War and History Fiction posted September 6, 2016

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Part One

Why Don't They Understand?

by dejohnsrld (Debbie)

This is based on the character sketch I wrote Sunday. I have been encouraged to expand it into a longer story, so here goes ...

March 20, 2003

“Sargent Kevin Sampson.”
Okay, here goes. I never thought when I signed up years ago that there would actually be a time this happened. Then, a few minor skirmishes were taking place, but nothing like the hell there is in the world today. I’ve taken the government’s money for years, now I guess I’ll have to pay for it. I don’t know if I can take actual combat … killing and death aren’t what I signed up for. Just a good, steady job with great benefits and retirement. What about Sarah and the girls? Will I see them again? Here goes, I’ll find out what my assignment is …

“ … patrolling and securing the area surrounding Baghdad … “  

Oh, hell no. Iraq. I thought we left that war once. What the hell is wrong with the country? We seem to think we can fix the world. I’m scared, leaving the family for a year, being injured, losing an arm or leg … death. I’m not ready to die. Desertion—that’s what it will be if I don’t serve. What in the hell was I thinking? I could have been an engineer like Steve. Home and safe, good job, with his family, alive with four limbs. How could I have been so stupid?

Part One:
Okay, eyes on the road. No sense dying before I get there. I’m shaking, I just can’t believe … Iraq? The rumors were right. We must be starting an assault on Iraq. This wasn’t what I expected, what was supposed to happen. The recruiter cornered me fresh out of high school. Well, hell, before graduation … sign up. Great pay, great benefits. Live the Army Way, Army Strong. Bullshit. Now my ass will be target practice for Iraqi terrorists.
Sure, Basic Training, transfer to a nice, safe job at an army base, something to utilize whatever talents I have. Maybe a desk job or filling supply requisitions … piece of cake, good man. A chance for promotion. Yeah, look where that got me. To Iraq, being a target for the extremists. How was I supposed to know 9-11 would happen? Who would have dreamed? I bet that recruiter got his bonus and isn’t going to be riddled with bullets in Iraq.
My dear Sarah, we were so excited to get married and start a family. I jumped at the chance for a good job, and then we found out she was pregnant. It all seemed so logical. A happy family, all I ever wanted, and I had it, until now. It’s over, finito …
The army was great for six years. Stationed at Fort Lincoln checking in vehicles at the motor pool. Keeping track of mileage, maintenance and the like. Nice and safe unless you gave an officer a vehicle he didn’t like. The promotion, a few luxuries … a good life, the American way. Now America is sending my ass to Iraq, into combat? Me, a killer? Me being killed?

Oh, my God. How do I tell Sarah, and will the girls even understand? Four and six, awfully young to have to deal with this. Do we tell them the truth, or just that I will be gone for a while? I can’t … I don’t …

“Sarah, it’s the worst. Iraq, combat. The rumors were right, we’re going in.”
“Kevin, no. It can’t be, no, it just can’t.”


She’s crying … now I’m crying. I’m glad the girls are with their grandparents. Oh, shit. How do I tell my parents?

Yes, good idea. We’ll go to dinner and talk this over. Figure out what to do. Calm down before we pick the girls up. We don’t want to let them see how upset we are.

Okay, two weeks. I have two weeks to figure this out. The Army has a list of all the details we need to take care of before going. Financial arrangements for the family, a will … a will because we are going to be in danger. My God, what have I done?


The girls took it pretty well. Daddy has to go across the ocean to help some people. He will be gone a very long time. Simple. We kept it simple for now. They don’t need to know any more. If Sarah can keep them from watching the news, and hopefully other parents don’t tell their children about the danger, so Susie hears it at school. I don’t want them to worry. It will be hard enough just having me gone. At least we can email, not like it used to be with letters taking weeks to get somewhere. I just have to keep my emails upbeat so as not to make it any harder for Sarah and the girls.
To be continued …



This is fiction, but will be based on the 10 years experience I have working with veterans with disabilities and PTSD as well as my own experiences with both being an amputee and having challenges with mental illness. I have no idea how long it will end up being, but for now am posting it as a short story.
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