September 28, 2010
The following is a guest blog written by my friend "Dizzy". This is the first time he has spoken since his arrest, August 18, 2008. As always, there are two sides to a story. This is Dizzy's side, in his own words.
I am proud to call him my friend and have a lot of love, respect and admiration for Dizzy. I have complete faith in him and his strength and wisdom to rebuild and recreate a life outside of prison. Dizzy lost a career, his freedom, his happy family, and the trust and pride hard earned by him with his parents. Or so he felt. Dizzy did screw up his life with his addiction and self-destructiveness. Just like so many other addicts, like myself. Dizzy is standing again and heading in the right direction. He is a good person and I'll stand by him just like friends should.
Shannon M. Clark
I was once told that sometimes in life, a significant event occurs that divides your life into two parts; separating time simply into What happened before and after that incident.
My dividing line is August 18, 2008, when I was told that I was "under arrest". It's a phrase I've uttered a 100 times to people, but I never imagined it would ever be uttered to me.
On the afternoon of June 7, 2005, I was assigned to assist an Infantry Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as a Combat Medical Specialist (aka...Combat Medic). Duties of a medic include but are not limited to assisting combat zone personnel in battlefield injuries, illnesses and emergency medical treatment to stabilize the soldier until he can be "EVAC'd" (Evacuated to a military treatment facility. Yes, a hospital).
On that afternoon, I was scheduled to be off-duty, a rarity in Iraq. One of my close friends asked me to cover his shift that day and I agreed to do so. At about 10AM, myself and the rest of my squad prepared to depart the base and travel to an area where we had received reports that a local town was possibly harboring a known Al-Quaida terrorist.
Our convoy departed at 12:30PM and traveled toward a town called Tadji, which is a small city in comparison to Baghdad. I was in the third vehicle from the front as we drove north on a well traveled highway.
Up ahead of the lead vehicle I could see a dead and mutilated animal on the right side of the road. I instructed my driver to veer toward the middle of the road to minimize our chance of driving right next to the animal, because my previous experiences and training showed that dead animals are often used to conceal IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices).
As our vehicles approached the area where the animal carcass was, I noticed no pedestrians or children in the immediate area. Only faces peeking out of windows could be seen. When you are in Iraq, you become attentive to what used to be insignificant things, until your life depends on these insignificant things. As my mind was processing my surroundings, I noticed that our vehicles (unarmored Hummers) were too close to the side of the road.
I woke up laying in dust, dirt and blood. Waking to the screams of other soldiers around me. (I'm sorry if I'm rushing through this part, but they are painful memories to recall and put on paper). I attempted to find anyone I could give assistance to, but as I tried to move, I noticed pieces of metal and glass embedded in my arms, legs, cheek, and thigh and groin areas. I tried to crawl to one of the men who I could hear, but found part of the vehicle axle had burned through the top of my boot onto my skin. Because of the serious nature of my injuries, I was unable to properly administer medications and give aide to the other wounded, taking what seemed like a lifetime to apply an occlusive dressing to a chest wound to the driver of my vehicle, breaking a needle off while trying to start an IV in a screaming Spec. 4 from North Dakota.
After what seemed like an eternity, assistance arrived in the form of a Black Hawk Medical Chopper (AKA...EVAC chopper or "dustoff"). Unfortunately the details of that day were burned into my memory as tangible as the hunks of metal in my body. After several hours, I arrived at what is referred to as "Baghdad ER". A hospital for US Military Personnel (and locals). As Camp Victory-Baghdad, I was given pain medication (Fetanyl & Dilaudid) and evacuated to another military hospital in Germany, with 7 other unit members, where I was given Fetanyl, Dilaudid & Morphine for pain. On that day I lost four of my friends. I can still see parts of their bodies covered in dirt and blood. These things haunt me to this day and I simply try not to think of it. (Easier said than done).
After spending several weeks in the hospital, I finally made it home knowing others did not. This is a constant weight on my mind, causing enormous guilt. I asked myself why did I deserve to live while others had their life taken by a coward trying to prove a point to their so-called god. Obviously, this caused a lot of anger towards myself and anyone in a 15 meter radius of me.
I became things I never thought I would be; depressed, angry and uncaring. As I recovered from my physical injuries, I struggled to forget about the events of that warm June day. I was prescribed pain medications, anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants. As time progressed, I began taking more pain meds and Xanax for emotional pain. Xanax became my emotional crutch, clouding my emotions to just get through another day.
1 day ago