Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
January 27, 2005

Our Gang

Yesterday, I saw an image from Iraq that really struck me.

It was a stencil — almost like a gang insignia — on the wall of a petrol station that had just been raided by U.S. soldiers.  The symbol was a skull with the the number “24″ inscribed in it. 

 Us.Yimg.Com P Ap 20050125 Capt.Mac10301251028.Iraq Mosul Mac103

Having looked at a good number of newswire photographs, I’ve started to recognize the work of particular photographers and even some outfits in which they’ve been embedded. In this case, I won’t mention the infantry unit that conducted this raid, but the caption identified it as having a “24″ in it. 

One thing I’ve been grappling with lately is how young American (and British) soldiers could have come to abuse Iraqi prisoners.  Yesterday, I happened to hear Seymour Hirsch on the radio.  He thinks it’s ridiculous the military is blaming prisoner abuse on “a couple bad apples.”  Hirsh described our troops as mostly young and naive. He explained that many are from small, out of the way places, or from guard units with virtually no training in handling suspects, let alone prisoners.  He felt the military was denying its natural “in loco parentis” responsibility — providing for its soldiers in a similar way a university provides for the guidance and supervision of its students.

Not having a military background, I can’t functionally explain this skull symbol.  It could have a completely practical purpose, perhaps signifying the building has been inspected for weapons.  Even if it’s functional, though, I can’t help but believe it has a dual role.  Graffiti, as I understand it, typically involves the marking of territory by groups or individuals who feel dispossessed.  If this is even partially the case here, then my question is:  What instinct would cause this unit to leave its signature (such a macabre one, by the way) on this building?  What does it say about the mind of the “24″ that they would want to mark (you could also say, deface) property they are charged with protecting?

Because I knew the designation of the regiment, and because I was curious, I decided to search for more images of this unit.  I found out that these guys are stationed in an extremely volatile Iraqi city, and have been tasked — for the last month, at least — to search homes, businesses and buildings for insurgents and weapons. 

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve done a few (somewhat controversial) posts about the imposition of U.S. troops into “the Iraqi domestic space.”  Maybe the overlap was inevitable, but I discovered I had even shown this unit in one of my write-ups (See:  — Someone’s Been Sitting in my Chair …and They’ve Broken it all to Pieces!.  It’s the shot where the soldier is coming through the door and the little boy is in back past the green curtain.)

Looking at a few weeks of images from this regiment didn’t lessen my skepticism about its mission, but it gave me much greater sympathy for the young men carrying it out.  The degree of anxiety and unpredictability, and the level of constant suspicion directed toward mostly innocent people, is almost beyond comprehension.

 Us.Yimg.Com P Afp 20050117 Capt.Sge.Cij95.170105232658.Photo04.Photo.Default-253X380

Here, one of the soldiers has to guard for attack at the same time a “public affairs mission” is taking place at a primary school.

 Us.Yimg.Com P Ap 20050117 Capt.Mac10501171207.Iraq Mosul Mac105

Here, a couple of men are having to storm someone’s house.

 Us.Yimg.Com P Ap 20050127 Capt.Mac10201271316.Iraq Mosul Mac102

Not that far removed from wearing the yellow hat, these guys have got to feel like intruders and ghosts at the same time.

The farthest back I was able to go with the images was about a month.  Toward the end, I came upon another shot that jumped out at me. Besides capturing the incredible stress of actually finding and disposing of weapons, this picture seemed to also say something about the desperate attempt to have the last word in a dialogue of insanity.

 Us.Yimg.Com P Afp 20050109 Capt.Sge.Uvv19.090105005050.Photo04.Photo.Default-384X257

Again, the skull might have a totally practical function.  I look at that tag, however, and it also says a number of other things.  It says we are marked men surrounded by darkness. It says how angry we are.  It says were are no longer names, but a number.  It says we are the deliverers of death, and also its recipient. 

To me, the symbol also makes prisoner abuse a little more comprehensible.  If this Pentagon is going to drop young people into hell with not enough tether, I can see how — after a certain amount of time — those kids might want somebody to pay for it.

