These 3 Stories From Veterans Just Gutted Me. The First 2 Were Hard To Watch. The 3rd Is Beautiful.

The Iraq War seemed so far away for so many people that it's easy to forget about the thousands of real human beings who served, fought, and died. These stories, though ... they really bring it home. There's a unique, unsentimental power to each of them. It's hard not to walk away changed. First up: "1st Squad, 3rd Platoon." Lance Cpl. Travis Williams tells the difficult story of a rescue mission with his squad — and the devastating aftermath.

“It’s hard, because I feel guilty for being the one guy left, but I also feel a responsibility. I better make sure everybody knows who these guys were, what these guys did.” — Lance Cpl. Travis Williams

“I am most proud of not blowing my head off by now. It’s just a whole lot easier if you’re dead. But that shouldn’t be your tribute to your dead friends. When they’re looking down on you, they don’t want you to be living in the moment that killed them. You made it. You got home. You should honor their memory by living the life that they didn’t get to live.” — Lance Cpl. Travis Williams


Next, Spc. Justin Cliburn tells the lovely and tragic story of a group of Iraqi children he befriended and what it means to truly love someone who doesn't speak your language.

“This was the first time I felt like I loved someone that wasn’t my family member.” — Spc. Justin Cliburn

“I don’t know what came of him. That’s the nature of war, I suppose. But whenever I see any footage from Baghdad, I’m always kind of looking around wondering if he’s in the frame.” — Spc. Justin Cliburn

Finally, Vietnam veteran Allen Hoe recalls a deeply moving conversation he had with a trauma nurse who treated his son shortly before he died. After all the tears I shed watching these, the uplifting ending was so wonderful.

“Now I never have to wonder about those last final moments.” — Allen Hoe

Just beautiful.

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