Zach, Jenna, Tim

Marine Sniper: This book takes place in Vietnam, between the years 1966 and 1975. It is about a man named Carlos Hathcock II. He is a sniper in the United States Marine Corps. During his Career he had 93 confirmed kills. He perfected the art of concealment and ambush. During his career he wore a white feather in his hat, and was called Lông Trắng, translated as "White Feather." Below is a picture of him later in life. He was an extraordinary marksman and an exceptional scout. At one point in time during his days in Vietnam he had a price of $30,000 because he killed so many of their men, when most American snipers only had a price of $8 on their heads. His most memorable shot was taken on "Hill 55" when he shot through the scope of the enemy sniper, and killing the man. Carlos used the Winchester Model 70 with a Unertl scope. The gun shot a .30 06 round which is about 7.62 mm wide and 63 mm long. He was awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded in action, the Silver Star for valor, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. A picture of each are provided below. His longest kill was 2,500 yards or about 1.42 miles.
PurpleHeart[1].jpgSilver_Star_medal[1].jpgCommendation_2.JPGCarlos_Hathcock_DM-SD-98-02324[1].jpgexternal image b0022.jpg
Left to right Purple Heart, Silver Star, Commendation Medal, Carlos Norman Hathcock II
Visit for more information on these and other medals of the U.S. Military.
Visit if you would like to read more about Carlos Hathcock II.

Survival and Death is a big topic. In my Book "Marine Sniper" the main character Carlos Hathcock, a sniper is presented with death every day he goes out in the field in the dangerous jungles of Vietnam. When asked about why he did what he did he said, “I like shooting, and I love hunting. But I never did enjoy killing anybody. It's my job. If I don't get those bastards, then they're gonna kill a lot of these kids we got dressed up like Marines. That's just the way I see it.” This quote comes from an iterview taken for a book written about his career, Marine Sniper. I think this shows how he was determined to get the job done to protect the men but meanwhile he didn’t think of himself. Many times during the book Carlos came close to death, but through training and a little bit of luck he made it through with only being shot one in the leg. Death also came out in this story with the people he killed. 93 confirmed kills. That’s 93 people he shot, and killed because duty called. At the end of the book Carlos is burned, and over 40% of his skin was burned off. But he survived that but it ended his career because he couldn’t shoot anymore because when he moved the wounds would reopen and he would start to bleed.

For those who didn’t survive Vietnam like Carlos Hathcock, there is a memorial dedicated to them in Washington D.C. There are over 58,000 names on the memorial, with over 1,000 P.O.W.'s or M.I.A.'s.
external image lin0-029.jpgexternal image phil%20whiting%20Vietnam_war_memorial.jpg
Form: and .

Many fillms show Survival and Death, such as the Rambo series, Full Metal Jacket, and many others and all take place during the Vietnam War time period. For example in the Rambo movies Rambo some how survives the war through amazing training and survival skills, while he kills all the bad guys.For a trialer of Rambo click this link. Rambo trailer

The book Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close​ by Jonathan Safran Foer is about a nine-year-old boy Oskar Schell who loses his father on 9/11.


On 9/11/2001, two planes crashed into the world trade centers. The first plane hit the north tower, and the second hit the south tower just fifteen minutes later. 2,750 some people were killed in New York, 184 at the Pentagon, 40 in Pennsylvania, and all 19 terrorists. More than 400 police and firefighters were killed also.
"September 11 Attacks." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 9 Mar. 2010 <>.

"When you fell asleep with your head on my lap, I turned on the television. I lowered the volume until it was silent. The same pictures over and over. Planes going into buildings. Bodies falling. People waving shirts out of high windows. Planes going into buildings. Bodies falling. Planes going into buildings. People covered in gray dust. Bodies falling. Buildings falling. Planes going into buildings. Planes going into buildings. Buildings falling. People waving shirts out of high windows. Bodies falling. Planes going into buildings." - Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close p.230
Oskar's grandmother explains what she was watching on the news that night. She turned down the volume so Oskar wouldn't wake up, because his mother didn't want him to know exactly what was going on, although he knew where his Dad was, and that he wasn't coming back. Even the survivors of 9/11 had a death in one way or another.

external image worldtradecenter_bigteaserposter2.jpg

In 2006, the movie World Trade Center was released. It's a true story of two police officers rushed to the towers to help and find survivors, but became trapped themselves when the towers fell. This movie is a story about courage, survival, and death.
Yahoo Movies. "World Trade Center (2006)." 03/11/10. <>,6,15,32
The link above brings you to website where you can read survival stories by people who survived 9/11.

