Stateside With Rosalea: No Child Left Behind
No Child Left Behind
"My definition of leading a successful life would leave me with a good job, a nice place to live, a great soulmate, and my own family." - Karl R. Linn
Today, the United States celebrates Fathers Day. Some young men will never become fathers. Here is the story of one of them, in his own words, annotated by his father. I am grateful to Richard Linn for sharing this with me, and hope I have treated it with due respect.
It explains so much about the complexities of this world we're living in that I urge you to read it all.
Karl had a number of thoughts about the whole international terrorism situation, and military service.
It all seems to have started on Sept. 11, 2001, when I received an email from Karl from the high school:
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 11:11 AM
I'm typing this at school during lunch. I went through the webmail backdoor, because the school isp blocks most communication sites. If you don't already know, a bunch of planes, passengers and all, were hijacked and made kamikaze runs. First one plowed into the World Trade Center, causing one tower to collapse. A second plane, looked like a 737 or something slammed into the second one shortly thereafter. A little after 1030 we got to a classroom that was picking up the news, and right after that we saw the second tower go. Titus pulled the cable, doesn't want the school panicking, but word is moving faaaaast. Also, a commuter plane hit teh pentagon, all key government officials are being evacuated, bush is on his way home. Unconfirmed reports state that a car bomb went off outside the state department. FAA has grounded everything and fighters can be seen scrambling. A few hijacked planes are still missing, another jet crashed earlier in the day a short distance from the airport, but no one is sure whether or not its related. 1 palestinian group has so far claimed responsibility, but they all try to be proud and stupid. The real perpetrators would know that once the US finds out, they would be incinerated into the stone age. This is an amazingly well coordinated attack, focusing on the major symbols of the free world, all within 1 hour. All the history teachers have studied and have known that there is gap in recent years that should be filled by a war, not just a little gulf war. Even I knew it was coming, but I never expected such a violent and unprecedented attack. This could easily erupt into a holy war if there are enough zealots in palestine and elsewhere, and could cause a huge conflict that could spell the end of the muslim faith. I hope it doesn't get that global, but you can be sure the world will not let this one go unpunished. This is without a doubt the biggest, most vicious act of terrorism (if not an act of war) in modern times, if not the history of mankind. Looks like Bush and the military will be getting those funds to finish research on all those new weapons and fighters scheduled for the next 8 years. Well, I'll see what's going on when i get home, most of the news sites here are normally blocked anyway by the school isp. Just let you know that we heard it too. Now that I'm done, there could have been another attempt at something, although national security forces probably would've intercepted. Nonetheless, the nation has been really jarred, and while I fear what's going to come, most of it is channeled into anger in knowing that something will happen. Take care, and buy more ammo.
Karl and another student designed and painted a mural on the wall of a history classroom at James River High School in Midlothian. It represents the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the area in Pennsylvania where UA flight 93 went down, and the rescue workers.
Recently, I came across some correspondence Karl had on various paintball message forums. He liked to chat about technical stuff and help people out with problems, and used the name "FearTheEngineer". Sometimes random chats occurred. Unfortunately, one site had some problems and lost a lot of the old postings. A few that still survive follow.
Enthusiasts paintball site.
I play paintball.
I shoot real guns as a hobby.
And I'm in the Marines.
...Thus, I make a perfect example for this thread. lol. I can assure you, though these hobbies all seem to stem from the same brain waves, there is actually no practical correlation between any of these 3 aspects of my life.
I love the sport of paintball. Speedball can be fun sometimes, though I tend to play in the woods mainly because I tend to be rather conservative when I shoot, so I don't dump out enough paint to be very effective in most speedball games. Plus, I'm half-asian, so confirming my roommate's stereotypical theorey, I enjoy being sneaky. Now, for the few of you that did see the pic of my paintball gun (a home modded TL+), I had it bedded in the wooden stock of an SKS rifle (I managed to smash it about 3 weekends ago, after 3 years of faithful service... looks like I'll be spending the holiday in the wood shop). Even though it looks quite real at first glance, the "milsim" thing isn't at all what I was going for; I was simply trying to make the marker handle the way I liked it, and adapting a $2 surplus wooden stock was the cheapest and most unique way to add some kind of shoulder support.
