Paybacks can be a bitch, and they certainly were for American foot soldiers in Iraq.
When several bored and deeply fucked up GIs gang raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, who was burned to a blackened crisp, and then murdered her parents and sister in their modest home in the feared insurgent hotbed south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death on March 12, 2006, I knew as someone who was intensively blogging about the war at the time that there were two likely outcomes: The perpetrators would get away with their heinous crimes and other GIs would be the targets of revenge killings by ISIS, which was then operating under the name of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
As it turned out, I was only half right.
It took a guilty conscience and several years, but the perpetrators of the crimes against Abeer Qassim Hamza and her family were brought to justice.
And there were revenge killings.
The victim of one of those killings was Byron Fouty, a 19-year-old private who had been in-country for only a few weeks and like so many of his comrades at arms, had joined the Army as a way out of an unpromising small-town future and to save money for college. And didn't have a clue as to why the U.S. was in Iraq, let alone what he was doing at an outpost in the village of Quarghouli hard by the Euphrates River.
It is, of course, vitally important that we never forget Abeer, whom I take time to remember on what would be her birthday each year. (She would have been 24 on February 19, most likely married and with a family of her own.
And we need to remember Byron, as well as the many tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans who died because of the hubris of a few very powerful and very bad men who are comfortably retired and have published memoirs that whitewash their roles in the most shameful era in modern American history.
But there is another admittedly small reason: I blogged extensively about Abeer and Byron, and now Jeffrey Reiners, an aspiring writer who went through Combat Infantry School with Byron, has shared his reminiscences of that young man, as well as his efforts to reach out to Byron's father.
I hope you'll read it.