Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Ethan McCord

Ethan McCord is a former member of Bravo Company 2-16, the ground troops involved in the now infamous “Collateral murder” video released by Wikileaks in April of this year.

July 21st, 2010 5:21 PM

Feces, Urine, Blood, Smoke, and Something Indescribable

The smell was unlike anything I've smelled before, a mixture of feces, urine, blood, smoke, and something else indescribable.

That day started out much like many days in Iraq. We were woken up about 2:30 am to prepare for a mission, one of many that seemed pointless. Our Battalion commander called them “Ranger dominance”, but many of the soldiers such as myself dubbed them “Ranger dumbass”. These missions consisted of two companies walking through new Baghdad unprotected from snipers and IEDs. We dreaded them and despised our battalion commander because of them.

That morning we gathered up at the gate of FOB Rustamiyah preparing for our “death march” into town. It was now about 0400 hours when we heard the sirens for incoming. BOOM first one not very far from where we were gathered. BOOM this one a little closer. We were used to this by now, and although afraid inside, we knew that if we ran for cover we'd look like cowards in the eyes of some of our NCOs. So the majority of us just stood there, praying that a mortar wouldn’t land on us. The bravado of trying to look “hard” was what we lived by. We were 1st infantry, the toast of the army, the favorite son. We are 2-16 Rangers. We prided ourselves on being tougher than anyone else! But looking into the eyes of these 18 and 19 year old kids you could see the fear, the uncertainty. Finally the mortars stopped.

“They know we're coming!” said one private in my squad. I tried to reassure him that they didn’t know we were coming, it was just coincidence, although not believing my own statement myself. We began our march in the early morning hours, there was hardly anyone on the streets. It was quiet, almost peaceful, you could get caught up in the silence if you weren’t so afraid of being shot in the throat or in the thigh by a sniper. Snipers usually went for these areas because they were unprotected. The throat for obvious reasons, and the thigh for your femoral artery. Many of us usually walked with the butt stock of our M-4s close to our neck for an almost futile attempt at protecting ourselves.

Our mission that day was to cordon off an area of new Baghdad and perform what is called “knock and searches” which basically consist of us knocking on the doors of homes, “asking” to search the home for militia related materials, weapons, or bomb making materials. Although it was more of a demand and if they refused it gave us proper cause to destroy the home by searching more vigorously.

The hours passed of doing this, we were finding nothing and getting extremely hot and agitated. Some of us began messing around taking pictures of us doing so.

Finally we were informed that we were “closing up shop.” I remember being thankful as it was over 110 degrees that day and the hot water we were drinking was providing no relief. We started funneling into an alleyway to leave the area, when some locals on the roofs above us started firing their AK-47s at us. We took cover along a wall and were returning fire. We could hear other fire coming from another platoon just a few blocks from us as well, on the net we could hear that they were taking small arms as well as RPG fire.

That’s when I heard it….the very distinct fire of an Apache 30MM cannon. And again. and again, over and over. It was very close. “We need to move to that position, NOW!” was screamed over the net. Myself and the team of soldiers I was with began running in the direction where we heard the Apache fire, I was not even close to prepared for the carnage I was about to walk on to!

Myself and the team I was with were the first dismounted soldiers to arrive on the scene. I saw what appeared to have been 3 men on a corner, It was an extreme shock to my system, They didn’t look human, I know they had to be at one time but the destroyed carnage that I was looking at didn’t appear to be. Then there was the smell. The smell was unlike anything I've smelled before, a mixture of feces, urine, blood, smoke, and something else indescribable. I saw an RPG next to the men and an AK-47. Crying! I hear crying. Not cries of pain, but that of a small child who had woken up from a horrible nightmare. I saw that there was a mini van and the cries appeared to be coming from it. Myself and another soldier, a 20 year old private, walked up to the passenger side van. We looked inside, The private I was with reeled back, began to vomit, and quickly ran away.

What I saw was a small girl about 4 years old on the passenger side of the bench seat. She had a severe belly wound and was covered in glass. The glass was in her hair and even in her eyes. Next to her, half on the floorboard with his head resting on the seat, was a boy about 7 years old. He wasn’t moving and from the severe wound on the right side of his head my first thought was he was dead. In the driver's seat was who I immediately concluded must have been these children’s father by the way he was hunched over the children in a protective way to shield them. There was no way the father survived.

I immediately grabbed the little girl and screamed “MEDIC!”. The medic and myself went into a house behind the van. There was a local man hiding in the kitchen area of his home. I yelled out to him, “Moomkin Tisa’adni!” (“help me!”). He stood up and quickly grabbed a bucket of water which the medic and I used to clean the girl off, I pulled as much glass from the eyes of the girl as I could. The whole time thinking “Fuck ,what the Fuck!? THESE ARE BABIES!”

See, my son was born May 31st 2007. I hadn’t been able to see him yet. And I had a daughter who was barely older than this girl. The medic radioed in that she needed to be evacuated because there was nothing else he could do here. I handed the child to the medic who then ran the girl to a waiting Bradley armored vehicle. I walked back to the van, I don’t know why, or what told me to go back to the van, there was just something making me go to the van. I looked inside the van again…Did the boy just move? Holy shit the boy just moved!.. I grabbed the boy from the van and held him against my chest. I was screaming at this point “The boy's alive! The boy's alive!” I started running to the Bradley in hopes it wasn’t leaving already. At that time the boy looked up at me, then his eyes rolled back. My heart sunk, “It's ok, I have you, its going to be ok, don’t die, don’t die.” I squeezed him just a little tighter. I put him into the Bradley as gently as I could.

What the Fuck are you doing Mccord!?” It was my platoon leader. “You need to quit worrying about these Fucking kids, and pull security!” he screamed. “Roger that, sir” I said and immediately went to a roof top to pull security. While on the roof, one of the soldiers took a picture of me, I didn’t realize that the blood of the two children was all over me.

When we returned to the FOB (Forward Operating Base) that day, everyone pretty much ignored what happened. I couldn't. I went to my room to try and clean the children's blood from my uniform, fighting back tears from what I had seen. My emotions were taking over, the very thing the Army taught us not to do in a war, I was doing. My humanity and love for the human race was overcoming everything they taught me. My mind was reeling, the thoughts controlling every ounce of me. It was then I decided I needed to go see a mental health counselor. I went to a SSG (staff sergeant) who was in my line, asked to speak with him. When i told him my feelings and how I was unable to deal properly with what I had just witnessed his response was "You need to suck that shit up, quit being a pussy, and get the sand out of your vagina. If you go to mental health there will be repercussions, like being charged with malingering." I couldn't believe that needing to talk to someone could constitute a crime in the Army. But like a good little soldier I said "Roger that" and went back to my room to cope the only way I knew how. I watched as many movies and listened to as much music as I possibly could to escape the reality of where I was. I became extremely angry, I yelled at everyone, I was angry at my soldiers, my family, civilians back home, but mostly I was angry with myself. I hated myself for what I was a part of. There were many days where I dreamed for an IED or a sniper to take me out and end the pain I was feeling.

Ever since that day I live with this, it's burned into my head. I still hear the cries, smell the smells. When it's quiet and I close my eyes I see the carnage like a slideshow. I’m hoping one day I can sleep a full night without the memories coming back to haunt me, the innocents lost, the friends lost. Hopefully one day I wont be so angry. Hopefully, one day I'll help others see they're not alone in valuing life.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles