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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)


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July 18, 2006
From James: Who I was and who I am now...
Filed in: Current Affairs, War on Terror
This is James' first installment (re the previous post):

Who I was and who I am now are two completely different people. My wife, family and friends can all back this statement up. I wonder sometimes if I am insane. I say that with no pun or joke intended.

I met my wife at a military school in Chicago. We dated for five months and got married. I smiled, laughed, was focused on what ever the two of us were doing together. We were married for five months and I was shipped out to Iraq for the invasion. I was so busy I didn't have time to miss my new wife. I am a corpsman. This means I am directly responsible for the lives of my Marines. I took this very seriously and had my face in the books every day up until the invasion. I wasn't going to lose one of my snipers. I was worried about death. I wrote the ever popular last letter to my wife and family and gave it to a friend, looking back now it was all very mellow dramatic on my part. So the call finally came after a couple of months of sitting in the deserts of Kuwait. It was time to finally cross the border in Iraq. Not less than a hour after the call came there were two loaded rockets that passed overhead and the alarm went out. GAS, GAS, GAS!!!! I was on a pure adrenaline rush for the next week. Our convoy would move from city to city, day to day, stopping along the way to engage enemy fighters or take in surrendering deserters.

We stopped for the night about a week into the fight out in the desert. We had Intel - reports that locals were running into the makeshift patrol bases with bags full of explosives and committing suicide, so we, the snipers, were tasked with keeping security with our long range night optics. Somewhere around one in the morning the call went down the line from another team that they had three people trying to cross into the patrol base, one had a large bag on her back. The shots were taken, the targets dropped, and there were high-fives all around. Good solid long range night shots. When sunrise came the next morning we were excited to go inspect our kills. Before we left the Chaplin stopped us and said he needed a word. He said we needed to go get our ponchos and follow him. He led us to our kill, ponchos in hand, questions across our faces. We came over the berm they had been standing on and I saw our "score". One five year old little boy, his twelve year old sister and their father. The Chaplin wanted all three wrapped in our ponchos and buried. Not to cover anything, the shootings were justified in the situation, but for moral and mental protection of the rest of the battalion. I can see all three clear in my mind. The boy and girl didn't look real, almost like big china dolls. From that day I have never been the same. They don't haunt me. I don't dream about them. Today is the first time I have thought about the three for over two years. But it was the starting point of a massive personality change.

I came home from the invasion after eight months in country. I was there as three Marines took their last breaths. I was witness to burned, charred, and melted bodies. We sometimes made camp at night next to our battle site of that day and had to sleep with the smell of burned decaying flesh. Coming home was almost unreal. Seeing America and how clean and beautiful it was. Watching people interact and laugh was amazing. But I wasn't interacting and laughing. I had a problem with crowds and people I didn't know. This meant that I spent less and less time with my wife, she noticed the changes but gave me my space. I had super violent nightmares where I would strike out in my sleep and hurt my wife. I woke up one night out on the street below our apartment between two cars with my pistol loaded, set to fire, and at the ready. After I went upstairs my wife said someone had thrown a firework under our window and I went ripping out of bed and ran down to the street. Scared the hell out of her. Her last straw was when she decided to try and wake me up from a dream by grabbing my hand. While still asleep I clasped her hand and sqeezed until I woke up with her screaming with a broken hand. She stopped sleeping with me for her own health. Another large problem I had was being able to pay attention to anyone or anything for more than a few seconds. Someone would start to talk to me and I would fade off to images of the invasion. I couldn't help it, it was uncontrollable. Still today I can't make eye contact with someone. I did some horrific things during the invasion, I can't look at anyone because I don't want them to see the real me. My wife, the person I lived with every day started to take notice of all the changes. One day she told me I was not the same person she married. I told her she was right. I tried to explain what had happened to the old me. Slowly she accepted the new person I was.

To be continued.....


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People Pulling

Thank you, James. There aren't words enough to thank you for putting yourself in harm's way in so many ways so we can sleep peacefully at night. My boys, my husband, and I live free because of you. God bless you. God keep you. Stay safe.

Posted by: Ana at Jul 19, 2006 8:14:54 PM

How terribly sad. I'm so sorry you've had to go through all that and very grateful that you chose to do it to protect us.

Posted by: gail at Jul 19, 2006 8:26:05 PM

God bless you, James. May God be with both of you, as you get your new lives together.

Posted by: Scott P at Jul 19, 2006 10:00:49 PM

Thank you James... Thank you Mrs. Pell.

Posted by: Pixie at Jul 19, 2006 10:06:03 PM

I just re-read this for the gazillionth time... it is so hitting home for me; some insight into what I might expect.

Posted by: Pixie at Jul 23, 2006 10:21:23 AM

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James Pell - Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class - American hero with stories to tell about Iraq, Kosovo, and Bosnia.

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