Inspiring Iraq War veteran to visit BYU

ROTC junior cadet Davis Larkin reads “Black Hearts” as part of an assignment to prepare for a university speaker. Command Sergeant Major Blaisdell, pictured on the right in the middle photograph, is coming to speak Thursday, Jan. 26. (Ryan Turner)

Command Sergeant Major Philip Blaisdell will be a guest lecturer for the ROTC on Thursday, Jan. 26. Blaisdell will be sharing thoughts about his experience while serving in the “triangle of death” during the Iraq War.

Blaisdell has served in the Army since Nov. 30, 1992. He began his training as an infantryman at Fort Benning, GA, and has since served in various leadership positions throughout his career. Blaisdell served as a platoon sergeant within the Bravo Company of the First Battalion during the war in Iraq.

All junior cadets in the ROTC were assigned to read “Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death” in preparation for Blaisdell’s visit.

The book centers around the rape and murder of an entire Iraqi family, committed by United States soldiers. These soldiers were part of the first platoon of the Bravo Company. Blaisdell was not in their chain of command while he worked with them.

Davis Larkin, a BYU senior studying history, said Blaisdell was not directly involved in the investigation of the war crime, but knew about the investigation. Larkin said the book described how Blaisdell was one of the few people who checked the status of the first platoon throughout the investigation, while others shunned them.

“He is one of the few people throughout the whole book who is portrayed as a good, positive leader,” Larkin said.

Blaisdell will speak to BYU ROTC cadets about his role in the Bravo company, as well as his observations of both the poor and the good leadership examples portrayed in the book. Blaisdell is depicted as an uplifting and positive leader.

Blaisdell will be speaking on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 1 PM in TNRB W410 and the lecture is open to the public.

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