Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home

Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home

by David Philipps

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780230120693
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/10/2012
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 690,772
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David Philipps is a features writer for the Colorado Springs Gazette whose articles have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Seattle Times, among others. His coverage of the violence at Fort Carson won him the Livingston Prize for National Reporting and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Lethal Warriors was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Read an Excerpt

Lethal Warriors

When the New Band of Brothers Came Home


By David Philipps

Palgrave Macmillan

Copyright © 2010 David Philipps
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-230-11226-1



CHAPTER 1

"Y'ALL CAN FORGET GOING TO IRAQ"


It was raining in Kyonggi-Do, South Korea. But it almost always rained in Kyonggi-Do, at least during the summer. The province, which lies at the western end of the border with North Korea, sees around fifty inches of rain during the summer monsoons. Water dribbled off every leaf in the thick deciduous forests, saturating the soil and feeding trickles and rills that tumbled down the mountainsides. The rough, low hills looked like a foggy corner of the Appalachians. If not for the orderly quilt of flooded rice paddies spread across the valley floors, the scene could easily be mistaken for West Virginia or eastern Kentucky.

That is what Kenny Eastridge thought when he first saw the Korean landscape. He had grown up in Kentucky, and when he arrived in Kyonggi-Do as a lanky, awkward army private in the winter of 2004 he was surprised at how much this distant corner of Asia looked like the hills back home. Now, on this hot summer night, the rain dripped off the rim of his helmet, soaked into his fatigues, and gleamed on a big machine gun he had slung over his shoulder. Eastridge was a pale scarecrow of a soldier—five feet ten, 140 pounds, with short brown hair, wire-frame granny glasses, and an adam's apple that stuck out like a knot on a tree. He looked like an extra in a war movie—not the strong-jawed hero or the mean sergeant but the young, sensitive small-town kid, the skinny one with the accent and just enough charisma and heart to doom him at the climax of the picture.

Somewhere nearby in the dark he could hear the diesel growl of tank. Around him, other soggy soldiers tramped through the ceaseless rain on a training mission. After nine weeks of basic training and a few weeks of specialized infantry training stateside, the nineteen-year-old private had been sent with a handful of new recruits to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, stationed on the North Korean border. Its mission was to guard against a massive Communist attack. The troops trained relentlessly to be ready at a moment's notice. They lugged their heavy guns up mountain ridges. They stayed out for days at a time on foot. And that night, they marched through the rain, sinking deeper and deeper into the Kyonggi-Do mud.

Somewhere in the dark morass of tanks and men marched Kevin Shields and Louis Bressler, two other new recruits barely out of high school. None of them really knew the others, and none had ever expected to find themselves in rural South Korea, but that spot, more than any, marked the starting point of a journey that literally circled the globe, through four years and two combat tours, only to eventually crash in Colorado Springs.

The battalion's five hundred soldiers were stationed in a remote cluster of low, Cold War–era cinder-block barracks called Camp Greaves. The camp, which had been the battalion's home since 1987, sat about two miles from the Demilitarized Zone and was the American outpost closest to North Korea. The barracks stood tucked among the green hills and flooded rice paddies on the north bank of the wide, slow Imjin River. Two bridges spanning the Imjin sat within shouting distance of the camp. The first was a rickety, narrow steel trestle called the Freedom Bridge, because thousands of prisoners of war had walked south across the bridge to freedom in 1953 when the Korean War wound down. The second, a few hundred meters upriver, was the Unity Bridge, a four-lane modern span built as a gesture toward reunification of the North and the South. Both bridges were strung with razor wire and packed with explosives.

In the event of an all-out attack from the north, the battalion was supposed to blow both bridges, scramble into Black Hawk helicopters, and retreat across the river to defensive positions to brace themselves against the onslaught of North Korea's estimated one million troops. Casualties in the battalion were expected to be upward of 90 percent. The role of Eastridge and the others was only to slow the advance. In short, commanders told the unit—joking in a way that let everyone know they were dead serious—"We are the speed bump."

When they arrived, the new grunts were taught that because they were assigned to the 506th Infantry Regiment, they were now part of one of the most hallowed, heroic, and respected units in the entire U.S. Army. They called themselves the Band of Brothers. Few of the fresh privates knew much at all about the history of the Band of Brothers when they arrived in Korea, but they all had it practically memorized by the time they left.


* * *

The Band of Brothers was formed at the start of World War II as a new kind of fighting force. It was an experimental paratrooper unit manned entirely by volunteers—no draftees—and trained in a way the army hoped would render it especially lethal in combat. During World War II, soldiers often went through basic training together but then were sent off to different units. The Band of Brothers was different. They all lived and trained together for months, then shipped off to Europe together as a unit. The idea was that soldiers who trained together knew how to work together better. They knew each other's strengths and weaknesses. They would trust each other in combat. Combined, these factors would make them a better fighting team.

