Monday, November 22, 2004

In light of Fallujah...

The photograph above shows 27-year-old Lt. Col. Felix Sparks firing a pistol into the air, while at the same time, he is holding up his left hand as a signal to the American soldiers to stop shooting.
In 1989, Lt. Col. Sparks wrote an account of the role of the 45th Infantry Division in the liberation of Dachau. His description of what happened at the wall is as follows:

As I watched, about fifty German troops were brought in from various directions. A machine gun squad from Company I was guarding the prisoners. After watching for a few minutes, I started for the confinement area (the concentraton camp), after taking directions from one of my soldiers. After I had walked away for a short distance, I heard the machine gun guarding the prisoners open fire. I immediately ran back to the gun and kicked the gunner off the gun with my boot. I then grabbed him by the collar and said: "What the hell are you doing?" He was a young private about 19 years old (Private William C. Curtin) and was crying hysterically. His reply to me was: "Colonel, they were trying to get away." I doubt that they were, but in any event he killed about twelve of the prisoners and wounded several more. I placed a noncom on the gun and headed towards the confinement area. Read a lot more here.
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mat said...

Even as someone who disagrees with the war in Iraq, I don't think of any of the people who have been exposed for murderous or torturess conduct deserve being escape goated. Part of the reason I argue that we should resist war at all cost is because this kind of stuff will undoubtabley come about during war. And I hope that the people who do this kind of thing are treated according to the situation. You can't expect someone who storms Fallujah thinking that he will probably die to act humanely. Put me in that circumstance and I would fear to think what I would be capable of. We cannot hang those that are subject to the atrocity of war, we put them there in the first place. It's not like they killed someone on the street in a city living in peaceful times. I continue to argue against the war, and I'm not condoning the actions of soldiers who break the military code, but if we put ourselves in the shoes of that guy for a moment, what would we do? We can't even say. It's like saying that we are smart enough to avoid what happened in Nazi Germany. Are we really an better than them? Could we resist a leader like him? Really? God help us from having to.

Unknown said...

As I read the story from these linked posts about the WW2 soldiers, I couldn't help but be moved.

First by the fact that I don't know what I would do in such extreme situations either. I simply cannot seem to expect something of someone else that I'm not sure I could uphold under such pressure. Is there perfect war, come on.

Obviously I would say we need honor in battle but battle is about killing first and much of that has to be guess work.

What becomes of a man or woman who has seen their friends faces blown off by booby trapped men and secretly armed men who are surrendering?

I cannot see the point in hanging a soldier who is trying to do the best job possible under such circumstances. Mass execution is one thing but intricacies of urban, door to door, room to room fighting is another in my opinion.

mat said...

So we do agree on something. :)