In one of the stories, a man writes about how he didn't feel like a survivor. He was luckily able to get out of the tower before it collapsed.
"I spoke after he told his story and said to the counselor that I don't feel like a survivor. I just left the building, no excitement, no urgency, I just left."
Even though he is a survivor, I think he feels differently because 9/11 was such a tragic event, especially for the ones who were inside the building. Knowing that people are dying all around you, that people are crashing planes into your city, and that you have a chance of dying also, could do a number on anyone.
Voices Of September 11th. "It Was A Beautiful September Day...." 03/15/10. <>

"Even after a year, I still had an extremely difficult time doing certain things, like taking showers, for some reason, and getting into elevators, obviously. There was a lot of stuff that made me panicky, like suspension bridges, germs, airplanes, fireworks, Arab people on the subway (even though I'm not racist), Arab people in restaurants and coffee shops and other public places, scaffolding, sewers and subway grates, bags without owners, shoes, people with mustaches, smoke, knots, tall buildings, turbans." - Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close p.36
Even about after a year that 9/11 happened, some things still make Oskar freak out. Oskar explains that even though he's not racist, Arab people in public places made him nervous. Tragic incidents can forever change your views on many things if you're a survivor of that incident. Sometimes it can change your whole life forever.

external image gzd_043.jpgexternal image gzd_050.jpg

These photos are of what was left behind once the towers fell. Many survivors were found in the mess, but clean up was also a long risky process.

"I ran downstairs four steps at a time, they saw the look on my face, before I had time to say anything-what would I have said?-we heard a horrible noise, rapid, approaching explosions, like an applauding audience running towards us, then they were atop us, we were thrown to the corners, our cellar filled with fire and smoke, more powerful explosions, the walls lifted from the floor and seperated just long enough to let light flood in before banging back to the ground, orange and blue explosions, violet and white. I later read that the first bombing lasted less than half an hour, but it felt like days and weeks, like the world was going to end, the bombing stopped as matter of factly as it had began.." - Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close p.210-211
Throughout the book, you read letters from Oskar's grandfather that were to Oskar's father. In one of the letters, Oskar's grandfather describes the bombing in Dresden that he survived.

external image child-soldier-sierra-leone.jpg external image ishmael-beah.jpg
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is a true story about the authors experiance as a child soldier during a civil war in Sierra Leone.

"He was behind us, aiming his gun at our heads, and at some point he said, "If any of you makes a move, I will kill everyone. So don't even breathe too hard or it might be your last." He laughed and his voice echoed in the distant forest. I prayed that my friends and brother wouldn't make any sudden moves or even try to scratch an itch. The back of my head was getting warm, as if expecting a bullet anytime." - A Long Way Gone . This quote takes place before Ishmael is captured and he and his family are running from the war. At this point Ishmael is very scared that the war is getting closer and closer to him. He is afraid of being captured and seperated from the ones he loves. This quote can be found on page 32.

"These days I live in three worlds: my dreams, and the experiences of my new life, which triggers memories from the past.” - A Long Way Gone, This quote shows the physcological affect that the war has on Ishmael's daily life. Everyday is a stuggle to forget the horrible things he has done as he tries to return to a normal life in society. This quote can be found on page 20.

external image map_of_sierra-leone.jpg

Throughout the book A Long Way Gone the main character Ishmael travels from places such as Joru to Freetown, Sierra Leone and Freetwon to Conakry, Guinea mainly by foot.

Survival and Death are a huge theme in the book A Long Way Gone. The main character Ishmael faces death everyday as he runs from a civil war in Sierra Leone. In the end Ishmael finds a way to survive through all the hardships and trying times he encounters. However, he is just one of the few lucky ones who was able to escape the horrors of the war. Most kids his age were either killed in their villages during a rebel raid or killed on the front lines as child soldiers. Ishmael survived both the period of time where he was running from the war and when he was a captive soldier in the war. The book tells of Ishmael's daily fight to survive and showed how he dealth with all the horrible things happening around him.

The book A Long Way Gone talks of the life of one child soldier, however during the civil war in Sierra Leone more than 10,000 child soldiers were used. Today there are still more than 300,000 child soldiers fighting in 30 countries around the world. A total of 100,000 Sierra Leone'ens died in the conflict. <**soldiers**/goingon_**soldiers**.html>

external image 72646658.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921F7C3FC3F69D929FDB6D0541B3285295DC06750CFE70060CF33D2195A2E84BB15B01E70F2B3269972external image SierraLeoneSlum.jpgexternal image 00013314-SAT-001.JPG

The popular movie Blood Diamond takes place in Sierra Leone during the civil war.
external image 200px-Blooddiamondposter.jpg

Song about child soldiers, relating to A Long Way Gone. Composed by Mick Terry, Silent Tree Music-Song Lyrics.

