Soldiers' Stories Statement
Former Specialist Andrew Floyd, 2/377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, U.S. Army, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom;
Ann Arbor, MI,
November 2013
48”x 48” Chromogenic Color Print

I had pretty extensive experience with rockets at Forward Operating Base Kalsu in southern Iraq. We got rocketed and mortared all the time—that’s what scared me the most. I remember seeing cans [housing units] that my buddies had been in getting blown up.

I remember waking up once in the middle of the night to my roommate Marco yelling, “Yo, Yo, indirect fire! Incoming!” So we ran outside—he got in a bunker but I ran down and saw that cans were on fire approximately where the rest of my unit was. Sure as shit, a rocket hit our unit, and killed Sergeant Marshall and Specialist Reyes. I ran down there and people were freaking out and stuff. I got into a bunker at that point—there were buddies of mine who were kind of rocking back and forth. One of them was rubbing his hands together, just kind of wringing them, saying, “I gotta get outside the wire, I gotta get outside the wire.” They like to make it so that you don't see your friends dead because that can be very traumatic as opposed to just seeing someone dead. But a buddy of mine, Herold, had been killed in a VBIED [vehicle borne improvised explosive device] and the guy in the bunker doing all the rocking had seen his body and he just wasn't ever right after that.

I remember not really feeling anything. I've talked to the VA about how I knew what I should be feeling and how I felt—how it didn't relate to the way people around me were feeling. I was acutely aware of their feelings and not my own. I felt bad about not having this emotional response. When Herold died, they had us all meet in the commo [communications] shop to talk about him being killed. People were crying and everyone was upset and I was just watching everybody. Even cats that I thought of as relatively detached were crying. I didn't cry and still to this day, I have never cried. Sergeant Howe was the hardest dude I ever knew, and he was crying. And I wasn’t. He later told my wife on Facebook that I'm the coldest person that he's ever met. That hurt.

It's painful not to be able to share in the emotions of the people around you. I feel like it contributed to me leaving the military. I feel like I was no longer part of the section after that—I was ostracized. I lost everything that ever meant anything to me at that point just for being who I am and responding how I respond. To this day, maybe that contributes to why I don't feel any real happiness or whatever.

I had a pair of gloves. I had helped do a sensitive item search after the rocket, which is where we are looking for weapons and items that we need to maintain positive control of. I went through this burnt-up shell of a can, and there are pictures of family and kids, and their life is just in ashes all around me. And I'm touching all these different things and I felt like I had death on my hands. When I got home, I never threw those gloves away. I put them up on a shelf over my washer and dryer because I didn't want to throw them away, but I didn't want to touch them either. I didn't know what to do with those gloves because I felt like they had not just death on them, but my dead friends on them.

Andrew Floyd is currently working on a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. This text was transcribed and edited from interviews conducted by Jennifer Karady in September and October 2013.

This text was transcribed and edited from interviews conducted by Jennifer Karady in April and May 2011.

© Jennifer Karady 2016, all rights reserved.