- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

Sgt. Cole Weih, 28, of Dubuque, Iowa, was the medic for Killer Blue and was on his first deployment to Iraq. Before joining the Army, Weih lived in Australia for 10 years and earned a degree in sociology. Weih, who is single, carried his grandfather’s dog tags from World War II.

His perspectives on serving in Iraq and losing Killer Blue comrades:

“A lot of people questioned why we lost who we lost. I actually never did … because there’s no answer. No reason for it. And you’ve got to open yourself up to the fact that this is just a horrible circumstance. There is no reason for it. To give it a reason is to make it simple, and it is not simple.”

“There were odd moments while doing the day-to-day thing that things do come rushing in where the madness of it all crushes you. It’s never really completely overwhelmed me because I tried to be open to it. I don’t like to repress because I don’t like things to haunt me. I don’t like things to pop up unannounced. I’d rather face them. If something’s really bothering me or if something’s too horrible to look at, to horrible to go back on, I’ll go back on it just so it’s on my terms.”

“You’re going to relive the experience and you’re going to look back and say the what-ifs. For a medic, did I do the right thing for the right person? Did I do enough? I’d be a liar if I didn’t go back and question pretty much every thing I did.”

“The biggest piece of advice I was ever given was to not look back and see the alternatives as something I should have done, because I made the right choice for the circumstances I was in. … I did the best I could given a really bad circumstance, for the most amount of people that I could.”

“You can’t go through the things we’ve gone through and not come out changed. … You can always take your experiences for good and the bad, and you can choose how you deal with it, how you cope with it. At the end of the day you’ve just got to be able to walk tall. And just keep aware of what’s around you.”

“I have to admit one of the hardest things coming home is that fact that people aren’t in uniform. It’s like going to the zoo. And it’s overwhelming, it’s the multitude of colors.”

“When people are in uniform you can relax when you’re deployed, when you’re in sector, you know that they’re the good guy. And then all of a sudden to have all these people that are good guys but not in uniform. You’ve got to learn to relax with them and not be irritated with some of the things that they do.”

“After we lost Sgt. Caldwell, I think there was a very widespread feeling that because we knew him so well and we knew each other so well that that in itself came at a cost. Because you almost felt like you didn’t want to know each other because to not know them would make the loss easier than to lose somebody you knew so well.”

“We lost our innocence. … It was a reality check. We had to find a way to move forward. And it was just a different way of interacting because now you knew what the cost would be. And I think after a while they accepted it. This is the way it was.”

“Sometimes it was frustrating but it’s very rewarding to know that they (the Iraqi Army) pretty much have it under control. They don’t need us. They still need guidance in some areas but for the major stuff they don’t need us anymore. That is one of the largest achievements we’ve had. That was our goal. We reached that goal. That’s the one thing I can take from Iraq and feel proud of.”

“You have to reevaluate some of your understanding, your values, you’ve got to come to a baser understanding of humanity and then work up from there. You can’t just make the assumption that people are good. I went into conflict with the understanding that there are a lot of good people. I came out of it with the feeling that people needed to earn that. I think that is a cost of conflict. The questioning of the goodness in people.”

“Conflict does not make me question humanity as a whole. I’ve been exposed to some of its uglier sides but as a whole, it’s always moving in a forward direction. There’s always a positive outcome for somebody at the end of it all.”

“I’ve seen an IED go off on a street corner and everybody forced to close their shops, and as soon as everything is cleared within an hour their shops are open again, people are shopping. People are going about their lives. That gives you hope. Knowing that people can move forward.”

“I’ve reassessed who I am and who I want to be. I’m coming out of this with more direction. I’m using that direction to move forward. I’m taking the goals that I’ve established and taking those and being active with them.”

“You do have to reevaluate yourself when you’ve lost somebody in a conflict … You have to do them honor by moving forward. Part of that process is reevaluation of what you have to offer to yourself and to the people around you. You owe it to the person you lost, people around you, and yourself to move forward. With that sort of evaluation, it’s impossible to not come out of it changed, to become more aware. To become more directed.”

“I’ve put some things, some emotions, some feeling on hold, and they’ll get a closer look when I go on my hike. I’ve taken quite a few long hikes, and you can’t get out to the middle of nowhere and not think about everything that brought you up to that point.”

“I’m going to do more time in the Army. Then I plan on getting out and teaching, being a teacher…. I want to teach fifth and sixth grades, just before they go to junior high. When they get their eyes opened, when they’ve been through so many years of school and they have so many more.”

“If they’re anything I can take from here, it’s that I saved someone’s life. If everything else is questionable, if everything that I feel I can’t take away with pride, I can discard knowing I did that one good thing. And that’s enough.”

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