Collective US Army Interview with Nick Hackworth
NH: I’m just gonna ask each one of you, and we’ll go through really quickly. If you just give me your name, your age, how long you’ve been in the army, and where you’re from. We’ll just start like that.
BL: I’m Ben Lindsey, and I’m 21. I’ve been in the army for about three-and-a-half years. I’m from Indiana.
SB: Steven Bell, 31, eight years in the army, Valparaiso, Indiana.
WM: Wayne Masher, 37 years old, been in the army for a little over thirteen years, and from Indiana.
NH: OK, everyone’s from Indiana. Is that right?
ER: Eric Roth, twenty-three years old, been in the army about three-and-a-half years. I’m from Evansville, Indiana.
JM: I’m Jason Missey, I’m 20, I’ve been in the army for three years, and I’m from Floyd Knobs, Indiana. Southern Indiana.
TS: I’m Tim Summers, I’m 38, I’ve been in the army about two-and-a-half years, and I’m from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
MP: I’m Matthew Price, I’m 23, I’ve been in the military for five years. Evansville, Indiana.
NH: OK. Now, favourite bands?
JM: Uh, Led Zeppelin, probably. Um—, I don’t know my favourite song.
NH: OK, I’m gonna ask each one of you for a favourite band, favourite song, favourite book, and favourite film.
JM: Favourite book, it would have to be the Bible, of course! [Laughs] What were the other questions? Favourite film? The Life of David Gale’s a very good movie. Led Zeppelin’s my favourite band, and my favourite song would have to be ‘When the Levee Breaks,’ probably.
TS: Favourite song, uh—, I’m tryna think. I dunno, ‘Legs,’ ZZ-Top.
NH: And they’d be your favourite band as well, ZZ-Top?
TS: Well, Metallica actually, they’re probably my second favourite. Favourite book? Uh—, Lord of the Rings? And film: Star Wars.
MP: Favourite band? It was Creed. Haven’t found a new one yet. [Laughs] Higher was the song. Favourite movie is Lord of the Rings, all three of them, and my favourite book so far I’ve read is Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy.
SB: Favourite band? U2. Favourite song: pretty much anything from U2. Favourite movie: Vanilla Sky. Favourite book—: I don’t have one.
BL: Favourite band: The Format. Tie the Rope would be the song.
NH: I don’t know them. What are The Format like? What kind of music?
BL: It’s sort of alternative, indie-rock. Favourite book would be—, I don’t really read that much, so no favourite book. Favourite movie would have to be Roadhouse.
WM: Favourite band: Metallica. The song: Back to the Front. Favourite movie: Full Metal Jacket, and favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird.
ER: Favourite band—, I’d have to say AC/DC. Favourite song: Have a Drink on Me. Favourite book: Band of Brothers. Favourite film? Hmm—, Hamburger Hill.
NH: Now, the group discussion, really quick. I’m just going to ask you about some of your experiences in Afghanistan, and also about joining up to the army. Basically, what made you guys join, and what kind of other careers did you think about? Was it always something you were going to do, join the army?
BL: I think since I was a little kid, I always wanted to join the army, but I didn’t want the commitment of active duty yet, so I joined the National Guard.
NH: Were you thinking about other careers as well?
BL: Uh—, nothing else really! [Laughs]
MP: I joined the military to see what it was like. I joined the National Guard so I could go to college. I’d also like to try to become a master chef one day, and become an accountant.
NH: Those are things you’d like to afterwards?
NH: So you plan to stay in the army for a certain period, and then—?
MP: Well, I’m gonna get out, finish my degree, and probably go back in and become an officer.
NH: OK. Has anyone here got a military background in their family?
WM: I’ve got a relative that fought in the civil war, and then a couple of uncles that fought in Vietnam. It was just kind-of a family tradition that kept rolling.
NH: So a lot of the males in your family were in the army?
NH: You’re the same?
ER: Yeah, same here too. I have one grandfather who was in World War One, and from then on out, my grandfather on my mum’s side of the family, he was in the service, so was my father, and pretty much all my uncles were in the service, and I just followed along, kept the tradition going.
NH: In terms of being here specifically in Afghanistan, when you all get sent somewhere as soldiers, how much do you debate it amongst yourselves, where you should get sent and shouldn’t? Is that something you guys talk about amongst yourselves?
WM: No, there’s really no debate. We all signed a contract, and it’s an obligation we take seriously, so anywhere that the military wants to send us is where we’re going.
NH: Does everyone agree with that? Is there anyone who’s had a debate?
MP: [inaudible]... hoping Bush wins. [Laughs]
NH: I think he’s probably won, right? He’s probably won already.
MP: I think he’s won, yeah. Need to go and check online real quick.
NH: Is Bush pretty popular amongst the troops? I think I know what the answer is, but you tell me.
NH: Why would Bush be popular and Kerry not? What would Kerry, if he had won, which he’s not going to, what would that have—?
MP: Republicans and Democrats have a view on the military, and Democrats cut back on the military. The Republicans increase our pay, and give us more money to help train us.
NH: Is that also a reflection of what you think the two parties mean on the ‘War on Terror,’ and of how effective they are at prosecuting that?
SB: I think they’d probably have the same viewpoint of what they want, but I think Republicans on the one hand would be more apt to spend more money to fund the military for their operations.
NH: So, in other words, they would put more financial muscle behind—
SB: They would put more financial muscle behind it. The Democrats would probably want to do the same thing, probably with less financial aid.
NH: And what’s your experience of Afghanistan been? I don’t know to what extent you’ve got to speak to people, locals, but what have your impressions been?
BL: The people are very friendly. They’re very friendly to us. They want us here.
TS: And the other thing is–, I mean you’ll go out–, the children that we saw this afternoon, I mean we’ll go out there sometimes and we’ll take candy and water and this and that. It’s a really good feeling to see the smile on their face when you hand them that stuff, because it’s really unfortunate that they have to live that way. That’s probably the biggest impact on me. The good thing is that if we can help the Afghanistan military build itself up to take care of itself, then I think that it’s a really good positive thing that we’re doing here.
NH: Has there actually been any trouble for you here? Have you guys been involved in any fighting, or problems at all? It’s all been pretty quiet, right?
NH: Okay, well, that’s a good note to end on then!