I Am Become Death

“These are great days we’re living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking
the Earth with guns. These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings
we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we’re gonna miss not having
anyone around that’s worth shooting.” – Crazy Earl, Full
Metal Jacket

“I enjoy killing Iraqis. I just feel rage, hate when I’m out there. I feel
like I carry it all the time. We talk about it. We all feel the same way.”
– Staff Sgt. William Deaton, 30

Contact. Kill ’em, Kill ’em.’

By Charles Duhigg, Times Staff Writer

Najaf – Tucked behind a gleaming machine gun, Sgt. Joseph Hall grins at his two companions in the Humvee. “I want to know if I killed that guy yesterday,” Hall says. “I saw blood spurt from his leg, but I want to be sure I killed him.” The vehicle goes silent as the driver, Spc. Joshua Dubois, swerves around asphalt previously uprooted by a blast. “I’m confused about how I should feel about killing,” says Dubois, who has a toddler back home. “The first time I shot someone, it was the most exhilarating thing I’d ever felt.” Dubois turns back to the road. “We talk about killing all the time,” he says. “I never used to talk this way. I’m not proud of it, but it’s like I can’t stop. I’m worried what I will be like when I get home.” The men aren’t Special Forces soldiers. They’re just ordinary troops with the Army’s 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment serving their 14th month in Iraq, much of it in daily battles. In 20 minutes, they will come under attack.