Phil Klay

See, it’s not a straight shot back,  from war to the Jacksonville mall.

(Coming home) you sit there, and close your eyes, and think. The problem is, your thoughts don’t come out in any kind of straight order. You don’t think Oh, I did A, then B, then C. You try to think about home, then you’re in the torture house. You see the body parts in the locker, and the retarted guy in the cage.


And glad as I was to be in the States, and even though I hated the past seven months and the only thing that kept me going was the Marines I served with and the thought of coming come, I started feeling like I wanted to go back. Because fuck all this.


Outside, there are people walking around by the windows like it’s no big deal. People who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died. People who’ve spent their whole lives at white. They’ll never get even close to orange. You can’t, until the first time you’re in a firefight, or the first time an IED that you missed goes off, and you realize that everybody’s life, everybody’s, depends on you not fucking up. And you depend on them.

Some guys go straight to red.


The sight of us (Mortuary Affairs) reminding Marines of everything they know but never discuss.


Sometimes it helps to be led by an idiot.


Not much to talk about. Neither of us had a girlfriend and we both wanted one. We didn’t have anybody waiting for us at home other than our mums.


I wanted to scream “Fuck!” as loud as I could, and keep screaming it through the whole convoy until I got to let off a round in someone. I started gripping the sides of the .50. When my hands where white, I would let go. I did that for a half hour, and then the rage left me and I felt exhausted.


There are two ways to tell the story. Funny or sad. Guys like it funny, with lots of gore and a grin on your face when you get to the end. Girls like it sad, with a thousand-yard stare out to the distance as you gaze upon the horrors of war they can’t quite see. Either way, it’s the same story.


She spent all his combat pay before he got back, and she was five months pregnant, which, for a Marine coming back from a seven-month deployment, is not pregnant enough. 


Somebody said combat is 99 percent sheer boredom and 1 percent pure terror. They weren’t an MP in Iraq. On the roads I was scared all the time. Maybe not pure terror. That’s for when the IED actually goes off. But a kind of low-grade terror that mixes with the boredom. So it’s 50 percent boredom and 49 percent normal terror, which is a general feeling that you might die at any second and that everybody in this country wants to kill you. Then, of course, there’s the 1 percent pure terror, when your heart rate skyrockets and your vision closes in and your hands are white and your body is humming. You can’t think. You’re just an animal, doing what you’ve been trained to do. And then you go back to normal terror, and you go back to being a human, and you go back to thinking.


You risked your life for something bigger than yourself. How many paople can say that? You chose to serve. Maybe you didn’t understand American foreign policy or why we were at war. Maybe you never will. But it doesn’t matter. You held up your hand and said, “I’m willing to die for these worthless civilians.


We took my combat pay and did a lot of shopping. Which is how America fights back against the terrorists.


Redeployment – Phil Klay


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