(image 1: AP Photo/Jim MacMillan; image 2: AFP/Mauricio Lima: image 3: AP Photo/Jim MacMillan; image 4: AP Photo/Jim MacMillan; image 5: AFP/Mauricio Lima.  All images via YahooNews.)

  • http://www.leeriot.com steven

    hey juan,
    i read you daily
    anyway. i dont always agree with you however i was provoked by the story on the skull 24 tag. it was truly powerful and shocking and so many things. thanks for helping others see what they may normally not see.
    anyway take care
    steven
    LEE RIOT

  • collin

    You may notice, maybe you didn’t, that the skull is actually the insignia for marvel comic’s “The Punisher”, who was an ex special forces vigilante. I don’t know about you, but I find this hiliarious, in between bouts of feeling sick of course.

  • kilr0y

    You wont get many pics because these guys just got there, they replaced us in NOV. For pics from earlier in this city, look for the Indian head patch (you should have a field day with that;)
    Just wondering, if a group of people are trained to(among other things) have to take life, what symbols would you expect them to use?

  • Rich

    Strange, you’re a cartoonist but you’re not familiar with one of the most iconic symbols in comics? That’s like not recognizing the Superman “S” to me. The patch on their shoulders signifies they are with the 24th Infantry Division which is probably why 24 is on the skull. Many military unit insignia involve some form of negative imagery and I’ll bet its been that way for thousands of years. It’s about as functional as territorial pissing. It conveys the message to your enemy, “this is ours, don’t fuck with us” so it’s not so different from gang graffiti.

  • Stan Lee

    Like others have stated, that insignia is from “The Punisher” comic. Alongside Spiderman and the Xmen, it’s instantly recognizable by most people, especially since a movie came out for it about 18 months ago.
    Obviously these soldiers have adopted the insignia, attached their own unit number, and are simply exchanging a little tit for tat versus the grafiti left by the insurgents. I’m not sure this helps win over hearts and minds since most Iraqis probably don’t see the mark as anything but a skull and therefore a threat.

  • http://utopiagoggles.com Failed Hedonist

    I thought you might enjoy my brief history of humankind

  • http://marbel.info/blog/ dutchmarbel

    I’m not sure this helps win over hearts and minds since most Iraqis probably don’t see the mark as anything but a skull and therefore a threat.
    Explaining that it is a symbol for “The Punisher” may not help.

  • Rob

    The skull is certainly a tag, marking territory. I wouldn’t expect the Iraqi people to appreciate it, since supposedly it’s their country. As for the bright yellow hat, although it looks like a bike helmet, it’s purpose could be the same as an orange hunting vest (i.e. please don’t shoot my kid while we go to the park).
    Any comment on the Vietnam era “tag” of playing cards left on suspected VC (“suspected” as in dead) bodies?

  • BSD

    Tagging is typical of gang-related activities as a means to mark territorial divisions; usually territories are actually drug-trading spheres of influence more than “‘hoods”. More often than not those territories are long-lasting and require a relatively small amout of violence to maintain in spite of rival gangs’ stated hatred of, and willingness to kill one another out of pride. People who join gangs are usually socio-economically “deprived”, feel threatened, or feel alienated from the predominate societal norms in which they live. Nearly all gang members though share the personality trait of being a “follower” or “sheep”; they find comfort, security, respect, friendship and a leadership structure in gangs. Gangs also use revisionist (at best) historical mythology to build a sense of racial/cultural/national pride and romantic purpose (see: Aztec mythology as used by Mexican gangs).
    …any connections to the visual post and to the plight of American troops in Iraq?

  • Just Some Liberal Cynic

    Rob, I think the use of “death cards” in VN was probably a rare thing, “Apocalypse now” notwithstanding. By 1969-70, anyway, the practice already had the status of folklore, along with a lot of even more bizarre things, but I didn’t ever see any used. Interesting you mention it, though, in this context because both the ace of spades and a skull (not nearly as sylized as the Punisher’s)–and often together–showed up a lot in “soldier art” (helmets, flak jak, rat boxes, walls, etc.) Seems to me it was probably less about territoriality and more a sideways doff of the hat to the Random Gods Of War…intended as good juju much the same way, I guess, as the appearance of dice and other gambling-related symbols in WWII nose art.
    JSLC

  • http://glennhauman.malibulist.com/archives/002466.html View From Above

    Liberators or Punishers?