Almost every day and on many nights, the infantry recruits of the original Band of Brothers had to run two miles from their training camp in Toccoa, Georgia, to the top of an 800-foot mountain called Currahee—a Cherokee word meaning "Stands alone." The mountain became a symbol both of their individual strength and their shared struggle. Over half a century later, and half a world away, soldiers in the Band of Brothers stationed in a rainy corner of Korea still saluted their officers by shouting, "Stands alone!"

The experimental unit proved its worth again and again fighting the Nazis. The Band of Brothers plunged into the flak-filled night over Nazi-occupied France on the eve of the D-day invasion in June 1944. They were told they would be in the fight for three days. Instead, they fought every day for a month; a quarter of the unit was injured and another fifth was killed while taking a number of key enemy positions. In December, the Band of Brothers helped stop a German offensive at the Battle of the Bulge. The outgunned infantry unit—with little food, water, or ammunition and no winter clothing to guard against subzero temperatures—dug in and held off a much larger German force. Onethird of the soldiers were killed, but they never abandoned their posts. The unit became famous for bravery and loyalty.

The nickname "Band of Brothers" was adopted from a few lines in the St. Crispin's Day speech in Shakespeare's Henry V, in which the king remembers how his sick and drastically outnumbered army triumphed over the French years before:

    From this day to the end of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered—
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile


Adopting "Band of Brothers" as a moniker was the soldiers' way of saying the bonds of friendship in battle would always unite them, no matter what happened down the road. The nickname originally only referred to the men of the battalion's Company E, but over time the whole battalion adopted it.

In Vietnam, the battalion was reactivated and traded parachutes for helicopters. Once again, the soldiers found themselves in the worst of the worst, fighting back the repeated assaults of the Tet offensive and throwing platoon after platoon against the bloody, entrenched Vietcong bunkers on a promontory soldiers called Hamburger Hill.

The status of the regiment got a sudden boost when its heroics were turned into a bestselling book by historian Stephen Ambrose in 1992, then spun into a ten-part miniseries on HBO in 2001. New soldiers like Shields and Eastridge watched the series over and over in the barracks. If they got bored with it, they could play a video game on PlayStation based on the bloody jungle warfare the Band of Brothers encountered in Vietnam. Everywhere they went, they had to salute superiors by saying "Stands alone!" Even the trays in the chow hall bore the Band of Brothers logo.

Soldiers hoping to be sergeants had to memorize the history of the unit—every parachute jump in Europe and every assault in Asia. When young officers joined the battalion, they went through a decades-old ceremony in which they had to drink from a special grail. The other brothers mixed a brew of tomato juice, symbolic of the blood spilled by past brothers, whiskey for the soldiers who are "strong, smooth and full of fight," and a pinch of dirt from Currahee Mountain (or, if no dirt was available, coffee grounds) to give them strength to "stand alone." The grail holding the mix had handles fashioned from the metal pull tabs of the Airborne's reserve parachutes. The cup was forged from melted-down silverware the Brothers pilfered from Hitler's vacation home. For the humble grunts of 2004, the lore boosted morale by linking their often humdrum existence to the heroes they saw on TV.

"We thought it was awesome," Jose Barco, a private in the unit who became one of Eastridge's best friends, said years later. "Wearing that 506th patch on your shoulder was one of the coolest things in the world."

In World War II, the Band of Brothers had been a blend of young men of almost every background—country and city, privileged and poor, Jewish and Catholic, virtuous and verging on criminal. Their only common bond was a willingness to volunteer for a job in the army that seemed almost recklessly dangerous. The Brothers marching through the mud of Korea sixty years later were not so different. Every shade and accent was represented—guys from the city and guys from the middle of nowhere, guys with college degrees and guys who never graduated from high school, guys from good homes and guys from the slums, homeschooled Christians and godless delinquents. The one thing they all had in common was that they had voluntarily joined the army—and not just the army, the infantry.


* * *

Kenny Eastridge had joined at age nineteen in 2003 to save himself from a life that never had much chance of being anything but a disaster. He had grown up in a poor part of Louisville, Kentucky, with his mother. His father worked across town as a mechanic, but Kenny rarely saw him. One day, when Eastridge was about nine, his mom took him to Toys "R" Us, bought him a video game, then dropped him off at his dad's house, saying she needed to run some errands. She didn't come back for three years. He later was told she had become a crack addict. His father took him in, but was not around much. He would pick up fast food for dinner, bring it home, and then go out again. Kenny was left to entertain himself.

One afternoon on May 7, 1996, when he was twelve years old, he invited one of his best friends, Billy Bowman, and two other boys over to play video games. They were messing around, doing what kids do when parents are not home, when Eastridge pulled out one of his father's antique shotguns to show off. He carefully broke open the breech and removed the shells, since he knew his dad always kept his guns loaded. Then he handed it over to his friends, the skinny arms of each boy straining under the cold, heavy metal. They passed it around with nervous smiles. They weren't supposed to play with guns, but that was part of what made it cool. They pointed the gun at each other, pretending they were the Terminator or Rambo or any of a number of other characters from the movies they loved.

