(Letter from Mark Rickert)
September 14th, 2003
Hey Daddy Merle,
...We started packing up the convoy when two Iraqis walked onto the
compound waving at us (they must have seen the shovels.) We couldn't
understand what they were saying, but when they pointed us to a mound
near the main road, the CID agents grabbed their shovels and headed over to
the area. Until that point we'd been talking and joking around, but when the
agents started digging, an uneasy silence fell over everyone there. The wind
started blowing hot sand in our faces, and that old Iraqi watched with his
hands folded behind his back. A few of us wondered if his ken were buried
I started taking pictures. When they pulled a femur bone from the
hole I almost dropped my camera. One of the agents pulled out a skull and
held it up. There was a bullet hole directly between its eye sockets. They
even found the slug that killed the victim. It was flattened out and about the
size of a quarter.
They dug up bones for the next hour and unearthed the skeletal
remains of two bodies. The reason they do this is to document war crimes.
There's a forensic science officer on the team who assesses the evidence and
looks for war atrocities. At this point, it was too early for them to say
whether this was a war crime or not, and it takes three bodies to make it a
legitimate "mass" gravesite. But the eerie part was what the forensics
officer said when he showed us the skull and the slug that had shattered it:
"This guy took one between the eyes. He knew what his killer looked like."
That made it all clear somehow. These bones belonged to someone
who had a life once, who had a family and people who loved him, only to be
shot in the face and buried in the middle of the desert without a headstone or
any trace that he ever existed.
Take care of yourself Daddy Merle.