|"The date is June 22, 2006".
Exactly two years after the death of Lt. Andre Tyson and Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey, who lost
their lives while fighting the war in Iraq.
|By Christopher Tylor Murphy,
Currently I am listening to the one of the greatest rock stars of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Where am
I? Who am I? I know who I was. This much is true. I am desperately trying to find the person who I once was
before the events of 9/11. War is Hell. It changes you. It makes you find out who you really are. But much more,
who am I now? I heard a quote once, I can’t remember from exactly where or who it was from, or how it goes,
but it goes something like this, “The only men who see war to the end are the men who die in battle, the rest of
us survive, keep fighting the battle, and struggle with our own war inside ourselves, if we survive.” Take it as
you will; there has always been a war somewhere. Men who see actual combat and live through it, (time and
time again) are forever scared by the visions and dreams that haunt them in the present. Time and time again I
try to relate to people who have never been “there.” The brotherhood between soldiers is unfathomably strong.
This is why so many veterans from all wars can relate to each other! We can never express in words the
relationship we’ve had with the fellow brethren we fought with to the common person. The masses will never
understand this, no matter how much it’s put it in front of your faces.
To most, the death toll in Iraq is a number for the American public to talk about. You still go to Starbucks, get
McDonalds, and drive around in your SUV’s. You may have known someone that went over “there” or a relative
of yours that went. Maybe you talk about it around the dinner table or in a social gathering. But on the whole,
you don’t know what’s really going on. “But the media tells us what’s going on.” You say. If you believe this, you
probably: have an unearthly amount of canned goods and water stockpiled from the Y2K bug; plastic sheets,
gas masks, and a spool of duct tape for the anthrax attack; paid any attention to what color the terror threat
level was at; would believe the media if they told you to keep buying gas for the low price of twenty dollars a
gallon, otherwise the terrorists will have won! Let me be a little more specific; the US population will only know
what “they” want you to know. Let’s give a round of applause to our government! (Silence) Exactly!
There was a time when I was young and naïve and I thought that everyone should at least go through the initial
Army boot camp. I thought it was great. I was seventeen, fresh out of high school. I knew neither one of my
parents could foot the bill for my college education. The Army National Guard seemed like the obvious way to
go. “One weekend a month, two weeks a year!” is their catch phrase. Ridiculous! I actually received a coin from
a battalion commander that read, “One weekend a month my ass.” Sadly, they forgot to include, “And only two
weeks a year at home!” This seems a lot more plausible to me. You’ve heard the saying, “I wish I know now
what I knew then?” Bingo! I probably would have graduated college already and been on my way to a
successful career. But I was not this fortunate. (On a side note, how many “well-off” people or even worse,
politicians, have their kids ever been in the military? Don’t bother looking, it just doesn’t happen.) The Army
seemed great to me at first! I met so many different kinds of people from all over the US during my initial
training. Together, we learned what our youth is seriously lacking, discipline. Go to a grocery store and I
guarantee you, you will see some over privileged brat kicking and screaming at his poor mother for a box of
his/her favorite cereal with a toy in it that will probably choke them! If only we were so lucky! Ha! I say, the kid
that swallows the most marbles doesn’t get to grow up and have children of their own! Discipline, our youth
needs it. Let’s get back to our roots folks, start beating your kids again. They’ll thank you for it later in life.
Trust me. I can’t tell you how many household appliances and kitchenware were used to keep me in line. I’m
just surprised my parents could afford to keep replacing it! Ha! Seriously though, smack the shit out of your
children. It works!
I learned teamwork. One of the most essential skills a person needs to make it though life. If we can’t rely on
one another than what do we have? Teamwork has played a crucial role in everything I have ever done. I’ve
been in theater, soccer, academic decathlon, numerous rock bands, living with various roommates, being the
wingman (Ha), and of course, the military. Oh how the military breaks you down and totally rebuilds you. Good
for some, not for me. Remember, I am in no way bad mouthing the military; I wouldn’t be the man I am today
without it. Rest assured that I am 100% under the belief that everything happens for a reason. But, many of the
things I learned in my 12 weeks of boot camp made me a better person. And I still believe that everyone should
undergo some of the training I received during boot camp. Probably from somewhere closer to home…………..
(refer to the previous paragraph, think about it, and if you have young ones acting a fool, find something that
will sting but hopefully not break! Wooden spoons WILL break! Love ya Mom!)
