COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Soldiers from an Army unit that had 10 infantrymen accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter after returning to civilian life described a breakdown in discipline during their Iraq deployment in which troops murdered civilians, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Some Fort Carson, Colo.-based soldiers have had trouble adjusting to life back in the United States, saying they refused to seek help, or were belittled or punished for seeking help. Others say they were ignored by their commanders, or coped through drug and alcohol abuse before they allegedly committed crimes, The Gazette of Colorado Springs said.
The Gazette based its report on months of interviews with soldiers and their families, medical and military records, court documents and photographs.
Several soldiers said unit discipline deteriorated while in Iraq.
“Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated,” said Daniel Freeman. “You came too close, we lit you up. You didn’t stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley,” an armored fighting vehicle.
With each roadside bombing, soldiers would fire in all directions “and just light the whole area up,” said Anthony Marquez, a friend of Freeman in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment. “If anyone was around, that was their fault. We smoked ’em.”
Taxi drivers got shot for no reason, and others were dropped off bridges after interrogations, said Marcus Mifflin, who was eventually discharged with post traumatic stress syndrome.
“You didn’t get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong,” he said
Soldiers interviewed by The Gazette cited lengthy deployments, being sent back into battle after surviving war injuries that would have been fatal in previous conflicts, and engaging in some of the bloodiest combat in Iraq. The soldiers describing those experiences were part of the 3,500-soldier unit now called the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.