Friday, December 01, 2006

From Baghdad, With Love

My good friend Fritz sent me a couple of books one of which is the title of this post. I saw the cover and read the jacket with the byline of "A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava." Being a dog lover I had to read it.
I could not put it down. It is hands down the best thing I have read that deals with the War in Iraq. It offers a no hold barred view of the mess through the eyes of a human being who just needed something to believe in. Something worthy, something that could give back, something that could help get him through the mental struggle that everyone there goes through.

This book brought back memories, smells, sounds, and sights that I have long repressed. I felt emotion about all of this that I have kept hidden from my friends and family. I laughed in parts, felt dread in parts, felt anger in parts, and actually cried at the end. Bringing Lava home made sense of all of this to Jay Koppelman. I applaud what he did and think of another little dog I know of named Lucky who made it out of there.
Command is a lonely business and Jay knows it well. When you can't show weakness or emotion to anyone beacuse they all look up to you it begins to wear you down. Jay found his release in Lava. Some men turn to drink, some become reclusive, some run away from the responsibilty because it is too much of a strain. Lava took all the pain away and Jay repaid him by saving his life. Without saying so I get the feeling that Lava saved Jay's soul.

Jay says what many of us want to but don't because maybe we are afraid people would think we were lesser men for it. If a USMC LTC can say it then so can I. I was SCARED. I did not know what to do sometimes. I was afraid of failure. I was sent down a dark alley at night with a pocket knife to protect me and a penlight to guide me. No amount of training or education prepares you for the harsh reality that is a modern war.

Some how I have made it through and even though some of the greatest friends I will ever know were there with me, I try and get away from anyone who had any connection with the War. When I do run into some one who has been through it we are instant brothers but I still don't seek them out. I try to make sense of it and just know that all I can do is what is in my immediate AO. He saved a puppy from certain death. Me....?

I have not found my "Lava" yet. I know there is some good coming from this but I have not yet found the "one" thing, mission, activity, or artifact that gives me that closure. Jay did and his story should be read by anyone who has loved ones who either were there, are there, or are going there. Some how he makes more sense than all the politicos, journalists, bloggers, and diplomats ever will.
Thank you Jay for writing this. Thank you Fritz for sending it to me and for continuing to be my Jimminy Cricket. I have no idea how you knew but it just what I needed.

2 Comments:

Blogger BWJones said...

You have to appreciate what many of the dog handlers went through in Vietnam after being told they could not take home their canine companions. My wife's uncle was a handler in Vietnam and to this day he refuses to discuss his dog or anything about the experience. It was a tragedy perpetrated upon our soldiers and their dogs.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Fritz said...

I wish there was more I could do. I know what you do for our troops over there and as much as I can do for them individually I know that through you I can do so much more. You and your crew will always have my respect and be in my prayers.

If there was anything I could do about the USC loss I would but that is how the cookie crumbles sometimes!

3:21 PM  

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