The cover story of US News coming out on Monday is a must-read and must-see. It’s a comprehensive multimedia package by US News embed Alex Kingsbury about the life and death of Army Staff Sgt. Darrell Ray Griffin Jr. “Malleus Dei” is Latin for “God’s Hammer”–the phrase Griffin had written in marker on his helmet. He was killed by a sniper’s bullet on March 21, 2007, while patrolling in Sadr City. He and Kingsbury talked on video before his death; Griffin also shared tons of photos. Griffin’s father also shared excerpts from the soldier’s journal and e-mails. It’s an extraordinary tribute. Here’s a small snippet:
Darrell Griffin Sr., an accountant who also runs several business ventures, is compiling his son’s writings into a book and hopes to travel to Iraq to see where his son died. “My emotions have [been] on a roller coaster going from extreme anger, to sadness, to helplessness, to acceptance to confusion and then all over again,” he wrote me five days after his son’s death. And the elder Griffin has been pressed by many of his friends and colleagues in Southern California to join the ranks of the antiwar movement and use the story of his son’s death to help end the war. “They just don’t seem to understand or accept that my son loved the Army—that the Army saved him in many ways—and that the thing he hated the most was politics getting in the way of finding real solutions for the Iraqis.”
SSG Griffin was a voracious reader and thinker, profoundly affected by the violence around him and candid in his uncertainty about “this complicated world of intrigue and shifting loyalties” and whether he had become caught fighting in a “war of all against all” in Iraq.
Take the time to read and watch the whole package. It’s a striking contrast to how the drive-by NYTimes abused and twisted a fallen hero’s words to fit its morale-undermining agenda. Remember?
Kudos to Kingsbury and US News for devoting the time and space to telling SSG Griffin’s story–and letting his words, videos, and photos speak for themselves. Contact info for USNews is here.
More background on Griffin at the Stryker News site.
On a related note, the GI Film Festival debuts in Washington DC this Memorial Day weekend. It will celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the American military through the medium of film. We’re featuring the trailer for the festival here. If you’ll be in the area, come on out and support this event or sponsor a soldier for a day pass.
On the battlefront, a bad development near Mahmoudiya–five dead, three missing in a pre-dawn attack on a US patrol:
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U.S. and Iraqi troops searched house-to-house and combed fields with their bare hands Saturday after American troops and their Iraqi interpreter came under attack in the notorious “triangle of death” south of Baghdad, leaving five dead and three missing.
The military said the patrol was struck in a pre-dawn explosion near Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad — an al-Qaida area where two U.S. soldiers were found massacred after disappearing at a checkpoint nearly a year ago.
A nearby unit heard the blast and the search was launched after communication could not be established with the patrol, the military said. Shortly after the blast, a drone observed two burning vehicles.
An emergency response unit arrived at the scene and found five members of the team dead and three others missing.
Checkpoints were established throughout the area, while helicopters and jets buzzed overhead. AP Television News footage showed Iraqi soldiers picking through cattails and other weeds as they searched fields and canals for clues.
Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, said the search would continue throughout the night.
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