Topic: Reflections

Information Is a Weapon, Same as a Gun. We Can Measure the Value of Both in Blood.

What kind of inconvenience does getting shot by Americans measure out to be for an Iraqi shepherd?
Unit Christmas party in San Angelo, Texas, in 2007. From left to right: Marty, Sadia Heil, Erinne, Sheena, and Kate. Photo courtesy of the author.

Firefly Friends Guided Me out of the Darkness of Formidable Loss 

Reuniting with my friends felt like taking a deep breath of fresh air: exhilarating and good for my soul. 
Airman 1st Class Mary Amstead, 23rd Wing judge advocate general law paralegal, poses with an assortment of alcohol bottles at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Illustration by Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

No One Promised Tomorrow so We Lived for Today. But Before Victory Came, I Flamed Out.

Another day of training in the books—and another night spent letting loose the inner beast.
John Primerano was a proud Airborne veteran who never neglected an opportunity to share a tale of his wartime exploits, according to the author. His stories always included the men he served alongside and the sacrifices they made. Photo courtesy of Easy506th.org.

We Didn’t Just Fold a Flag. We Delivered the Gratitude of a Nation to Our Hero. 

The sun rose as we pinned the last of our decorations on our best uniforms and checked the shine on our boots. John was always a stickler for shiny boots.

Invisible Service–Military Families Bear Burden of American Freedom

I knew I was away from home too much, I missed too many Little League games and anniversary dinners. I thought I could make up for it when I was back home.

Can I Be Like the Hummingbirds, With the Strength to Fight Another Day?

My backyard is where I come to clear my head. It’s the place I come to reconcile memories before they become thoughts that feel painfully real.

Explosives, a Couple of Flamethrowers, and No Ordinary Men Against a Forbidding Jungle

The ships with our 437 helicopters would reach Qui Nhon harbor in about four weeks. They needed a place to land.
During the Battle of Husaybah, on April 17, 2004, Staff Sgt. Adam Walker took an AK-47 round through his right hamstring and caught a dime-sized piece of shrapnel from a hand grenade in his left arm. Photo courtesy of the author.

Their Fight Was Over. Why Did I Make It Home and They Did Not?

Certain days on the calendar, such as April 17, bring clear memories. But these thoughts don’t possess me like they once did. 
Paratroopers from the 1st Platoon, A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Spartan Steel conduct security combat patrols in Khost province. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army.

We Saluted Under the Night Sky. Each New Loss Felt Harder Than the One Before.

The images of desperate Afghans swarming to flee Kabul at the end of the mission filled me with a painful sense of loss.