Yesterday, America witnessed its deadliest mass shooting in modern history, leaving 59 people dead and over 500 injured.
Navy veteran, Christopher Roybal was among the victims who lost their lives at the hands of Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old who opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel upon concert-goers enjoying the Route 19 Harvest music festival at around 10:30pm, local time.
As the nation mourns, Roybal’s final public Facebook post takes on a chilling poignancy:
In the post Roybal, who was just 28, described the ‘nightmare’ of being shot at, recounting his first hand experience of the ‘genuine fear/anger’ evoked by combat.
Answering the question, ‘What’s it like to be shot at?’, he wrote:
My response has always been the same, not one filled with a sense of pride or ego, but an answer filled with truth and genuine fear/anger. *which by the way, go hand in hand*
Depending on my level of intoxication, I respond with nothing short of the truth from first hand experience.
He recalled entering ‘the deadliest place on earth’, writing:
Entering with what our national News channels would report at the time as ‘the deadliest place on earth’ I was excited for my first taste of what real combat would be.
What it would be like to be a real gunfighter in the modern day Wild Wild West. My first fight was something I never will forget.
Chris described what he saw on his first day at the frontline:
Finishing up what was supposed to be a quick 4-hour foot patrol, I remember placing my hand on the Stryker and telling Bella how well she did.
Hearing the most distinct sounds of a whip cracking and pinging of metal off of the vehicle I just had my hand resting on is something that most see in movies.
I remember that first day, not sure how to feel. It was never fear, to be honest, mass confusion. Sensory overload… followed by the most amount of natural adrenaline that could never be duplicated through a needle. I was excited, angry and manic. Ready to take on what became normal everyday life in the months to follow. Taking on the fight head on, grabbing the figurative ‘Bull by the horns’.
But Roybal, who had recently returned from Afghanistan, quickly went onto to explain that being shot at – ‘something that less that 1% of our American population will ever experience, especially on a daily basis’ – evokes just anger.
The southern Californian continued:
Unfortunately, as the fights continue and as they as increase in numbers and violence, that excitement fades and the anger is all that’s left. The anger stays, long after your friends have died, the lives you’ve taken are buried and your boots are placed neatly in a box in some storage unit. Still covered in the dirt you’ve refused to wash off for fear of forgetting the most raw emotions you as a human being will ever feel again.
What’s it like to be shot at? It’s a nightmare no amount of drugs, no amount of therapy and no amount of drunk talks with your war veteran buddies will ever be able to escape.
The veteran signs off writing simply: ‘Cheers boys.’
His friend and former seamate, Matthew Austin, shared a touching tribute to Roybal:
Roybal was at the concert with his mother, who told NBC4: ‘He went to combat and came back without being injured, and then goes to a concert and dies.’
Christopher survived the battlefield but not the senseless killing in his home country, and that is nothing short of an unfathomable tragedy.
Families looking to locate missing loved ones should call 1-866-535-5654.
If you would like to donate blood for the injured victims of the Strip shooting visit the Labor Health & Welfare Clinic, 7135 W. Sahara.