    From BAGnewsNotes, in a post called Our Gang: Yesterday, I saw an image from Iraq that really struck me. It was a stencil — almost like a gang insignia — on the wall of a petrol station that had just…

  • Saibot 99

    I think the most interesting aspect of your commentary is the recognition of the irony in the use of the skull symbol – and as several people of have correctly noticed – it’s not just any skull, but that of “The Punisher”. The layered complexity of symbology grows ever “deeper” I suppose. An outsider, such as an Iraqi in this case, certainly would certainly not appreciate the irony, even if they did on average recognize the pop-culture reference. In fact… that would just make it even more insulting. That aside…I bet the people who paint these tags aren’t doing it for anyone’s understanding but their own. I think the symbol allows the soldiers to have something to blame for what they feel they have to do. They are still human afterall, and we have to believe are good people in bad situation (at least on average). Any evil left in their wake can therefore be transferred to the skull. From an Iraqi point of view -it’s just another confusing icon from America.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/legalstep/ legalstep

    The skull is from the comic the Punisher, which seems appropriate.

  • http://www.lananfrank.net/lana/ amanuensis

    What I think is interesting about the military “tagging” is that it is a defensive manuever. Tagging is done to deliniate the space that your gang controls — a mental fence. There is no green zone where these guys are, so they’ve put up a visual fence to keep others out.
    If you are in complete control of an area, a fence isn’t necessary, a tag isn’t necessary.
    It also shows how they define themselves: only as the 24th (death) regiment, not as allying with those Iraquis not involved in the resistance. They are very alone out there.

  • joe foster

    Very nice punisher tag, go tropic lightning!

  • 3/325

    in the other pic with the skull what is written in Arabic? can someone translate? it’s done by the same unit, prob. by their interpreter. can someone translate?

  • Stan Lee

    Not likely done by their translater. The insurgents constantly spraypaint grafiti threats and warnings everywhere. Most of them consist of threatening death to the infidels and/or American collaborators, etc.
    The Punisher symbol says “I was here”. As a practical measure, the symbol may be a means of marking buildings that the unit’s soldiers already raided, for logistical purposes. As soldiers move building to building throughout a section of town, it’d be easy for different teams to hit the same building twice. Arab towns aren’t arranged in convenient grids like most American towns. Their buildings are pretty much erected haphazardly wherever there was space at the time.

  • http://www.nintendorks.com ChrisV82

    Besides being a Vietnam veteran, it’s important (maybe) to note that the Punisher’s family was gunned down by mobsters, and he spends his life fighting crime with lethal force. Maybe these soldiers see a parallel, with them in the role of the Punisher and Islamic militants in the role of gangs and drug dealers.
    Of course, then it’s just weird because they’re basically a “gang” of sorts, tagging walls and the like.
    As liberal as I am, I’ve always found the Punisher to be a great character. He’s a great escape when you just want to say goodbye to reason and embrace the “screw all these criminals, just kill ‘em” mentality. I’m sure being in the hellhole they’re in, the Punisher is a comforting symbol and icon.

  • http://www.liberalavenger.com The Liberal Avenger

    Great piece.

