The First American Casualties of our Iraq “Adventure” ….. Never forget!!!

Marine 1st Lt. Therrell Shane Childers was killed in Iraq on March 21, 2003, in the wartime equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Michael Daly on the first man to die for a mistake.


He was the first man to die for a mistake.

Marine 1st Lt. Therrell Shane Childers became the first American combat casualty of the war in Iraq ten years ago tomorrow, on March 21, 2003, shortly after his unit secured Pumping Station No. 2 at the Rumaila oil fields 20 miles north of the border with Kuwait. A pick-up truck loaded with Iraqi soldiers appeared seemingly out of nowhere and Childers was hit once in the stomach. It was the wartime equivalent of a drive-by shooting.

Childers and Gutierrez

2nd Lt. T Therrel Shane Childers, left, and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez. (The Sun Herald/AP; Moises Castillo/AP)

Childers was 30 years old and the son of a career Navy man. He had wanted to be a Marine since he was five, when he saw the Marine guards at the embassy in Tehran while his father was stationed in Iran. The approaching Islamic revolution caused the family to be evacuated in 1978. His father, Joseph Childers, had been briefly held hostage the following February, in a scenario that would now be familiar to anyone who has seen the movie Argo.

The family was living in Mississippi when Therrell Childers enlisted in the Marines at the age of 17. He was subsequently selected an officer training program. He had the distinction of becoming a “mustang,” a Marine enlisted man elevated to officer. He kept rock-hard fit by running, swimming and biking as if in a perpetual triathlon. He often said his dream was to lead a platoon into combat.

After 9/11, Childers would have been more than willing to lead his men in tracking down Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He trusted the wisdom of his leaders when they said national security would best be served by sending him into Iraq. He did not stop to ponder whether the Bush administration was just using 9/11 as a pretext to go after Saddam Hussein. He did not wonder aloud at the irony of going into battle against the same army that had been battling the fanatics in Iran who had briefly held his father prisoner.

“We’re ready,” he reportedly wrote in a letter home.

When the order came, Childers’ mission was to secure something that Afghanistan did not have, part of what made Iraq of such interest to the Bush folks: an oil facility. He did so with all his skill and nerve. He was acting in the finest traditions of the Marine Corps when he placed himself at the forefront of danger when the pickup truck began speeding toward them. The bullet struck him just below his body armor, which had apparently hiked up a fatal inch when he raised his own rifle to fire rather than just directing his men to do so.

Among the machinery for pumping what was only oil, the wounded man’s heart pumped blood

Among the machinery for pumping what was only oil, the wounded Marine’s heart pumped blood through a torn artery. He had voiced a presentiment before shipping out that he would not be returning, but he still told his fellow Marines that he could not believe he had been shot, before going silent forever.

Just down the pipeline from Pumping Station No. 2, in the port of Umm Qasr, 22-year-old Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez became the second man to die for a mistake. He had begun life as a homeless street orphan in Guatemala, his parents having been killed in the civil war there. He had walked, hitchhiked and hopped freight trains during his 2,000 mile solo journey to America. He had been taken in by a foster family in California, but had not forgotten a sister he had left behind in his native country. He had joined the Marine Corps hoping thereby to become a citizen and bring her to America. He figured he could at the same time get money for college and become an architect.

By all accounts, Gutierrez, too, was a brave and dedicated  Marine. Another fine life bled out beside a petroleum facility when he was killed by friendly fire. He became a citizen posthumously.

As he prepared to go into combat, Gutierrez had written to his foster mother. His words now embrace all of the 4,484 other Americans killed in Iraq during the war that began a decade ago—as well as the living Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen who remain ready to shed what we should always hold as immeasurably more precious than oil.

“Pray for all of us. Not just me.”

He gave his life ….. for what??? We wonder ……

This entry was posted in Equality and tagged , , by Dr. Rex. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr. Rex

I'm originally from Puerto Rico. I was born in Santurce and raised in Rio Piedras. Have lived in Florida since 1999. I have a doctorate degree in Medicine; completed in 1976. My Internal Medicine specialty was completed in 1979. Worked for Puerto Rico's health system until 1985. At this time, I'm happily retired after working for the federal government for almost 28yrs. I want to offer any knowledge that I have to anyone "out there" who is interested. My views are liberal in almost every sense. My knowledge is "eclectic" - a bit of everything. Music and reading are my passion. Blogging has also become a very interesting endeavor. Metaphysical topics attract me. I'm interested in news reporting human issues like injustice, discrimination and abuse - the "wrongly" affected. My intention is to bring this knowledge to an understandable level and to help anyone in need. I'm open to questions and will answer them to the best of my ability. Currently working on an enterprise whose main mission will be to bring peoples of all walks of life together. To be one .... since we ALL are ONE!! The future looks bright and promising!!!

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