On the streets of Fallujah, Iraq in 2004, veteran journalist Kevin Sites interviewed William Wold (Linked Video, begins at 23:00), an emotional young Marine after the battle who killed killed six rebels in seconds before recounting his experience.
Sites’ candid conversation with Wold is one of many in his new book, “Things They Can’t Tell: Stories Soldiers Won’t Tell You About What They Did” seen, did or failed to do during the war.” Seven years after first meeting him, Sites recounts the story of William Wold and what happened after his return in the opening chapter:
William Wold seemed fine at first when he returned home from Iraq, according to his mother, Sandi Wold, when I spoke to her on the phone seven years after my conversation with her son in Fallujah . Wold begged his mother to sign a parental consent form when he wanted to join the Marines at age 17, taking additional online classes to graduate a year early to do so. But after four years of service, he had enough.
“They were going to promote him to sergeant, but he didn’t want to re-enlist. He just wanted to be normal,” she said, echoing his own words from our video interview. His much-anticipated separation from the Marines was due in March 2004, but in the interim she has promised to entertain him and a few Marine friends. a trip to Las Vegas as a gift back home. She and her second husband, John Wold (William’s stepfather, surnamed William), met three Marines at the MGM Grand and placed them in the adjoining room next to theirs. Sandi is excited to see her son come home safe and naked, and she wants to see him leave the war in Iraq as quickly as possible.
“There is no way I can show you how much I appreciate you being willing to die for me,” she recalls telling all three. But anyway, she tried her best, even hiring strippers in the room for them through an ad in the Yellow Pages.
“They convinced me to buy them suits and rent a long limo. These guys showed up and they went out partying that night, these guys were lured in by pimps, I was stupid to spend so much money,” she laughs as she recalls. “Those Marines had some drinks, just the three of them. The hotel called my room—’Are these Marines yours?’—as they staggered down the hallway.”
When strippers showed up at the Marines’ room, Sandi said that the sound of partying was like the battlefield itself. Then, around midnight, there was a loud banging on the adjoining door.
“The door opened and it was Silly Billy, drunk and laughing, and he introduced us to them [the strippers]… I could have gone my whole life without seeing them,” Sandi said.
“He said, ‘Mom, I’m going to need another $1,200.’ , Happy as can be.”