I just got word from my mother that the ex-husband of one of my many nieces was shot by enemy fire in Afghanistan†. His leg had to be amputated, making him one of about two hundred soldiers who will sacrifice a limb this year to Operation Enduring Freedom. (In 2011, 240 deployed troops had to have at least an arm or a leg amputated, compared with 205 in 2007, the height of the surge in Iraq, according to data published by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. For more, go here)
Even though their marriage ended in divorce four years later, I still liked "Mikey".
A good-natured Jewish boy from a working class background who had joined the Navy after high school, Mikey was stationed at the base in Sasebo when my niece met him. (She had been living with me here in Fukuoka.) Barely half a year later the two of them were married and living together in Washington D.C. A year and a half later in the summer of 2007, their wedding, a sumptuous affair unlike anything I had ever experienced, was held in Beirut.
As I was the only one on our side of the family who knew Mikey, and more importantly because no one on his side was willing to risk traveling to Lebanon at a time when car-bombings and assassinations were once again commonplace in the country, the duty of being best man fell on me. I was more than happy to fill in.
Although Mikey was in the Navy, ostensibly training police dogs, he was sent to Bahrain a few years ago. And that was the last I heard from him.†† I didn't know he was serving in Afghanistan, let alone in a combat situation. But then, what can we say we really know about what is going on in that god-forsaken country? It has become another stupid war, not worth fighting anymore. And who pays the price? Not the fucking politicians who got us into it, nor the companies that reaped fabulous profits from the invasion. No, the ones who are paying for the folly of Bush and his Neocoms are the soldiers who shouldn't have been sent there in the first place.
Good luck to you, Mikey. You're still family to me.
For more on casualty figures for Afghanistan, go here.
† My latest post, Mike Brodsky, updates and corrects this information.
†† By then my neice and he had divorced. The last time I saw either of them was in Oregon in the summer of 2008.