"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
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, and I can check it every few days....
thank you for your time.
John Keith PO3 USN (RET)
Note from Patrick's Journal:
Patrick's reaction to September 11 2001
September 11 2001,
By Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. KIA 1970-2004
I woke up, went to the Gym, as I always do.
It was about 7am, I was working out, I noticed people around the television set,
I ignored them and kept on with my training.
More and more people came closer to the screen, I had to go look, I sat there in complete awe...
Witnessing the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life.
As the planes struck the towers, and the Pentagon, than the field in Pennsylvania, something happened to me.
I drove home and woke Silvia and turn on CNN, we sat there in disbelief...
As I drove to work more breaking news came in with more details.
People wore a mask of fear that morning, voices shaking and silenced by an overwhelming blanket of terror.
A different look was on my face, I became angry, that someone dared to hurt our people on our land.
Osama Ben Laden gave a televised statement, taking responsibility for the attack on our country!
I saw something in our people that made me proud.
They started to come together, united, holding their heads up high.
I came home, ate dinner as I always do with my family.
I gave my wife a kiss and picked up my daughter... but, that night, I woke up and was deep in thoughts,
Silvia was still asleep holding baby Janessa, looking at them, tears came rushing down my face...
I was thinking of the four thousand plus people murdered by terrorists, who cannot wake up anymore and see
their families. Fathers, mothers, taken from their children will never be able hold them again.
Silvia woke up and asked what was wrong, after explaining, she sat there holding me as she couldn't say anything
except that she understood.
I call an Army National Guard recruiter and inquired about joining.
The Guards take care of Home, it seems perfect, instead of talking, like a lot of people do, about defending the
United States, I could actually partake in defending our soil from ever being attacked again.
I came home and told Silvia that I had to join the National Guards, she understood why I wanted to join, but did
not agree with me.
We both followed the news, watching the families that were left behind, the children, now without a dad or a mom,
or both, so much was taken away from us that day, so much devastation. I had to do something to help!
October 11 2001, I went to MEPS and swore inn as an American soldier recruit.
Now I have to find a way to tell Mom... and Dad!!!
Sgt Patrick R McCaffrey KIA Balad, Iraq, 2004
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