"All right, we better put it back up," Kenny said after a while. He broke open the shotgun and slid the shells back into the chambers. Then he tried to slam the breech shut with one flick of his wrist, John Wayne style. The long steel barrel swung up and clicked closed, but he couldn't hold the weight with one hand. He fumbled for the stock with his free hand and caught the trigger. The gun went off. Billy Bowman was watching from a few feet away. The blast hit him square in the chest.

When the cops came, Kenny was crying. He had just killed his best friend. He was arrested and eventually pled guilty to reckless homicide. He did no jail time, but was ordered to have counseling as part of his probation. The court also required him to live in a house with no firearms, but his father refused to give up his guns, so Kenny went to live with his grandmother for a while in rural Shepherdsville, Kentucky. When his mom heard about the killing, she immediately checked herself into rehab. When she sobered up, she remarried his dad and they put together a steady life and got permission for Kenny to move back in with them.

After Billy died, the smell of gunfire, or any burnt-metal smell, always made Eastridge shaky and nauseous. He did not want to think about what had happened. He wasn't a bully or some kind of black-trench-coat sociopath; he was a clever and affable slacker who liked to read, watch movies with friends, smoke pot, play video games, and tell funny stories. On his MySpace page he listed his major as "marijuana."

By the time Eastridge was seventeen and his other friends were graduating from high school, he was so far behind from the murder charges, the counseling, the moving, and general slacking off that he was still only in ninth grade. School felt increasingly awkward. He had no prospects for college. He had no job skills or good chances for meaningful employment. The days of good blue-collar manufacturing jobs in the United States were quickly drawing to a close. The future was a thicket of dead-end jobs. But Eastridge was smart. He knew if he just found the right way to prove himself, he could do something with his life.

The army commercials on TV seemed to offer a chance. Kenny had always been fascinated by the war stories of his grandfather, who was an infantry soldier in World War II, and loved playing shooter video games and watching war movies. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the buildup to the Iraq War seemed like a sign to him that his generation was being called to serve. He decided to drop out of school, get his GED, and join the army. He would not only be serving his country, he would be building a career. His mother heartily supported his decision to join. She said it would be good for him.

Eastridge started calling recruiters as soon as he turned eighteen. On his first call in 2003, he learned that the army would not take him. Anyone with a collection of minor criminal convictions or one big one—like the killing of Billy Bowman—needs a waiver from the army to enlist. Recruiters have to interview the soldier to see if they are deserving. The bigger the crime, the higher up the chain of command the waiver has to go. They are not rare, and have become more common as the wars have stretched on. From 2004 to 2009, the army issued 80,403 waivers, with more than half going to recruits with drug and alcohol abuse, misdemeanors, or felonies. When Eastridge mentioned on the phone that he had a felony conviction, the recruiters would say something like "We may be able to work around that." When he said it was a homicide, some would pause, dumbfounded. Some would laugh. "You mean you killed somebody?" one said. "I don't think so." Eastridge kept calling dozens of recruiters across three states, trying to find one who needed to meet a quota. When he grew too embarrassed to call, his mother would. Finally, after six months, a major in Nashville told him, "Son, it sounds like you just need someone to give you a chance. I want to be that guy."

After boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, Eastridge landed in South Korea, where on that rainy night he was trudging through the mud, a nineteen-year-old private carrying a twenty-two-pound machine gun slung over his shoulder. The gun's official name was the M–249 squad automatic weapon, but soldiers called it the SAW, partly because of its ability to cut down the enemy. It was the biggest gun that Eastridge's light infantry unit carried. Grunts used it to lay down a suppressive fire in quick burps of sixteen bullets per second. Being a SAW gunner was considered an honor. The job was given to the best, most dependable private in every infantry team. With the machine gun, body armor, extra ammo, water, and required supplies, Eastridge carried almost a hundred pounds. And he loved it. He had finally found something he was good at.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Lethal Warriors by David Philipps. Copyright © 2010 David Philipps. Excerpted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Foreword vi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 "Y'all Can Forget Going to Iraq" 13