Now, when I feel like shooting something that looks and feels like a real gun... Hell, I get a real gun and I go to the range. It generally costs about the same as playing paintball, but without any nearby rifle ranges its a bigger hassle to deal with and you can't shoot people. My small collection of east bloc rifles isn't exactly politically correct, either. On the other hand, there's something satisfying about sending a few pieces of lead downrange with a nice blast, but to actually hit your target requires the application of true marksmanship. Paintball is a game, and playing it sucessfully has absolutely nothing to do with how well I can shoot a pistol or rifle, considering the dynamics involved with the markers and their projectiles. Plus, paintball allows you to shoot at other people, which is generally not a good idea with real firearms. I do my best to keep the two sports seperate in my mind, and this is also why I think airsoft is pretty dumb... especially considering that an airsoft AK-47 is upwards of 500 bucks and my real one cost me about 250. Ha.
As far as military service goes... well, that's no joke. Certainly, I could find myself in the very near future in a situation where real rounds are coming at me, and their impact will leave a tad bit more than a welt.... This stuff is NOT a game to me, so I don't go out of my way to play games that simulate such combat. Don't get me wrong; if called to duty, I'll jump headfirst into a combat zone and do everything required to vanquish the enemy without any second thoughts, but it's still not my idea of fun. Also, the way I shoot my Soviet-style weapons on the rifle range doesn't have a whole lot to do with how I might end up shooting in combat...or not shooting, if my issued M16A2 decides not to work as they usually do. The M16A2 is far more accurate than my spyder or my AK, but... that doesn't mean much if I pull the trigger and nothing happens. I could go on forever about the deficiencies of the M16 design, and how it literally craps its pants everytime you pull the trigger, but I suppose this is not the place for that.
Well, getting back on track, what I'm saying is that I really have been there and done that, and in my honest opinion it's really quite sad that people actually spend such money on milsim markers (or airsoft, for that matter) to act out their glorious fantasies of war, or otherwise shooting people, when paintball in my mind is a completely different game because it's exactly that--a game. Country: Iraq ~ Posts: 175 ~ Member Since: 09/01/2003 ~ Last Visit: 01/11/2005
Here's a touching post from January, 2004. The forum thread was "What will happen by the year 2010?" This was in response to a guy who made a comment about the ones in "uniform" running the country, though he probably meant "suits": http://www.spyderea.net/forum/topic.asp?whichpage=0.92&TOPIC_ID=7829
Posted - 01/04/2004 : 22:14:48
Chao: Define, "people in uniform"
I serve part time in the Marines, in a combat role no less, and if the $#!7 hits the fan, I'll be one of the first on the line to die. I'm an E-2, so I don't get paid jack-squat either. And technology? My issued M16A2 rifle was built by Colt and has a very low serial number, and Colt lost the contract to build M16's for the US government to FN Manufacturing in 1988....
Hey, I agree that the "suits" who run gigantic corporate enterprises that make cutting-edge technology are more interested in money than the well-being of mankind, and frankly it disturbs me that wealth and power are becoming one. I know that sounds wierd for someone studying engineering, but I'm also buddhist, so wealth and materialism is pretty darned low on my priority list anyway.
One thing keeps popping up in my mind though... a couple years ago I swore an oath, that I would "...support and defend the Constitution of the United states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same..."
I didn't join up to be part of some government conspiracy--I joined because I thought it was just one small way that I could contribute to the people of this country... although the discipline didn't hurt much either. As I think back to that oath, something about all enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC... I wonder who is really to blame for the degredation of the American society.
My money's on the American mass media. It seems like you can't turn on the news without seeing news reports about the death and destruction, and commercials that seem to subtlely induce worthlessness or fear, offering solace in the consumption of goods and services. The way I see it, people in this country (and the attitude is spreading across the globe), are encouraged by corporations and broadcasters to spend more and acquire more stuff, inducing a sense of security in material wealth. Some things, even tradition, can have a spin put on them to make the public needlessly wary--even fearful. Why aren't houses in this country built with big front porches anymore? Probably because we know more about fictional TV characters than we do our own neighbors....
Though I think this veritable brainwashing may not have been intentional, the people who cultivate this sort of society have a lot of the general public in their pocket, and many are trying to use their positions to reshape the world the way they think it should be, not taking into account any consequence of their actions.
Given a choice and an opportunity, I'd gladly do my part to "restructure" the commercial institutions that poison the society whose flag will one day be draped over my coffin. [/rant]
Country: Iraq ~ Posts: 175 ~ Member Since: 09/01/2003 ~ Last Visit: 01/11/2005
Posted - 01/04/2004 : 22:18:43
One of the last postings was on a site for a paintball club he had joined. Several of them had or were planning to join the military. The club's founder (now in the Air National Guard) was preparing to send a field jacket to Karl to keep him warm. The same guy visited one of the guys in our platoon who was wounded and recovering at the hospital in Bethesda.
Nov 13, 2004 - posted by Karl on the Maryland Paint Militia site paintball forum.
Oh yeah, well it's kinda like this... I was supposed to leave like, 2 or 3 weeks ago, but oddly enough my battallion forgot to buy a plane ride to Iraq.... or anywhere else for that matter (yes, for some odd reason they wanted to put us on a civilian flight with M16A2's and A4's in a Tupperware container...brilliant).
We were invited to the ball, but considering the 9 of us from Charlie company were supposed to be in the sandbox months ago with the rest of our boys, we declined. Meanwhile, the guys in Fallujah are kicking ass and taking names, leveling the place with 3-round bursts and AT4's.... While all we can do is watch CNN and wonder how much more the Marine Corps can ram up our asses.... I mean, what could be a better birthday present than getting turn loose with a crap load of ammunition and an entire town?
There's still the possiblility that I will get sent by myself to one of C co's other platoons, since that's what my paperwork says, but the NCO's with me now don't intend to send me on my own to a new platoon that's been there 3 months already, even if it is a quieter part of the country.
It's funny, I signed up to be one of the First to Fight, to go to a place like Fallujah... here I am in california where nobody wants anything to do with the 9 of us stragglers, continually getting reamed while my buddies in the guard come and go to the sandbox.
I joined to shoot things and blow them up, not PT 4 or 5 times a week with 3 different companies because nobody really knows why the 9 of us are still here or who we belong to. By the time this whole adventure is over, I'll have more amazing stories about this place than Iraq; 1st CEB, otherwise known as the Career Ending Batallion.
Anyways, if I EVER make it across the atlantic in time to get a combat action ribbon or something, I'll be in touch with you guys. Til then, keep me in your prayers, because I don't think my ass can stretch any wider... it hurts... and they don't use lube... ow.....
Maryland Paint Militia
Tuesday, 16 November 2004
So uh yeah, here I am at the USO in San Diego airport. Bn forgot to pay for plane tickets, so we'll see where this goes
Maryland Paint Militia
[Karl called from Baltimore airport later that night on the way out , Nov. 16, I think it was. He was delighted to be dragging a crate of M-16s through the airport…even took pictures of the packing list with the serial numbers on it.]
He didn't have much to say over in Iraq. Correspondence was all by email and mostly routine chit-chat.
11/21/04 " …Being an engineer 'asset' means 2 things: we are to be kept completely out of harms way and we are apparently the only ones qualified to operate the M151A2 Lightweight Multipurpose Earth Excavation System (or "shovel" for short).
Biggest threat here is IED's and mines; we found some but haven't been hit by any, thankfully. …"
12/17/04 "…What I really need is a huge quantity of socks; laundry is kind of iffy here at the dam, so I need a huge supply that can last a few weeks and then the whole batch can be washed at once. I can wear the same pair of socks multiple days in the row without fear of infection, since my boots stay pretty dry; however, the smell is horrid when I take the boots off at the end of the day, so having a pair of socks for each day or 2 would probably make the room smell less butt-like. …"
1/11/04 The day he posted his web site www.karl.linn.net "… Well, I would stay up and chat a bit more about the way things are going, but I'm tired from an overnight training mission on foot with the Iraqi army, It's 4 something in the morning while I've been finishing the site, and I have a couple missions waiting for us in the morning. So... good night for now."
He did manage to Instant Message me twice on 1/20/05 and chat for awhile, even send some more pictures. We got a short 1-liner on 1/22/05 and that was all.
Karl R. Linn was killed in action on January 26, 2005, at the age of 20.
Marines from the San Diego US Marine Corps Recruit Depot unfurl a flag at a college football game, December 2004