Guest Writer Donna Zephrine: Weapons Accountability

Donna Zephrine is a writer and poet who served two tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army.

I am very fortunate to be able to post her work on blogground and I hope she will share more with us in the future.

More writings by Donna Zephrine can be found at http://warwriterscampaign.org

Weapons Accountability

“Every successful person has a painful story.”

I am Specialist Zephrine and I served two tours of duty in Iraq.  During my second deployment in Iraq, we received a lot of RPG’s (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices).  At all times on base, your weapon must be with you and you sleep with it at night.  I was standing on base breathing in the hot evening air, when I went to reach for my m-16 weapon and realized it was not on me.  My heart started racing and I began sweating.

With the constant rapid movement and stressful environment, I didn’t realize that my weapon was missing.  I felt like I had let everybody down and put them in jeopardy.  As soon as I announced that my weapon was missing, my fellow soldiers began frantically searching for my weapon. A misplaced weapon could get into the hands of the enemy.  The entire company would have to be locked down until the missing weapon is recovered.   I could feel the tension in the air.  I was so disappointed in myself.

I was standing here at this moment not able to describe what had just happened and what words I would convey to my squad leader of misplacing my weapon.

Due to my negligence, I received counselling with monthly conduct reports.  I could see the disappointment in my squad leader’s face as he spoke to me about the severity of protecting our weapons.  Punitive action could have been brought against me, resulting in a less than honorable discharge.  At that given moment I could have been sent home.

I realize now that I had not been focused. I was in a war zone, scared and rushing trying to do my job. My weapon, which is my first defense against sudden attack, was not on my mind.  SSG Gray helped me make it through the difficulty caused by my negligence.  I learned that my weapon is personal; it is just as important as my arms and legs.

After the incident I pledged to guard my weapon with my life, just as it protects me. When dressing, I place my weapon in front of my body.  I always know where it is.   I named my weapon “Ravi.”

I will always keep the Warrior Ethos in my mind and heart. I especially the part that states, “I will always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.”

I know that I will never again forget my, right arm, my friend, my protector, “Ravi.”

About Frances Wiedenhoeft

After a lifetime in nursing, anesthesia and the Army I now write, blog, attend school for journalism and massage, and watch my 3 grandchildren. I am a veteran of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan and try to serve other vets such as myself, and to work for peace.
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