Chapter2 A Walt Disney Family 33

Chapter 3 Operation Mad Max 47

Chapter 4 Casualties of War 77

Chapter 5 Stands Alone 91

Chapter 6 "A Walking Time Bomb" 109

Chapter 7 "This Almost Painful Stillness" 119

Chapter 8 Heart of Darkness 129

Chapter 9 "Throw Me a Life Worth Living" 151

Chapter 10 Escalation of Force 163

Chapter 11 "Everybody does Stuff in Iraq. Everybody." 185

Chapter 12 "Reading is for the Lame, Go Shoot Someone" 195

Chapter 13 Fuel to the Fire 213

Chapter 14 Invisible Wounds 227

Chapter 15 Changing the Mindset 245

Postscript Where are They Now? 255

Notes 259

Index 269

Acknowledgements viii

Introduction 1

1 Protestant History and Imagination 9

2 Evangelicalism, Presbyterianism and Protestant Church Identity in Northern Ireland 37

3 Dealing with Peace through Forgiveness and Reconciliation 95

4 Catholic Perspectives 140

5 Ecumenism: A Case Study of the Inter-Church Group on Faith and Politics 174

6 Christianity in a 'Post-Conflict' Northern Ireland 209

Conclusion 235

Bibliography 243

Index 252

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Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
SudiDA More than 1 year ago
I have decided I need to start this review by saying upfront that I have never supported the involvement of Americans and Canadian military in the war in Iraq. I am proudly Canadian, and while I do not support the war, I do support our men and women who have taken part in the war. I believe these people join the military to support their country and that is why I support them. And I feel the same about the American military personnel. That being said, I will also say that I was in two minds about reading and reviewing this book. I didn't particularly want to read about the war in Iraq, but I did want to see what the author had to say about PTSD. My papa was a boy in Finland in World War II. He and his family hid in the hills when the German army came through, and then again a few long years later, when the Russians came through chasing the remaining Germans back. He only spoke of it infrequently and usually only after something had caused him to be reminded of that time, some sound, some sight or some smell that would cause him to think back. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about the things he saw as a young boy, things he could do nothing about. Even writing this short amount brings to mind the look he would have on his face. That is actually why I decided to read this book, his look. I know that he suffered mental trauma because of what he went through, and I know that to deal with it, he drank. I believe that he suffered from PTSD and that is why i decided to read this. David Philipps takes us on a journey through the lives of several young men who volunteered to serve their country and served in the American Army. They served their country, were given several weeks, sometimes months of training in weaponry, tactics, fighting, shooting and physical endurance and then were returned to their own country broken, sad, struggling to cope in the aftermath of all they had witnessed and been involved in. With most receiving little to no help with their mental issues (I hate how that sounds, but I'm not sure how else to word it), they were sent home to their families and friends different people than when they had started in the military. Some coped well and returned to mainstream living with little or no discernible changes. Others suffered from insomnia, nightmares and other troubles that they were helped with and then returned to living with some help and were able to barely cope. Still others returned, denying to themselves and others, that they were suffering from any problems and then couldn't cope. They recieved no help and ended up in jail, charged with various crimes including murder, rape and assault. And still, these people who had served their country, were denied help. PTSD has been known by a variety of names including combat fatigue, and has existed as long as man has warred. It is a difficult disease to diagnos and treat, made harder by the stigma attached to mental illness and the don't ask, don't tell approach that is still seen today. The author does not excuse what these men did, but he does try to help explain the WHY. And also what the government, the military and the people themselves need to do to change the system and to get help for people suffering from PTSD. This book is not for the faint of heart, it goes through all the harrowing details of what these young men went through while they were serving in the army and the crimes they did when they returned home. It goes a long way to showing how PTSD changes lives and what can be done to combat PTSD in our military and in civilians as well. A very well researched, well written book. It gives an objective look at the trauma war causes to our troops and what can be done to help them heal from their experiences. The copy I have has an updated forward written in January 2012. It has a quote by journalist Tom Ricks that to me sums up the Iraqi War...'The Vietnam Memorial is a gash in the ground, like a grave, I think ideally, the Iraqi War memorial probably would ideally be a dead end.' I received my copy of Lethal Warriors through LibraryThing and my review was unsolicited.
mortoralley More than 1 year ago
I was in this Brigade. I remember all the pressure that went from deploying from one combat zone to another. We had very little training going into Iraq. We had no Family Readiness Group established. Our families were spread all over the world. I saw death in every Soldiers eye in while deployed in Ramadi Iraq. We lost over 80 Soldiers. Then when we return we lied about having issues because we wanted to avoid having to see a doctor and delay seeing our families. I didn't understand PTSD then, and neither did the Army. There were some sick people from this brigade. This is a true story that continues to hunt the Soldiers from this unit.