  • duncan

    If anyone out there is familiar with computer games, this is rather similar to the “spray” that you can do in the multiplayer game Counterstrike, in which terrorist and anti-terrorist forces are pitted against each other…

  • http://cube.snieb.com Pxtl

    Well… CounterStrike isn’t a good example – the “Spray” in counterstrike was just a holdover from the “Spray” in Half-Life DM, which Counterstrike’s code is based on. So its not like the CounterStrike designers actively made the decision to implement “spray” decals, it just got grandfathered in from a rather normal FPS with a few neat features.
    At any rate, the many other posters are quite right: this is obviously the “Punisher” skull. The stylization is the same, the black background is the same. Actually, its so crisp it looks like they just use a stencil to paint it.
    At any rate, I can understand the troops – they’re in a situation where a comic-book superhero like The Punisher is an idol for them – the guy who wins and does good things just because he’s got the most guns. Its still phenominally stupid – this is not a way to be “winning their hearts and minds”.
    O.T.: I’ve always fealt that The Punisher wasn’t a good character on his own, but that the fun of him came not from his own character, but how he played off of the other, more traditional superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Good, clean guys like Spider-Man having to deal with the ethical issue of working with a many who’s obviously just a psycho with guns.

  • Captain Sensible

    2 comments. Firstly, Iraqi towns are actually nearly all arranged in convenient grids, at least, in the desert, flat part of the country. Secondly, the graffiti is obviously American, it indicates that the building is a “hanging line” (as in a clothes line) for terrorists (binaya mashjab alirhabiyin). Cheers keep up the good work

  • http://zencomix.blogspot.com/ zencomix

    Perhaps the “24″ has the meaning not only of the number of the regiment, but some kind of reference to the TV show “24″ . I’m not familiar with the show other than seeing some commercials for it. Kiefer Sutherland is always screaming, and they’re trying to find “terrorists”….

  • duncan

    Maybe I didn’t make myself very clear– I’m suggesting that the American soldiers played Counterstrike when they were younger, and are acting like gamers playing counterstrike.

  • http://electionfraudandchristianity.blogspot.com TateMatthews

    Great analysis. Feel so bad for everyone involved. Who is behind BushCo? Skull and Bones and their Bildenburg secret society, Trilateral Commission, etc.
    Support Sen. Boxer and Rep. Conyer’s for their very brave actions against Bush and Company mad World Dominion plan. Go to their sites and offer thanks for standing up to the continuation of the Third Reich.

  • Terrible

    A veteran here (OK so it’s been 22 years) and I think that Rich came the closests to explaining it properly. Yes it certainly would be that the 24 is for the unit and skulls and deaths heads are known to be quite common for military units over the years. A great many unit ensignia contain destruction and/or death. It is possible that one reason for the stencil is to designate the building as having been searched and by who. At the same time however it does serve a “psy-ops” function in the same why as the gang grafiti by saying this is our territory and “fuck you”. It certainly doesn’t help the ‘war effort’ unless the one objective is to destroy.

  • leo

    Is this common in urban areas in Iraq now, and/or in the past?

  • bob

    you liberals will never grasp the simple fact that our military is trained to kill our enemies. that’s their job. they provide peace through death. hopefully minimal body counts but any enemy that stands in our militarys path will be greated with unrelenting force until they are disposed of permanently. we aren’t there to “play nice” and hold hands. we are there to kill insurgents….period. peace and democracy are simply the benefits of the job. they are not the job. killing is the job. get it?

  • Rich

    This goes out to “[email protected]”. Yeah I think everyone understands what armies are for. You are the one missing the point which is: what are we using our army for and is it justified? This debate continues and maybe only future historians will be able to accurately answer that question. If engaging in that debate makes your head hurt then zip it and go watch wrestling or whatever it is you do to drown out the pain of analytical thought.

  • joe.macday

    it seems ironic foot soldiers of imperialist ventures find some type of alliance with “the punisher”, who by all purposes, was an anti-hero: a rogue who didn’t do the bidding of corrupt rich corporatists– represented in the comic as the mafia….hmmm.

  • some guy

    I concur that that’s a Punisher skull.
    Signifies two things to me:
    1) The idea that the whole endeavor is punishment for 9/11. I don’t think that’s ever fallen out of favor with your more gung-ho types.
    2) Moral nihilism. The embrace of an anti-hero as their mascot. On some level, these guys don’t feel all that heroic about what they’ve been asked to do.
    Bob, you’re a jackass.
    “peace and democracy are simply the benefits of the job.”
    For killing to produce peace and democracy as “benefits” is as delicate as for cutting to produce a bypassed aortal blockage. You might as well blather about how us liberals don’t understand that the purpose of a knife is to cut, when the doctor is stabbing away more like a knife-fighter than a surgeon.
    I wonder if you’ll get that the soldiers are the knife, not the doctor? And never mind that it’s using a hunting knife for a task better suited to a scalpel. Or that the overall objective keeps getting muddled by political externalities, which has everything to do with where this bunch of kids might get the idea they live and kill and die in a moral void.

