April 04, 2003
Michael Kelly, 1957-2003
Michael Kelly, The Atlantic Monthly's editor-at-large and Washington Post columnist, was killed in Iraq yesterday. According to the Washington Post, Kelly died in a Humvee accident while embedded with the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
Kelly was a favorite of mine. He had an amazing talent for advancing a powerful point in such an eloquent and subtle and, sometimes, humorous fashion that you wanted to read it again just to admire his wordsmithing.
Kelly's recent columns are vivid accounts of war and warriors. On March 19, I linked to his report from Kuwait on the 3rd's final preparations for invasion. Included are observations from privates and generals about their goals, intentions and worries. Ironically, Kelly reports that some are concerned about the risk of vehicle accidents posed by a lightning fast invasion:
There are other issues. Blount mentioned the danger of accidents in a force of about 9,000 vehicles that would try to move faster than any invasion in history. Austin mentions fratricidal casualties in an environment characterized by massive and varied American firepower. But while no commander expects serious organized resistance from most Iraqi forces, Sterling predicts fighting from elite forces and Baath Party apparatchiks "who are less worried about what Americans will do to them than what their fellow Iraqis will do."
All real worries, but in the terms of war, worries are luxuries. The overall view is expressed by Austin: "We can see them. And what we can see, we can hit, and what we can hit, we can kill, and the kill will be catastrophic." And by Sterling: "A thousand things can happen to make life absolutely miserable for us. There is not one thing that can happen to stop us."
Just before he was killed, Kelly filed his last report; he described the 3rd's battle to capture a vital bridge spanning the Euphrates. The Americans won and the 3rd Infantry pressed on. Kelly concluded:
There were no American fatalities. By full dusk, the sporadic mortar fire had ceased, and everything was quiet except for an occasional bit of light arms fire in the farm fields beyond the bridgehead.
Rest in peace, Mike.
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