etxgardener on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book ex[;ores teh effects of Post Traumatic Stree Syndrome (PTSD) on the troops who have been serviing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The author uses eight infrantrymen based out of Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs to illustrate what is happening to the army as a whole.This "Band of Brothers" who later call themselves "The Lethal Warriors" are first deployed to Korea, but soon are redeployed to Iraq where they experience horriic acts of violence on a daily basis. Upon returning home after their first tour, they ignore and/or deny any psychological problems that developed during their time in the war zone. Most hold it together to return for a second tour in Iraq, but then things quickly fall apart - both in the level of violence they inflict on Iraqis and the havoc they wreck on the civilian population once they return home.With he exception of General Mark Graham, who apparently initiated some much needed reforms at Ft. Carson, this book is an indictment of almost everyone at every stage in the chain of military command. From the recruiters who let in questionable recuits in order to achieve their enlistment quotas, to training sargents who constantly putthe image of the stoical warrior up as role model for neww recruits, to the DoD who underfund VA hospitals, and all teh adminstrtors and medical personnel who take the quick fix of dispening psychotropic drugs to those suffering from {TSD rather than trying to proie the therapy they require.I found this book both horrifying and anger producing. Horrifying for what our military is going through in multipe deployments to a war zone where it is a wonder anyone comes out the other side sane. And anger producing because of the sunshine patriots in and out of office who like to profess suport for the troops but who neither want to pay for the wars, or deal with the human wreckage who are returning home from their battles.Let's hope that this boo,k and others like it, will be wake-up call for change in teh way we treat our troops.
bragan on LibraryThing 5 months ago
David Philipps examines the problems of PTSD, and the toll that it can take not just on soldiers returning to civilian life but also on the society they return to, by focusing on the disturbing stories of several infantrymen in one particular army battalion based in Colorado Springs. These guys saw some of the worst combat in Iraq, experiences that, as Philipps describes them, leave you wondering how anybody could have come out of them sane. Many of them participated in actions that anybody else would call war crimes, but which they learned to call "no big deal." And when they returned to the States, they had an anomalously high rate of violent crimes, including a number of horrifically senseless murders of both fellow soldiers and civilians.Philipps talks in some depth about the combat, the crimes, and the toll that PTSD and related problems can take on the human psyche. He also discusses the distressing fact that the Army, while theoretically aware of and concerned about these issues, often did little or nothing to treat these people's problems, partly due to a lack of resources and partly due to a culture that discourages soldiers from reporting psychological problems and often punishes symptoms rather than treating them. (Although, as he reports in the final chapters, this is something that they are now at least to some extent attempting to fix.)The one thing I was a little disappointed by was a lack of any real discussion about treatments for PTSD. I would have liked at least a little bit of a look at what kind of therapies have been used and how much evidence there is about whether they work or not. Maybe that's a bit beyond the scope of this book, but it does seem to me to be an important missing piece of the equation. That aside, though, it's very good. If "good" is quite the right word... It's a difficult, often very painful read. But whether you drive a car plastered with "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers or passionately believe they never should have been sent out to fight in the first place, it is, I think, far too easy to turn your head away and ignore the consequences when they come back. But reading this, it's impossible not feel that this is everybody's problem.
pmartin462 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I have read few books that have been both completely infuriating and impossible to put down at the same time. It dumbfounds me that this book was not nominated for a Pulitzer. I feel that anyone that really wants a complete picture of the cost of the war in Iraq¿beyond the much noted casualty and monetary statistics¿has to read this book.The story behind Lethal Worries by David Phillips is pretty simple. Men have, and most likely continue to, return from war with serious mental issues (in most cases Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) which results, in some cases, in them committing horrific crimes both in combat zones and back in the United States.The author tells the story of these young men of the Band of Brothers stationed out of Fort Carson Colorado, who were trained to kill and sent into some of the worst combat zones in Iraq. There they were subjected to a daily dose of concussions from IED, butchery (often perpetrated by their comrades), and death of both friends and enemies. Then there were expected to return to the ¿real¿ world and function normally.When a mass murder occurs in the United States the reaction is often to send in a team of psychiatrists to help the survivors, family, and witnesses of the crime deal with their emotions.The United States Army took another approach.Soldiers that had issues dealing with the issues of daily carnage that they were exposed to were often called ¿pussy,¿ told to ¿suck it up,¿ belittled by their superiors, viewed as malingers, and feared that their military career would be ruined if they sought help.For those that did seek help, the Army had a quick fix--prescriptions of antidepressant and sleeping pills. With their prescriptions in hand, the soldiers were sent back to the frontline. Those soldiers that were unable to deal with their issues were kick out of the Army were they would no longer be a concern of their superiors.The result of the Army¿s avoidance of the issue of PSTD, has been a string of murders, and other horrific crimes committed by ex-soldiers and soldiers in the United States waiting their discharge.The author ends on a somewhat positive note. Due to the work of General Mark Graham, the Army is dealing with the reality of PTSD.
Sudimatleon on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I have decided I need to start this review by saying upfront that I have never supported the involvement of Americans and Canadian military in the war in Iraq. I am proudly Canadian, and while I do not support the war, I do support our men and women who have taken part in the war. I believe these people join the military to support their country and that is why I support them. And I feel the same about the American military personnel. That being said, I will also say that I was in two minds about reading and reviewing this book. I didn't particularly want to read about the war in Iraq, but I did want to see what the author had to say about PTSD. My papa was a boy in Finland in World War II. He and his family hid in the hills when the German army came through, and then again a few long years later, when the Russians came through chasing the remaining Germans back. He only spoke of it infrequently and usually only after something had caused him to be reminded of that time, some sound, some sight or some smell that would cause him to think back. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about the things he saw as a young boy, things he could do nothing about. Even writing this short amount brings to mind the look he would have on his face. That is actually why I decided to read this book, his look. I know that he suffered mental trauma because of what he went through, and I know that to deal with it, he drank. I believe that he suffered from PTSD and that is why i decided to read this.David Philipps takes us on a journey through the lives of several young men who volunteered to serve their country and served in the American Army. They served their country, were given several weeks, sometimes months of training in weaponry, tactics, fighting, shooting and physical endurance and then were returned to their own country broken, sad, struggling to cope in the aftermath of all they had witnessed and been involved in. With most receiving little to no help with their mental issues (I hate how that sounds, but I'm not sure how else to word it), they were sent home to their families and friends different people than when they had started in the military. Some coped well and returned to mainstream living with little or no discernible changes. Others suffered from insomnia, nightmares and other troubles that they were helped with and then returned to living with some help and were able to barely cope. Still others returned, denying to themselves and others, that they were suffering from any problems and then couldn't cope. They received no help and ended up in jail, charged with various crimes including murder, rape and assault. And still, these people who had served their country, were denied help. PTSD has been known by a variety of names including combat fatigue, and has existed as long as man has warred. It is a difficult disease to diagnose and treat, made harder by the stigma attached to mental illness and the don't ask, don't tell approach that is still seen today.The author does not excuse what these men did, but he does try to help explain the WHY. And also what the government, the military and the people themselves need to do to change the system and to get help for people suffering from PTSD. This book is not for the faint of heart, it goes through all the harrowing details of what these young men went through while they were serving in the army and the crimes they did when they returned home. It goes a long way to showing how PTSD changes lives and what can be done to combat PTSD in our military and in civilians as well.A very well researched, well written book. It gives an objective look at the trauma war causes to our troops and what can be done to help them heal from their experiences. The copy I have has an updated foreword written in January 2012. It has a quote by journalist Tom Ricks that to me sums up the Iraqi War...'The Vietnam Memorial is a gash in the ground, like a grave, I think ideally, the Iraqi War memorial probably
IandSsmom on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Very important book. Looking forward to reading it.
EANause on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Lethal Warriors is a fascinating book. The author does a great job of bringing this tale of service in Iraq and murder to life. It shows the lack of training, debriefing and the poor mental health services our troops are receiving. Upon finishing this book, I felt pity. Pity for the victims and pity for our soldiers who committed these crimes. In each case, these crimes could have been avoided if the soldier in question received the helped he needed. I also have a new respect for our troops. It gives a vivid and detailed account of service in Iraq. I highly recommend this book.
surlysal on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Politicians can debate the merits of war but in the end it comes down to a professional duty performed by the troops they send to fight these battles. The loss of life and mortally wounded often overshadow the mental toll combat puts on a solider. David Philipps looks at the 506th Infantry (Band of Brothers) from Fort Carson, Colorado and chronicles their path of wanting to serve their country to self destruction. How can such a storied brigade have many of their current ranks end up sociopaths? Serving multiple tours in Iraq fighting battles against an unknown assailant and the constant threat of IED's can break the most hardened warrior. The long term exposure to stressful situations led to alcohol/drug abuse and perpetuated a mentality that killing was no big deal in Iraq or at home. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has affected soldiers in every war since ancient times and yet it's looked upon as a weakness by current soldiers and some military brass. Soldiers would lie or keep their mouths shut on exit interviews in order to keep red flags from going up to seek treatment. The stigma of treatment was a badge very few were willing to wear. The daily grind of Iraq became their normal and upon returning home many were disillusioned and didn't know how to fit into society often begging for redeployment. The lack of understanding about PTSD within the ranks and society left very few outlets to treat psychological casualties. The army would often force out "trouble" soldiers instead of medically retiring them to wash their hands of the situation. In the book there was a comparison drawn between PTSD and IED's; they lie masked and you can't see it until it hits.Soldiers look to return home in one piece physically while many aren't so lucky mentally. You can take the soldier out of war but sometimes you can't take the war out of the soldier. PTSD is not a fly-by-night problem. If left untreated the problem not only consumes the soldier but can cause great harm to the community. The tragic consequences of war require us to help alleviate the burden of mental trauma by providing our soldiers with the care they deserve. Lethal Warriors was a gut wrenching look into the lasting effects war has on the psyche and what the military and society need to do to ease our soldiers transition back to normalcy.
samlives2 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An insightful look into the lives of Iraq War veterans. Philipps does his best to provide an unbiased, journalistic report of the effects, causes, and public perception of PTSD. Overall this is a very stirring book, revealing the side of the war people don't hear about in the news and worthwhile read for anyone interested in the true cost of the wars in the Middle East.On, the smaller side, Philipps could have used a better editor: there are obvious spelling mistakes, often of interviewees' names and a general repetition of phrases (such as "playing video games like Halo and Call of Duty," which showed up countless times) that could have been fixed with an in-depth and thorough revision.