  • DoryO

    [email protected]” says:
    “you liberals will never grasp the simple fact…”
    The “simple fact” is so alluring. So easy to adopt and repeat.
    Bob, I invite you to delve into the rewarding study of not-so-simple facts. You’re old enough now. You can handle it. Don’t fear the truth because it’s not simple.

  • Ben

    I find it interesting that they used “The Punisher” as their insignia, because I’ve read a few of those comics, and while some heroes (such as my favorite, Spider Man) or anti-heroes (such as my other favorite, Spawn) have some sense of ambiguity or moral conflict, The Punisher is basically about blowin’ the baddies up but good. To the writer’s credit, they did introduce some self-doubt to Frank Castle’s character, but the basic idea is that drug lords kill his family, so he goes on a lifelong mission of pure vengence. When a criminal killed his Uncle Ben, Peter Parker embarked on a mission of fighting for what he thought was right, which meant (in part) no killing no matter how morally repugnant the criminal.
    Then again, maybe I’m reading too much signifigance into a comic book character. Maybe I’ll go read Foucault’s theories on the nature of power…

  • Candice

    In response to “3/325″, I believe, who asked about the written Arabic in the photo with the ‘Punisher’ skull and the number 24… Without knowing if there are any other words written, itt says: “Building afflicted (condemned, destroyed) the terrorists.” That’s literal. If it was indeed written by the terrorists, one can assume that it reads: This building afflicted by the terrorists.
    However, my first thought when I saw the picture was that perhaps it read “This building free of terrorists”, meaning the army had already cleared it. Upon checking my dictionary, since I didn’t recognize the second word, I learned that wasn’t the case.

  • Fallujah’s Finest

    What a crock. It must be nice to be able to sit back and “analyze” the war from some office. I can see it now…sipping on a cup of coffee…”this must be some deep, hidden anxiety faced by the poor military…” Bottom line is that it is a logo that marks a battlespace as being cleared. And yeah, it strikes terror in the heart of the Mooj (Mujahadeen). It is a warning…come back, and we will kill you. Go chew on that.

  • Nobody

    The Punisher tag is ludicrous. the punisher was a vigilante, as such he is outside of the law. how’s that for analysis. He’s a loner. The US armed forces are not loners’ they are a group of people that had any humanity stripped of them in order to be the state’s killer robots. They only way for them to survive out there is to take on such a fanatsy that they are there to punish the evil-doers (the vast Arab crowds blend into one another and all become the enemy), and for their brains to ignore what they are actually doing over there (murder) and create some sort of revenge fanatsy agaisnt a people that had not done anything to them.
    And to Fallujah’s finest: real great job in blasting a city to rubble, and getting rid of any observers and even occupying the hospitals in the Great City of Mosques (a war crime-now you can sleep at night knowing what a great service you did to the world, that your great army is now no different from Saddam’s, or Hitler’s) so that no civilian deaths could be reported, thanks for getting rid of the evidence for your masters…you make great slaves for the elite…are you gettign the benefits of the oil contracts ? Are you gettign those weapsons contracts to supply the Iraqi army, or resupply the US ? You doofus: you are being used by not even your govenment but a bunch of corporations that don’t see beyong the tips of their noses, theya re the ones sitting behind the sdesk and figuring out where you will be sent next, and all you ahve to do is blindly obey and not think…seriously: when was the last time the US army ws used to defend America ? you should read what some great soldier said of the Maries he was in, he didn’t live in a fantasy world but rather told it how it is, didn’t pull any puches. He wasn’t a yes-man, but a thinking soldier that saw beyond the “chain of command” and knew EXACTLY what he was fighting for, and once he left he marines, he wanted to tell the world who and what he was. I don’t think the soldiers in Iraq have any clue. His name was Smedley Butler, and he was the most highly decorated marine general at the time. go read some words by him.