I also learned another thing in the military and about our government during my six year stint in the Army
National Guard. The US Military has the best salespeople that I have ever seen. I have never been lied to so
many times in my entire life. My mother and I heard these kinds of things from my recruiter:
“The Montgomery GI Bill lasts ten years after your enlistment is up.”
“Your son is safe, it’s the year 2000, and we’re not going to war anytime soon.”
“College students are the last ones who get called up to active duty.”
“You’ll be able to go to college and pursue your Computer Science degree, and for one weekend a month and
two weeks a year, you get to go play soldier and blow stuff up!”
“You should pick Combat Engineer as your job in the military. It’s the jack of all trades.”
“I looked over your file, now, when you go to Military Entrance Processing, (MEPS) Don’t tell them that you had
an [illness] when you were a child, because you won’t be able to get in.”
And the worst of them all, “Trust me.”
I took the ASVAB when I was a junior in high school; I remember because some backwater military recruiter with
not one ribbon of overseas duty came and administered the test to my class. I scored a 98 out of 99. Damn
near perfect. What can I say? Did the spankings really take their toll and hence, got some smarts knocked in to
me? Probably, and I could have had any job the entire US military had to offer. Sadly, it didn’t work out this way
and I had a government salesman sell me on a job that the first word, which foreshadowed events to come, is
“COMBAT!” So I became a Combat Engineer. Oh yeah, to be a Combat Engineer in the US Army, you only
need to score a 31 out of 99 to get this job. Even more upsetting is because #1: A 31 score is one above
failing. It still amazes me how people fail this test! And #2. My chain of command was primarily combat
engineers; kind of like the blind leading the blind. (More on the lack of intellect when I get to Iraq.) Doesn’t the
saying go “An Army of One?” Really? But when one wants to voice their opinion or go against an order of a
superior who is undoubtedly far less intelligent, and give an order that is beyond common sense seem
contradictory? Which “One” are we talking about? It’s not that of your everyday soldier. It really just is “One.”
And I didn’t vote for him either!
I lost one of the closest friends I have ever had in Iraq. He was like a big brother to me. I watched him die. But
more importantly, I saw him live. I cherish those memories fondly. When we lost him, it was the worst day of my
life. And, as I’m writing this my eyes are getting quite teary. Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey was a born leader and I
looked up to him. I was also Lt. Andre Tyson’s’ driver; who also died on this day. I spent countless hours with
him patrolling Iraq. These men will live in my hearts forever. These men, along with countless others pledged
their lives to uphold freedom and democracy. They fought and died for their country. I was almost given an
Article 15 from the Army for having an article published about the events I witnessed that day. Even though I
got the ok from my superiors before I had it published. What angers me more, is that earlier this evening I saw
Sgt. Patrick McCaffreys’ mother on the news saying how the government neglected to tell her the details of her
son’s death. Even now, two years after the fact. I know what happened, I was there. The military likes to do all
kinds of reports and investigations on things that go wrong. Then, they put some desk jockey of an officer in
front of the camera to tell you what happened or what “didn’t” happen, even though he was probably safe
inside some building miles away, sending an email back home saying how rough he has it. “Ahh, they didn’t
have anymore ice cream left at the chow hall at dinner because you were to busy typing up reports?” You
laugh, but it is so true. We have a word for these folk, “Pogue.” Ask a combat vet, he’ll tell you what it means.
At least on the news report that I saw, they actually questioned a real soldier about the events; Sgt. Steve
Edwards, who was in my platoon. If not the best soldier, one of the greatest human beings I have ever met. I
can’t put into words how much all of these people meant to me. We went through something that at best can
only be portrayed to civilians as a story. The common person will never feel the emotions, smells, tastes,
laughter, disaster, heartache, weariness, adrenaline, fear, excitement, anger, loneliness, togetherness, and
the brotherhood of being a soldier. It amazes me how a military so deceitful can bring so many people together
to a level which most will never comprehend.
Everything happens for a reason. I live. You live. We all live. Then, we die, that’s the one thing that is certain in
life. Without the lows there would be no highs. Low only goes so far. There is no limit to how high one can go.
How high will I go? Well, I don’t comprehend the word “No.” It’s just yes. I guess I was too smart for Uncle Sam.
