from AlterNet / Salon
Hearing Garett Reppenhagen describe how he felt the first time he shot someone is like listening to an addict talk about his first time injecting heroin. “I leveled my M-4, put him in my iron sights, and took three shots. One of them hit him center mass and he went down in the middle of the road. I had this instant sense of satisfaction, overwhelming excitement and pride. It was really kind of an ecstatic feeling that I had.”
I had just seen the film “American Sniper,” the revisionist propaganda piece of myth-making and nationalistic war porn being sold to us by Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Jason Hall as an apolitical character study. I wanted to talk with an actual American sniper, and Garett was generous enough to pick up the phone. (He’s also written for Salon.)
Garett has a lot in common with Chris Kyle. Both entered the military at an older age; both spent endless hours on rooftops, in windows or in trash piles in Iraq, “doing their job”; both were in Iraq in 2004 hunting al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; and both spent time after active duty trying to help veterans.
The similarities end there.
I’ll admit, listening to Garett talk about his first kill, taking place when he was ambushed and life presented him a clear choice — kill or be killed — I’m a touch envious. Life rarely offers us such moments of clarity. As haunted as Garett and others who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder are because of events like this one, he was describing a moment so simple and so heightened because of that simplicity.