A Day To Honor Bravery
Gulf, Iraq War veteran reflects on why he fought
Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 14:11
Ask a civilian what a United States soldier fights for and they might say to defend the privilege of living in a free country.
This freedom does not come without a cost. Many men and women sacrifice their lives to protect the rights of Americans. These men and women are honored on Veteran’s Day, but it is not recognition or honor that drives their will to fight.
Warren Green, a veteran who graduated from Southeastern in 1981with an associate’s degree in criminal justice, took the time to share the experiences he has had as a veteran. Green served in the Marine Corps as an enlisted marine in the fourth division reserve for 26 years with a military occupational specialty in communications, or battery operated grunt. Green joined the Marine Corps as part of the Headquarters and Service Company and retired from there as well. He stayed at the battalion level, and worked his way up from private, to private first class, to lance corporal, to corporal, to sergeant and finally to staff sergeant. Later on, Green became a warrant officer, and eventually a chief warrant officer. Like all recruits, Green joined the Uniform to serve his country, but priorities change when fighting in the field.
“Today, this second they are not fighting for [you], they are not fighting for the American flag, they are not fighting for the United States of America and they are not fighting for the Lord God almighty. They’re fighting to protect one another,” said Green. “The goals are to help [you], and to honor that flag, but they’re trying to stay alive. That’s why they are doing what they’re doing. At the end of the day when they succeed, they can beat their chest and say ‘We won today; we did our jobs for America. We did our job to uphold our allegiance to the flag.”
Green served in the Gulf War and the Iraq War. Green graduated from the State Police Academy in April of 1990 and was activated for the marine corps on Nov. 24, 1990, Thanksgiving Day. He was activated to serve in Operation Desert Shield, which was later re-named Operation Desert Storm once the war began. Green recalls that the actual combat only lasted 100 hours, but his division occupied a section of the Euphrates River for five months. According to Green, there was an incident about eight hours into the war, that involved friendly fire. One division of marines crossing from Saudi Arabia into Kuwait misidentified an off-course armored personal vehicle and called an air-strike on it.
“There was only sawdust left. We killed our own,” said Green. “Hollywood portrays combat in a glorious way sometimes, unfortunately. If you go back in history, combat is about annihilation of your enemy; destroying; killing. Combat is harsh. Combat is gruesome. Until someone experiences it, you never really conceive how horrible it is. The horror of war.”
After the Gulf War, Green remained in the marine reserve until he was again activated to serve in the Iraqi War. According to Green, the goal was to dethrone Sadaam Hussein and to find, seek and destroy all weapons of mass destruction. Green was stationed in Al Kut, where he became a target. Because he had experience as a State Trooper, Green was given the responsibility to build a training team of police officers. The task of Green and his men was to rebuild the infrastructure of the Iraqi law enforcement which meant finding them, re-training them and re-doing their uniforms. Green and his men designed the new, blue uniforms using air-force surplus.
“It looked completely different from their green military uniform,” said Green. “I had to re-identify them not being Iraqi military because the civilians wouldn’t have worked with them, and of course we would have killed them.”
Green’s major gave him two things: an automatic machine gun and the only two marked police cars in Iraq at the time. According to Green, they became easily identifiable and also became a target. Both Green’s driver and interpreter made him aware of the conspiracy to kill him during a meeting one day.
“I had a bounty on my head placed. Don’t capture him. Kill him,” said Green. “One of my Iraqis that happened to be in there was a member of this group that had plotted to kill me. I had drank tea with him many times. I had no clue. They had already decided to get rid of Green and his marines.”
The thing that meant the most to Green in the time of war was getting hot food and receiving mail. Green said, at first, they mostly ate MREs, but later on he was able to go to Iraqi restaurants where he enjoyed chai tea.
Green first enlisted into the marines due to several factors: the recruiters that came to his high school, his girlfriend’s mother’s recommendation to enlist and his rebellion towards his father, all contributed to Green’s decision to enlist.
“I can remember my dad told me numerous times when I was younger,” said Green. “‘Son, whatever you do, don’t join the damn marine corps.’”
Most of Green’s drill instructors were Vietnam Veterans. In the marine branch, boot camp lasted for 13 weeks, seven days a week, 16-17 hours a day according to Green.
“[Joining the Marines] is the best thing I could have done in my life,” said Green.
Green wants people to remember to thank every veteran they see. Even as a fellow veteran, he makes it a point to do this.
“Understand you’re committing to something higher than you can even perceive,” said Green. “You are going to take on an oath of allegiance, not just to your flag, but to your government, your president and that branch of military, to put everything else second. [Know] that your life is easily and willingly offered in sacrifice for your fellow comrade.”