American Soldier Explains Why He Refused to Kill
"Wearing a uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality?"
-Sgt. Ricky Clousing
Sgt. Ricky Clousing went to Iraq to fight for freedom.
He said what he found was an occupation.
He described seeing U.S. troops shoot livestock and smash cars for fun. He said he saw the people he was supposed to help detained for weeks without cause. And he won't forget watching a fellow soldier shoot and kill a young Iraqi civillian without repercussions.
It was not so much the individual episodes that disturbed the 24-year-old from Sumner. It was the realization that they were the rule rather than the exception, he said.
In late 2004, he deployed to Iraq to support the first stage of elections. While he was trained with appropriate interrogation tactics, he said, he watched U.S. troops detain four brothers - the youngest just 12 years old - for four weeks without cause or telling their family.
He described how American soldiers would drive their Humvees into civillian cars and laugh.
The worst was the day he was guarding a convoy in Mosul. Clousing recalled how a civilian drove onto the street, seemed frightened by U.S. troops, and tried to turn around and leave. Before the young man could get away, a U.S. soldier shot and killed him, Clousing said.
When he told superiors about the incident, he was called an inexperienced soldier, Clousing said.
Pankalla said her son sought guidance from counselors, chaplains and fellow soldiers. He was told to suck it up and store the pain and confusion in a little box in the back of his mind, she said.
But he couldn't shake the guilt and anger, and he grew depressed. A few months after returning stateside, he packed his clothes and left Fort Bragg in the middle of the night, leaving a note on the door to his barracks with a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Part of it read, "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right."