It’s an age-old axiom: if you don’t support the war, you don’t support the troops. And Peggy Logue couldn’t disagree more.
When Peggy’s nineteen-year-old son, U.S. Marine Michael Logue, is deployed to a volatile area of Iraq, Peggy suddenly faces an alarming challenge to her mama bear sensibilities. She struggles to remain silent, desperate to protect her son.
Peggy’s protests, her stress over Mike’s deployment, and her fierce pride in her son hurtle her along an emotional roller coaster for the entire year of Mike’s tour. She asks the tough questions and demands answers. What she discovers, however, is human nature’s predilection for violence. Only by becoming warriors for peace will war cease to exist.
Intense, raw, and profoundly honest, Skin in the Game illustrates the human side of war and the daily struggle for peace. But even more, it is the story of the struggle of an anti-war mama bear and her son in combat listening, respecting, and truly loving each other.
Introduction “What?” “He’s going to Iraq,” First Sergeant Halbig repeats while distracted by some other important responsibility found in his papers scattered on his desk. Jerry and I sit numbed and speechless. “Why weren’t we told? When was this decision made? Does Mike know?” The questions blurt out of my instantly parched mouth and trembling voice. “No, Mike doesn’t know yet,” he answers while still fidgeting with papers. “When do you tell him?” I push through feeling that my heart may explode. “When he gets back from SOI,” Sergeant Halbig casually responds. “But no! How will he get ready?” I question in panic. “Everything he needs is in his sea bag,” is the quick and confident reply. “No! How…how…?” My voice tries to find words that ask how I deal with this news. How do I deal with this? What do I do? How did this happen? Mike wasn’t supposed to go to Iraq. So I say “how does he get ready?” But I am asking for much more. Sgt. Halbig totally misses the meaning of my questions. He looks at me quizzically. He must be saying to himself, “What?” He appears stumped. I know this is “business as usual” for him. But it is not for us. This is frightening. It is like receiving a death sentence. “You have two weeks to live,” kind of death sentence. Sergeant Halbig attempting to show interest and understanding just says, “I’m sorry, we just follow orders. These decisions are made ‘up the chain.’ ” Jerry and I feel like we have fallen through a hole and a trap door shuts and locks. There is nothing we can do. Mike, “property of the United States Government” is going to Iraq. I tell Sgt. Halbig that I will call Mike that night. He shrugs an “okay” and then we flood him with questions that he either refuses to answer or can’t because he is “just following orders.” We remind him of the promises made to Mike and the contract he signed stating that he would be in the Delayed Entry Program, would go to college and learn to fly for the Marines. Sergeant Halbig can’t find it since they have “just moved into our offices.” Mike’s paper work is “here somewhere.” Besides, there is some “loop-hole that voids the contract,” especially if “we are at war.” The conversation is more and more frustrating and our immediate concern is to tell Mike and to go see him. We leave the Drill Center in Columbus feeling like we have picked up the weight from Atlas, stuffed it into our back pack and heaved it onto our shoulders. And our heads bend to the ground. Now what? What do we do? Jerry and I can barely speak. We each deal with the shock in our own way. Jerry is a good problem solver and I can sense his mind reeling with thoughts about what to do. I am feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. “We should go see him tomorrow,” I interject into Jerry’s pensiveness. “He may not be allowed visitors,” Jerry responds not wanting to make a quick decision. “We need to see him,” I insist. I sound forceful and feel frightened. “We’ll think it through and see what Mike wants.” “They said he wasn’t going. How can they change their minds? Do they think we are just pawns and they can move us around at their will?” I begin to cry. We become silent and continue our drive home lost in our shock. That evening we call Mike. “Honey, Sgt Halbig says you are going to Iraq.” Silence. “Mike?” “Yeah, I hear you.” After another thoughtful pause he says, “I’ve been expecting it… Might as well go and get it over with.” “I am so sorry, Honey. None of us expected this.” “I know, Mom, it will be okay.” “He says you’ll go to Twenty-Nine Palms right after School Of Infantry. You should be able to catch up on the training. The deployment to Iraq would