Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bradli N. Coleman

It has been about not quite 6 months since I've gotten back from Iraq, and once again I have to say that I've been fairly lucky not to have any body parts missing, or dead. I did witness quite a few close calls and one of which ended up with the death of a very young soldier, unfortunately. His name was Bradli Coleman, and I couldn't say that I knew him in life, but I wonder if he has any ideas how he's influencing me in death.

I don't know why I've chosen to write about him and the event of his demise about almost one year (will be in May) after it had happened, but I've never stopped thinking about what had happed that day....especially when I could not goto sleep. I'd also think about my friend Hakim, one of the native translators who had gotten murdered shortly after our group had left. Sometimes, I'd see Bradli laying there, covered in blood after they took him out of his burning trailer, his trailer was mortared that afternoon while he was sleeping, since he had worked the night shift, he had on this army brown tee shirt and army PT shorts, and he was just lifeless while medic tried like heck to revive him. Not exactly the way that I'd like to remember someone, I'm not sure if anyone would like to be remembered like that either.

Yet, it's not always that sad. I don't know if having watched him die had conveyed also a different message to those who where there also. You see, Bradli was only 19 and barely got started in his adult life, and I'm 32, also kind of barely lived. Oh sure I've been to many places, and met a lot of people, but I can't say that I've done that much or have been intimate with many people, and I'm not talking about sex. His death reminds that, for God's sake, start living and do it like you mean it, because for whatever reasons, guys like Bradli won't get to do it.

It's like that scene in "Saving Private Ryan", when Tom Hank's character was dying, he told Private Ryan to "live a good life", in some ways, Bradli has been telling me that, and I hope that, somehow, he knows how much I appreciate him for that.


Ace Pryhill said...

A haunting story. I just had to go look this young soldier up to see his face. Not many images of him out there, but I found this: http://www.keystonesoldiers.com/albums/FallenHeroes/Pvt_Bradli_N_Coleman_19.thumb.jpg
Amazing how people we don't know in life can affect us in their death.

wintermelonsoup said...

Ace, you can look up www.strykernews.com , and on the lower right hand corner, you can click on an icon that says something to the effect of "..to our fallen heroes", click on that and it'll show you all the members of stryker brigade who had passed on, it's arranged by dates of death so Bradli's memorial would be somewhere in the middle..just got to do a bit of scrolling, there are more pictures of him in a link there. I heard from those who had worked with him,they all said that he was a quiet and very polite young man.

John of Argghhh! said...

You should check my "More Updates" post... you aren't the only one dealing with the aftermath.

In other words, you are not alone - don't hesitate to talk it out... and remember, you've got some friends close by who have also been there and done that.

Sgt. B. said...

I'm with John...
Just because you're back on your home turf doesn't mean that the war isn't over.
Tap into the rank of the folks who have 'been there, done that", even if it's just to weep in the compnay of someone who knows just to shut up and let you get it off of your chest.
We're here for you, just call...
Semper Fi, war-fighter, you've done well! Welcome home!

Papa Ray said...

Yes, the memories of your friends and your experiences will always be with you. Your memory of them and what you did can either help you or hurt you.

I didn't think I had a problem after I got back to the world in 70 (actually late 69, but I was in the hospital until spring 70). But I did.

I let it simmer and lived with it, without acknowledging it for almost twenty years.

I was helped by an ex-boss to hook up with some vets and get some help. My only regret is that I didn't get help much earlier.

My friends still sometimes visit me in the night, but they are good visits now, reminding me and reassuring me, that they know I loved them and they loved me.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Anonymous said...

Brad's my nephew (my half-brother's son). Unfortunately, through life circumstances, I only knew him through my brother and met him years ago, only once. From all accounts, he was an incredible person, full of ambition, liked and loved by many if not all who knew him. He was laid to rest on a beautiful hilltop not far from his home on a misty, rainy day. I hope if you take anything from his seemingly senseless death, it's to live life to its fullest. I hope your pain eases with time.