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Fit to kill
I came across an Iraqi soldier who was sleeping

By Pesare Gol
October 31, 2003
The Iranian

These days, the images of the Iraqi war on television takes me back to my own fighting in the battlefield. As much as I try not to have flashbacks, a recent television program on CNN made it difficult not to think back to one of my past experiences during the Iran-Iraq war. The program was named "Fit to Kill" and focused on the post traumatic experiences of American soldiers after they had shot and killed an enemy soldier.

One cool November night in 1982, myself and five brave young Iranians were part of an elite commando unit that were ordered to destroy an ammunition depot deep in Iraqi territory. The depot was thought to be the main supply for artillery rounds constantly hitting Iranian targets near Khorramshahr. We were to be dropped by helicopter within a mile of the depot at night, complete our mission and be picked up by the same helicopter three hours later.

At 4am, we were given the green light; we had cleaned our weapons, picked up our supply and waited for the final call. Within our unit myself and Behrad were the youngest and the most inexperienced. I was selected to join the team because of my good marksmanship. Behraad and I were good buddies and this was our first mission and collaboration with the special forces unit.

Our commander was a young major who was trained in the Shah's special forces mostly by British SAS and American Delta Force officers. He was an exceptional soldier and his cool demeanor gave the younger guys a tranquility that we were so thirsty during those terrible days of the war.

A black Huey helicopter picked us up, escorted by two Cobra attack helicopters.  After a 45-minute ride the helicopter dropped us off at the designated zone. We walked for a good hour and spotted the target. The depot seemed exceptionally quiet as if it was an abandoned tree house. We were divided into groups of three. Two went through the back, two to the side and me and another soldier went towards the front.

As I tip-toed towards the entrance, my finger playing with the the trigger of my MP-5  assault rifle, I came across an Iraqi soldier who was sleeping. He had a smile on his face, his helmet still on and his hand on his stomach.

For a second, I stumbled, I aimed at his heart, but my finger was still only playing with the trigger and not wanting to press any harder. The thirty second decision I had to make seemed like thirty years.

I suddenly saw him at home, with his wife and his kids playing with him. I saw him with his mother, embracing him. I saw him playing soccer with his friends. And in thirty seconds I was to end all that with a bullet that traveling from my weapon at a speed of 1000m/s at close range, shredding his skin, ripping his blood vessels and ending his life.

Many have been told about an approximate time of death from a terminal illness. But few of us have been in a situation where we would decide someone's life. And now, at 23, I was about to face this situation. 

Why am I doing this? What has this person done to me? I shot him, the quite "bleep" from my rifle's silencer was testimony to this act.
When returning to our base, the other four were cracking jokes. Behraad and I were quite. We could see the others had probably killed before.We were in shock. I had taken a life without any provocation. To this day I remember the face of the sleeping soldier who's life I took away.

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By Pesare Gol





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