Danny at McDonalds : ‘I Got Tired of Killing Farmers’

An Iraqi farmer speaks to Sgt. Bryon Clark in the village of Ka bashe in Kirkuk, Iraq, May 31, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Bobby Allen / Flickr.

Why Danny quit the army:
‘I got tired of killing farmers’

By Leslie Cunningham / The Rag Blog / April 15, 2010

I encountered Danny at the McDonald’s in Austin’s Oak Hill neighborhood. He was there with his daughter Abby, I with my granddaughter Mackenzie. The little girls hit it off and went climbing around the steps and tunnels of the outdoor play structure, while Danny and I lounged on separate benches. As is often the case in these situations, the grownups got to talking.

Danny slouched on the bench, handsome face brooding under his dark eyebrows. He told me that he was in Austin with his parents, visiting relatives. He and his 5-year-old daughter lived with his parents in a small town near Abilene. I asked if he was from there. Originally (he said), but he’d been away for a long time and recently moved back from Colorado.

With some trepidation, I asked about Abby’s mother, “Hunh,” he scowled. “She’s in jail. Selling drugs, over and over.” In Colorado? “Colorado Springs. Army bases are zoos. One big trailer park. Drugs, booze, domestic abuse. . . I had to get away from there. I want to be a good dad,” he inclined his head toward Abby, “and being with her grandparents helps.”

Now he and Abby were staying with his parents to save money while he went to college to become a physician’s assistant. Good profession, I said, mentioning that my husband went to nursing school after he was discharged from Vietnam. “Yeah,” he replied, “a lot better than what I was doing.”

And what had he been doing? “I was in the Army for 15 years until I quit.” With only five years left ’til retirement with all its benefits? “Yeah, I couldn’t stand it any more.” Because? He shrugged and slouched down on the bench. “I got tired of killing farmers.” Now, he told me, he talks to young people who are thinking of joining the military. “I’ve talked hundreds into not going. I tell them it takes more guts to go to college and pay off student loans than to drive a tank through some farmer’s house.”

Did he know about Iraq Vets Against the War, I asked. He looked at me suspiciously; he’d never heard of it. “There really is such a thing?” Yes, I said, just google “Iraq Veterans Against the War.” Please do, I wanted to say. I beg you, please do. But just then a round, sweet-looking young woman with two rambunctious kids came through the door from the restaurant, and my conversation with Danny ended. The two younger adults started talking.

The young woman was in the Reserves, she said. She was excited because her unit was about to be deployed to Afghanistan. “You’re looking forward to it?” Danny asked. Oh yes, she said. She’d been waiting for a long time for this, and she wanted to support her buddies and contribute more to the mission.

“Be careful what you look forward to,” said Danny. “It may not be what you think.” His remark didn’t seem to dent her enthusiasm. He seemed to tire of the conversation and turned away. His face and his voice softened for a moment as he called for Abby. She took his hand as they walked out of the restaurant, his shoulders sagging and weary.

With Abby gone, Mackenzie didn’t care much about staying on the play structure. She put her shoes back on and we headed out. I thought I ought to say something meaningful to the young woman as we passed her, but I couldn’t think of much. “Good luck,” I said. “Hope you come back OK.” And we were gone.

[Leslie Cunningham works with the Retiree Organizing Committee of the Texas State Employees Union. She has been an activist for 50 years and a socialist for 40.]

The Rag Blog

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13 Responses to Danny at McDonalds : ‘I Got Tired of Killing Farmers’

  1. JoJo says:

    great blog from a great listener who operates in the real world. thx les.

  2. Masterspork says:

    The IVAW is a joke, I cannot see how it can be taken seriously.

  3. Mariann Wizard says:

    LESLIE — wow, I wish you would write a lot more for us! But I know why you don’t; you are actually out there participating in organizing work, and not merely talking about it.

    I’m willing to bet Danny makes that search. He sounds like a young man the peace movement needs. And you are the best kind of motivator, one who doesn’t preach but yah, listens, and provides accurate information.

    warmly —

  4. Masterspork says:

    I am posting this because of the past actions of the IVAW and this blog. Also I believe that there is a better chance of getting read by the author.

