I got to know a lot of soldiers on the ride down Route Irish. Their buddies always told stories about them after they picked me up. They were usually funny stories, or stories about what a great soldier their friend was. As we got closer to the FOB they would tell me how he died, there was an element of anger and frustration, but mostly in their voices I heard sadness at his loss and their respect for him. It took me a few trips to get over my selfishness of not wanting to know about the Soldier I was going to play taps for. It was like they needed someone from the outside to know their buddy, they needed the release of telling these stories to someone who hadn't heard them already. After the memorial I was kind of an afterthought, there were usually more important missions than getting me back to BIAP. This is when I would hear about their families and where they were from and who they left behind. I saw the guys who brought me gear back up and go out to patrol the same streets where they lost their buddy. Eventually I would get back to base and try to put it all in the back of my mind. Today, as I grill some burgers and dogs and enjoy time with my family these are the men that I will be remembering.
Thanks Scott for a new perspective of this day.
(Route Irish is the name given to the main road from Baghdad to the airport)