Hello all, I guess I should start this painful introduction process*Insert big sigh here.* I was a machine gunner in a route clearance patrol in Baghdad of 09' for three months when orders came down to shift theater to RC South Helmand Province and surrounding areas. I'm sure we could all write a novel on our experiences so I'll keep it as short as possible. I tend to think too much about what I'm saying for fear of coming off as self absorbent. We drove 5 to 10 miles an hour down dirt roads known to have IED's. Well I wished for contact and even wished to shift to Afghanistan in general due to not much going on for us in 09 Iraq. I got everything I asked for from this deployment and feel extremely foolish now that I find it hard to cope. We all got vehicle strikes from pressure plate IED's. We worked with the Marines, British, Canadians, Romanians, etc... I used to say before each mission if it was going to be bad just end it quick. We started losing people from our sister company from blasts of 1500IB's buried in culverts. I knew them or at least of them and had even been through basic with one. One blast would take 5 friends. So it was always on my mind as we did not right seat ride with anyone we came in and laid the ground work for operations by stopping at camps and fob's asking for routes to clear. When my friends started dying I started not wearing a helmet, being out for revenge wanting to confront the men who wanted to kill us and giving them justice. Once our company lost its first man, from another platoon. I stopped handing candy out to children. My TC had a box of candies and I got fed up one day with him telling me to throw candy I threw out the whole box. Sangin, Valley had the greatest effect on me as when we came through briefly we caught the most contact we had seen. The British said it was like driving through the O.K gun coral. So it was odd that the town was empty as we passed at night clearing and escorting supplies to the patrol bases. We pulled 360 security in a huge dry river bed in the middle of Sangin it felt like. I stayed on the gun all night. Saw nothing. As the sun started to come up the supply convoy linked back up with us and we started to push back out of there. Having no clue that the enemy had set up an ambush and monitored us the entire night. We pushed through the complex attack initiated by a blast to our right, as I scanned for someone to shoot at I could not see anything just hear the roar of machine guns and mark 19's peppering compounds randomly it seemed. My knees kept buckling as rounds cracked over head I franticly scanned but I was standing on noodles. I threw my helmet on. And we pushed out. The next time we entered Sangin, the lead truck was hit and broke as designed to from a deep buried in a small culvert. There was a man standing in the field to the left side of the road. I was told to monitor him as he was just standing awkwardly while bombs were detonating in the area. Rest of the town was a ghost town. I yelled at him through the gunner hatch and told him to come to me. He spit at me made a hand gesture and turned and ran. I aimed and was ready to pull the trigger when I was ordered to stand down. Frustrated and terrified I had the gut feeling he was a trigger man strung out on some heavy drugs. It just didn't add up. He looked like he knelt and picked something up then stood behind a compound wall in between some mud huts and continued to watch us from the shade of a tree. The second vehicle struck an IED and radio comms went out. The British gunner behind me fired a burst near the mans position and he did not budge. I leaned in on my 240's iron sights and fired a burst which missed by inches and cut down a branch by his head. He made a movement and I corrected and fired another burst and after the flash there was just a wall and two mud huts behind it. No longer did I see a man. A chill up my spine came from the guys in my vehicle's reaction of excitement and awe. I realized in that split second I had taken a life and began to question my karma immediately. But I did not get the chance to confirm. As soon as the recovery came to pick up the vehicle that had been hit as I was staring into the field lost in thought. RPG's started flying in from the field as soon as the first few men dismounted. We got into an 8 hour firefight which was only stopped due to air support coming on station. Couldn't see a single enemy. Just rockets and rounds flying at us. I returned fire by shooting into trees and bushes as the MK-19's again peppered compounds. When we made it to the patrol base there was a hill near us as we stood by the vehicles outside the wire. As we ate our MRE's the locals gathered in a group up the burial hill and buried the dead as we watched. I was non-deployable after returning home and diagnosed for PTSD. Nightmares, drinking, the usual symptoms. I had such a problem sleeping and went through periods of denial for taking medication that when half a non prescribed percocet was offered to me I took it in hopes to get a good nights rest before Fridays run. It was a surprise 100 percent piss test and I was booted out after serving 59 days extra duty for telling off a squad leader as well. Now as a civilian a few years after the fact. I went to work in a slaughter house shoveling hog guts and burning blood. To unemployed living off disability. Recently I have considered going to an underwater diver/welding school. I spend my days locked in a room staring at a screen to stay out of trouble. If you read this I appreciate your time. I feel like a little girl as I type this out here, considering others traumatic events. I feel weak that I have allowed this to effect me enjoying life. But refuse to let it stop me if that makes any sense. Basically I'm a stubborn ass. I haven't taken medication in over a year. And do not visit the VA. In public I feel a sense of urgency. Even buying cigarettes is a challenge. And I bawl my eyes out at least once a week lol. Last time I went to the VA the next thing I knew I ended up in an emergency room waiting for a shrink on call who offered me perscribtions. Ridiculous. Black.