"Philosophy has kept me grounded in conjunction with the things that I have seen in my life that have changed me drastically," Army Staff Sgt. Darrell Griffin Jr. told US News and World Report's Alex Kingsbury on March 3, 2007.
Eighteen days later, a sniper in Sadr City killed the 36-year-old squad leader of Charger Company's 3rd platoon, 2-3 Stryker Brigade.
In his original story about the Stryker Brigade, Kingsbury used just one quote from his interview with Griffin. But this week, he has published a heartbreaking and detailed profile of the man using that original interview, along with e-mails, photos, and other materials and interviews provided by Griffin's family. What emerges is a complex portrait of a thoughtful and sensitive man, one confident in his sense of duty, but not without concern for the effect the war has had on ordinary Iraqis.
Kingsbury writes of one March 5 raid he accompanied Charger Company on while embedded, reporting that the platoon entered the home of a family whose only crime was having names similar to those of wanted insurgents.
Griffin recounted the revelation he experienced during the raid later in his journal:
I noticed the mother attempting to breast feed her little baby and yet the baby continued to cry. who is a certified and well educated doctor of internal medicine educated in Iraq, told me that the mother, because she was very frightened by our presence, was not able to breast feed her baby because the glands in the breast close up due to sympathetic responses to fear and stressful situations. I then tried to reassure the mother by allowing her to leave the room and attain some privacy so that she could relax and feed her child. I felt something that had been brooding under the attained callousness of my heart for some time.
My heart finally broke for the Iraqi people. I wanted to just sit down and cry while saying I'm so, so sorry for what we had done. I had the acute sense that we had failed these people. It was at this time, and after an entire year of being deployed and well into the next deployment that I realized something. We burst into homes, frighten the hell out of families, and destroy their homes looking for an elusive enemy. We do this out of fear of the unseen and attempt to compensate for our inability to capture insurgents by swatting mosquitoes with a sledge-hammer in glass houses.
US News and World Report has provided a short video news segment about Sgt. Griffin, as well as the complete footage of his interview with Kingsbury.
Unedited 26-minute video of interview with Staff Sgt. Darrell Griffin Jr. at FOB Kalsu, March 3, 2007.