They don’t comprehend “No” to well either! I’ve gotten to know myself very well. These words you have just
read are “me”, coming from the lowest I’ve ever been in my life. War is hell. And I’m still battling my own
personal war inside myself. At times, it seems more dangerous than the war I faced in Iraq. I’m not crazy or
anything……. “A crazy person doesn’t really lose his mind. It just becomes something more entertaining.”
Those that know me well have many entertaining stories to tell about me; I love that I’ve left a lasting
impression on them because I could have not come back. I had a number of close calls. But, even before I left
for Iraq, I knew deep down inside that I would make it back. It didn’t make sense to me. Why would a loving God
put me on this earth with so many talents let me die before my time? I don’t know how to explain it. I just knew I
would not die. Maybe I willed it not to happen because my belief was so strong. The mind is a powerful force. I
get scared of it sometimes! Crazy you say? Maybe. But crazy is sometimes looked upon as genius. If it weren’t
for people with their crazy ideas and philosophies we would never look back and say how ingenious they really
were. Just imagine that if it wasn’t for my genius of an idea to join the military I would not be so crazy. And it
doesn’t take a genius to know how crazy an idea of joining the military is. And that’s all I have to say about that.
I thought I would end this with an excerpt of some lyrics I’m currently working on. I think it
sums up my feelings quite nicely
“ Everyday we get up and look ourselves in the mirror.
What will the day bring?
What will I do?
Should I bring it or throw it all away?
I will live. Live on.
Nothing can stand in my way.”
Christopher Tyler Murphy
June 22, 2006
|© 2007-2008-2009, Nadia McCaffrey, the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation & the villages, all rights reserved ©
members of the military who have served in the war, we are focusing on the Iraq & Afghanistan conflicts, however, this foundation is to help all war veterans . We
believe the best way to support our troops is to bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.
PLEASE HELP ME
My name is John Keith (USN RET) Iraq War Veteran,medically retired of
course ,due to a service connected disability. I suffered an injury in 2005,
breaking my back in two places and my ankle in seven places. I then went
through 1.5 years of surgeries to try and repair my ankle, but was
eventually medically retired as an E-4. I have 13 screws and a six inch plate
in my ankle, suffered 13 blood clots in the second surgery suffer from PTSD
and am in CONSTANT pain. Since I returned home the real trouble started.
Went to the Dallas VA and was given 60% disability, which no amount of
money is worth the pain in my opinion, but am glad to have that source of
income. I tried working when I got out because everyone expected me to,
and I did not know what else to do. I have been to the VA at least 10 times
and have YET to see an orthopedic surgeon or a pulmonary specialist! The
last time I went to the VA I was promptly escorted out by the VA police
when I told the Director I was not leaving until they treated me!! I then
started to go to emergency rooms as I do not and have not had a job in
almost 1.5 years because of my disabilities and cannot afford a primary
doctor. I have been to AT LEAST 7 different ER's and multiple times per
hospital. I saw a pain management doctor for two months who was
prescribing me methadone and lyrica, some of the strongest stuff you can
get, but could not afford it and had to stop going. He recommended that I
needed to get a TENZ? unit implanted into my spine as opposed to the
narcotics. *Dr. Merritt (Regional Pain Care Center of North Texas)
Well here it is 2009 and I still have received no help from the VA, am living
from friend to friend because I cannot afford my own place and cannot pay
my own bills. I recently filed for SSI and was denied, and have recently
appealed the decision, with the SSI representative laughing telling me I was
NOT going to receive SSI, but he told me "hey I guess its your right to file an
appeal if you want to". None of the ER visits were even considered for the
SSI even though I gave them a list of ALL hospitals and signed a medical
release form, the only thing they looked at was the VA paperwork, which is
now hopelessly outdated since I have not gone back since the police
incident. I get mentally paralyzed, frustrated, angry, upset, and sad that
America treats their veterans this way. I have no one to turn to and I need
help before its to late. I am currently on no medications because of the
monetary situation, I have no car, no computer, no phone and sleep on
friends couches. PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME!! I am not asking for anything that
I have not earned as that is not the way I am. I am the kind of guy to help
anyone as much as I can, but feel as if the world is ignoring me in my time of
need. PLEASE PLEASE HELP You can contact me at email@example.com and
I can check it every few days....thank you for your time.
John Keith PO3 USN (RET)