Sunday, July 20, 2008

Joseph Dwyer, Army Medic and Iraq War Hero, Couldn't save Himself

Soldier In Famous Photo Never Defeated Demons

PINEHURST, N.C. Officers had been to the white ranch house at 560 W. Longleaf many times before over the past year to respond to a "barricade situation." Each had ended uneventfully, with Joseph Dwyer coming out or telling police in a calm voice through the window that he was OK.

They found Dwyer lying on his back, his clothes soiled with urine and feces. Scattered on the floor around him were dozens of spent cans of Dust-Off, a refrigerant-based aerosol normally used to clean electrical equipment.

A photograph taken in the first days of the war had made the medic from New York's Long Island a symbol of the United States' good intentions in the Middle East. When he returned home, he was hailed as a hero.

But for most of the past five years, the 31-year-old soldier had writhed in a private hell, shooting at imaginary enemies and dodging nonexistent roadside bombs, sleeping in a closet bunker and trying desperately to huff away the "demons" in his head. When his personal problems became public, efforts were made to help him, but nothing seemed to work.

This broken, frightened man had once been the embodiment of American might and compassion.

"I'm a soldier," he said. "I suck it up. That's our job."

One more casualty in a bullshit war fought for profit. Go back and click the link above and read the entire story. How could this happen? How could a bona fide American hero, who saved all he could, including the"enemy" die alone and insane, paralyzed with fear of an imaginary enemy in a country where every other car has a bumper sticker demanding that we "Support The Troops"?

Well, maybe his enemies weren't imaginary.

And maybe we aren't doing such a fine job of "supporting" those we send to kill in our names.

Maybe it really is time for "Change".

Brings to mind another Iconic American Hero. One who fought at Iwo Jima and was hailed as a hero.

One who also succumbed to his demons.

At least the war Ira Hayes fought was worth the terrible price he paid. Is this current war worth the lives of men and women like Joseph Dwyer?

I suspect Ira and Joseph had a lot in common. Good men who wanted only to serve their country when they believed their country needed them most. It's a Damn shame that country couldn't or wouldn't help them when they needed it most.

Rest in Peace, Joseph. May Ira's tribute honor you as well.



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