  • Publius

    I agree with the guy who pointed out that it’s the military’s job to KILL PEOPLE, and, uh, let’s quit pussy-footing around with this here! It’s pointless to go around in circles. The military kills people and takes territory by force. That’s what they do.
    Now… that’s not what we need in the 21st century of asymmetrical warfare. The military as we know it really does need to be remade– but not in the way that the excreable Rumsfeld wants it.
    What this needs is a police force. We can’t beat around the Bush anymore on this one either, and I’m not going to go around that circle. We’ve made this mistake already in Vietnam and now Iraq… let’s finally learn the lesson.
    What is needed in Iraq is good police work and good government and winning hearts and minds of the public, so that *they* keep the insurgents at bay– and so that we don’t create more insurgents. Keep the streets safe, deliver public services, do good public works, get people back to work. Our military doesn’t know how to do those things; it is utterly foreign to them, and even when they manage to do a good job of it (i.e. the Balkans), they hate it. They want to win territory and kill enemies… not be a Peace Corps riding around in tanks and carrying M-16’s.
    Warfare as our military is trained to do it is obsolete. Today what we need is a combination of UN-style and Peace Corps-style aid and Interpol-style and FBI-style infiltration and cell-busting and good police work. I’m now convinced: only that will defeat terrorism.

  • SPOOK

    The deaths head symbol we are all getting fizzed up over has been used by numerous armies and fighting groups over the centuries. However the most sinister use of this emblem was by the waffen SS during W.W.11. The emblem stikes fear into the hearts of many a tortured Jew or non conforming Nazi. Do the squeaky clean American boys really need to be associated with that imagery?. After all the Allies are the good guys in this conflict right?…………Wrong! The invasion of Iraq was ill conceived from the outset. Governments lied to suit the ends of corporate America and the troops are being used as pawns in a game to secure oil reserves for America. Freedom is not the aim of this war now. It has corrupted into a blood fest and the innocents are the victims……..AGAIN ….so maybe the deaths head is the correct emblem to use for NEW THIRD REICH

  • HTinNC

    The Punisher? Gee, I thought the grafitti was an attempt to emulate “The Phantom” (ie Ghost Who Walks) – that purple tights-suited, dual .45 automatic-equipped dude from the babyboomer Sunday comics. He wore (and maybe still does!) a skull ring that would make a mark on the jaw of defeated villains, so the police would know who had left them, bound and utterly defeated, on the steps of the jailhouse.
    Phantom or Punisher, it’s worth noting that it’s not “the jolly roger” and that it has an element of humor, albeit “black humor”, that is typically American and not totally a bad thing. It’s closer to “Kilroy was here” than “Fuck Iraq”…

  • http://www.outsidethabox.blogspot.com jmcmaster

    This is truly disturbing, our army is no more than a street gang in a rival territory.

  • http://www.vecindadgrafica.com/blogVecindad/archives/000416.html Vecindad Gráfica Diseño Gráfico

    Esténciles como forma de marcar territorio

    Los Esténciles como sabemos se encuentran en todas partes del…

  • http://www.vecindadgrafica.com/blogVecindad/archives/000416.html Vecindad Gráfica Diseño Gráfico

    Esténciles como forma de marcar territorio

    Los Esténciles como sabemos se encuentran en todas partes…

  • jack

    I can’t begin to state how wrong, misinformed, and poorly conceived some of the above notions of the meaning of Punisher are. The name of the 1/24 Infantry is Storm Troopers. The logo is similar to the Redskins or the Patriots logo. And it looks pretty cool. Thats it. No deeper meaning.