    The first one that I want to talk about is with this blog. I have seen at least once use soldiers as faceless prompts. Staff Sergeant José Pequeño is a perfect example. He his story of a massive head trauma was written on the Rag Blog and myself on “This Ain’t Hell”. The main difference is that the Rag Blog did not even bother to find anything about him> Not even his name. The photo of his is even worse simply labeled “Half a head”. Also the blog has yet to correct this even after being given his name. Or other facts behind his story like.

    A US Marine Corps veteran and Army National Guardsman, Staff Sergeant José Pequeño returned to Iraq because he felt that would help some of his young Guardsmembers return home safely.

    But that got left out of the story.

    But then the Rag put up stories like this and other IVAW members in the best light possible. A in with Travis Bishop and Victor Agosto.

    Also considering that the IVAW has a horrible history of people that claim to have first hand knowledge that are out right liars from Jessie MacBeth to the more recent Matthis Chiroux.

    “I’ve talked hundreds into not going. I tell them it takes more guts to go to college and pay off student loans than to drive a tank through some farmer’s house.”

    I would like to point out that if there is no replacement that they will just stop loss soliders that have been in for awhile. So he is not really helping.

    Also the Author did not posted the real guys name. I ask because if we had his real name and he is out of the Army we could do a freedom of information act to see if he is the real deal.

    Because there are too many fake/phoney soldiers out there.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Spork: you are just a little defensive, and you are totally blind. I wish you would frequent other, more sympathetic sites.

  6. Masterspork says:

    When this sites uses a photo of a solider with massive brain injuries for political gain without so much giving him a name much less giving him a face is insulting to the max.

    If the authors cannot respond to claims they make when country evidence i presenting then stop writing them.

  7. Anonymous says:

    All you f**ks are doing is defending a government department of defense and its minions who are utterly indefensible. That man was destroyed by the military and that was the point of the article. It is not using him falsely. His identity was protected; there is no insult. You false, self-righteous heroes are the ones who exposed his identity and who crow about the “insult.” You are wrong to the max. Go back to your foxhole and stay there.

  8. Masterspork says:

    I know what I am doing. Because there are too many people that try to not reveal their identity to hid the fact that their stories have major flaws.

    For example.

    The guy who claimed he was a Gay Marine Captain that was in the closet that was part of IVAW and had been wounded in Iraq with a metal plate in in head turns out to be a escaped mental patient.


    His identity protected? He was refereed to as “Half a head” in the photo and as far as “protecting” how is not posting the name of the injured when it is public knowledge since I found out his name a day after I posted his story on line. Even if his name needed to be protected “Wounded Vet” or something along that line still gives him dignity then just calling him “half a head” does not.


  9. Leslie C. says:

    Thanks to those who appreciated my anecdote. I haven’t written anything like this for years. Of course it is not a news story or a research report, and one may make what one wants out of what “Danny” said. I, for one, thought “hundreds” was no doubt an exaggeration.
    M-spork’s oh-so-reliable “This Ain’t Hell” website impugned my integrity, saying I must have made the whole thing up–no one would tell a stranger such personal information, and it was way too coincidental that the young woman in the Reserves showed up. Then there was some silliness about my being a hippie granny smoking dope.
    Of course it was an unusual, coincidental, and (for me) emotional incident. But it’s not the only time something like this has happened. This time I decided to write it down immediately to be as accurate as possible. And thanks to my wonderful Mackenzie for perking me up afterward.

  10. Masterspork says:

    The reason that I challenge your story is stories about they have done terrible things in the military and how the military screws people up because it turns out to be false. Jessie Macbeth is a big one if you have not read his story.

    The website “This Ain’t Hell” works along with the website POW network to identify fake veterans that would use this for illicit gain be it political, monetary or medical gain. Because once you leave the military your military records become open to the public request due to the freedom of information act. The DD214 will show a record of what that person did. It is like a carfax, but for the military.

    Also here is something to think about before believe some one sob story.


    Or any of the many documented fakes that have been reported is reason enough to question people about this kind of interaction.

    I rarely talk about my military service to someone I do not know unless asked.

    Watch out for fakers out there.

  11. Then there’s the Kurd Shepherd blown away along with his flock because a U.S. Air Force Pilot couldn’t tell the difference between sheep and people. Bush, a master Liar from the depths of Hell, claims that every such incident occurred only whenthe aircraft were targeted. This happened in the Northern No-Fly Zone (Kurdistan) before the Invasi… oops “Liberation”.

