I wonder if this is a PTSD issue
Hey, them WMD's ain't under my
After three years of war, many who served in Iraq are returning home to face a different kind of battle. And the casualties this time are American families.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The Fourth of July had fizzled into a tense fifth at the tidy two-story Hillsboro home. Outside, water shimmered blue in the backyard pool and bicycles lay on the lawn. Inside, William R. Stout Jr.stepped toward his wife.
"Give me the gun," he demanded.
Thirteen-year-old Samantha Stout pushed between her parents. Sam was petite for her age, but her voice was strong. "Dad," she said, "stop it!"
"Dad and I are just trying to talk," Wendy Stout recalls saying. "Go into the other room."
"I just want to clean my gun," police reported the father of two saying. He'd started with a beer that summer evening and then moved on to four tumblers of Jack Daniel's and Coke. Then he demanded his 9 mm Makarov.
"It's not here, Bill," Wendy recalls saying. The relief that the 40-year-old woman felt at having her husband return from Iraq nine months earlier had dissolved in his dark moods and the growing realization that he could hurt himself. Wendy was worried enough to have taken Bill's old pistol from its bedroom hiding place, wrapped it in a plastic bag and shoved it under the back deck.
"Give me the gun," he barked again. He smacked the electric fan, sending it skittering across the floor. Sammy's little sister, Maggie, 10, started to cry. Their dad never hit anyone or anything.
Suddenly, Bill grabbed his wife's left wrist. The girls screamed.
Wendy snatched the telephone, dialing 9-1-1 and crying out for help "Now!" Minutes later, Hillsboro police pounded across the freshly stained porch to the front door.
Bill slammed out the back. The Oregon Army National Guardsman limped across the large and well-used backyard. He passed the girls' tiny playhouse and his prized garden of tomatoes, beans and corn, now weed-choked and abandoned. He headed to his motorcycle shed as he had every summer day since returning from Iraq, barricading himself behind a wall of head-busting heavy metal music and the stale smell of alcohol.
As police officers stood before the barbecue grill and lawn chairs, Bill "appeared to be in a trance and remembering the events in Iraq." He didn't want to be ambushed, they said in their official report, by them -- or the Iraqis. Then, as police watched, Sgt. Stout pulled out his cell phone and called in help.
It was nearly 11 p.m. when Sgt. 1st Class Phillip "Vince" Jacques of the Oregon Army National Guard heard the phone and knew any call that late was important. He picked up.
The two men were an unlikely pair to call each other "brothers." Jacques was nearly 8 inches taller and 80 pounds heavier than Stout. He'd served as a paratrooper in the Persian Gulf War and a platoon sergeant in the current Iraq war. He left a Baghdad hospital with a Purple Heart for his wounds and a Bronze Star for his meritorious service. But his real distinction was how he cared for his men. And Stout was his man, his own "Jack Russell terrier," as Jacques called him, the go-to, gung-ho team leader counted on to blast through a dangerous door first.
When a bomb powerful enough to wreck an M1 tank exploded under Jacques' armored Humvee a year earlier, it was Stout who leapt into the twisted wreckage and, under fire, pulled his platoon leader and a critically injured gunner free.
The Hillsboro police officers waited as Sgt. Stout circled the yard, talking on the cell phone. On his left arm, his wife's name, "Wendy," was clearly tattooed as a ribbon around a small, vibrant red heart. On his right arm was the title of a Metallica rock anthem to American infantrymen: "Disposable Heroes."
He wanted the gun, he finally told an officer, because it made him feel safe. "You don't know what happened in Iraq," he said, growing agitated. Police moved in with handcuffs. Then Bill Stout, the father who sent flowers to his daughters' classrooms every Valentine's Day, the stand-up neighbor and gentle husband, was booked on two counts of felony assault.
Wendy Stout cried at Hallmark commercials, but she watched dry-eyed as police led her husband past her. "Don't look," she recalls saying to her daughters.
But Samantha and her sister could not help themselves. Maggie's anguish carried across the green grass as the strongest man in their world hunched in the patrol car.
"Daddy is crying," she sobbed. "Daddy is crying."
posted by Steve @ 2:09:00 PM