I Am A Marine
And I Am A Person
By: Kyle Parrish

In honor of Veteran's Day 2014 we reached out to local Veterans for their story written in their words. This is one of those stories. We hope it touches your heart as much as it has ours.
-Kilgore Magazine

I served in the U.S. Marines starting November 11th, 2001. I was in the DEP program until I graduated from high school. After graduating boot camp in San Diego I went to Pensacola, Florida and then to Jacksonville, Florida for my advanced/tech training. My first duty station was New River Air Station. I was with MALS-26 as an aviation mechanic. I left for Iraq in February of 2004. 

I am a Marine and I dreamed of serving my country first without thinking about the cost. The cost meant nothing to me because I love my country and what she once stood for. Secondly, I had the hopes that my country would stand behind me as I lived my life again as Kyle Parrish the person. I remember oh so clearly the bombs going off and watching my comrade’s fall and oh what I would have given for it to be me and not them. 

I have a wonderful wife Alisha and kiddos and a daughter on the way and I am so excited for what the future holds, but I want so badly to erase the past. I am not saying erase the past of my being a Marine, I would never say that, but the past that haunts me daily, the pain both mentally and physically. I could deal with this pain on my own, but now this pain is passed on to my wife that I love dearly and my children. That hurts even more. 

Where are you America when I need you? I gave my life for all you stand/stood for and all I want ask in return is for you to stand by your promise to me. I need help for the damage my body sustained and I know that only God can help me with the mental/spiritual damage that the war burned into my mind. Am I asking for too much? America, I am a Marine, but I have a name and it is Sgt. Kyle Parrish.

I remember the horrific mortar attacks that would come daily while I was serving in a foreign land while hoping that I would somehow make a difference in the hearts of the people who I wanted to experience freedom. The question remains is did they really want to be free or was I fighting for nothing? I woke up to mortar rounds exploding around me and I have that image of my friend’s lives being taken from the explosions. God please wake me up and please tell me this was all a really bad dream. God please erase the images that have been burned into my mind so that I can just be good ole Kyle once again.

We were in country during and through the main push on Fallujah. We had numerous rocket and mortar attacks during our 7 month stay. We had numerous attempts to breach the wire on the base. If the mortar rounds and explosions were not bad enough here came the sands storms that came through from Syria.  These were hell on earth. The sand left nothing untouched and left the color of red everywhere just like the blood of my comrades. The sand storms were so intense that you had to fight to breath and you could see nothing until they passed and left their mark on everything in their path. I was sent (Iraq) in February of 2004 and we set up the Al Anbar Provience Air base. We fortified the base and all buildings left on the base.

As if the war were not bad enough, we were around and exposed to asbestos and other forms of insulation from the bombed buildings while cleaning up and preparing for the aircraft to start arriving. There were also open burn pits along with oil well fires outside the main base. The water we had to use was unsafe to drink, yet we still had to use it for bathing and washing clothes. If the war did not take me and my comrades the elements that I was exposed to had the potential to do what the mortars did not.

I got home with the hopes that all would be well again and that I would get the help that I needed to overcome these physical and mental pains from war, but I was wrong. I have had to battle with the Houston VA hospital and the Shreveport VA hospital and even the Longview VA clinic. I still stand where I was when I returned, burdened and hurting. The very people that I thought were there to help me have created a war and it is not only with me, it has been with every soldier across America. We come home with scars and they re-open the wounds by not being willing to help because they have this title called (DR) and they know everything except what we have experienced and what it takes to help us. All I want is to be Kyle Parrish the husband, the father and the mechanic again and the friend, but this system called the VA only caused me to hurt again and remind me of the war that I once lived in.

You see you can’t cover up what I have seen with a pill because it is burned into my mind, and that pill you give me to forget numbs me. When you can’t feel pain it hurts even worse because it causes more damage. You can help me overcome it by love and compassion and that is something that VA doctors can’t prescribe because they have hardened their hearts. You see, my name is not Sgt. Kyle Parrish to them, to the VA system I am just my last name with my last four digits of my social security number. This not only affects me and my fellow soldiers, it affects my/our families and our America. For those in the VA system who fight for us I thank you!

“ Hello I am Sgt. Kyle Parrish, I am a Marine, I am a person and I love my America.”

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