    It was reported to me by two U.S.A.F. Sergeants, one of whom I grew up with. She’s my Sister. And her husband.
    They were laughing about it, thought it was God-damn funny. “The pilot was feeling kind of ‘sheepish’ because he was having a ‘baaaaad’ day”.

    The same pilot who told them no human being was killed was the one who couldn’t tell the difference between sheep and humans in the first place.

    I suspect the reason you challenge her story is by your own admission you do a lot of challenging of anybody who speaks or writes against the war. The Anti-War movement are by necessity volunteers, no corporate or government sponsors.

    Can the Anti-Peace Movement say the same?

    The Anti-Peace Shills did a thorough hatchet job on Max Cleland.

    Didn’t disprove a damn thing but claim they did, and the Pro-Killing propagandists treat it as truth.

    Then there’s the notion that the Pentagon plants fake veterans in organizations like VVAW and IVAW in order to “expose” them, and all the ChickenHawks crow really loudly that they’ve “disproved” the Anti-War Veterans.

    We’re not the ones killing people based on lies. That leaves a much higher burden of proof on the Pentagon apologists. Prove you’re not an Agent Provocateur or that any of the “discredited” stories you claim to be debunked are both fake AND not from a Pentagon source.

    Make it both. I KNOW my sources. I, too, learned to question. It’s why I didn’t make a career of the Air Force.

    My sister the Sergeant says it’s because I “can’t follow orders” but it’s more like, I DON’T follow orders. I have a brain and make my own decisions.And come to my own judgments.
    When I was in the Farce every day they lied to me about one thing or another. But elements of truth arose from it. Like, in the military, you don’t choose for which cause you fight. If the service tells you to fight Against freedom you simply follow orders and fight against freedom.

    So, Master Spork or Masters Pork, which would it be? Are you trying to debunk the Anti-War people as a volunteer, and why? Do you really believe the War is a good thing, based on the thoroughly debunked lies told by Bush and Blair and Brown? The ones Blair and Gordon Brown say they knew all along were false but, so what, they had to take out Saddam because he “defied them”. Those statements were recent, in the past three months and at hearings in Parliament.

    So if the entire rhetoric that took us to war and invasion was faked, what more can you add that will reverse that?

    By the way, people in Texas DO talk to strangers. It’s something you’d have to experience.

  12. Brother Jonah says:


    This might describe you just as thoroughly as the entire Agent Provocateur theory would… you might be breaking out and wanting to talk about your experience. Even though you’ve spent five very long posts talking about Pro-Military experience and then ended it by saying you don’t discuss your military experiences with strangers.

    Your words dance around and call each other false.

    It could be the conflicts inherent in everybody who served in the military and knows that what they were ordered to do isn’t what the People are told you and I and everybody else, including the Sheep-Killer Pilot and his crew, like my Sergeant Sister, were doing, “fighting for freedom” or whatever bullshit the Pentagon uses.

    Supposedly the No-Fly Zones were to PROTECT the Kurds. The same Kurds the Pentagon now calls “terrorists”.

    Conscience, everybody has one. I’m hoping you’re getting in touch with yours.

    Shilling for an Anti-Peace website doesn’t do much for that theory though.

  13. Masterspork says:

    Wow, your really sport the tin hat very well.

    Were to start.

    One of the thing that you have to understand that many people in the military can have a morbid sense of humor. Does not mean that they will do or act out the tings that they joke about. Also if there was a investigation there would be sworn statements that could be looked up. A nice little project for you.

    I challenge people who I think are frauds regardless of their views. A phony vet is a phony vet regardless of their views.

    Looked up Max Cleveland and the only controversy was in regards to the 9/11 commission and nothing about being a fake vet.

    The IVAW is loosing members very quickly and the Board members are most people who have never seen Iraq/Afghanistan or never left the FOB. For a group that claims to be made up of OEF and OIF vets they are really lacking.

    Or you can ask the people here to hear their stories about IVAW for your self.


    You do know that the military is still part of the government and any records about one’s service or lack of would be from government records.


    Honestly I really do not have a interest in why you did not join the military. What I have a problem with is people who have never served that claim otherwise to try to get the benefits that they do not deserve.

    Honestly, I have I said anything about the Bush or the Obama administration any of my posts about this story much less say anything in support?

    But not so much about their military and I was born and raised in Texas for over 25 years. So I do have a Idea of how Texans acts.

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