As politicians and pundits bickered over the Trump administration’s killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani, another group quietly cheered his demise: the Iraq War veterans who saw close-up the effect of his brutal campaign against them.
Many of those veterans experienced his work firsthand.
Army veteran J.R. Salzman was leading a convoy through Baghdad, Iraq, on December 19, 2006, when his Humvee was struck by a particularly lethal Iranian-made weapon known as the EFP, or the “explosively-formed penetrators.” The shrapnel entered through his window, amputated his right arm, tore through his left, and gave him a traumatic brain injury.
He landed at Andrews Air Force Base that Christmas Eve and was at Walter Reed Medical Center for nine months. Salzman refused to let his injuries get the best of him and continued to win world titles in log-rolling and today owns a successful woodwork business.
But after hearing about Soleimani’s death, he sent his friend, radio show host and Marine veteran Jesse Kelly a message: “I’m so fucking happy right now. Best Christmas present ever.”
Got this message from a buddy the night Soleimani was killed. He sent a picture of his missing limbs with it.
Just wanted to remind you who the American media is celebrating. pic.twitter.com/JlgY3GIuZq
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) January 7, 2020
“I felt like we got a bit of justice,” Salzman said in an interview with Breitbart News. “That those of us who are forever scarred or wounded finally got a bit of justice.”
During the Iraq War, the Quds Force under Soleimani’s command began flooding Iraq with EFPs, as well as other deadly weapons, that were responsible for nearly 20 percent of all U.S. combat deaths in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal told the New Yorker in 2013 “there was zero question” where the EFPs were coming from. “We knew where all the factories were in Iran. The E.F.P.s killed hundreds of Americans.”
American officials even considered crossing into Iran to attack training camps and bomb factories. “Some of us wanted very badly to hit them,” one senior American officer told the magazine.
Matt Swanson, an Army veteran, said he has personally had friends killed by EFPs and was glad to see Soleimani go:
One of the things I did as an NCO while I was awaiting my medical retirement from combat injuries was escort a young soldier from my unit whose body had been nearly cut in two by an EFP. He, along with my company commander were killed that day. Because of the condition of his body I had to do the casualty escort mission twice over the space of a couple months to take remains back to his family.
So to answer your question, I have no issue with the strike to kill Soleimani, either as a retired soldier or as an average American. Soleimani would never step on the battlefield against us in Iraq so I’m glad to see Trump being willing to reach out and touch him.
A Marine veteran told Breitbart News that he personally knew three Americans killed in Iranian-connected attacks in Iraq. One of those was Marine Maj. Megan McClung, who was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, Iraq.
He tweeted to CNN’s Jake Tapper:
So the question you and your colleagues and the Democrats ask about justification for killing Soleimani:
This is 1 of 600 reasons that made that decision worthwhile.
— Gomes (@GomesBolt) January 12, 2020
“I was satisfied that for a change an Iranian official actively pulling strings in Iraq had been made to pay for their arrogance. And with zero collateral damage,” he said about Soleimani’s death.
Many other veterans took to Twitter to comment on his death, speaking of “justice” being delivered.
I did a year in Fallujah working on IEDs in 06-07. EFP’s were a technology that Iran pushed into Iraq that killed hundreds of our troops. It’s definitely an escalation, but he had a lot of blood on his hands. Not sad to see this happen.
— Phil Turner (@vongole21) January 3, 2020
You’re wrong. We did build schools and hand out candy. Soleimani was an evil man. His militia commanders — like Hadi Al-Amiri — executed prisoners with power drills. It is an unalloyed good thing that this man is dead. Justice for many innocents and soldiers alike. pic.twitter.com/ChgpdbjlhT
— Blake Hall (@Blake_Hall) January 4, 2020
I was personally on the receiving end of an Iranian made and deployed EFP (explosively formed projectile) in Iraq in 2007….Killed 3 guys and made a mess of the vehicle. Lots more of our soliders, sailors, marines & airmen killed by this person. No tears shed.
— Timios (@Timios10) January 5, 2020
And I’m raising a glass right now to all my brothers and sisters that I serve with in the sandbox. Frankly, I’m glad he’s dead. A lot of my friends were killed with Iranian made EFP.
— Robert W. Allen (@therobertwallen) January 3, 2020
Thanks for killing the primary EFP importer to the Iraq AO. My combat engineer friends who lost friends feel justice has been served.
— Richard L. Frank (@RichardLFrank) January 7, 2020
For how many of our troops who were killed or maimed by EFP's made in Iran, I did a little dance when I saw we took that ass clown out!
It was only about 12 years too late!
— – 🇺🇸 (@Renegade_Sailor) January 3, 2020
I was wounded in Afghanistan in 2009 by an EFP a type of IED introduced by Iran that’s responsible for hundreds of not thousands of American casualties. Fuck this guy !!!
— ((( Noah’s Dad ))) (@HillelAsherman) January 3, 2020
How about someone who witnessed the destruction Iran caused in Iraq firsthand? When an Iranian EFP slices through Humvee armor it isn't phased by a human body. It takes limbs and life with it. This fucker has this coming, tenfold.
— a76marine (@a76marine) January 4, 2020
I saw first hand as a medic the nature of the IED's change when these came on the scene, they would punch holes in the armor plating on the vehicles and incinerate the Soldier's inside. It was horrible. I am glad we finally got this guy
— 🎗️TheRevolutionWillBeTweeted🎗️ (@TheRevolutionW7) January 4, 2020
Even veterans on the left, or those who said they were not particularly fond of the president, celebrated Soleimani’s death:
I personally know men maimed by Soleimani's EFP IED programs that killed scores of Americans.
He has been running a hot war against America for many years. He was a uniformed combatant on the field of battle of his own making.
I loathe DJT. But this? This is more than fine.
— Suburban Sheepdog (@RobertKuntz) January 4, 2020
Swanson said Trump was not his top choice for president, but said Democrats’ criticism of Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani has made it difficult for him to support a Democrat for president in 2020.
“In my opinion, and the opinion of most of the veterans and every day Americans I know, the Dems have done nothing but damage to their brand with their opposition and public statements about the strike,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that something that should be viewed as a win for the United States (at least within the United States) should be sullied by one political party’s dislike for the President,” he added.
Salzman said those who suggest that Trump’s killing of Soleimani somehow derailed “a good working relationship with Iran” are forgetting about the more than 600 Americans killed, and the hundreds more more injured in the Iraq War at the hands of Iranian weapons.
“It’s like we don’t even exist,” he said.