  • http://acanadianviewpoint.blogspot.com/ Mike Shepherd

    “Like others have stated, that insignia is from “The Punisher” comic. Alongside Spiderman and the Xmen, it’s instantly recognizable by most people, especially since a movie came out for it about 18 months ago.”
    “Strange, you’re a cartoonist but you’re not familiar with one of the most iconic symbols in comics?”
    Listen to these two, who live in a bubble. Just because you are familiar with some violent western cartoon figure, doesn’t mean the majority of the world is. Take the blinders off people…we all do not see the world through American eyes.

  • http://anarchy-tv.com Einstein

    Compare this skull with a number, to the skull with a number (in this case 322) in the opening sequence of this Alex Jones video:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2500924140588760933&q=alex+jones&hl=en
    This could be some marking of an order of a secret society, rather than just a unit marking. However, the one on this page bears a striking resemblence to the skull of “the Punisher” comic book hero, which I think is far more likely.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Punisher

  • Jason

    OMFG. Guys relax, the current commander of 2/75th Ranger Battalion was the Unit commander for these guys, who came to be feared for their ferocity and tactics. The symbol, like symbols and standards used through out the ages are designed to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. Marking territory. OF COURSE. It sends a strong message to the enemy that this is our area, and if you want to die, this is a good day to arrive unannounced. I am a fan of Jones’ but you need to understand the difference between something actually being nefarious, and choosing to interpret it that way for your own benefit.

  • ummabdulla

    Jason, to me, your post brings up more questions that it answers. Aren’t these Iraqi people’s homes and schools? Are they all the enemy? (I thought the Americans were there to “liberate” and “help” them.) And how is it that U.S. soldiers mark it as their territory, consider it their area, and have the right to kill anyone who shows up (in what is, after all, really THEIR territory)? That’s not nefarious?

  • frank boss

    I was part of the 1-24 Infantry Reg. proudly serving in Mosul, Iraq from Oct ‘04- Sep. ‘05 We adopted the Punisher skull with the 24 to let the enemy know we are a force to be reckoned with. If a person is connected with terrorism in any way we will show up and handle the situation, in any way necessary at any time.
    I just found this site and have been reading the comments that have been posted since early ‘05 and I can’t believe there are people out there that do not have anything better to do than analyze a symbol. Are you kidding me?
    Maybe some people need security in numbers and certainly not everybody can be a leader, but to post negative comments about American men fighting on foreign soil (so you can continue to speak English freely)is a slap in the face to all those who have fought, no matter how “unjustifiable” the war may be(I cant imagine how many soldiers that have died who are rolling over in their graves). Now I know how the Vietnam era veterans felt when they came home.
    If you would like more information on our unit or myself, you can look me up. A quick warning, it is a myspace page, it may seem childish but it is a damn good way for my Brothers-in-Arms to keep in touch. While you’re at it, check out my “gang members” pages also and tell them how you feel.
    Send me a message and tell me how you feel, only with a reply email adress so I can rebut

  • SaTaN

    you are making to much out of the skull, we were told not to paint it anymore but it was just a piece of our unit left behind and it may not have been the best choice but it isn’t anymore then just that

  • Randall Slaughter

    24 is the unit. I was there. I was in it. I’m sick and tired of people that think that we were over there doing anything other that our job. We didn’t torture prisoners, we didn’t hurt women, children, or men that didn’t try to hurt us first. And it you haven’t been in combat anyway, shut your damn mouth! You don’t know what it’s like to get shot at, or have to walk down a street where death can come from any angle. Have you ever defended the rights of anyone other than yourself? I’m not talking about the time you erased your mothers number of the bathroom stall, either. Have you ever put your life on the line for a people that don’t want you there? If you haven’t find something else to talk about.

  • Ricky

    Ok this is the first time I have seen this and I will tell you all that the 24 on the head of the punisher skull stands for 1-24 INFANTRY. The skull is what we showed to people letting the Insurgency know that the punishers are coming for you. Read the book look at the pics, and  when you look up this fine unit you will find that we are not killers. we just did what we had to to stay alive. Interpret it any way you like but when you see these fine your men you pay respect to them and their fellow soldiers they have lost cause if you don’t you will know what the punisher skull means.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes