The Horrors of War Never Die

‘Shade It Black’: The Bodybaggers of Iraq

War is disgusting and horrific. It never leaves the people who were involved in it. The damage is far greater than the lists of casualties or cost in dollars.
Jess Goodell volunteered when she was a Marine to work in the corps’ mortuary affairs unit in Iraq. Her job was to collect the bodies and body parts of fallen fellow Marines. She wrote a book about the experience called “Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq.” Here are excerpts from Goodell’s book and Chris Hedges’ interview with the author, read by classically trained actor and Truthdig contributor Eunice Wong.  This reading originally aired on Truthdig Radio.

Transcript:
We went through everything. We would get everything that the body had on it when the Marine died. Everyone had a copy of The Rules of Engagement in their left breast pocket. You found notes that people had written to each other. You found lists. Lists were common, the things they wanted to do when they got home or food they wanted to eat. The most difficult was pictures. Everyone had a picture of their wife or their kids or their family. And then you had the younger kids who might be 18 years old and they had prom pictures or pictures next to what I imagine were their first cars. Everyone had a spoon in their flak jacket. There were pens and trash and wrappers and MRE food. All of it would get sent back [to the Marines’ homes]. Continue reading