His first contact with an AK,
at the ripe old age- of five,
was the murder of his father outside- their door
by three rebels having a hey-day
as they plundered his- whole tribe,
all- in the names of politics, God- and war.

His mother, beaten & savaged,
had so bravely tried- to fight,
couldn't save his older brothers, both dragged- away.
Through the next two rainy seasons,
he could barely sleep- at night
'til a warring faction came to make him- their slave.

CHILDREN OF WAR, just puppy sol-diers.
A much less visible target, but still all trained- to kill.
CHILDREN OF WAR, just puppy sol-diers.
They're just little boys with grownup toys,
playing war that's all- too real.

They drilled him with wooden rifles,
drugging him to follow commands
with a sergeant barely older than his- own age.
& they showed him tricks of survival
in the forests &- the sands.
And they filled his growing heart with a lot- of hate.


"Hey, this be fun-. All this killing and fighting.
Yes I lose some friends, but we not that close.
Hey, this be fun-. For sure, it be exciting.
But it be my two big brothers I miss most."

Through sickness, death & attrition,
he progressed up through- the ranks.
By the age of thirteen, he was Lieuten-ant Duan.
& he never knew both his brothers
were both soldiers in- a tank
that his RPG took out early one- gray dawn

This song is related to my topic because Ishmael is forced to be a child soldier at a very young age. The song also shows the process the child soldiers go through of no longer feeling for the things they do. It shows the detachment from anyone else who oridnarily would have been very close to them. Like Ishmael, the children are brainwashed into thinking their cause is right, no matter how much pain it causes to others, the abuse of drugs aid in this process.

Interview with Ishmael Beah

Storyteller Laura Simms first met Ishmael Beah at a UN conference in 1996 called Children’s Voices, where 57 young people from 23 countries came together to discuss the challenges they faced—homelessness, child labor, prostitution and war. Ishmael Beah, 15, left his country for the first time to attend, and something about his story captivated Laura Simms.

At 10 years-old Ishmael was too young to understand the complexity of the civil war that had just begun in Sierra Leone. Refugees started fleeing to his village. “It was evident they had seen something that plagued their minds, something that we would refuse to accept if they told us all of it,” he writes. But by the age of 12, the war had finally reached Ishmael. The RUF, Revolutionary United Front, had invaded and destroyed his home. After being on the run for several months and losing his entire family to the bloodshed, Ishmael and his peers were recruited to join government forces. “We had no choice. Leaving the village was as good as being dead.” Armed with an AK-47, addicted to “brown brown” (a mixture of cocaine and gun powder), and given the nickname “Green Snake,” Ishmael became a child soldier.

His book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), documents these years of his childhood. Ishmael poignantly shares stories of his youth, his indoctrination into war and his journey back to regain his humanity.
With the help of Laura Simms, who took Ishmael in as her own son, Ishmael managed to flee Sierra Leone in 1998, and move to New York where they both live today.

Laura loves the honor of being a storyteller in the modern world, using stories to promote tolerance, peace and environmental stewardship. Ishmael also continues his storytelling tradition by advocating on behalf of child soldiers. Sangamithra Iyer had a chance to catch up with Ishmael Beah and his American mom, Laura Simms, and listen to their stories.

Laura, what was it about Ishmael that first grabbed your attention?
Laura Simms: I think it was his equanimity. His capacity for listening. His inner glow. That was before the conference began, when I first met him. When I heard his story later that day, I was deeply penetrated by the violence of what he had been forced to engage in and the tremendous loss and suffering that he and all these children had lived through.

Ishmael, can you explain what it was like initially to be removed from the war and placed in the rehabilitation center in Freetown, Sierra Leone?
Ishmael Beah: For the first two months, we were going through withdrawal from the drugs. After that, the trauma hits. You begin to remember. It takes a while for people to recover. It took me about eight months to regain myself and continue the process of healing. Turning a young person into a killer is easy to do. You destroy everything that’s dear to them. To bring them back, to undo those acts, takes a selfless compassionate person.

