Tag Archives: CJ Chivers

A U.S. Marine combat warrior receives the Pulitzer for disrobing a journey from PTSD to prison

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

The following is excerpted from C.J. Chivers’ long-form article “The Fighter,” published in the New York Times in December of 2016 and available by click below:

The Marines strode back to their patrol base, exuberant, riding the rush of having been under fire and coming out alive. This is one of war’s exhilarating drugs. It fueled backslaps and shouts. “Everyone was like highfiving and everything,” Hagglund told me. “We were the first squad in the company to get in a firefight.”

A few minutes later Hagglund was in a bunker when a Toyota pickup rushed toward the gate. It stopped short. Its occupants hopped out and retrieved a wheelbarrow from the bed. A few Afghan soldiers ran to meet them. In the wheelbarrow was a small boy who had been shot through the skull.

The bullet had struck above his left eyebrow and blown out the back of his head. But it had hit high enough that the child was still alive — unresponsive, breathing fitfully. The man pushing the wheelbarrow was his father. Siatta watched as the Marines took the child to their aid station and rested his shattered skull over a stainless steel bowl. A corpsman tried to keep what was left of his head intact by cupping it in his hands. A sandstorm had blown up, grounding the helicopter fleet. It was a few hours before an aircraft took him away. Not long after, the radio brought word. The boy had died.

Hagglund thought the child might be 4 years old. Siatta and Perez thought he might be 6. No one was exactly sure how he had been shot. . . .

. . .

Siatta was shaken. His training had not prepared him for what it felt like to look down after a gunfight upon a child with part of his head gone. “During all of our workup, shooting targets, throwing grenades, doing all that, you never once saw kids mangled,” he told me. The boy reminded him of his niece. He was one firefight into the only line of work he had ever wanted and was confronted with “one of those sights – it was like maturity overnight, a sobering.”


Re: U.S. Marine veteran combat warrior and his Pulitzer-awarded article “The Fighter”:

Sam Siatta was drunk when he forced his way into a house he thought was his and got into a violent fight with a stranger. Mr. Siatta was also a veteran infantry combat Marine who was struggling with adjusting to life after serving in the war in Afghanistan. C.J. Chivers, a former infantry Marine himself, won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for telling the story of Mr. Siatta’s crime, and its aftermath, for The New York Times Magazine.

(feature image attribution: Devin Yalkin and The New York Times. 28 December 2016)

Charles Bloeser is the creator of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative that will continue to contribute to bridging the gap in experience, knowledge, and understanding that divides those who’ve never served under arms from those who have. He’s the civilian son and grandson of veterans and a lawyer who’s spent most years arguing criminal and constitutional issues in America’s state and federal trial and appellate courts. His most recent publication chronicles a tragic story that a former client asked him to tell, from his deathbed: