First-hand Account of
U.S. Troops Murdering Civilians in Iraq
Account by a U.S. Marine who saw it happen
The following is from a speech by David Airhart, given
at the 2005 Midwest Socialism Conference, November 5, 2005,
at the University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
First of all I want to thank everyone for their support; that means a lot to me. The more support the better. What Iíd like to talk about are things that are occurring in the military that are sort of unknown by the majority of the American public, mostly because the media deprives them of this information.
I spent 4 months in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and 6 months in Iraq and 7 months in Afghanistan, so I have a pretty well rounded perspective of everything thatís going on in this war on terror.
When I was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba my unitís job was to transport the detaineeís coming from Afghanistan to Cuba. Weíd transport them on a school bus where we removed all of the seats and all the prisoners would be shoved in there like sardines. We were encouraged to kick them in different sensitive areas like their ribs and parts of their legs if they made the slightest movement like maybe a movement of their finger or they took too deep of a breath. We were encouraged to use severe physical punishment to prevent them from moving. But after a while it became sort of a form of entertainment for a lot of marines to sporadically kick some of these detainees for entertainment purposes. And I started to realize I think then that there are things go on in the military arenít quite as noble as our government tries to portray. We did that for 4 months. There wasnít a day I was there when there wasnít some sort of prisoner beating festivity going on.
From there I went to Iraq. I guess I really wasnít ready for what was in store for me and my unit in Iraq. My unit - I was in the First Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, Charley Company. We were the unit that went in during the whole Jessica Lynch thing in An Nasiriyah.
While we were there, we were supposedly fighting Iraqi rebels and Iraqi military personnel, but I canít really remember ever seeing any actual Iraqi soldier that we were fighting during the supposed firefight. What I do remember, we were mostly being shot at by our own close air support and helicopters. 95% [of the soldiers who were killed in my unit were] killed by friendly fire and Iíd say 98% of the casualties I saw werenít fighters of any kind - they were civilian, women, children and people who had nothing to do with the fighting. They were just innocent bystanders.
When I realized how over the top it was, was after An Nasiriyah. We were supposed to set up a perimeter around the city. We were out of sand bags. We didnít have enough sand bags to protect our holes from small arms fire and things like that. Conveniently, there was a flour truck driver riding a truck down the highway that was full of canvas flour bags. And sand bags are made out of canvas, so this was perfect for sand bags. We were ordered to open fire on this man - just say, a working family man, and to use his flour bags as sand bags. A lot of guys in my platoon opened fire and the man was killed. And the individuals who didnít open fire on this man were ordered to remove his body from the truck and throw it off in a ditch on the side of the road and throw some dirt on top of it. And after that, I was an extreme, I guess, sort of anti-war marine (applause).
After An Nasiriyah, we spent most of our time doing vehicle check points where you just stop random civilian drivers and search their vehicles for weapons and things like that. Oftentimes if it was a very confusing situation and the drivers of the vehicles would not understand what we were saying when we told them to stop. And when they wouldnít stop, we were ordered to open fire on these individuals. That happened on a daily basis. And never once out of all these occasions were there any weapons in these individualís cars. Usually it was full of family, a husband and a wife and children and they would all be killed. This happened on a daily basis. This was pretty hard to deal with after a while. And people just started to shut down. Maybe part of them wanted to pretend that they killed some innocent little girl for some sort of good cause. But we all know thatís not true.
After Iraq I thought ďwell great, now Iím done and I can just be a jackass in the Marine Corps until I get out. But unfortunately for me I was sent to another unit that was deploying to Afghanistan. My last 7 months in the Marine Corps was spent in Afghanistan. Mostly what we did there was just guard prisoners and operate on individuals who stepped on landmines that are all over Afghanistan. Itís one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world. And then after that I got out of the military after 4 long miserable years.
I came to Kent State. One of the most significant reasons I decided to go to Kent State was because it has such a rich history of being a strong antiwar school. And I thought ďwell, I need to go somewhere thatís an extreme opposite of the military. I ran into Pat Gallagher of the ISO and I told him I had been to Iraq. He told me to ďcome to one of our meetings and thereís people who would like to hear what you have to say.Ē
So after that I got comforted, I would guess would be a good thing to say, by the ISO because until then I didnít really feel anyone supported the antiwar movement. It seemed like most people I ran into were for the war and thanked for me serving, and yada yada yadaÖ
Recently, I think it was a week and a half ago, the military were on Kent State trying to pervert my happy place (audience laughter), and take away happy people at Kent State and send them to Iraq to die and kill for reasons that donít make any sense. Out of maybe anger and sort of disgust with the military, that the administration allows the military on our campus, and allows Kent State to be used as a supplier for fresh bodies to be sent over to Iraq - I climbed up the wall and I posted an antiwar slogan on the wall. And I was then chased down by several of the recruiters and one of them grabbed my shirt. Thatís the ďHands Off Dave.Ē [campaign] (audience laughter) And now Iím in a lot of trouble with the university. I might be expelled from school for good. I guess I just donít understand the logic behind this fiasco itís created with the administration. I donít think maybe they realize whatís really going on in Iraq. I donít know if they think itís just something on TV. But, you know, itís not. I hope that the administration will see that itís them that are endangering the students, and I was simply trying to do all I can do to get them removed from campus and keep our campus safe and un-perverted by the military. So, again, thanks again for all your support. I need it.