Topic: Combat

“My Eyes Welled up”—When the Purple Heart Weighs Heavy

Elizabeth O'Herrin handed the groggy patient his Purple Heart. Immediately, she worried she'd made a mistake, giving it to him so soon after his amputation.

“We Owned the Night”—a Midnight Raid in Iraq With Screaming Banshees

Augusto Giacoman almost jumped for joy when he was assigned his first midnight raid, but what he saw that night quickly changed his mind.

The Frog’s Revenge Came in the Form of Iraqi Rockets

Augusto Giacoman’s humanity was reduced to instinct as the rockets began to hit, and he understood how the frog he’d encountered as a child must have felt.

Go In For A Military Haircut, Leave With A Beating

Augusto Giacoman went in for a haircut, high and tight. Then things went terribly wrong.

A Centuries-Long Battle to the Ambiguity of War

Read how George Heath examines the questions surrounding the definition of a crime during wartime, which are largely unsettled. In modern warfare combatants dress as civilians and war is waged more covertly than ever.

The Son of Refugees Reflects on How to Lose a U.S-led War

Drew Pham saw his refugee parents in Afghan civilians. Compassion, he thought, was the answer. But a part of his soul hardened as he learned to love war.

“Big Bombs. Boom.”—a Pistol, the Smart Girl, and a Tragedy

Michael Carson talked philosophy and tragedy in a Mosul coffee shop. Back in the U.S. he’s still asking questions for which there are no answers.

“Patriotism Was in”—Enlisting in the Military to Become a U.S. Army Ranger

Ross Cohen was trekking across Asia when the Twin Towers were attacked. When the call for war began, he cut short his planned year-long trip to sign up.

“Like Iron-Filled Tears”—My First Time Seeing a Dead Body in a Combat Zone

He bore his son’s body to the Americans’ base and let the blood drip and congeal on the wooden deck. And then he left, and left the blood behind.