Monthly Archives: September 2013

Page 96.


7 Nissan Page 96

Page 96 of my graphic novel about the Iraq War.  Five more to go!

Page 95, and a personal note.


7 Nissan Page 95

This is page 95 of my graphic novel about the Iraq War.

* * *

On a personal note, I recently learned that SFC Ricardo Young was killed in action in Ghazni last month.  SFC Young’s overall excellence and unique attitude provided at least part of the inspiration for the unnamed NCO character in the story that I am just about to finish here, although it goes without saying that nothing I could write could come close to capturing the man’s tremendous personality.

I met SFC Young during a deployment to Iraq in 2008-9 and he was, without any question at all, the finest noncommissioned officer that I have ever served with and one of the best human beings I have ever met.  He had my back for most of the deployment against everything from billion year-old knife-wielding Iraqi farmers, to mortar and small arms fire, to the COS Marez MPs.  The Soldiers absolutely loved him and not a day went by when I wasn’t grateful to have him on the team.  I would have trusted him with anything.  As a Soldier and as a family man, in every respect, he was outstanding.

I do not know the exact circumstances of his death.  I do note that no other American Soldiers were killed in that engagement, which I can only attribute in large part to his leadership.  Alongside his children, all of those young men who came back alive are his legacy.

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

— Ernest Hemingway

Page 94


7 Nissan Page 94

Page 94 of my graphic novel about the Iraq War, which some people fought on a strictly 9-5 basis.

Page 93.


7 Nissan Page 93

Page 93 of my graphic novel about the Iraq War — eight more pages to go.

Some would grade this sort of exchange as backsass deserving of pushups and/or rock-painting detail, but that’s the wrong way to look at it.  The people who work for you are usually not idiots and can almost always sense when things have not gone as intended.  Trying to bullshit them just costs you credibility, and if you become the kind of leader who flies into a rage whenever a mistake is pointed out, eventually people start to bypass you entirely and you’ve lost all authority.  Much better just to come out and say, yeah, clearly that was not as planned.  Won’t make that exact mistake again.  And then don’t, which makes everyone better off across the board.

In terms of layout, this is another case where I’m simultaneously glad that the vertical page gives me plenty of room for speech bubbles and sort of disappointed that I can’t show  a large group of people standing in an expansive room, rather than making them look as if they’re all backed into a corner.

The barrel and receiver of those machine guns each weigh ~45 lbs, which is why they come apart to be carried.  They’re stored separately from the vehicles to prevent theft.

Page 92.


7 Nissan Page 92

Page 92 of my graphic novel about the Iraq War.

(Tropic) Lightning Hero of the Day/Week was, and is, a 25th Infantry Division initiative wherein every platoon regularly submits one Soldier who has, in theory, done something extraordinary, and a single underworked staff officer up at the division headquarters sifts through them all until he finds someone who really did do something.  That Soldier becomes the Hero of the Week and the PowerPoint slide gets, I don’t know, printed out and stuck on a wall somewhere.  The flaw in the system is that 99% of the time, the Soldiers — god bless them — all do exactly what they are supposed to do and no more, which means that bullshitting skills honed in years of private university education will pay dividends.  I used to try to keep a buffer of a month or so at any given time, but it was not a top priority, which explains why I never had one go all the way to the championship.  I did write a couple of newspaper articles, though.

The Army hires an ad agency to come up with poster slogans, but I think they’re copyrighted.  That’s the jist of it.