FUBAR by Kenneth Sibbett

Kenneth Sibbett's scathingly bitter account of one soldier's experience with the military.

FUBAR: Fucked-up beyond all repair.

The young soldier, still wearing Dress Greens and carrying his duffle bag, was standing on an off-ramp after leaving a truck stop. He was heading east with his thumb out - well, southeast, but that was as the crow flies, and the interstate has a mind of its own. He was wearing his Dress Greens because it was easier to get a ride looking like a soldier, rather than an ordinary citizen.

He knew it was illegal for him to wear an army uniform now, and he could probably go to jail if a cop stopped him, but, fuck them and the army. The court martial was over. He'd received a dishonorable discharge, was fined all back pay and escorted off the base, with one last order, to leave town. It was that simple. At least the bastards couldn't eat him.

He was 14 years old when the terrorists attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9-11. He had two older brothers who enlisted in the army the next day and fought in Iraq. One died, and one may as well be dead. When it was his turn, at 18, he was standing in line, ready to sign his name, step forward, and say the oath to protect this country from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Man, he was proud that day. His brother called him a fucking idiot and told him Uncle Sam would use him, abuse him and throw him out like garbage. He should have listened. His brother, with no legs, one arm and a face pieced together, knew, but until you see it...

That was six years ago and since then, he had done two tours in Iraq in the hottest and most dangerous place on earth. Kandahar was a FUBAR that the brass fucked up six ways to Sunday. They were constantly fed old intelligence and everywhere they went it seemed as if there were IEDs and snipers waiting. He and his crew would flip a coin to see who would get out of the Humvee first, because they knew, they all knew, a sniper was going to shoot someone in the face.

They would fight all day to take a piece of ground in some hellhole of a town, and give it back that night. It was insane; killing the enemy along with civilians and watching your buddies die. For what?

After the second tour, they sent him to Fort Hood to train other young men in the art of dying. His wife had taken the kids and ran away during his second tour, and even though her money was coming out of his military pay check, he wasn't allowed to know where they were, or even talk to them on the phone. Bastards! That was done while he was getting shot at and almost killed daily in combat. He didn't know until he got off the plane and there was no one around to meet him that she had taken out a restraining order against him. They were somewhere, and he couldn't find them. It was then that he went off the reservation.

His Commanding Officer and NCO explained the situation to him. It seemed his wife had turned over all the emails and texts he wrote to her, along with a few snail-mail letters. They showed them to him, but he wasn't a fuckin' idiot, he knew what they said. He hated the military, the officers and everyone in charge. That was all they had? Hell, everyone hated the decision makers. He and his buddies all wrote the same shit, why pull him out of the line?

She told them he had beaten and raped her the last time he was home. That was a fucking lie, but she told it. He knew it. The bitch had met another guy and this was how she was dumping him. Taking everything. Cleaning out his bank account, taking all his furniture and the big screen TV and his XBox and all his games. She took his truck, which he loved and had owned since high school. Everything they bought with his signing bonus, all gone. Then, even worse, she took his kids; the kids, goddamnit!

He trained kids who were a lot like him at one time. Patriotic. Ready to fight for their country and see the world. Wait until they realized that all sand looks alike and you don't fight for your country, you fight to stay alive and keep your buddy alive. You make it day by day. Not for some fucking officer in Kuwait sending orders into another country with day-old intelligence.

When he wasn't training, he was preparing for his court martial, yet he had no idea what he was charged with. He had done nothing but what they told him to do. He had killed the enemy, along with their wives and kids. Anything that fucking moved was fair game, but here he was being court martialed for something he did here, while he was over there. It boggled his mind.

In the end, the charges were reduced to simple assault and child abuse. His wife and kids were not even in the state when he was sentenced. It was his word against her written statement and his sorry ass lawyer pled it out. He had never, ever, laid a hand on his most precious children. He had never, ever, laid a hand on the woman he had loved since they were both in the eighth grade.

Now, here he was, with his thumb out, trying to get back to North Carolina. He had less than fifty dollars to his name after serving over six years in a military that he would have given his life for. With a dishonorable discharge, he could not see a VA doctor for his nerve pills; the only things that were keeping him from going insane. An elderly couple in a SUV stopped. He ran, opened the back door and threw his bag in the back seat and got in.

"Where ya' goin soldier?" said the elderly gentlemen. "I was in the military once upon a time myself. Yep, Vietnam. I sure hope you have a lot better leaders than we had back then. Man, now that was a fucking FUBAR, I'll tell ya."


  1. Sounds like a man speaking from experience. The soldier's bitterness really stands out. I'd like to have known more about the domestic side of the story, maybe a little more on what really happened with the wife and kids.
    Nicely told tale about what is happening a little too often with the returning military troops.

  2. Hmm, some trouble posting comments here. Hope three or four different versions don't show up in the next 24. Now what did I write?
    A harrowing tale: the futility of war, the carnage inflicted, the soldiers that suffer well beyond their tour of duty. This soldier's story could be all the more vivid explore through immediate scenes. Still, a good read.

  3. a very powerful story; very humbling to read; sadly im sure it is all too true, soldiers are really just statistics; no wonder people feel bitter

    really well done!

    michael mccarthy