This is a first person narration of a soldier in Iraq who had been victim to an evening ambush by offensive troops. The narration begins with the soldier already in the infirmary, months after the ambush incident, nursing a fractured right foot. At about this time, word also came out that President Bush was going to withdraw five thousand plus men from Iraq so that they could be home for the holidays. The soldier hopes that he is part of the list of men who would be recalled. In the meantime, the soldier recounts the events that led to his current situation.
The soldier reveals that many had died in the ambush and he was merely one of those who survived. The ambush took place while they were on their way to the North US Detachment. While recounting the story of how he had become a wounded US soldier, the narrator also offers insights into how war can be patriotic and how it can change the course of events for the world at large. The soldier also mentions in his reminiscing that they were not the true heroes of war, rather the true heroes were the families they left back home.
The narrator dwells on this topic and comprehensively explains how the families back home should be the real heroes in a war and not the soldiers who are actually in the war. The soldier also offers insights into how gruesome a war can be and how wasteful it is when it comes to lives wasted; but despite his views on the war, the soldier remains steadfast in his beliefs and holds on to the thought of his family waiting back home. The narration ends with the soldier being called to the mess hall along with many others for the announcement of the list of recalled soldiers.
Find out if he is one of those who will return home. (YOUR FULL NAME) (PROFESSOR’S NAME) (COURSE AND SUBJECT) (DATE OF SUBMISSION) GOING HOME – A SOLDIER’S STORY Christmas is fast approaching and I am hoping to have an early Christmas gift as President Bust announced last September that about 5,000 plus of us would be home for the Christmas holidays. This was part of the limited troop reduction that was to be implemented on US troops before the military surge in March next year.
We are still waiting for the final list of soldiers who would be sent home and I am hoping that I would be in the list. I am useless here in the field anyway. I have been in the infirmary tent for the past three months because my right foot suffered segmented fractures after an ambush attack on our team while we were driving to the North detachment. We were fifteen in the truck. I was one of the lucky seven who came out of the attack alive.
I was in the back of the truck and as usual, I felt like I had to watch my own back as well as I was watching the backs of the other soldiers who were with me in the truck. It was about eleven in the evening. We all had to travel in the cover of darkness to avoid being detected by hostile troops. From a distance, the sound of mortar seemed as natural as the crack of thunder on a balmy evening. A false, red sunrise could be seen from the horizon as flames from explosives incessantly lighted up the horizon.
It was cold – in the desert, the temperatures are extreme. Daytime is extremely hot and the evening can be as cold as it is hot during the day. We were all in our camouflage uniforms, but these were only flimsy fabric – weak protection from possible bullets coming our way or even stray shrapnel from distant explosions. I feared for my life but also thought of the country, and the world, and what it would be like if the US did not launch an offensive against hostile troops here in Iraq.
In my heart I could not understand why I had to go through such horror and put my life on the line for such a cause; but when I think of my young wife waiting for me back home, and my three month old daughter, I understand why I have to be here. The weapons of mass destruction that Iraq may be hiding from the world may be cause for the destruction not only of the US but also of the world as we know it and this alone told me that my being here was worth everything I had; but then again, I can never deny the fact that there could have been better days.
About an hour into the trip, the truck grinded to a halt; a co-soldier who was seated beside the driver saw something through his night vision binoculars. A group of armed men were stationed about half a mile away and it seemed that they did not notice our approach because they were huddled together in a close circle seemingly having a drink. We did not find this cause for alarm because sporadically, throughout the road, were friendly troops from the other side who were securing travel routes for civilians.
However, since we could not identify them from a distance, there was no choice but to be on guard and move forward until we were close enough to identify them. The driver had turned off the headlights and slowed down to a crawl to prepare for our approach. When we were just a few meters away, I heard one of the men stationed at the road cry out a piercing yell that to me sounded like a death sentence. At that very moment a volley of gunfire punctuated the distant explosions and we all lay flat on the floor of the truck.
In what seemed like forever, the truck turned around and sped towards the other direction back to the camp. The gunfire continued and it was at this moment that I felt warm liquid seeping into the fabric of my uniform from the back. I turned around to see one of my co-soldiers slumped on my back with blood streaming from his neck. I quickly stood to check on the other men with me in the back of the truck. Four of them had been badly hit, two were unharmed, and seven of us suffered minor injuries.
Mine was a gunshot wound that pierced my right ankle. Later, it turned out that the driver had been badly hit as well, so it was the other army officer with him in the front seat who was already driving the truck. We made camp about three hours after the incident. We had already been halfway through the six hour trip that was supposed to take us to the North detachment. We were all brought to the infirmary and the dead immediately interred into shiny black body bags that reflected the red glare that rose up from the distant horizon.
The camp chaplain said a prayer over the dead and another officer bend down to take out their dog tags, they name patches, and some of their personal effects. I imagined how difficult this was for the officer. I imagined how it would have been had I been one of them. The following day two or three officers from the US Military back home would be at the porch of our house delivering the sad news to my wife and my daughter. I imagined how they would feel, and how much they would hate the state for sending me to war; but I was lucky to be alive, or not.
Now, I had to deal with the gruesome images that I had witnessed. I had to spend my life thinking of what is and what could have been. I would probably be found gazing into the blackness for many solitary hours trying to find a decent and even logical reason for this manslaughter – but I was determined to go home in one piece, if not for my wife and daughter, at least for a country and a world that was waiting for a glimmer of hope that could come out of this bloodshed. Logically, bloodshed is bloodshed and nothing good could come out of war.
It was always like choosing between two evils – the lives of hundreds of men and women in exchange for the peaceful future of my country and the world. The choice was always easy and I found it an honor to be fighting for this cause, albeit momentary periods of questioning and reasoning and questioning again. I felt that I was not a hero here; the real heroes are the families we have left behind; mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, and sons. They are the real heroes for having to deal with our absence and having to live their lives every day with the knowledge that we may not even return alive.
They are the real heroes for having to lie to the innocent ones about fathers and mothers who were out there fighting for the country because this was the only way to ensure the future – of course, there are other ways, but when some other ways seem bleak and unfeasible, war is often the method of choice. These people are the real heroes not because they sacrificed anything but because they refuse to just fade into the sunset and let go of the prospects of peace and unity for the whole world. They are there back home not for any reason, but for a reason that all of us in this world would one day recall and be grateful about.
We, in the field, we are here because of them and their unfailing belief and hope in our cause; we are here because of their love and the fact that before we sleep at night our minds swim in oceans of faces – the faces of our real heroes. The bugle had been sounded. Our superior had called us all to the mess hall to announce who would be going home for Christmas and who wouldn’t. With my crutch in tow and a foot heavy with plaster dragging behind, I go to the mess hall. The superior went through the list. The lights have been turned out after the list was read. I was walking back to the infirmary. I was going home.