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A Personal Recollection of a Victim of ISIS 

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Old 09-17-2016, 12:16 AM
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A Personal Recollection of a Victim of ISIS

It shouldn't take much to find the particular video in question. If you find it, then please post in the comments.


Probable wikipedia article about his death: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_20...ldiers_in_Iraq

"I knew your son. I'm sorry about what happened. I took a picture the last time I saw him. Would you like to have it?"

The ISIS flag is hauntingly familiar. Black with white Arabic lettering, a misshapen circle appearing hand traced in the middle. It's the flag displayed by masked fighters, packed into trucks, chasing a standing army from Mosul. The same flag waving over images of Iraqi's being herded into trenches and systematically murdered.

It's the flag that sends chills down my spine. ISIS disappeared from American conscience when combat troops left Iraq in 2011, but the group has remained permanently in the nightmares of some.

I recognize the flag and write this now because the Islamic State was responsible for the kidnapping and execution of my battle buddy

What if it was your brother featured in a jihadist video?

This is the story of a modern Prisoner of War. It begins with a teenager who turned to the Army because he needed a job. A glimpse into the last months of his life is just that, a glimpse.

Our Drill Sergeant called him Fruity Pebbles. Due to his semi-effeminate nature and willingness to speak out of turn, Fruity Pebbles made it harder on himself. He drew attention, started feuds, got his ass kicked. Then he shut up and became my friend.

As we bonded, the furthest thought I had was that within six months, Fruity Pebbles would fall into the hands of an enemy who played by a different set of rules.

Ft. Benning, GA. September 2006. Sand Hill was a portrait of America’s all volunteer military. The surge had yet to be announced, but the troops who would be sent to fight could be found here, being stripped of their identity and remade into war fighters. The surge had a face in Ft. Benning. Soldiers came from everywhere. From Alaska to Puerto Rico, ages ranging from 17 to 30 something. Every conceivable demographic of America was represented in Delta Company 2-19. Ft. Benning was where we learned how to kill. How to fight a brazen insurgency on the other side of the globe.

Civil War raged that summer in Iraq. Many recruits lacked the perspective necessary to understand what was happening in the Middle East. We were at war and young men needed jobs. That was it

The Army would take just about anybody in that era. Enlistment standards were relaxed. $20,000 bonuses for anyone willing to sign up for a combat job. Go to the front lines for a nice paycheck. They made mercenaries out of our generation. We were really no different than a poor Iraqi accepting money to plant an IED.

I wasn't above low enlistment standards myself. I'd blown my initial military foray after getting arrested the summer following high school. I waited years for another chance and required a waiver just to get in.

I'm not the only one who probably didn't belong in those barracks. The lowered expectations were apparent immediately.

There was one private who threw himself on the ground in convulsions upon exercise. He was terribly maladjusted from the first instant. The drills pounced on him like sharks. He had this problem where he'd shit himself, then hide his clothes in the wall locker. We didn't see much of him past the first week.

Another soldier cut his wrists with a razor on day two of training. They found him bleeding out on the bathroom floor and deemed him suicidal. Nobody ever saw him again. There was a thirty-something enlistee best remembered for constantly losing his rifle. He showed indicators of mental handicap. America's best we weren't.

Sgt. Clark was the man in charge of whipping us into shape. Tall and black with a wiry build, Sgt. Clark spoke intimidation in a Mississippi twang. One glare from his bug eyes reduced the toughest kid from the block to a puddle. He had a gaping hole for a mouth and nobody asked why he didn't have any teeth. His favorite pet phrase for privates was "Little Bitches." It was hard to deny. To most of us Sgt. Clark was the scariest man we'd ever seen.

We weren't all misfits. Some of the toughest, proudest young men in the country signed up for the infantry in 2006. The common struggle of basic training creating a bond between strangers who otherwise would never have crossed paths.

The value of teamwork; helping your battle buddy, never leaving a man behind, were instilled virtues everyone took seriously. It was a brotherhood, if only for a few months before we joined our units.

“Your soldiers are in our grip. If you want the safety of your soldiers then do not search for them.”

Fruity Pebbles was a gentle kid from the Midwest who arrived at Ft. Benning with a hint of immaturity. He didn't know when to shut up and it landed him on Sgt. Clark's radar. The radar you didn't want to be on.

Pebbles had a good share of confrontations with me and the others. You throw testosterone charged males of varying age in a room, take away privileges, add stress and fights will happen. He'd eventually learn his place in the pecking order.

