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WHAT GEORGE BUSH SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CASEY SHEEHAN
By Larry C. Johnson
There are some things that George Bush should know about Casey Sheehan should he choose to sit down and talk with his mom. One thing he could discuss is the fact that a distant relative of his was wounded at Casey's side. That boy, Brian Emmett, also is my second cousin. But more about that later.
Perhaps the conversation ought to start about the other seven men who died on April 4, 2004 in Sadr City.
From the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas were:
Sgt. Yihjyh L. Chen, 31, of Saipan, Marianas Protectorate.
Spc. Robert R. Arsiaga, 25, of San Antonio, Texas.
Spc. Stephen D. Hiller, 25, of Opelika, Ala.
Spc. Ahmed A. Cason, 24, of McCalla, Ala.
Spc. Israel Garza, 25, of Lubbock, Texas.
From the Army's 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Ray Barracks, Friedberg, Germany was Sgt. Michael W. Mitchell, 25, of Porterville, Calif.
And, from Casey's unit, the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas was Cpl. Forest J. Jostes, 22, of Albion, Ill.
Maybe George Bush could clarify why these men died. According to several press reports, they were attacked and killed by forces loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. And where is al-Sadr today? He's a player in the Shiite community in Iraq which is on the verge of installing Islam as the basis of government in Iraq. In effect, Casey and his comrades were killed by people whose leaders are on the verge of taking control in Iraq. It would be one thing if George Bush could tell Casey's mom and the moms of the other boys who died that their sons gave their lives to create a secular Iraq. But we now know that is not true. They gave their lives in a cause that is allowing some Islamic extremists loyal to Iran to play a major role in the "new" Iraq.
I don't know if Casey Sheehan's mom is specifically angry about that fact, but my cousin, Kathy Emmett-Meek, is furious. Her son, Brian, was in Alpha Company of the 2-5 Cavalry on April 4, 2004 when Charlie Company from the same Division were ambushed. Brian and his buddies were alerted and entered Sadr City to rescue their comrades. As they lept from their vehicle they were hit with a hurricane of bullets and RPGs. One bullet shattered Brian's left tibia. An RPG exploded nearby and peppered his right ankle with shrapnel. Brian fired several clips at the enemy and only stopped shooting when he passed out from loss of blood. My cousin and his buddies were and are warriors.
Brian survived. He received a purple heart from George Bush himself during his Easter 2004 visit with wounded troops at Fort Hood. But Brian has not fully recovered. Brian's mom ratted on him, telling me about Brian's current state. Then, only after I badgered him did Brian himself admit his difficulties to me. Brian is trying to handle things quietly and bravely, just as he did that day in Sadr City. Yet, he still faces more reconstructive surgery. What is really tragic is that he battles the demon of survivor's guilt. His mom tells me that, on bad days, he wonders why he was allowed to live and his buddies died. The good news is he still loves his country and is getting on with his life. What really sucks is that he is fighting the VA Bureaucracy to get his benefits. They still have not assigned him a disability status. He described his separation from the Army as a boot in the ass and good luck.
Brian and the other wounded vets deserve more than best wishes and good cheer. They have shed their blood in service to their country and deserve our full commitment.
The ultimate irony of this story is that Brian is a distant relative of George W. Bush (his mother tells me she learned of it while doing genealogical research). Well, at least there is some good news--George W. Bush can now claim he may have a relative who was wounded in combat in Iraq.