to Afghanistan and Iraq--National Guard personnel and active-duty military
alike--describe major difficulties adapting to unfamiliar surroundings
and cultures, coping with 24/7 danger and insecurity, and sorting out
ethical issues of soldiering in complex political settings. Some wish
for more intensive training in international law and military ethics,
given the need for quick decision-making under duress and the narrowed
options available in asymmetrical war settings. Others wish for greater
promotion of respect for international standards by U.S. political leaders.
Others value programs which enabled them to interact with local people
and help them meet their educational, medical, and other needs. There
is also a distrust of the media’s portrayal of the conflicts.
“So many things went wrong that night, and they
wouldn’t let us take them out.” (Video Interview,
Nappier’s persistence and devotion to serving his
country resulted in the improbable scenario of a man in his
40s with a grown child enlisting in—and being accepted
by—the Navy’s Seabees. By virtue of his six years
in the Marines beginning when he had dropped out of high school,
Nappier’s real age was knocked down to just under the
upper limit for eligibility. This was in 2000, when no one
had any idea of military deployments to a war in the Middle
East. In Iraq, Nappier kept volunteering for the most dangerous
missions, figuring he was saving one younger man with young
children from harm’s way. Though still a firm believer
in the military and the mission, Nappier does express serious
misgivings about the armored protection and amount of ammunition
he and his men were given, as well as leadership during an
engagement which resulted in two fatalities in his unit.
James N. Nappier, Jr.'s story
stories of the Global War on Terror
|“A lot of guys had families, I mean young kids at home, and I figured if I was out there, there was one less of them that had to be out there. I’d raised my family.” -- James N. Nappier, Jr.