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Life Arts

Luis - Corporate Warrior: Family of War Series

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Headlined to H4 10/31/09
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Luis - Corporate Warrior: Family of War Series

LUIS was on his way to Ramadi for his brigade's combat patch ceremony when he started wondering again if the War on Terror really was a war for oil.

He remembered when, during this first deployment and all those crazy ragheads were looting Baghdad, Col. C. told them that their job was to protect the Ministry of Oil, to forget about stopping the looters, that they were soldiers, not cops, that looting wasn't a military problem". At the time he didn't think too much about it, He was just trying to stay alive so that Brandy could pay the rent and feed Troy, their two-year-old.

Brandy hated getting those food coupons but, hey, he was in this shithole and couldn't make any more money here. Sometimes it seemed as if she didn't understand anything about him, about what it takes to succeed in this world, like her eyes were physically open but she couldn't see the way things are that are right in front of her" like her heart doesn't see the real world"or how hard he is trying to provide the goods for them.

As received his patch, Luis wondered, again, about the oil connection. What about the time when they convoyed from Kuwait to Mosul escorting contractors for Kellogg Brown and Root [KBR], the subsidiary of Halliburton -- whoever they are -- and the KBR guys had all the best equipment while US military personnel were writing home asking family to send protective amour? Luis and guys like him took all the risks and did all the fighting, shooting, and killing"and for what?

For peanuts". Hell, the Company had been sent to Mosul undersupplied in weapons, armor, and basic support. Sometimes they'd had no water or ammunition for days at a time and ate just one meal a day. Then, after KBR set up their kitchens, some of the troops got sick from tainted meat; even Luis dropped about thirty pounds in weight.

What about the names of companies that he kept seeing in Internet chat rooms: DynCorp? Raytheon? CACI? He knew Exxon-Mobile and Chevron, of course, but he didn't see signs of them on the bases in Mosul or in Habiniyah.

Luis was pissed about those Blackwater guys who made more money in a day than he made in a week. Maybe he could contract with Blackwater when he got out the military". Brandy would like that, and Troy would love the extra toys and sh*t.

As he returned to the unit wearing his combat patch, Luis regretted sending that letter to his folks back home where he'd written, "I can't stand this hellhole. I'm feeling as if this place will drive me insane." It would freak them out. They were so proud that he was serving the greatest military in the world. Come to think of it, he's pretty proud right now, too. At least the official patch ceremony would show all his buddies back home that he'd been front and center of ceremonies with the unit colors.

He'd had experiences that most people never had. Best not to think about all that other sh*t".

I create this art work to express the horror faced by families of those injured in war. And I hold that the suffering of Iraqis and Afghans- and so many others - is not yet receiving much attention. Feel free to comment on the symbols used here.

Susan Galleymore is the author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror, sharing the stories of people in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and U.S. [Pluto Press 2009]. She is also host and producer of Raising Sand Radio (more...)
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