Did I Kill Anyone in Iraq? The Truth Is, I’ll Never Know.
In the murky world of modern warfare, I'm far from the only one who wonders if any of my bullets ever took out a civilian.
Videos by Eric Fernandez | Illustrations by Casey Roonan
I was driving home late one night when my brother called, slurring drunk. He wanted to know if I had ever killed anyone.
The question didn’t surprise me. In the decade since returning from Iraq, I’ve found that it’s the one thing family, friends, girlfriends, bosses and colleagues want to know most, though few of them pose the question directly.
My mom was the first. A landlord once asked me while signing a lease for a garage apartment in Berkeley. It’s not an easy question to answer. It seems that some people want you to say yes, but most are relieved to hear you say no. I told that landlord it was none of his business. I told my mother no. As for my brother, I could be honest with him. And the truth is, I’m not sure.
I have one memory in mind, a ten-second reel of Samarra: storefront dioramas flashing by, an angry crowd, a single shot down an alleyway, and the blank, accusing look on the face of an Iraqi man standing on the sidewa…