Friday, March 09, 2007

Good News...Bad News...

During my first enlistment I was lucky enough to be assigned to a cohort Infantry unit - that meant that we attended basic training, AIT, were assigned to our first duty station and eventually went to fight in the first Gulf War together. After being together for all that time we became a very close unit, but as the years progressed I lost contact with some of my buddies from that enlistment.
Two of my best friends from that time were Mark Chance and James Sikora. Through the wonders of the Internet though I was able to connect with a long lost friend after thirteen years. Chance happened to be looking up Peter Swano, a friend of ours who passed away in Iraq, and came across my blog.

Me, Chance & Sikora with one of the platoon's captured Iraqi T-72 tanks

After a couple of e-mails I mentioned a friend of ours, Kelley, as being one of the last people I had been in touch with from our old platoon. Unfortunately during one of Mark's searches on the Internet he had also recently learned that Adam Kelley committed suicide...

Sikora & Kelley with some Iraqi kids during Operation Provide Comfort

According to the article he had survived the Persian Gulf War but not the aftermath of his combat experience while engaging elements of the Tawakkulna division of the Iraqi Republican Guard. The mental trauma of post-traumatic stress disorder eventually did him in.

The article is very moving and mentions an account of one of the incidents that really troubled Kelley - when he watched our friend, Swano, die. All the times Kelley and I had talked and I never knew that he had witnessed that particular event. We had been on opposite ends of the battlefield when it happened. It's a very graphic account and I had a hard time reading about it. Swano was a good friend and my roommate while we were stationed in Germany. Kelley was a gentle and soft spoken guy, but I never realized how bad the war had affected him. I wish Kelley would have spoken with me about it though, perhaps it could have helped...He will be remembered.

I don't often speak about my combat experiences and I don't feel like I have PSTD, but I've had nightmares about things that happened and have felt the regret and loss of loosing a friend in combat. If anyone comes across this blog and needs to talk to someone I'll be happy to listen. I was in the military for ten years and have been on three combat deployments.

I hope that I may be able to get back in touch with others from my old platoon without any more bad news. It's terrible that a veteran of a war felt like he had no other option than suicide.

10 Comments:

Anonymous jumpmaster said...

My sincere condolences to you, your comrades in arms and your fallen friend’s family.

That was a sad story and it's a tragedy that as a veteran he didn't get the help he needed.

14/3/07 17:13  
Anonymous fidelio said...

That article was really good. It's a shame about your friend Kelley, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. The things soldiers see and do, they affect people differently, it's really a shame he didn't feel like he had no other option. I'm sorry bro.

14/3/07 21:29  
Anonymous Dr. Rusty Shackleford said...

I'm sorry about your old platoon member. From the article sounds like he had a hard time dealing with everything that happened. It is a shame. Suicide is not an answer. At least you found out from another old friend and have connected with him now.

15/3/07 09:37  
Anonymous frank the crank said...

That's terrible about Kelley committing suicide. Sounded as he was badly shaken up by all that happened on his combat deployment. VA hospitals can be a nightmare in itself, it's not surprising he didn't receive adequate assistance. It truly is a shame.

15/3/07 11:23  
Anonymous reverse_vampyr said...

I'll start off on the positive note that you and your friend got into contact again. You both shared the experience of combat together and that's something that not everyone can understand so it's good to have him back to talk to about that. I do offer my condolences about your other friend though, it sucks that he felt like he had to kill himself.

16/3/07 10:40  
Anonymous Sharp As A Marble said...

Wow! I just was laughing so hard from that video above this post and you hit me with this. I'm so sorry that your friend went through all that and then killed himself. That's so sad. Terrible.

23/3/07 09:46  
Blogger else-from-earth said...

Hello, my name is Tanja. I don't know if Adam has ever talked to you about me, as he was such a private person.
I was Adams girlfriend during his time in Germany and for a long long time afterwards. He was the love of my life. Now, after all those years, we were supposed to get married, finally.
But then I got this phone call from Marsha, Adams Mother... I will never forget that day...

Even though it has bin a little over 5 years now, I still can not get over all of this and I miss him so much...

When Adam came back from Iraq he could not talk about what has happened right away, but he has told me about Swano and a couple of other really horrible things. He was not doing well at all. It did not really come out right away, but a couple of years later it hit him hard. He had PTSD very bad, we talked a lot on the phone, long distance. He almost never really slept, Adam was depressed, I think you call it manic depression. Excuse my english, it has been a while...

I don't know what to say, I don't know what it is exactely that I am looking for on the internet - I am just trying to understand...

I will always love him...

20/9/09 16:19  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

Hello Tanja. I believe we may have met a few times in Germany. It's a shame that his life ended so tragically. I offer you my sincere condolences. I think war and how people deal with the experience can be very different for each individual so I can't say I understood how he felt, but I wish there would have been something I could have said or offered him in the way of help. All who knew him surely feel that way. Feeling that way though isn't helping us. All we can do is remember how his life touched ours and how good it was when he was here. Adam will always be remembered and loved.

20/9/09 18:05  
Blogger else-from-earth said...

A day or two before it happened, Adam and I have talked on the phone. I knew he was going through a very hard time and that he was depressed, but never in the world I would have thought that he would take his own life. This is what war can do.
I am still in good contact with Adam's mom, and I will tell her about your blog. She never really recovered from what happened and is now depressed as well and is suffering anxiety attacs (panic attacs) - sorry, I do not know the english word...
I do not think that we have met in Germany, because Adam always came over to Wiesbaden to stay with me and my family on the weekends, I have never visited him on base.

Anyway, thank you very much for listening and for your kind words.

21/9/09 03:39  
Blogger David Coates said...

I was your supply sgt

17/8/13 16:11  

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