For his own entertainment Sgt. Clark would roll out mats in the barracks and let us go at it on Sunday. Go at it as in fight each other. It was just a pressure release. For all of us.

Open hand slaps were allowed, but nothing with a closed fist. We couldn't have a bunch of privates with black eyes. The brass might get suspicious as this conduct was off the books.

Those were the days, when testosterone driven feuds were settled with encouraged violence. Looking into the eyes of a man you're choking unconscious is empowering. Makes you feel close to killing without actually doing it. Sgt. Clark knew this.

Fruity Pebbles was choked out a few times by a bear clawed soldier and quieted down afterward. His place in our Lord of the Flies world firmly understood.

He was likeable from then on. He loved to read. He had a wall locker filled with books midway through the cycle. He loaned them out to other soldiers insisting borrowers make one promise. Never, under any circumstance, should you dog-ear his pages for a bookmark. He'd check too, flipping through the pages to insure you hadn't violated the edict.

He loved war stories, Tom Clancy novels in particular. Ironic considering he'd become a character in a real life war tragedy.

Fruity Pebbles wasn't my best friend, but he was my brother. We grew close, running, training together. He'd offer fist bumps upon completion of particularly brutal runs. Slobber and snot cascading down our heaving chests we nodded at each other. One more run complete. One day closer to graduation. I can still see his face.

We clowned during down time. My favorite prank was to wake him up with news that we'd been ordered to accomplish some inane task,

“Come on man! We've got to wake up and take our bunks outside. Let’s go!”

It was gibberish. He'd wake up bewildered and confused, laugh when he snapped to, then waited for his chance to get even.

We talked about life. He was 18 years old at the time and couldn't really explain why he was in the Army, other than it provided structure that his civilian life lacked. Sometimes deep at night, he'd confide that all he wanted was a place to call home. He promised to come visit me after he got out, maybe even relocate to my state. Encouraged I'm sure, by my claim that my hometown had the most beautiful girls in the world.

He told me once that he had no desire to kill anybody. He just wanted some money for college.

"I have urged you to bring me American prisoners.”

We'd rounded into shape by December of 2006. We finally started to get things right. The worst soldiers had been phased out or finally conformed to standard. The best had taken alpha dog roles and were respected leaders. Despite vast socioeconomic differences we became a functioning unit. In those waning days there was no doubt that we'd fight and die for each other.

Sgt. Clark recognized it. He said if any of us ever got in trouble over there, to take as many Iraqi's down with us as possible. Tears of something filled my eyes. We responded in unison, “YES DRILL SERGEANT!”

In the previous 100 days we'd shot targets near and far. We'd fired high powered machine guns, thrown grenades, learned to jab a bayonet in someone's throat. We'd rucked more miles than our bodies knew we could withstand. We'd slept in the woods for days. Things like bad weather no longer bothered us.

Still, military-wise, basic would be the easiest thing we'd ever do.

There's a photograph of Fruity Pebbles taken on December 14th, 2006. The last day most of us ever saw him. He's looking over his right shoulder, sly grin on his face. The photo is blurred as he's rushing back to our final formation, the last before we became official graduates of Infantry School. Free to go home with our families. He looks excited. Relieved maybe that basic was over. I know I was.

I've always wondered if his family would appreciate the photo. For years it was too painful for me to reach out to them. Not after what happened. The fate that he met was so disturbing I can't think about him without being paralyzed.

Private Pebbles deployed to Iraq on January 26, 2007. Just over a month after completing basic and 16 days after Bush announced the surge.

He joined the 10th Mountain Division south of Baghdad in an area known as the Triangle of Death. The men in his unit faced daily IED attacks while attempting to secure a curving road bordering the Euphrates known as Route Malibu. Months earlier Malibu was considered a virtual kill zone by the U.S. Army. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say my basic training battle landed in the most dangerous place in the world.

At 4:40 AM on Sunday, May 12th, 2007 he sat in a vehicle parked on Malibu. An IED had ripped a massive crater in the road in preceding days, big enough that insurgents could easily plant and disguise another bomb. Two vehicles, positioned on each side of the crater, were tasked with keeping security at night. Watching for bad guys. It was a static patrol. No one moved. The vehicles sitting idle in the Triangle of Death.

Twenty or so men belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq had been stalking the position for days, observing patterns, hiding in the palm groves. They’d cut holes into protective concertina wire lining Route Malibu in preparation for an ambush. They attacked from behind, catching both vehicles by complete surprise.

