Enlisting in the Military: A Very, Very Bad Idea

Wounded Vet: Don’t Die for Arms Industry Profits in Ukraine, China

by Fred Reed

If you are a young man wondering what to do with your life, you may consider enlisting in the military. Don’t.

Yes, the military has its appeal, or seems to. You may need a job. The uniform looks good. There can be adventure. You might get laid by Asian lovelies in foreign countries. These things have their appeal. They did for me as a young Marine. But they aren’t worth being mutilated, blinded, or spending the rest of your years in a wheel chair. This can happen. It does happen. And Washington doesn’t give a damn.

Recruiters won’t tell you of this. They are liars. They lied to me. They will lie to you. At the very least, they will talk only about good things that might happen, about college money and job training you might get but probably won’t. They will make you feel welcome. You are joining a team of brothers, they will say. You are a patriot. You are defending your country.

Don’t believe it. The US military does not defend America. The last time it did this was in 1945, at the end of World War Two. Since then, American soldiers were sent for twenty years to Afghanistan. Is Afghanistan America? No. Was it, is it, important to America? No. Then Iraq, Syria, Iraq again,and Serbia, bombing helpless cities. Iraq isn’t America. In my day – I’m an old guy – it was Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, where 63,000 Americans died, and killed huge numbers of peasants who did nothing wrong–for no reason.

Washington is now getting ready to start a war with China.

China is on the other side of the world.

Let me tell you what the military does to young men, what Washington does. Long ago I was driving a truck near the Marine base in Danang, Vietnam. A bullet came through the windshield. The glass spatter went into my eyes, filling them with blood and blinding me for, as it turned out, several months. I lay for maybe an hour beside the road until a chopper finally came to take me to the Naval Support Activity hospital. For a couple of weeks a Viet nurse gave me a large injection of penicillin every few hours because if the blood got infected, that would be it for my vision.

Across the corridor from me were two Marines whose tank had been hit by an RPG, rocket-propelled grenade. It ruptured the hydraulic lines and the hydraulic fluid had exploded into flames. The two crewmen across from me had gotten out somehow, though horribly burned. I was told they were covered with a plastic sheet that dripped with evaporation from their burns, but I don’t know.

“The other two had cooked alive, burning, burning, in agony, skin sloughing off, unable to breathe in the flames, desperately trying to find the hatch. The two across from me said they could hear them screaming. It is what the military did to them. It is what the military will do to you.”

A recruiter might tell you that I am an old guy, and things have changed. No. They have not. The military still uses tanks, rifles, land mines, bombs, flamethrowers, artillery. Aircraft carriers, important for the upcoming war with China, still carry large quantities of jet fuel and explosives. They are barbecues waiting to be lighted. You can have your bowels blown out, or burn alive, as easily now as then.

Did Vietnam have anything to do with America? No. It’s on the other side of the freaking world. Likewise Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq. So why does the military, why does our government do it?

Answer: So the arms industry can make money. And so Washington can try to control the world.

“Are you willing to die, to spend your life in a wheel chair, to wear a colostomy bag full of your own shit and never have a date because you were gut-shot so Lockheed-Martin’s stock shares will go up? Don’t do it. Don’t let the bastards use you.”

The wars never stop because the money is sweet, the profits enormous.

Washington just finished twenty years of killing in Afghanistan, meaning twenty years of juicy contracts. How did this defend America? Now we have Ukraine, so far costing taxpayers over a hundred billion dollars. Is Ukraine America? The United States is falling apart as anyone can see and Washington sends money to Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians, Russians and Ukrainians, have died there, for nothing. But of course most of that money going to Ukraine is used to buy weapons from the arms companies. Follow the dollar.

For Washington, for the arms industry–they are almost the same thing–long wars in distant places are desirable because companies like Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon can keep selling the Pentagon missiles, tanks, helicopters and simple things like gasoline at jacked-up prices. War is about money. Washington cares about money. It does not care about you.

Don’t let them use you.

