Lt. Shannon Meehan was a decorated tank commander who was displaying exceptional leadership abilities during his tour of duty in Iraq. On one mission, when they were clearing a dangerous area house by house, he called in an air strike on a suspected insurgents location. He followed all procedure and even went further, sending loudspeakers and translators directly in front of the house to warn everyone inside to get out. Despite visual identification, local Intel, loudspeaker warnings, the worst happened. The precision guided bomb destroyed a house with a family inside. Beyond Duty is the story of how Lt. Meehan has been struggling with the consequences of his decision.
I told Lt. Meehan on air that I wished I could just hug him and tell him that it was ok, that he followed his training, went even further and had nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. I said to him that as a citizen he was fighting for, I was perfectly comfortable with what he did, despite the outcome that nobody wanted. A literal casualty of war this was. This book boiled down to its essence is this, it is about the difference between us and them. Our enemies who gleefully murder innocents and use civilians as shields. And us, specifically Lt. Meehan, who are so considerate and cautious about respecting innocent life, even as they operate in the world’s worst hell holes, putting themselves in greater danger to do so. It is a sin that a man like Lt. Meehan is haunted by what happened. I pray that he is able to put this incident in perspective and find the peace that he deserves and the future that he dreamed about with his dedicated wife AJ.
Lt. Meehan collaborated with Roger Thompson, a professor of English at VMI where Meehan went to college. Beyond Duty is an exceptional book. It takes the reader to Iraq, to feel all sides of a deployed soldiers life, from the boredom, the bullshit to the battles and the searing heat inside the tank. This is a book that every American should read in order to get a full accounting of what it means to send men and women off to war. You may finish, but you won’t forget Beyond Duty. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
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