ToniWI on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Lethal Warriors was an amazingly powerful story. It offers insight into a growing problem in the military, PTSD. Philipps, follows the stories of Iraqi war veterans and their struggles with physical and mental traumas of war. The author tells the story with details that help build relationships with the soldiers. My own experience with trauma in the military and PTSD drew me into the story. Philipps, showed the lack of understanding of PTSD in the military and the need for more understanding of the affects of mental and physical trauma.This is a must read! Anyone with a friend or family member that experienced military trauma should read this book.
hadden on LibraryThing 5 months ago
When the soldiers of the 506th Infantry Regiment, known since World War II as "The Band of Brothers" came home from Iraq to Colorado Springs, CO, the incidence of murder, armed robbery, rape, spouse abuse, suicide and other violent crimes shot up. These men had serious cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and this disorder was either ignored or downplayed by the US Army. There was no treatment or follow-up to cases of alchohol or drug abuse, and even the psychiatric staff at the hospitals were ordered not to treat this disorder.As a result, when several cases of murder and other violence all came from the same company, no one wanted to admit the problems, and civilian advocates for the veterans were ignored both by the US Army and the local mayor.Innocent civilains in the town had to die before the problems were recognised and addressed. An excellent book that explores a problem, the problem's history, and proposes valid solutions.This book should be read by all civilians who are concerned with the medical treatment of veterans, and ignored by the military's high command.
Sovranty on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Centering on the lives of eight military men stationed at Fort Carson and the crimes they committed after returning from, or prior to, multiple deployments to and crimes committed/witnessed in Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan, David Phillips takes a journalist approach in attempting to explore the role of PTSD. Phillips repeatedly parallels training received and duty completed with the nature and way the crimes were committed. The lives of the men also seem to run a strong parallel before and after duty. With a lack of structure and direction in their lives, the men are rebuilt and found useful in their military fighting duties. When the men return home, they are left with the same unfulfilled life, but now have an increased sense of lack of worth due to their war skills and hierarchy not translating into civilian life. Phillips impresses the reasons for the crimes to be due to PTSD and its lack of assessment and treatment by the military and DoD. However, the book left me with the impression that the majority of the crimes exampled were committed due to combining the increased lack of self-worth, the lack of direction and training for re-entry into civilian life, and a military culture that defeats psychological support for those potentially suffering from psychological trauma and stress of deployment.Phillips blames the government and military significantly throughout the book for the failings of the service men, while minimizing personal responsibility. Ultimately, this book seems to be about who is responsible for what peppered with PTSD facts and not about "uncovering the tragic reality of PTSD."
winecat on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A book that breaks your heart and makes you angry at the same time. Young soldiers being taught to kill in Iraq and Afkanistian come home to little support from their government. Misunderstanding from the families and a sense of isolation and alienation with their families. No wonder they kill, that's what they've been taught.
tuffsme on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I had a very difficult time reading this. My husband serves and his first 2 tours to Iraq left him very reserved and distant. I hope to god that he hasn't experienced anything in this book, but I'm almost certain he has. I'm greatful for this book to spread to word about what our troops do for us even when we don't hear about it.
bgherman on LibraryThing 5 months ago
WOW! WOW! Did I say Wow! This is probably the most amazing book I have read in the past year, I do not know why it is not on the best seller list. This is not the book I was expecting to read, but am I glad it was written. I started reading the book a month before my son was to return from Afghanistan. This was his third deployment in 5 years, two in Iraq and this one to Afghanistan. It really gave me a lot to think about and to watch in my child (well he really is not a child, but always will be to his mother). I think it should be required reading for any family who has a soldier deployed so you will know about PTSD, even if the military does not want to admit it. My son is EOD, explosive ordnance disposal, and he sees a lot of action like the soldiers in this book. I had to put the book down about 1/2 the way though and just rest from reading it. It is very intense, but intensely good. After my son returned home, healthy mentally I might add, I finished reading. I thank our soldiers for what they do, but our government must do something for them in return. I am recommending that my son read this book and every family who has a soldier in their lives. Thank you David Philipps for stepping up and writing this book. READ IT, READ IT
Sentinel83 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I got this book as an early reviewer. While at times some of the stories and information are graphic and harrowing, it is something that I am glad I read. It really cuts a clear picture of the stress soldiers go through and explains a few of the cases where soldiers have snapped after coming home and committing murder and other crimes. The author does a great job of staying impartial and providing the facts around each soldier's situation. He also does a nice job of showing how PTSD can affect any soldier, even those with good upbringings and how their personality before the war may not play a part in how they deal psychologically with combat stress.Lastly, Phillips does a nice job explaining how out of tune the military is with PTSD and how it really is a problem that needs addressed immediately. As a part of some of the soldiers generation, it is scary to think that some of these guys are wandering around drugged up and trigger happy because they cannot get the care they need. This book was worth the read to gain additional insight into the care soldiers receive for PTSD when coming back from the war. It also shows the grim realities of war that the soldiers deal with on a day to day basis. It is a must read for anyone who has an interest in these areas.
