd Airborne Division, 1st/325 HHC, Battalion Mortars, Hunters in the Sky, Death from Above, and went in November 2001 and left the Army in December 2004. I was deployed to Kuwait in February 2003 and subsequently was part of the invasion in March.
And then, with raids, we never went on a raid where we got the right house, much less the right person. Not once. We were outside of Baghdad, this water treatment plant, and it seemed like a pretty nice area, you know, trees, green. But then, as we were leaving, two men with RPGs run out in front of us in the road, and there’s a lot of yelling and screaming. And they’re huddled themselves with women and children that were there. And we’re all screaming, “Drop your weapon! Drop your weapons!” They had RPGs slung on their backs. And I was watching my sector on the left. They were on the right. You know, I was very adamant about watching my sector over there. But I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I swung my rifle around, had my sight on the dude in the doorway, RPG on his back, had my sight on his chest. This is what I’m trained to do. But when I looked at his face, he wasn’t a bogeyman, he wasn’t the enemy; he was scared and confused, probably the same expression I had on my face during the same time. He was probably fed the same BS I was fed to put myself in that situation. But seeing his face took me back, and I didn’t pull the trigger. He got away.

We get backup with Apache helicopters, Bradley fighting vehicles, and we go back into this nice little village, asking questions. And, you know, it’s a pretty good history in Iraq. You know, if you got beef with your neighbor back in Saddam’s day, you just say, “Hey, police, he said something bad about Saddam. Why don’t you go get him?” And they take him, and they torture him. Well, now, here with the US, we’re asking, “Who are the troublemakers?,” and we hear from the people in the village that these people are troublemakers over here. So we go, and myself and another soldier steps off, and we toss the hut. Well, the only thing I find is a little .22 pistol, not AK-47s, not RPGs, not pictures of Saddam, not large caches of money. But we end up taking the two young men, regardless. And I looked at my sergeant, and I was like, “Sergeant, these aren’t the men that we’re looking for.” And he told me, “Don’t worry. I’m sure they would have done something anyways.” And this mother, all the while, is crying in my face, trying to kiss my feet.

And, you know, I can’t speak Arabic. I can speak human. She was saying, “Please, why are you taking my sons? They have done nothing wrong.” And that made me feel very powerless. You know, 82nd Airborne Division, Infantry, with Apache helicopters, Bradley fighting vehicles and armor and my M4—I was powerless. I was powerless to help her.

See the power of intuition as Hart Viges breaks through //NO 1's Land// without an interpreter! All that gear, all that body armor and weaponry, should be labeled: "MADE FOR OFFICIAL USE IN NO 1'S LAND, penalty for misuse applies only to the little people."

He violated his most basic training: he saw the face of the Other, and was not terrified; no, he empathized. He said, his face probably looks like mine right now. Word!

beloved /UNION/ Beloved = a durable peace

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