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thedrifter
04-04-08, 05:08 PM
WINTER SOLDIER: JON MICHAEL TURNER

Diary Entry by Mac McKinney

Jon Turner is a former Marine who fought with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines in Iraq and who testified at Winter Soldier March 13-16. This aired Monday March 17, 2008 on Democracy Now.

AMY GOODMAN: Iraq and Afghanistan veterans gathered in Maryland this past weekend to testify at Winter Soldier, an eyewitness indictment of atrocities committed by US troops during the ongoing occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, the event was modeled after the historic 1971 Winter Soldier hearings held during the Vietnam War.

Over the weekend, war veterans spoke of free-fire zones, the shootings and beatings of innocent civilians, racism at the highest levels of the military, sexual harassment and assault within the military, and the torturing of prisoners.

Although Winter Soldier was held just outside the nation’s capital, it was almost entirely ignored by the American corporate media. A search on the Lexis database found that no major television network or cable news network even mentioned Winter Soldier over the weekend, neither did the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times or most other major newspapers in the country. The editors of the Washington Post chose to cover Winter Soldier but placed the article in the local section.

On Friday, Democracy Now! broadcast from Winter Soldier. This week, we play excerpts from the proceedings. We begin with Jon Michael Turner, who fought with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.

JON MICHAEL TURNER: Good afternoon. My name is Jon Michael Turner. I currently reside in Burlington, Vermont. I served with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines as an automatic machine gunner. There’s a term, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” But there’s also the term, “Eat the apple, F the corps, I don’t work for you no more.”

AMY GOODMAN: That was Jon Michael Turner, stripping his medals and ribbons from his chest and throwing them into the audience to the applause of attendees at Winter Soldier. Turner then went on to describe some of his time in Iraq.


JON MICHAEL TURNER: On April 18, 2006, I had my first confirmed killed. This man was innocent. I don’t know his name. I called him “the fat man.” He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and his father. The first round didn’t kill him, after I had hit him up here in his neck area. And afterwards he started screaming and looked right into my eyes. So I looked at my friend, who I was on post with, and I said, “Well, I can’t let that happen.” So I took another shot and took him out. He was then carried away by the rest of his family. It took seven people to carry his body away.

We were all congratulated after we had our first kills, and that happened to have been mine. My company commander personally congratulated me, as he did everyone else in our company. This is the same individual who had stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death will get a four-day pass when we return from Iraq.

There was one incident, where we got into a firefight just south of the government center about 2,000 meters. We had no idea where the fire was coming from. And the way our rules of engagement were, pinpoint where the fire is coming from and throw a rocket at it. So, at that being said, we still didn’t know where the fire was coming from, and an eighty-four-millimeter rocket was shot into a house. I do not know if there was anyone in it. We do not know if that’s where the fire was coming from. But that’s what was done.

Please go to the next image. This man right here was my third confirmed killed. As you can see, he was riding his bicycle. Later on in the day, we went ahead, and we had CBS’s Lara Logan with us, but she was with the other squad, and so she wasn’t with us. So, myself and two other people went ahead and took out some individuals, because we were excited about the firefight we had just gotten into, and we didn’t have a cameraman or woman with us. With that being said, any time we did have embedded reporters with us, our actions would change drastically. We never acted the same. We were always on key with everything, did everything by the books. The man on the bicycle, he was left in the street for about ten minutes until we realized that we needed to leave where we were. And his body was dragged about ten feet to the right of him, where his body was thrown behind a rock wall and his bicycle was thrown on top of him.

Another thing that we used to do a lot was recon by fire, where we would go ahead and try to start a firefight if we felt threatened in any way, shape or form. There was one particular incident where we were working with the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Special Forces in downtown Ramadi, and with our squad and the Iraqi Army there was also lieutenant colonels, majors, first sergeants and sergeant majors—sorry, sergeants major. With that being said, the Iraqi Army would go into the house, kick in the doors and then go ahead and shoot. And there were loud bursts of machinegun fire. We thought we were taking fire, but then we later found out that it was them.

House raids—because we were a grunt battalion, we were responsible for going on several patrols. A lot of the raids and patrols we did were at night around 3:00 in the morning, around there. And what we would do is just kick in the doors and terrorize the families. That was an image taken around 3:00 in the morning through night vision goggles. And that is the segregation of the women and children and the men. If the men of the household were giving us problems, we’d go ahead and take care of them anyway we felt necessary, whether it be choking them or slamming their head against the walls. If you go back to that one picture, that was one man that wasn’t taking—that was taken care of in a very bad way, because of all the wiring that he had. We considered it IED-making material.

On my wrist, there’s Arabic for “F you.” I got that put on my wrist just two weeks before we went to Iraq, because that was my choking hand, and any time I felt the need to take out aggression, I would go ahead and use it.

Please go to the next picture. Next, there’s an instance of detainees and how they were treated in a nice manner.

Next, that is the Fatima Mosque minaret. As you can see, it is ridden with bullet holes and holes in the top of it. Those were from mortars. And the next video that I’m going to show you is a tank round that went into that minaret, where we weren’t sure if we were taking fire or not. Actually, I’ll talk about this one. This is after one of the guys in a weapons company had gotten shot. This is a way that we would take out our aggression. For those of you who don’t know, it is illegal to shoot into a mosque, unless you were taking fire from it. There was no fire that was taken from that mosque. It was shot into because we were angry.

Next image. That—OK, with that being said, there’s many more stories and incidents for me to talk about, although we don’t have the time to. But this just goes to show you that that was the aftereffect of the tank round. This just goes to show you that everyone sitting up here has these stories, and there’s been over a million trips that have gone in and out of Iraq, so the possibilities are endless.

Next image, please. The reason I am doing this today is not only for myself and for the rest of society to hear, but it’s for all those who can’t be here to talk about the things that we went through, talk about the things that we did.

Next image. Those four crosses and this memorial service were for the five guys in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines that we lost. Throughout our unit, we had eighteen that got killed. With that being said, that is my testimony. I just want to say that I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people, and I’m sorry for the hate and destruction that others have inflicted on innocent people. At one point, it was OK. But reality has shown that it’s not and that this is happening and that until people hear about what is going on with this war, it will continue to happen and people will continue to die. I am sorry for the things that I did. I am no longer the monster that I once was. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Former Marine, Jon Michael Turner, fought with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines. The videos and photos the soldier showed can be seen at our website, democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.


Ellie