I’ll tell you another story. I spent about a year on the eye ward, 4B, at Bethesda Naval Hospital as it was then called, just outside of Washington. In hospital wards you see what the military really does to people. There was a guy blind because a defective rifle grenade detonated on the end of his rifle. Another fellow had taken an AK round through the jaw, shattering the bone. The fragments had to be removed, leaving the flesh where his jaw had been hanging down in a formless blob like a wet sock. He ate through a nasogastric tube going through his nose. We called him Jawless.

Military wards are full of such. The one I most remember was a young Marine from Tennessee, maybe nineteen. One side of his face was grotesque hamburger. He was stone blind. I was nearby when his high school sweetheart, maybe seventeen, came to visit him.

“Johnny…Johnny…Oh, Johnny.”

So much for the marriage, I figured. What young high school senior wants to tie herself for life to a blind horror that she will have to lead around?

“The war in Vietnam was lost, of course, but it wasn’t in vain. It made unimaginable profits for the arms industry. Why do you think American wars last so long? If America wins the war, the money stops flowing. If it loses the war, the money stops. Keep the war going, and the money flows.”

This is the military the recruiters don’t tell you about. It is the real military.

Want to know the lousy medical care the Pentagon gives the wounded? An incompetent military eye surgeon managed to destroy my remaining good eye years later. To see the kind of thing that happens, read this at the Unz Review. It will show you what you can expect.

How We Defend America

Think what, if you enlist, you will really be doing. Let’s say that you are ordered to fire artillery at some city or village. In your impact zone, a little girl of seven, hit by shell fragments, looks down in surprise as her intestines fall from her stomach, and begins crying, then screaming. This happens, frequently. What do you think hot jagged shrapnel does to a soft young belly. She holds out her arms to mommy for help, this being instinct with the very young, before collapsing from profuse bleeding. Large blood vessels are found in the abdomen. Her mother goes stark bugfuck crazy, desperate to save her daughter but watching her die. It is how we defend America, see.

This is what the military is, what it does. It is what you will be used to do, directly or indirectly.

Those in Washington who will send you to kill people you have never met, and to be mutilated, do not themselves go to war. Rich young men do not enlist. Students at Harvard and Yale do not enlist. The military preys on, takes advantage of, ordinary kids, usually high-school grads, often from the South.

If you are twenty years old, what I am about to say will be ancient history, but I ask you to think about it. The same thing is going on today.

The following men were all of military age during Vietnam, and they now rule the country or did: President George Bush II, Bill Clinton, John Bolton (of whom you have probably never heard, but a major warhawk), Biden, Trump. All avoided military service. All now want to send you to wars.

To express it clearly, they see you as suckers. Think about it.

I tell you, as one who has been there, who has seen it. Don’t let them use you.

Fred Reed started as a Navy brat born in 1945 in a coal town in West Virginia. His father was serving on the USS Franks, a destroyer in the thick of the Pacific war at places like Iwo Jima, Guam, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Throughout his school years, Reed was “the kid other kids weren’t supposed to play with.” After graduating high school he rode freight trains across the USA and Mexico until joining the US Marines out of boredom. He returned from Vietnam mostly blinded and spent a year in hospital recovering enough sight to function.

Reed became a war correspondent in the early 70s and covered wars and military conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. He was one of the last US correspondents to leave Saigon and Phnom Penh.

Later he became the Law Enforcement correspondent for the Washington times. Fred Reed is married to the perfect woman and is based in Mexico where he has lived for many years.

Fred Reed Website: Fred On Everything

Fred Reed Biography and Books

Pope John Paul II blessed me… during a knock-down, drag ‘em out fight

Attack on the Pope during the 1984 Toronto Visit

An Early Lesson in Media Censorship

On September 9, 1984, Pope John Paul II landed at Quebec City to start a grueling twelve-day, 15,000km marathon that saw him visit millions from Newfoundland to British Columbia. It was a national event and the first time a Pontiff had set foot in Canada. In Toronto alone, almost a million people attended mass at Downsview airport.

But not everybody loved the head of the Roman Catholic Church – so my friends and I at the Toronto Police Oriental Crime Unit found ourselves working undercover protecting the Pope, along with a thousand other police officers from all over Ontario.

“Everything happened slowly, and then very quickly… I realized we might be too late.”