StanSki on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is an early reviewer review. David Phillips, a feature writer for the Colorado Springs Gazette has written a book which should be read by all Americans. Soldiers are coming back from Iraq (and I assume Afghanistan), totally unprepared to re-enter civilian life. And, to make this whole thing clearer, they were totally unprepared to fight the war they found themselves in. A war in which they could not tell friend from enemy. A war in which the opposition does not wear uniforms. A war in which IEDs kills more soldiers than bullets or bombs. These men had nothing to shoot at after an IED killed or wounded their comrades in arms. So why are we surprised when they come home, not knowing if the man on the street next to them is a friend or foe? Why are we surprised that they all buy guns when they come back, to protect themselves from unknown and invisible enemies?Get this book and read it. It is important to do so. Unfortunately PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is named a "disorder", not a disease. This is as much an illness as cancer. We cannot hide it, nor from it. It does exist.I only wish the editor had been more heavy handed. A cut of 10% would have made this book more readable and more popular. But that is no excuse for not reading this book. Thank You David Phillips for educating us on this important issue
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As the mother of a Marine who deployed, I was enlightened on how psychologically our warriors are affected and disappointed on how the military denies the facts that our warriors are struggling. I only hope the government will take the info in this book to heart and try to help our warriors before it is too late! This is real, not a ploy for sympathy and our country needs to be able to understand and take action. I feel horrible for all the parties involved (the innocent victims, the veterans and their families) but deeply appreciate the honesty shared. Unfortunately, this book only touches on a small portion of what our combat warriors go through while deployed. This book is telling it like it is whether we like it or not.
Alycille More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed every part of this book. It gave a great look at what these men went through during their time in Iraq and the suffering PTSD causes. Unfortunately, it takes events like the ones in this book for people to actually do something about prevention and support to those soldiers and family members returning from war. As a girlfriend of a soldier in the Army, this book educated me on the signs and symptoms of PTSD and gave me a good look at what to expect from my soldier when returning from a deployment. PTSD is an illness...not a sign of weakness, and I am prepared to support and help my soldier no matter his condition on returning home.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
holy moly. this book gave me new eyes to everything i have ever thought about war. i could not put this book down, and i feel incredibly lightened with a new morality to judging things i really had no idea about. Really learning about PTSD has definitely gave me something to try to be a part of helping soldiers with as much i can with my future career. I'm certain this book actually changed my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was recommended this book by a lawyer friend of mine who is defending a client with PTSD from some serious crimes. I have not been in the military and never had the desire to do so...however, reading this book, Philipps hits the nail on the head in at least one other area of life - which I am intimately familiar with: law enforcement. I read this book on the Nook, and many, many pages were then bookmarked and highlighted because what he wrote as being true in the military culture is true in police culture as well. That it takes a look at PTSD from an objective, outside point of view, without trying to make it into an 'agenda' but rather a study on why things are happening makes this book even more beneficial. Members of the military have been returning and have been different. Working in law enforcement I've seen more and more military members being arrested - and a lot of times for stupid crimes that not only make any sense but goes against the character that they exhibit even in jail. There has to be a reason for it. PTSD may be that reason. Once we can get others educated and remove the stigma of mental health problems (from both the military and our public service agencies) then maybe this trend can be reversed. Though it is not strongly presented, Phillips does present strong evidence for and against the diagnosis of PTSD in those whom he writes about. I think the Needham case becomes the strongest presentation that PTSD can and does exist and that it can and will change people. Most of the others he wrote about, PTSD can be shaken off as merely an 'excuse' for their crimes, but how does that explain those, like Needham, who did not have the crimingal, disadvantaged background and had full and loving support of their family both before and after their experiences in war. Only because he didn't present the contrary evidence strongly enough, in my opinion, regarding the possibility of other factors in most of his case studies do I drop the rating down a notch. Overall this is an excellent book and highly readable. I would not just recommend it to anyone with an interest in the affects of war, in an insight into military culture, psychology or PTSD itself but if I had bought this as a physical copy, I would shove it into their hands and make sure they read it.
ToniWI More than 1 year ago
Lethal Warriors was an amazingly powerful story. It offers insight into a growing problem in the military, PTSD. Philipps, follows the stories of Iraqi war veterans and their struggles with physical and mental traumas of war. The author tells the story with details that help build relationships with the soldiers. My own experience with trauma in the military and PTSD drew me into the story. Philipps, showed the lack of understanding of PTSD in the military and the need for more understanding of the affects of mental and physical trauma. This is a must read! Anyone with a friend or family member that experienced military trauma should read this book.
TomahawkVet More than 1 year ago
I knew one of the people shot in this book and it does him justice. David Philipps does a great job of fleshing out perpetrators and the victims. They feel like real people. I think the greatest contribution of this work is delineating what combat stress injury(PTSD) is and how it effects a Soldier, a family, a Unit, and a Community. I would recommended it to other veterans( I already have), to the families of veterans, and anyone who wants to understand combat stress injury.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago