22 Soldiers On The Most Horrifying Thing They Saw While Deployed

Being a soldier is as horrifying as it sounds — and here are some stories from Ask Reddit to prove it.
Unsplash / Rhet Noonan

1. A woman stored a bomb inside of her child

“My dad was in the Vietnam war and he said it was reported that a woman put a bomb inside her dead baby (which she must have hallowed out), asked a soldier to hold her child, and they all exploded.” — belindaaa

2. I saw a suicide bomber detonate his car

“At a guard gate for traffic in Baghdad, I watched from a safe distance a suicide bomber detonate his car. The soldier looking into check his papers stepped back quickly the moment before he died in the explosion. He must have seen what was about to happen.” — [deleted]

3. Two men were raping a young girl

“A friend of mine was in the initial push in Baghdad Iraq. A suspicious van was reported. When they arrived it was rocking. They surrounded and figured it would turn up to be a good laugh. When they opened the van what they found was all but funny. Two men were gang rapping a 10 year old girl. Their medic froze as the girl, same age as his own daughter, was crying and bleeding. My friend, a Staff Sergeant, stepped in and held a gauze pad to stop the bleeding. The two men were tried and punished to death by hanging.” — ShawnderSchaf

4. I watched two people burn to death

“Bleeding out and being pissed that I have to do it on the 150 degree tarmac, watching my friends bleed out, watching two people burn to death in an HMMWV when an IED bent the frame and we couldn’t get them out in time, trying to keep a kid distracted while the medics tried and failed to keep her mother and father alive, coming across the body of a child that was absolutely covered in camel spiders.” — ElfinTechnologies

5. They shot down dogs just for the fun of it

“Saw a dude with his brains blown out the top of his skull, spread all out in the grass. Seeing blood and guts and dead bodies never really bothered me, unless it’s a friend or allied fighter.

Probably the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen is when some Afghan commandos shot a dog during one of our missions. It isn’t unusual to shoot dogs, as they’re often very aggressive and you can’t risk a rabies bite, so they’re frequently put down if it seems like they’ll be in the way when you’re trying to search a compound. However sometimes the commandos would just shoot dogs to shoot something. They shot one such dog that was in the middle of the road, mostly minding its own business. But they didn’t kill it. They just shot it once, right through the snout. The dog was huge, maybe 50 lbs, and it was about 100 feet from me as I watched it freak out yelping, clawing at its fucked up snout as blood squirted out in spurts like it was a fucking Tarantino movie. It kept trying to rub its snout in the dirt, shake its head around… it was horrific and I yelled at our commandos for being fucking idiots as I snapped off a round through its skull, killing it instantly. It doesn’t bother me if we have to kill a dog, that’s just how it is, but don’t make the things suffer goddamnit.” — dumb_vet

6. He watched a man pour gasoline on himself

“He won’t talk to me about it, but he said one time he was on a bus full of american soldiers. Right outside the window in the street next to him a monk in an orange robe douses himself in gasoline and ignites himself. My dad bolted right up out of his seat to go help. As soon as my dad was on his feet, before he could get out, a commanding officer behind him put his hand on my dad’s shoulder and pushed him back down into a seated position. The guy said to my dad, ‘This is politics, we can’t get involved.’ Dad said he had to watch that monk burn to death just a few feet away. He said that monk never moved at all.” — KorranHalcyon

7. The whole squad had been bombed, except him

“Not a soldier, relative to one. My uncle was in Iraq, and was resting with his squadron. They were playing poker over a supply crate and my uncle went to the washroom​. As he was washing his face he heard a huge explosion in the other room. The whole squad had been bombed, and he was the only survivor.” — Neckathrain

8. He was executed for raping a little girl

“One of the soldiers kept vanishing for two hours every night and he didn’t want to say where he was going, so the unit decided to follow him. They discovered that he was going into the village and that he was raping a little girl.

They tried and executed him that night.” — KA1N3R

9. He was kidnapped and tortured

“My great grandad was part of the ‘clean-up’ crew at the end of WW2. But there were still places fighting happened so he was involved.

He was kidnapped by the Japanese and tortured. He could see out of his cell the panther tanks.

He died when he was like in his mid-90s in 2013, but through-out his life when I was alive he was always distant. You could always tell his mind was elsewhere.” — RowanCharlton

10. His best friend died while sitting next to him

“My dad has only two stories he has e ever shared from the First Gulf War. He was a Royal Marine Commando and served for 9 years.

1) ‘We were under attack from mortar and rocket fire. We had our heads down and I was laying next to my best friend. The next moment everything was on fire and my best friend was gone.’

2) ‘We went on patrol with some American jarheads, whilst in a village the whole place was bombed with Sarin gas. A few yanks didn’t get their masks on in time. I tried to help a woman out of a house but she couldn’t stand or see properly with all the smoke, so she stabbed me in the thigh. I got her out.'” — loukitch

11. The supply yard went up in flames

“Watching the supply yard go up in flames after a mortar attack and us standing there with our barracks fire extinguishers trying to keep a clear path so folks could get the injured out.” — faeriecat1

12. The baby was burnt badly and the parents were killed

“Providing overwatch for another position. They were down by a road checking vehicles. A motorcycle with a dad and mom and little baby hit an IED near the checkpoint. Killed mom and dad instantly but the baby was still alive. We watched the whole thing unfold in our optics about four hundred meters away. They tried to do cpr but the lil guy was horribly burned. The rto was crying on the tacsat when he called in to cancel the medevac for the baby. It was terrifying to watch and hear, we just couldn’t do anything, it hit my how totally pointless the whole war there was.” — pmmestuffplease

13. He beat the shit out of her before sleeping with her 

“Woman was prostituting herself (we think), group of men come by, beat the shit out of her then left. About 15 minutes later, one of the men comes back, then him and her go into her house for 30 minutes…” — Heathen06

14. There was a shadow figure in front of me

“Was starting to nod off when I looked in the corner of my eye and saw what looked like a silhouette another soldier in full kit looking at me in the little bunker. No more than 5 yards away. I say, ‘Hey whats up?’ and didn’t get a response back. Looked away, looked back and it was gone. No sound no nothing. Just a shadowy figure that appeared and disappeared into thin air.” — Russiangreyman

15. The water from the tsunami was terrifying

“Was part of the response to the Japan Tsunami in 2011. I was a rescue swimmer.

I’m telling you, that water was evil. Just black, foaming water. I’ve seen water in a lot of shapes. I grew up in and around water. I excelled as a rescue swimmer. I taught over a thousand people proper water techniques and so on. That water legitimately scared me. There was something so off about the whole thing. Then eventually we started seeing debris. First from boats and houses. Then trees, animals. Then bodies. And it was dead fucking quiet. That shit never left me. It was my last tour of duty.” — jaqass

16. I watched people die of starvation

“Suffering you saw everyday, knowing you could do nothing about it. Watching people beg for food, knowing some would be dead in a couple days from starvation and poverty. Seeing this over and over again. It’s such a shock after living in a society with social safety nets, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc. It’s hard to push that stuff down, tell yourself ‘not my problem’, or I can’t​ do anything about it, and carry on with your mission. Even though it’s completely beyond your power, that stuff still eats away at your soul.” — LOHare

17. They branded women with red hot pokers

“I knew a guy. He said one of the worst things he saw was on a raid, where they breached a building and they saw some men with red hot pokers branding women closed.” — JohnAnderton

18. I watched a good man die

“I am a Vietnam veteran. The scariest: A mans guts

Back when I was in Vietnam I knew this guy name Jedidiah. He was a mechanic, didn’t have any combat roles but we saw him everyday as he was good handyman.

Jedidiah was kind of stupid, but he was relatively street smart but he was honestly the kindest man you’d ever meet. He always was helping someone. He told us because he didn’t fight, he would make us (the fighters) job easier. He cooked good food for us, fixed things for us, stole things for us. Everybody loved Jedidiah.

Well one day, our camp was hit by mortar fire and when it was all over Dwight (Jedidiahs mechanic partner) screamed ‘JEDIDIAHS HIT!’ We all rush over too him, and he’s got a massive gash in his liver area. We all pick him up and rush him too a tent were our medic Matt begins to work on him.

We have to hold Jedidiahs guts in because there just pouring out. He is screaming, ‘I want my momma! Momma were are you! Please momma help me!’