In your book, A Long Way Gone you talk about how at the rehabilitation center, you and your peers were at first angered when the staff would say “it’s not your fault,” but eventually you believed it. How did you come to accept and forgive yourself for what happened in the war and truly come to believe that it wasn’t your fault?
IB: We didn’t think people could care, but it was their perseverance—their willingness to view us as children—that eventually made us believe it.

Laura, what was it like when Ishmael first came to live with you?
LS: We were both thrown into a foreign country. I had to become a mom to an African boy and he had to become a son to an American woman. I think we both had to listen and observe and ask a lot of questions. We had an amazing thing happen the very first night he was here. He asked me to tell him a story. I couldn’t really think of anything. So I told him I would tell him this African story I had learned 20 years ago. I really wasn’t sure where it had come from or why I was telling it. But as I told it, he began to sing! It turned out to be a Mende story he knew from his childhood. It was an astonishing moment of—just how did he end up in this house in lower Manhattan hearing a Mende story that was forgotten in the war, and out of his mind came a song that he heard in his grandmother’s village? It was about two brothers who through the power of resilience, imagination and song really saved their lives.

That is sort of what happened to us. I learned not to ask certain questions because I wanted him to be able to discover that person he was before the war. And for those muscles of childhood and happiness to get strong enough that when he did tell his story it would not overwhelm him and become the only thing that he related to in his identity, but that he could relate to his goodness.

His appreciation for me, his growing trust, really introduced me to a trust in my own goodness, which was a great gift. There’s this deep connection [between us] that is unexplainable. It began a conversation, which still goes on today. We learn from each other the importance of storytelling—the importance of speaking one’s truth.

Storytelling is also a form of healing. Laura, can you talk about your work and the role of storytelling in conflict resolution?
LS: What I know about storytelling is what gave me the inner courage to recognize the strength of Ishmael’s basic goodness, as something more transformative and powerful than the incident of being turned into a killer.

I’m a storyteller and committed to the benefits of that activity in itself. That process really keeps alive very important capacities one needs to envision a future, to overcome hopelessness, to have a sense to live with what’s happened in your life and go forward. It allows people to move beyond fixation on victimization.

But there is a second half to the storytelling. We live by the stories we believe. We are dealing with an activity that is kind of the very nature of mind itself. So learning how to listen, and really understand the deeper ramifications of how a story can actually separate, destroy, manipulate, or how a story can liberate, comfort, heal and open is a really important discernment.

I work for an environmental group, I work at peacemaking, and I work in tolerance and try to awaken and activate this capacity for flexible thinking for generosity, compassion and awareness.

One thing that struck me was when Ishmael talked about the fragility of happiness during the war.
LS: During the first three months after Ishmael arrived, I had taken him with me on many tours. He heard a lot of stories. He rode a bicycle, he went swimming, he met friends and so forth. It was a chance for him to have a taste of his childhood and strengthen that child inside him. He said to me, “I thought that my joy had been destroyed, but I’ve had such a great three months and I recognize that joy is still inside of me. It wasn’t destroyed.” And I was almost dancing around the house. I said, “Well, I think Ishmael, that you will really live, you will not only survive, but that joy will get stronger and stronger.”

I work with many kids from Sierra Leone who have had hands or arms amputated or were rape victims—great suffering. They are the most cheerful people and the most committed to helping other people make a decent life. They are such an inspiration—they have managed to take this hell and transform it into medicine. I feel I am so lucky to be exposed to this.

We sometimes try to hide from ourselves and from children the truth of death, the consequences of things, and the obstacles that come up in life, but we are willing to promote wars. These kids know something so intrinsic about the preciousness of living and the truth of how easy it is to be drawn into suffering and violence and how hard it is to get out of it. They have something to teach us, to liberate us, actually. I find it immensely interesting that right now we are all interested in this. It’s not unrelated to the environment and it’s not unrelated to social issues. It is at the core. We have taken our children and put them as fodder on the front lines. What does that mean? That we are willing to eliminate that which is a potential for the future for diamonds or a story that one government tells about somebody else.

Ishmael, you recently returned to Sierra Leone for the documentary Bling. What impact did this trip have on you?
IB: [One of the things that struck me] was how there are a tremendous number of young people recovering from the war with not a lot of options. The government is not doing much to help, and the political corruption that caused the war is still there today. I’m starting a non-profit foundation to raise money to give opportunities for those children [so they] have the option to move on with their lives.

For more information about Laura and Ishmael visit and The Ishmael Beah Foundation ( will be launched this year.

To see an Interview with Ishmael Beah go to or