Soldiers' Stories Statement
 
 
 
Former Staff Sergeant Starlyn Lara, C Detachment, 38th Personnel Services Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom; Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA, January 2010
48”x 48” Chromogenic Color Print
 
         
 

We were in a convoy between my camp at Kirkush Military Training Base and Camp Anaconda in Balad, which is where everything happens—that’s the hub. At the time I was the FOO [field ordering officer] and I was responsible for all of the money that came in and out of the installation. I would convoy very frequently in order to transport money—like $100,000 in cash—under my vest.

I was in a Humvee, but our unit isn’t a tactical unit, so we didn’t have armored Humvees. What we had were Kevlar plates that lined the seats but not the vehicle. They were designed to keep you from dying but not designed to protect you. When the bomb went off, it actually shot pieces of the engine up. I was in the passenger seat. As soon as the vehicle exploded, my first thoughts were about the safety of the money. Then there was just all this blood, and I didn’t know where it was coming from. My ears were ringing from this huge concussion blast. I couldn’t hear, and my vision was blurred. And so many things were happening. I couldn’t make out the sounds around me—I was disoriented. I was looking…the windows were shattered and my arms were cut, I was bleeding, and I just couldn’t figure out where all of the blood was coming from. It seemed like forever but it probably took place in the blink of an eye.

There are many things that connect me back to that moment. It’s usually only when I can’t sleep or when I am sleeping. I had a really weird dream that I was chasing a pink rabbit. I was trying to catch the damn pink rabbit and it was huge. I think it’s funny—I’m laughing in the dream, going, “I can’t believe this pink bunny!” And then, the pink bunny runs into the street, and I’m wondering, “Why is the pink bunny in the street?” And I stop, and the pink bunny gets hit by my Humvee. I see myself in the vehicle and I realize that the pink bunny is the bomb.

So sometimes my dreams aren’t necessarily reliving the experience. They’re some kind of distortion, how I find ways to cope with the things that are really uncopable. There’s really no easy way to get around them.

Starlyn Lara currently works as a human resources/accounts payable assistant at Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit veterans organization that provides numerous services for veterans in need, and as a part-time emergency medical technician.

This text was transcribed and edited from interviews conducted by Jennifer Karady in January 2010.

     
         
 
© Jennifer Karady 2016, all rights reserved.