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by Manuel Batlle
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2017 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
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Blue on Blue in America!
“Finally!” everybody said. “We are leaving the desert bound for tropical Diego Garcia,”
said another member of the crew, as we all got on the bus that would take us to the airport. We had spent the past 5 months in 2004
between Bahrain and Afghanistan. The air operations were around the clock providing reconnaissance support for the troops on the ground.
We had a record that summer where it was recorded being a blazing 150 degrees Fahrenheit on the tarmac. I remember that just the mere
stepping outside from the air-conditioned office to the flight line, I would be instantly sweating. By the end of every day we would
have the white marks of mineral deposit on our coyote brown t-shirts creating a topographic layout of where all our sweat glands existed.
That afternoon we pulled up to the guardhouse at the Bahrain International Airport that
was guarded by US servicemen. As always, we had a security check for the vehicle with mirrors to look underneath the vehicle and an
ID check. I remember the sentry getting on the bus but by the time he had checked the 3rd person, above his head I saw a small explosion
with four cardinal rays of light flash and a loud “Bang!” Our bus had been shot! We all ducked until the guards outside cleared the
area. The phrase “sitting ducks” for the first time in my life became real. As I laid on my seat I could only think how thin the walls
of this classical yellow school bus (actually haze grey on the outside) was and wondered if there would be any follow up bangs.
One minute later one of the sentries yelled “Clear!” Somebody yelled, “Is everyone ok?” As we rose up, one aircrew woman yelled, “I
am hit in my arm!” The bullet that entered the cabin went through the ventilation system and had sprayed some shrapnel catching the
woman’s arm and another officer. I looked to the back of the bus and a clean hole had perforated the back window where the bullet
had exited. We all stepped out and eventually realized the bullet came from one of our guys! The guard stood watch on top of a military
vehicle facing the gate where the automatic weapon had been pointing at our bus.
this was an accident, the consequences could have been deadly. In the military one of the most feared occurrences is something called,
“Blue on blue.” This refers, “to inadvertent clashes between members of the same side in an armed conflict... Blue on blue originated
in the British military in the early 1980s, but has now spread around the world, and even moved beyond the military sphere to describe
accidental shootings among police officers.” When talking about prevention from this happening the consensus is that all members of
the same side should have an identifying uniform or sticker. I remember that in 2001 the Special Forces troops that worked with us
had these reflective stickers on different part of their bodies. They said that at night it was a way to identify friendly troops
while having night vision on.
The violence I see in the most recent protest makes
me feel a dread of this almost primal animal like aggression against one another. I see so much energy and resources being wasted
in the name of what? Rwanda lived a very dark time in 1994, when propaganda is said to have influenced the movement of citizens to
turn against their own kin sometimes! This resulted in an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 Tutsis being killed by previously normal law
abiding citizens. I hope we can channelize our energy to bring positive change for all without surrendering our civility to any emotion
that might cloud our objectivity.
It is no secret the power words have in our own
lives. My sincere desire is that all of us as citizens can embrace the responsibility of our actions and the results thereof. Social
media has become a high-ranking player when it comes to swing the trends in one direction or another. Emotions are plucked, items
are bought, non-profit organizations are funded, movements are started but in what website or app has responsibility been hidden away?
I encourage all to choose responsibility over ratings when we spread ideas that can have a lasting negative effect on the lives of
many and the stability of a country.
I am sure Colonel George Balch (original author
of the pledge of allegiance) must be turning in his grave as we so easily loose sight of who is friend and who is foe. May we all
put our grain of sand in lifting up each other and rebuild a society were we honor one another and love for our neighbor reigns. In
the meantime I will just reminisce those grade school mornings where my diverse classmates an I stood up in respect with our small
hands over our left chest while in unison it could be heard "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and
to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."