Lt. Jeffrey N. Zaun, a Navy flier who was coerced by Iraq into making an anti-war statement on television five months ago, spoke of the horror of war in an interview published over the weekend. "I don't ever want to kill anybody again," Zaun was quoted as saying in an article published Saturday in the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard in Fallon, Nev., which is 60 miles east of Reno.
Then, referring to the victory celebrations in Washington and New York, he said: "This country didn't get to see the cost of the war. I did."
He added, "They didn't see Iraqi mothers get killed."
Zaun, 28, a native of Cherry Hill, N.J., was shot down over southwestern Iraq on Jan. 17, and a few days later Iraq released videotaped statements by him and six other captured fliers. Zaun, his face battered, spoke in a monotone on the tape. "I think our leaders and our people have wrongfully attacked the peaceful people of Iraq," he said.
He said he was not worried that the American public would believe his statements. He had previously said he had inflicted some of his facial wounds in a vain effort to avoid being videotaped, but his comments to the Valley News gave more details.
"I hit myself in the nose and in the face as hard as I could stand it when I knew they were taking me to a TV station," he was quoted as saying.
But he said he could not avoid being taped. He said he beat his face even harder when he learned that his captors wanted to tape him a second time.
"I beat my right eye until I couldn't see out of it," he said. "I tried to break my nose. The idea was not to be put on TV. They looked at me and sent me back down."
He also provided an account of how he was captured: "I was flying to an airfield to do low-level bombing and at about five miles, an umbrella of light, full of bullets going one way and missiles going another, was coming at us. We just kept pressing on. It was a charge of the light brigade. I don't remember too much about it after that."
After Iraqi soldiers picked up Zaun and the pilot of the aircraft, an A6-E Intruder, they were treated in a hospital then taken to Baghdad, where they were imprisoned in a bunker, handcuffed and beaten during interrogations.