Jay White, Aaron Jones, Jesse and I filmed a show on Middletown Public access. The show’s hosted by a veteran and deals primarily with veterans issues/needs and news. The purpose of our visit was to discuss readjustment problems with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The group discussion went well. My only problems with it is the time limit. It’s hard for rookies like myself to pare down our talks. It was interesting to talk an older generation of veterans. I had to watch my cursing though, and that’s tough sometimes.
Aaron as usual, impressed the producers and helped get our group offered a spot in one of their open time slots. We hope to start the show sometime in the next month or tow. In all probability, it will be formatted around art and veteran issues.
Sinjar, Iraq’s a Kurdish/Yazidi area of Northern Iraq. The city itself is relatively small and inconsequential on the grand scheme of things. However, the populace is friendly and warm towards Americans.
My platoon spent 4 months in a small base adjacent to the outskirts of town. During that time, we had one IED (the first night and against another platoon) and one mortar/rocket attack. That’s about it. There were issues with sectarian violence. Some of the worst bombings I’d seen occurred there. Most of it was directed at mosques.
I worked on several victims of those attacks with my squad. One of the worst men died after we cared for him. It still haunts me that I may have messed up somewhere in that mess.
Two summers ago that all changed. Over 400 people were killed in a coordinated bombing of two small villages. Dump trucks laden with high explosives shattered these towns. In 2006, our unit used to patrol these villages. They never caused us harm, but welcomed us with open arms. The bombings were directed at the Yazidis, a 3000 year old religious sect. Granted they have some backwards ideas, but nothing that would warrant a mass killing.
I get weepy when this place is attacked. Just the other day, 21 people were killed at a busy eatery. I never agreed with the initial invasion of Iraq. However, now that we’re there, we can’t let these people suffer on our account. They are a small minority which is in danger of losing more and more of their populace. Sometimes, I wish the Kurds and Yazidi had their own country up north.
I will be posting pictures from time to time on Sinjar.
Benny Alicea, Mike Hawley, and Pat Montes (left to right)
Pictured above is myself (Mike Hawley) and the two best friends I hold dearest. All of us are combat vets to varying degrees. 20 pounds ago, I didn’t fit into my old uniform-hence the suit.
Pat Montes (staff sergeant) is pictured to the right. This was taken on his wedding day. We were walking out to take pictures with his family and future bride. The wedding was held at the Saybrook Point Inn, in Old Saybrook, CT. Pat’s a veteran of two combat tours – Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve known him for 17 years. He’s soon becoming an officer in the CT National Guard.
I’m in the center. I’m the co-founder of the company. I wouldn’t have gotten this far had it not been for these two. They helped me realize I had some issues that needed dealing with.
Benny (left) and I met in basic training. He and I hit it off. It turns out he was stationed mere feet away from Pat Montes in Baghdad. He fought alongside the marines in Fallujah and eanred a silver star for bravery. Along with this prestigious medal, he has at least two purple hearts and other valorious medals.
I wanted to get some visuals up on this blog. It’s pretty bare right now. Also, I wanted to insert some humanity into issues of war. Benny and I are possibly developing some martial arts skills for professionals. He is also looking for someone to help collarborate on his memoirs. If there’s anyone who needs to write his experiences down, It’s Benny Alicea. If anyone can help, please let me know.