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Killing for the thrill? Is that what soldiers serving in Iraq do?

Itzcoatl Ocampo is 23-year-old, a slender former Marine, and was considered a troubled man after he returned from Iraq in 2008.   Itzcoatl’s father, Refugio Ocampo, said that his son came back from his deployment a changed man:  his son expressed disillusionment and became ever darker as he struggled to find his way. After Itzcoatl was discharged in 2010 and returned home, his parents separated.  So what’s new here?

A neighbor, a Vietnam veteran, and Ocampo’s father both tried to encourage Itzcoatl to get treatment at a veterans’ hospital, but he refused.  The same month, one of Itzcoatl’s friends, a corporal, was killed during combat in Afghanistan, and Ocampo visited his friend’s grave twice a week.  Again, what’s new in this story?

A newspaper in SANTA ANA (California) reported “An Iraq war veteran charged with stabbing to death four homeless men in Southern California was a thrill seeker who took pleasure in killing his victims, prosecutors said Wednesday”.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters outside a jailhouse courtroom that 23-year-old suspect Itzcoatl Ocampo appeared lucid, calm and intelligent and showed no signs of mental illness.  Rackauckas said“He gets a thrill out of it. This is a serious, vicious killer who went out there intentionally going about killing people and terrorizing a whole area.”

Ocampo was charged Tuesday with four counts of murder and special allegations of multiple murders and lying in wait and use of a deadly weapon. Three victims were stabbed more than 40 times each, with a single-edged blade at least 7-inches (17-centimeters) long, authorities said.

After the brief hearing, defense attorney Randall Longwith declined to comment on the allegations and said his main concern was gaining access to Ocampo, who was being held in a medical ward, wearing only underwear and wrapped in a blanket designed to prevent him from hurting himself, and denied visitors.

Longwith told reporters: “We’re just concerned that he hasn’t really had access to an attorney or to anyone at this point.  He seems very scared.”

Ocampo was arrested Friday night when bystanders chased him down after a man was stabbed to death outside a fast-food restaurant in Anaheim, about 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. He was caught with blood on his hands and face. Authorities have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

Ocampo will be given a psychological evaluation and is being held in isolation and monitored around the clock to prevent him from hurting himself or being harmed by other inmates, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the county sheriff’s department.

The killing spree began in December and prompted police to fan out across the county known as the home to Disneyland and multimillion-dollar beachfront homes to urge the homeless to sleep in groups or in one of two wintertime shelters.

Police allege that Ocampo would stalk each of his victims, then stab them repeatedly with a knife that could cut through bone. He selected his last victim, 64-year-old John Berry, after he was featured in a Los Angeles Times story about the killing spree, prosecutors said.

Berry filed a police report the day before he died, saying he feared he was being stalked, but officers didn’t have a chance to follow up amid a flood of nearly 600 leads and tips.

“It is unfortunate that we didn’t get to him before the suspect did,” Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said.  Like the homeless men Ocampo is accused of preying on, Itzcoatl’s father is also homeless. His father lost his job and ended up living under a bridge before finding shelter in the cab of a broken-down big-rig he is helping to repair.

Days before his arrest, Ocampo visited his father, warning him of the danger of being homeless. He showed him a picture of one of the slain men, his father said. “He was very worried about me,” his father said. “I told him, ‘Don’t worry. I’m a survivor. Nothing will happen to me.'”

Note 1https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/i-am-returning-home-crippled-from-iraq-after-the-battlefield-suffering/

Note 2:  Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

I am returning home Crippled from Iraq: After the Battlefield suffering

Do you believe in official statistics on war casualties?

If the US government states that about 4,500 US soldiers died in the war in Iraq, do you think the government will admit how many “supporting” participants in the war died?

Like all these “private security” members and transport personnel, and daily maintenance of the troops…? They are not “officially” soldiers and they don’t count in the tally.

