Only these were translators.
Craig Drobnick of Marysville wears a bracelet of black anodized aluminum. The words etched in the metal say: Todd Drobnick, KIA 23 Nov. 03, Mosul, Iraq.
KIA means killed in action, and in a way, Craig’s brother was.
A senior manager in charge of a team of translators working for San Diego defense contractor Titan Corp., Mariner High School graduate Todd Drobnick dodged 15 attacks from small-arms fire, rocket propelled grenades and homemade bombs during his last seven months.
When he died, in a head-on collision with a petroleum truck near Mosul, he wasn’t a soldier. But the 35-year-old, fluent in Russian and Arabic, a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was buried with full military honors and posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
I wasn’t aware those honors could be given to civilians, but I don’t disagree with his receiving them.
The accident that claimed Drobnick’s life killed another linguist working for Titan. They were the 12th and 13th Titan translators to die in Iraq — felled by attacks from insurgents, accidents or illness — since major combat operations officially ended last spring. The 14th, last week, was Emad Mikha, who had managed the meat department in a supermarket in Pontiac, Mich., before he signed up with Titan to take advantage of his proficiency in Arabic.
In San Diego, Titan executives declined to comment on their linguists program. One explained privately that the company had no desire to appear as though it was seeking publicity from the tragedies. Indeed, this is a sensitive time for Titan. Lockheed Martin Corp. has offered to buy the company for $1.66 billion, but allegations that Titan made illegal payments to foreign officials have threatened to nix the deal.
The Titan Web site doesn’t put a sheen on its translating jobs, which pay up to $108,000 a year, most of that tax-free: “12-hour shifts and in excess of 60-hour weeks in order to provide continuous contract linguist support that this 24×7 operation requires; must be familiar with the local culture, conduct oneself in accordance with local customs, and deal unobtrusively with the populace; must be willing and capable to live and work in a harsh environment.”
See! See! Another corrupt money-grubbing corporation employing greedy mercenaries who don’t even pay their fair share of taxes! F*%k ’em!
Give it a read.