Sitting in the back of the parked vehicle he never stood a chance. The insurgents pounced, hurling grenades down the gun turret, opening fire with small arms and lightning the occupants on fire with gasoline.

Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed. Three were abducted. Pebbles survived the onslaught and was dragged from the vehicle. He was alive.

ISIS released their propaganda video in the following days.

I recognized his face right away. He still wore the same bewildered expression I remembered from basic. His captors showed off his military ID card and grainy imagery of the attack. Heard over gunfire in the background of the video, a jihadist cries with religious fervor as two humvees burn. It was sickening.

War becomes real when it's your buddy in a terrorist video.

4,000 troops desperately combed Iraq in search of him. The shame that we, nor I, could do anything to help follows to this day. He would remain missing for 14 months.

"They were alive and then dead."

Six years passed before I first tried contacting his father about the picture. Nothing. Maybe it's still too soon. He probably doesn't want to talk about it anymore. I stalked him on Facebook and it appears he's involved with POW and Veterans groups. I wonder why he won't talk to me?

When I close my eyes I still see his son. He's been dragged into a basement and chained in the corner. There's blood coming from his nose and mouth. The floor is wet, decrepit, crawling with insects. It smells like death. He's petrified, wounded, in need of medical care. No one helps him, instead they hurt him. The pain is incredible. It must have been hell.

They recovered his remains the summer after he was captured. He was buried in the sand not far from the ambush site. His corpse showed signs of torture. They'd cut off his fingers. His body had been cooked in the sun and eaten by animals. According to the autopsy he'd survived several months in captivity. They'd probably cut his throat eventually. Nobody knows what really happened. For those that knew him, we’re still searching.

On May 12th, 2014, the seventh anniversary of his capture, I sat awake at 2:00 AM during a monstrous thunderstorm. Unable to sleep, my mind keeps drifting to what it must have been like.

The notification on my Samsung blinks, filling my bedroom with flashing red light. I have a Facebook message. It's from his Dad.

He'd love to see the picture I have. He now lives his life in honor of his son, traveling the country to remembrance ceremonies for American POW’s past and present. The travel reminds him of the last days he spent with his son on road trips. If his son were alive, he'd love it that we're in touch he says.

The healing began there. I’ve let go of the guilt. I’m ready to move forward. After years of searching it's time to tell this story.

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Old 09-18-2016, 10:42 PM
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Re: A Personal Recollection of a Victim of ISIS That Featured in a Jihadist Vi

Thank you for your recollection. It was very well-written.

As for the video you mentioned, this was the best I could find anywhere: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f75_1406936473. Your friend is referenced early in the video with additional videos of other servicemens' demise afterwards. It's pretty brutal even though it doesn't match the quality of the newest HD videos coming from ISIS. I haven't been able to download it so I could post it directly here, but I'll post it if I can get it downloaded.

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Old 09-19-2016, 12:45 AM
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Re: A Personal Recollection of a Victim of ISIS That Featured in a Jihadist Vi

Incredible, emotional post. Thank you. "The healing began there" - unfortunately some don't ever get to say those words

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Old 09-19-2016, 03:14 AM
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Re: A Personal Recollection of a Victim of ISIS That Featured in a Jihadist Vi

This post is not my recollection. It is the experience of reddit user petemyers23

It appears that this person was one of the two that are highlighted in this incident: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_20...ldiers_in_Iraq

For full understanding from the viewpoint of this person's peers, please read all of the reddit thread.

This guy had no choice but to sacrifice his life. Reading the full account and all of the above may help you understand the sacrifices made to attempt to achieve peace.

Regardless, he is deserving of our attention. I merely wish to bring attention to this person's efforts to do good given his situation.

ALL of our servicemembers, male or female are continuously placed in the position of attempting to to benefit our country.

I pass no judgement but I do absolutely acknowledge all of those that may disagree.

I am not an absolute source of knowledge.

I welcome every and all contentions to my current position.

I am going to shut up now and want to hear your thoughts.

The subject of the above narrative has had to deal with a very sad situation. I hope that he/she will enlighten us further as to understanding the situation.

I wish you the best,

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Old 12-10-2016, 11:37 PM
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Re: A Personal Recollection of a Victim of ISIS That Featured in a Jihadist Vi

I recommend the book "Im a desarteur" to get some more valuable and real info about the Situation(s) back then.

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Old 04-21-2017, 12:24 AM
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Re: A Personal Recollection of a Victim of ISIS That Featured in a Jihadist Vi

Incredible. And heartbreaking.

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