Would the government states the number of seriously injured, crippled for life, handicapped…

In general, for every killed “warrior” you have 4 folds as many who fell as injured, mostly severely injured.

How about the US official statistics that at least 125,000 Iraqi died during this war? 

Any figures for the “collateral casualties” among Iraqi civilians? What could be the real number?

And the internal war is not over in Iraq…

Is the UN ready to submit its report on the number of casualties?  What of these one million Iraqis who are crippled and handicapped? Who is taking care of them? With what budget? With what medical personnel and tools and medicines for a life-time?

Next year, the US will eventually withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, and the same story will be discussed and analyzed.

The case of Afghanistan is not less terrible: this nation has been at war since 1980.

The US can withdraw troops at will in these “wars of choice“, decided by the 1% elite class in the “war industry” and the plunderer of other nations raw materials and oil.. and open market…

How can the Iraqi society and the Afghani society withdraw from this extended war, of picking up the pieces and tending to their crippled, their poorer communities...?

David Wood wrote Beyond The Battlefield: The War Goes on for the Severely Wounded.  He is HuffPost’s senior military correspondent, and spent 9 months speaking with severely wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wood interviewed more than two dozen military surgeons, combat medics, rehabilitation therapists, prosthetics engineers, nurses, operating room technicians and medical officials at the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and military hospitals and treatment facilities across the country.

“I have been scared much of my professional life,” writes David in the book. He does not go about his work as a dispassionate fact-finder: much of Beyond the Battlefield’s power comes from David’s willingness to empathize. He is in awe of the acts of strength and grace he witnesses, and he does not try to hide it.

Wood writes: “As a war correspondent I have seen wounded men rescued like this from the battlefield, an intense and gratifying experience. But I always wondered: “What happened to them next? How did they fare, and what was it like for them, and what are their lives like now?”

For example, David met Tyler Southern (22-year-old Marine Corps corporal who lost both legs and an arm to an IED in Afghanistan),  James Stoddard (19-year-old Navy Corpsman who saved Tyler’s life, quickly harnessing tourniquets where his limbs had been, plunging an IV needle into his remaining arm and helping lift him onto a medevac helicopter), Luana Schneider (whose 22-year-old son Scott Stephenson was critically burned in a bomb blast in Iraq. Luana lived with Scott in a tiny hotel room adjacent to the hospital and dressed his wounds twice a day…), Lisa Fierro (who strives to retain a sense of normalcy for her two young sons after her husband Robert is shot in the head in Iraq)…

Lisa Fierro said: “I was determined for the kids that this not be the kind of thing where they’d look back and say, ‘Well, we had a great childhood until my dad got shot”. I wanted it to be, ‘We had a great childhood and my dad got shot and we got to go to D.C. for a month and we had a great time!'”

Courage is not confined to combat, and heroes don’t always wear uniforms in this sordid, ugly business of war.” David noted: He notes that as insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have perfected IEDs, the number of U.S. soldiers suffering the traumatic loss of their legs and genitals has increased.

As the chief physical therapist for amputees at Walter Reed Medical Center tells David, the first question many patients ask when they wake up is, “Are they still there?”

You can get Beyond the Battlefield, which was created and distributed using BookBrewer, at AmazoniTunesBarnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Note:  The HuffPost’s published its latest e-book, Beyond The Battlefield: The War Goes on for the Severely Wounded, by David Wood.

David has a Quaker background and he is a conscientious objector. David spent many years  covering wars.

In 41 years as a working journalist, he has covered war and conflict in three dozen countries, flown on B-52 and B-1 bombers, and embedded with U.S. forces in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. As HuffPost’s senior military correspondent, David spent nine months speaking with severely wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through Wood’s portraits of wounded soldiers, their loved ones and their caretakers, and through his portrayals of the dangerous conditions in which they serve and the trying world to which they return, David has crafted an immensely valuable mosaic of a vital segment of American life.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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