At this point I know he is done, his wound is too great but I keep holding praying for a miracle. Finally, he grunts, his guts start really forcing themselves out and he begins screaming, ‘Please God don’t take me, Im not ready to die! I’ve still got so much left to do! I wanna see my momma again! Im not ready!’ He then grunts and starts convulsing, blood starts pouring out of his mouth, and after a few seconds, he goes limp.

Even though he passed we all stand there holding him. I think I was still holding down some of his liver. After a few moments, Matt lets go, and so do the rest of us. And we all looked at his mangled corpse, guts practically hanging out of his stomach. That was pretty scary.

I had been in Vietnam for about a year so I had seen plenty of mangled bodies but seeing such a pure, innocent, genuinely good person like Jedidiah dying in agony really hurt. It hurt even more as Jedidiah was black so he died for a country that didn’t even love him. I’ve teared up just thinking about it.

Three other people died in the attack but Jedidiah’s was the only one that really choked everyone up. I don’t know were Im going with this but you asked for scary and I think good people dying like that is pretty scary.” — Hillbilly_Heaven

19. I swear I saw someone — but no one was around

“One of the weirder things I experienced was seeing absolutely nothing while being 100% certain that someone was near me. I was on a FOB near the border with Pakistan that shared a compound with the ANA. The ANA compound was an old FFL compound that was connected to the main FOB by a walkway of smoothed gravel with high fencing and floodlights on either side – maybe about 300 feet long and 10 feet wide. This was in the desert so you could see for miles during the day – there was nothing. Flat as a pancake.

I was walking from the ANA compound back to the FOB around 2200 and everything is lit up by the floodlights. I can see a good distance in each direction. The only sound is my feet crunching on the gravel. Suddenly – I hear the unmistakable sound of someone landing on the gravel and running like hell not more than fifteen feet away from me. There’s no one in front of me so I spin around, sidearm in hand and – no one. Nothing. I can see clear back to the ANA compound and there isn’t a goddamn soul. I can still hear something moving fast along the gravel, so I turn back thinking maybe I missed whoever was running – nothing. And the sound stops.

That was a tense walk back to the main compound. The guys on the tower hadn’t seen anything and to this day I have no freakin’ clue what the hell happened.” — betchadays

20. We overlooked the circle of death

“My squad was put on a roof top overlooking a particular intersection that had been nicknamed the circle of death. It connected the main supply route that ran north to south and into Kuwait and the main supply route that ran East to west. They connected just north of Baghdad and was infamous for road side bombs at the time.

There were four houses surrounded by absolutely nothing, so we inserted 2 miles out at dusk, cleared all four, and settled on the roof with the best view. Around 3 am, a massive US convoy was moving north from Baghdad up through Taji. They decided to roll with white lights on, even though the SOP in the area was to be backed out. The convoy commander thought they’d be able to see road side bombs better, so they were advised to disregard our SOP. The problem with this was our location was marked with an infrared strobe. So without them having any night vision capabilities, they had no way of knowing that we were Americans. We all tried to stay low so they wouldn’t see our silhouette and just start blasting away (the .50’s would have torn the building and us to shreds). My platoon sergeant low crawled to each of us and said that our command was having trouble getting the convoy raised to advise them that we were out there. He said if we started getting shot at, we were to jump off the back of the roof (we were on the third floor) and if we were still conscious, to try and roll on top of the ones that weren’t.

Never have I ever felt so helpless or horrified.” — txby432

21. They used children and puppies to try to kill us

“We were told ‘no matter what, don’t stop.’ I was sitting Shoty and the Humvee in front slammed on their breaks, and a bunch of children came running up to my window, crying their eyes out, making the feed me gesture, I def wasn’t ready to deal with that, felt horrible, then the one that was really balling, snatched my Oakley’s off my face and ran. Was lightning fast. Fuckin 7 year old was playing me.

Was told that the Humvee in front of us slammed on the breaks because they were throwing puppies in front of our Humvees to get us to slow down so they can steal shit. That was like 2min into my 1st tour.” — Tantalus4200

22. A mortar round landed right next to me

“A mortar round landed a few meters from myself and a battle. Just sat there looking at it expecting it to BOOM. Thankfully it was a dud. First or second day in country. Kinda set the tone for us.” — slackwithme Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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