be in early March.” Silence. “Mike, we would like to come and see you.” “This is my only free weekend before training ends.” “Okay, great. We’ll pack up and leave early tomorrow.” “I’ll have Saturday and Sunday liberty. Maybe we can go to the beach.” We talk longer but our words attempt to cover the devastation we are feeling, total surprise, and total helplessness. Jerry and I are told we don’t need to come to the Family Readiness meeting in December in Columbus before the Unit leaves for Twenty-Nine Palms, California, because Mike is “not going to Iraq.” At this meeting the families are told the plan for the Unit and what they should expect and how to prepare themselves and their Marine. Now we have to figure out how to prepare and play catch up. And do it alone. And so does Mike. The next morning we drive to North Carolina to visit with Mike at Camp LeJeune. It is cold and rainy, dark and windy the whole weekend, the weather mirroring our feelings. Mike shows us around the base. We share some meals, our thoughts and some laughter. Then, we leave. When we return home Jerry and I call Sgt. Halbig and ask him if we can have some time with Mike when he completes SOI before he will be sent to Twenty-Nine Palms. At first he refuses and acts like we are being unreasonable. Several days later we call again and are told Mike would have a few days before leaving to join his Unit in California. I don’t know if this was to comfort us or just a convenient decision based on air flight availability. Here we are now, looking for Iraq on the world map and looking squarely in her face. This was never supposed to happen. We are promised, and Mike is promised that as a Marine in the Delayed Entry Program, he will be able to go to college, and learn to fly. Mentally I flash back to the thoughts and feelings I had when Mike first tells me he wants to become a Marine. My thoughts are panicked. What about peace? “Giving peace a chance?” What about sitting down and talking, and listening? Respecting others? Respecting their culture and way of life? What about a peaceful solution to problems? What about love, creation, life? Have you thought about the Peace Corps? And what about your ideals, virtue, values? What have I taught you? My mind reels in anxiety as thoughts fall over each other trying to be expressed in urgency, like trying to singly stamp out a forest fire. And…How can you go off to somewhere and kill people? Isn’t this what the military does? What about killing people? Can you really point a gun at someone and fire? Can you take another life? What does killing feel like? What will it do to you? Isn’t it you who prayed with me a thanksgiving as we cut the branches to carve a path through our woods? Isn’t it you who prayed a gentle prayer while holding the fledgling bird that fell from her nest? I grieve to think that what you know about life and its sacredness might get brushed aside as you face violence and destruction. I grieve for your soul. These thoughts came before Boot Camp and before the deployment. And now Mike is being sent away and may face physical harm but will indeed face spiritual harm and we can do nothing to stop it. We are naïve when he asks us for our signatures at seventeen to become a Marine. We are made promises that we trust. And Mike is filled with dreams of being a warrior. Jerry and I have learned so much and want to share this experience with others. It has taken more than three years since the return of Lima 3/25th to be able to write this. It has not been easy. I could not face it at first and would rather not have gone here as often as I have had to. There is a force behind me I can’t explain. A friend in my writer’s group through her tears said that when I said to them “I feel pushed by a wind” she saw Lima Company fallen Marines standing behind me. Maybe it is for them that this story is written. I feel it is a story for mothers, fathers, families and spouses who have the honor and terror of having a warrior in their life. I know Mike is a Marine for noble even idealistic reasons. He sees himself in service for his country. He wants to serve, to give back. He has no real enemies. He has had to learn to see another as the enemy. He wants to help people. I share how we feel while Mike is away in war. Jerry and I want peo
Peggy Logue is the mother of three children. Her youngest became a U.S. Marine and at the age of 19, was in some of the fiercest combat in Iraq with Lima Company 3/25th. She holds a master’s degree in education and has had several articles published in books and journals. Logue lives in Lebanon, Ohio, with her husband, Jerry.