There are brave US soldiers who are speaking out against the war. How many more years, how many more deaths, before we wake up & hear their truth?
Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey may be the most unlikely of the soldiers who have come out against the war. A Marine since 1992, he has been a recruiter, infantry instructor, and combat platoon leader. He went to Iraq primed to fight. “9/11 pissed me off,” he says. “I was ready to go kill a raghead.”
Shortly after Massey arrived in Iraq, his unit was ordered to man roadblocks. To stop cars, the Marines would raise their hands. If the drivers kept going, Massey says, “we would just light ’em up. I didn’t find out until later on, after talking to an Iraqi, that when you put your hand up in the air, it means ‘Hello.’” He estimates that his men killed 30 civilians in one 48-hour period.
One day, he recalls, “there was this red Kia Spectra. We told it to stop, and it didn’t. There were four occupants. We fatally wounded three of them. We started pulling out the bodies, but they were dying pretty fast. The guy that was driving was just frickin’ bawling, sitting on the highway. He looked at me and asked, ‘Why did you kill my brother? He wasn’t a terrorist. He didn’t do anything to you.’”
Massey searched the car. “It was completely clean. Nothing there. Meanwhile the driver just ran around saying, ‘Why? Why?’ That’s when I started to question.”
The doubts led to nightmares, depression, and a talk with his commanding officer. “I feel what we are doing here is wrong. We are committing genocide,” Massey told him. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and given a medical discharge.
Back in his hometown of Waynesville, North Carolina, Massey got a job as a furniture salesman, then lost it after speaking at an antiwar rally. Two or three times a week, he puts on his Marine uniform and takes a long walk around the nearby town of Asheville carrying a sign that reads: “I killed innocent civilians for our government.” The local police now keep an eye out for him, he says, because people have tried to run him over.
When asked what he would say to someone who thinks the way he did before the war, Massey falls uncharacteristically silent. “How do you wake them up?” he finally responds. “It’s a slow process. All you can do is tell people the horrible things you’ve seen, and let them make up their own minds. It’s kind of the pebble in the water: You throw in a pebble, and it makes ripples through the whole pond.”