“You know why I feel so close to this war? It’s because of two guys we had come through a while back.
“They were both in town for treatment at the hospital – they’d been blown up pretty badly. Since they couldn’t drive anywhere, we took care of it and drove them around when they needed it. We also brought them down here to the VFW, gave them free memberships, and bought ‘em a couple beers. They were the nicest guys you could imagine.
“One of them brought his laptop with him, and he had live footage of some of the firefights and IEDs he’d gone through. Hell, I guess some guy had recorded the mission where he got blown up, too. Just riding along, and all the sudden the humvee’s lost in a mushroom cloud and he’s tossed into the ditch like a ragdoll.
“He had another video where they were doing a foot patrol, too. As it was playing, he said, ‘watch closely here. This is where my friend gets blown away.’ A moment later, a sniper round takes off the head of the guy in front of him, and then all hell breaks loose.
“Some of the folks in here couldn’t even watch it; it was too disturbing for them. But I watched it over and over. These are the images playing through this guy’s mind all the time.
“He told me that when he got home, the first thing he did was go to his friend’s parents’ house and sit down to tell them how their son had died. He figured they had a right to know. He said they cursed at him at first, but later on they thanked him.
“He said that whenever he finished treatment for his brain injury he was planning to get married, but I don’t know if it ever happened. He was still messed up pretty bad. He’d be talking normally for awhile, but then he’d start repeating himself, over and over. Can’t say I blame him, either. Those images keep playing in my mind, too.
“After what he’s gone through, I don’t know how he’s going to fit back in; him or the others. Especially if all he can think about is getting blown out of his goddam humvee or watching the poor sonofabitch in front of him have his head taken off by a sniper.
“I wish I knew how to help these guys, but I really don’t. Right now, I just want them all to come home.”
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw, All Rights Reserved