In this case, 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1-26 Infantry in the 1st Infantry Division, a mortar attack at a Burger King, watching a friend burn to death pinned under a Bradley, and their first sergeant putting a rifle under his chin and pulling the trigger because he felt responsible for the recent deaths of his men were some of the things that led to the incident below.
If that first sergeant had thought his mission in Iraq had anything to do with the safety of the United States, I doubt he would have killed himself.
‘Not us. We’re not going.’
Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’ that pulls the unit apart
Stories by KELLY KENNEDY - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Dec 8, 2007 14:32:57 EST
“I’m not getting killed at Burger King,” he thought, and he dived for a concrete bunker. People were screaming. DeNardi saw a worker from Cinnabon hobbling around, so he climbed out of the bunker, pulled shrapnel out of the man’s leg and bandaged him. The Pizza Hut manager was crying and said two more foreign workers were injured behind her stand — near the Burger King.
“Lightning doesn’t strike twice,” DeNardi said, “so I went back. But there were body parts everywhere.” The first man’s leg had been blown off, his other leg was barely attached and he had a chest wound. “He was going to die,” DeNardi said.***It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.
But within days, he would lose five men, including a respected senior non-commissioned officer. Master Sgt. Jeffrey McKinney, Alpha Company’s first sergeant, was known as a family man and as a good leader because he was intelligent and could explain things well. But Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rausch of Charlie Company’s 1st Platoon, a good friend of McKinney’s, said McKinney told him he felt he was letting his men down in Adhamiya.
According to Charlie Company soldiers, McKinney said, “I can’t take it anymore,” and fired a round. Then he pointed his M4 under his chin and killed himself in front of three of his men.***On July 17, Charlie’s 2nd Platoon was refitting at Taji when they got a call to go back to Adhamiya. They were to patrol Route Southern Comfort, which had been black — off-limits — for months. Charlie Company knew a 500-pound bomb lay on that route, and they’d been ordered not to travel it. “Will there be route clearance?” 2nd Platoon asked. “Yes,” they were told. “Then we’ll go.”
But the mission was canceled. The medevac crews couldn’t fly because of a dust storm, and the Iraqi Army wasn’t ready for the mission. Second Platoon went to bed.
They woke to the news that Alpha Company had gone on the mission instead and one of their Bradleys rolled over the 500-pound IED. The Bradley flipped. The explosion and flames killed everybody inside. Alpha Company lost four soldiers: Spc. Zachary Clouser, Spc. Richard Gilmore, Spc. Daniel Gomez and Sgt. 1st Class Luis Gutierrez-Rosales.***“A scheduled patrol is a direct order from me,” Strickland said.***“We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”
They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”