The danger to Pope John Paul II was real, and everyone on the security detail was nervous. Just three years earlier a Muslim terrorist shot the Pope twice during an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square.

Bulgarian military personnel had been involved in the St. Peter’s attack, so any attempt in Toronto might also be supported with resources from a USSR satellite nation. This was at the height of the Cold War. Martial law was in force in Poland against Solidarity and its leader Lech Walesa. The Polish Pope strengthened the resolve of the Poles and weakened the Soviet Block. That made him even more of a target.

We were therefore a serious bunch, suspicious of everything – armed to the max and ready-to-rock at every moment that “il Papa” was anywhere near us.

But it was also a happy time as Canada celebrated. The massive crowds were joyous, loved to touch the Pope and he permitted it. You can imagine our er, ‘delight’ with the Pope’s walking into crowds as he often did even after the assassination attempt.

The University Avenue Attack

Everything happened slowly, and then very quickly.

Thousands lined University Avenue waiting to see John Paul II as waved and blessed the crowd from the slow-moving Popemobile.

I was one of hundreds of undercover police officers along the parade route when one of my team made eye contact and scratched his ear – our signal that he’d seen something. I walked to him and immediately spotted the target.

The man was in his early thirties. There was nothing outstanding about his clothes or appearance, but in this crowd his body language was all wrong and that’s what attracted our attention.

Everyone was smiling and waving at the Popemobile slowly coming towards us about 75 feet away. Our friend looked towards the Pope, but every so often he glanced at the uniformed police on the other side of the street. Then he slowly swiveled his head left and right – looking for undercover officers, for us. He wasn’t smiling.

But he didn’t spot us. We were smiling and waving at the approaching Popemobile even as we signalled for assistance to take him down.

Within a shorter time than it takes to tell, there were five of us within striking distance and we were just about to grab his arms and flash a badge and the Pope was closer and then it all happened so quickly and I realized we might be too late…

Fast as anything he shoved his right hand into his jacket pocket, pulled out a round green object, cocked his arm, and started to throw. Everybody launched themselves at the man’s arm and hand and for an instant I thought he held a grenade – but it was an apple that fell to the ground.

Frenzied Rage

Down we went and he started screaming in a berserk rage “The Pope is Satan! The Pope is Satan!” Then he started biting.

Those of you who have never been a police officer, paramedic, or worked at a hospital probably don’t understand how one person in a frenzy can have the strength and violence to resist or even overpower five or six big men. Doctors have many theories about bipolar behaviour, ‘Intermittent Explosive Disorder’, and the role of various drugs in precipitating rage – but none of that matters in the middle of an attack.

In those days we had no pepper spray or tasers – only physical restraint, fists, and chokeholds – but nothing seemed to work.

Fists flew in both directions as we struggled to gain control. One of the team screamed as the man squeezed his privates. During the melee he bit three of us. When he chomped my forearm I had to punch him twice in the face before he let go. Then I got on top, and hit him hard on the jaw.

I cocked my arm to give him another, but the fight was done – so for the first time in a while I looked up…

And there was Pope John Paul II frowning as he surveyed the chaos, making the sign of the cross – blessing us. By this time some uniform officers were arriving and in an instant the Pope realized who we were.

Still looking at ‘il papa’, I shrugged my shoulders – and saw him smile, wink at me and make the sign of the cross again. Then he was gone as the Popemobile continued on.

And that is how Pope John Paul II smiled, winked, and blessed me in the middle of a fight.


The public never heard about the incident on University Avenue, nor of a handful of similar happenings across Canada. Like the man we arrested, most of the ‘attackers’ were troubled individuals with long histories of mental illness.

At the time it was thought by those in power that there should be nothing in the news to mar the feeling, image and historical record of the Pope’s Canadian visit. So the police said nothing of any incidents, and newspapers printed nothing even if they knew.

At the time I agreed with the non-reporting of incidents during the Papal Tour – but given the rise of government and corporate collaboration to censor, it should have been a caution to me about the power of the news media to deliberately ignore events in order to control and construct narratives.

“No matter how well-intended, censorship always becomes a weapon for those in power.”

Donald Best