Topic: Reflections

Sarah and Mike Flores before Mike left for Iraq. Photo courtesy of the author.

The War Doesn’t End. But as Long as He Keeps Fighting, I’ll Fight for Him, Too.

Hunched over the table, he speaks of regrets, failures, and thoughts of suicide. It’s good that he can talk to me. He used to keep these thoughts secret.

Resilient Is a Label for Military Kids That Absolves a Nation of Further Reflection

Over time I realized that resilience was not a stain-repellent. Just because you can take something doesn’t mean you should have to.
Taneika Duhaney, center, underway on the USS Laboon, where a senior chief would set a standard that has stayed with Duhaney for more than 24 years. Photo courtesy of the author.

She Never Told Me Why She Took Me Under Her Wing, But I Would Have Been Lost Without Her

Mama Wherry kept me grounded. I credit her mentorship for creating the solid foundation upon which I built my career and how I lead and mentor sailors. 
Ensign Van in 1980 at Naval Station Guam, where she worked as an administrative officer. Photo courtesy of the author.

‘I Don’t Want You in My Navy’– Forging My Own Path to Those Silver Eagles

Here I was in my company commander’s office as he again pressured me to quit. It seemed like the universe was against me becoming a naval officer.
urtesy of the author.

If There Was No Iwo Jima Airfield, I’d Have Been on My Knees Praying

We stop in darkness; as engines whine into silence, our senior officer calls out, "Leave everything except headgear and weapons." Something is very wrong.
Dan Woodward pictured near the end of his pilot training. One of his classmates, Tony, would later die in a T-38 trainer crash. Photo courtesy of the author.

‘Lead, Follow, or Get out of the Way’–We Really Did Live That Way.

Both aircraft exploded. ... Tony, Tom, and Will, Tony’s student, touched the hand of God, and chaos shoved itself into the lives of everyone they knew.
Sgt. Davis—“the best squad leader in the Marine Corps”—in an AAV during a field operation in 1995. Photo courtesy of the author.

I Had the Best Squad Leader in the Marine Corps. He Showed Us Kindness Is Not Weakness.

Sgt. Davis reminded me that Marines are part of something greater than themselves and that we are not alone.

This Is What We Do in America. We Pause. We Forget. Then We Begin the Next War.

The divorces, wars, and military bases blurred together. In Afghanistan and Iraq, I wasn’t surprised to see suicide watch posters everywhere.
Army Spc. Michael Flores visits an Iraqi souvenir vendor. Photo courtesy of the author.

I Was a Shitbag. Now, I Help Carry Others Through Their Darkness.

Two months later, he thanks me for listening, for still being Doc. I took care of them over there, I can take care of them back home, I tell myself.