The soldier, Airman, Marine or Sailor who spend a year tour downrange has seen it all. Just about everything you could imagine, when you have been deployed downrange in Iraq and Afghanistan you have seen it. They have seen unbelievable heroism, and they have seen blatant cowardice; They have seen, felt, and tasted fear; and have experienced sweet relief. They have seen men bleed to death surrounded by their fellow cadre. They have seen brains and blood all over the inside of a Humvee, after they watched the vehicle in front of them momentarily vanish in the smoke of an IED blast. They have heard the screams – “Medic! Medic!”. They have lifted dead Afgan children out of cars, and they have looked down at their own hands and seen them covered in blood mixed with dirt as they moved the injured to safety. Sadly they have seen kids with gunshot wounds, and they have watched helplessly as an old Iraqi man pulls the cord on a suicide bomb killing himself and 10 others in a busy Baghdad market. Downrange, they have seen two medics over him desperately trying to get either a pulse or a breath. Downrange, they have heard rounds wiz by as they run for cover as fast as can, they can still smell the cordite, and hear the percussion thump of mortar rounds.
Downrange, they have seen shrapnel holes as big as their fist in the sides of some of the medevac helicopters. They have fallen down, gasping for breath, as they helplessly try to carry a man so badly bloodied you can’t recognize who he is. They have raided suspected insurgents houses at 2am, kicking in the door, sometimes that take a shotgun and blow the lock off. They can’t remember how many “bad guys” that have killed, but they can’t forget their first. They have looked into the dirty bearded face of man who just shot and wounded a soldier, and now throws his AK down and raises his hands above his head and yells in perfect English, “I surrender, please don’t kill me” . They have seen the angry faces of the...
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