have courage. take heart. bear witness.
"I come from a family of soldiers."
Actually, two families—the one Patrick Lowe was born into, and the one he enlisted in. For twelve years he was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, one of the US military's Special Operations Forces.
"The military gave me a home. I found a place where I was like a lot of other people, and would never have left if I hadn't gotten myself so injured that they no longer needed my service."
Patrick now lives with his wife and children, yet a part of him still belongs to his Army family. He is, in effect, a citizen of two worlds, civilian and military, each with its own set of rules and traditions, values and beliefs. In some ways those worlds correspond, but in other, essential, ways they stand in fierce contradiction. Because of Patrick's commitment and allegiance to both, there are times he feels himself divided between the two.
Recorded in Coquille, Oregon, December 2008.
"Who I am now is made up of who I was, but that's an entirely different part of my life that I don't visit that often anymore. I have found that the me who I was, was an extremely cruel, mean person. So, at this point, there's truly two me's. There's the me that has two children and a wife and is retired, and then there's the me that was a soldier. And the farther I get away from it, I find that it's easier for me to deal with who I was, by being who I am now."
* * * * *
"There's a lot about me that I'm really glad that no one knows about. I can walk down the street, and you guys can pass me and you're not shielding your children from me. Because in some respects I am a monster. I have done things that we're not supposed to do. I have been taught every method of stopping a person that was available to the United States military when I was in. And every single one of those memories doesn't go away."
"I have seen soldiers die in almost every way imaginable. There's the obvious ones of bullets and grenades and artillery rounds and that kind of stuff, which is kind of part and parcel for war. But I've seen more people die in training accidents, than I've ever seen die in war, personally."
* * * * *
"I always taught my men to understand that the equipment that we use was designed to kill and it didn't matter who it killed. It could kill the bad guy, or it could kill you. And the moment your attention wanders, the moment that you are some place other than the moment, it will kill you or seriously injure you, sure as rain."
Caution: Please be aware that this conversation includes graphic descriptions of combat, injury, or death.