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John’s story
While this MRE postcard was en route
from Iraq to California, John was wounded.
My Iraq deployment was during the Iraq surge in 2007-2008.
And I thought when I went over there that I was going die for sure, because at that time American soldiers were dying over 100 a month. And it was tough.

We got there in April and the summer was hot, really hot, and the days were long, like 24-hour long patrols long. There was a lot of sectarian violence and mass graves of dead people were common. Life was hard but that was my life and I adjusted.
Serious injury
Has been prepared for medevac [medical evacuation]
Frags [fragments] removed / dressing / getting blood replacement. Tomorrow he's going to GR [Germany]
Mike's story
Nothing the way that day started would have led any of us to believe that it would be different.
Wake up, kit up, head out the front entrance of our small “base” in a small neighborhood in Baquba, Iraq.
It was about two to three hours into the mission when the call came across the radio.
“One-Six is down.”

One-Six was John’s call sign. You don’t use actual names over the radio, but it might have well as been. It still struck with the same shock, denial, and “oh, shit,” feeling.
Let’s go, we need to get over to John’s Platoon.”

By the time we arrived in our Stryker vehicle, John had already been loaded into the First Sergeant’s Stryker and was making his way back to the main forward operating base. Empty shell casings were everywhere.

We pieced the story together later that afternoon. We had John’s broken rifle and shattered carabiner as a visual testimony of the small firefight he’d been in that morning

We had our linguist’s story of him returning fire with John’s rifle, giving those around John the time they needed to drag him to safety and render aid.

We had the ceramic body armor plate from that same linguist, clearly showing where a round had impacted him as well. But we still didn’t know if we’d ever see John again.

The day I was shot I was crossing through an open area, I noticed that rounds were coming our way so I started running as fast as I could to get to cover and I was running towards a courtyard with a fence-like structure and right before I turned the corner into the courtyard, a bullet hit me in the right shoulder and it took me off my feet. A sergeant just grabbed me and pulled me in.

The medics started to treat me and at that point it got crazy. Everyone was shooting.

Me and this guy got shot on the same day and we both lived. When a bullet is shot at you, you know the sound that it makes, especially a super sonic round. It just zips by you, it’s a distinct sound, and you know you need to get behind some cover.

Me and some Iraqis in front of where Saddam’s face used to be.

There were times we went a month without taking a shower and days I just did not have time to brush my teeth. It was nasty and everyone had heat rash and everyone was eating MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), sat out on our checkpoints on routes so people couldn’t lay on IEDS (Improvised Explosive Devices) and blow us up.

People shot at us. There were suicide bombers out there that would just blow themselves up and kill innocent civilians and soldiers. And there were a lot of people out there that just wanted to kill Americans.

Coming out of an all night patrol out of Baghdad. No casualties.

It was raining and we were at a checkpoint that didn’t have a lot of shelter so I slept under this piece of cardboard.

It was German led regional command. That’s what they fed their soldiers so that’s what we got. Typical German breakfast.

My First Sergeant Twitchel barbecuing. This guy would have given his life for me. I would have done the same. I think it was Fourth of July. It says “Don’t Burn ACUs (Army Combat Uniform)” over the barrel because soldiers kept burning them there when they weren’t supposed to. It would stink up the whole place.

A soldier receives a saline infusion to combat dehydration and overheating in Kunduz.

Soldiers watch over their unit's movement in Kunduz, Afghanistan. John didn't often talk about his experiences, but Arin learned his stories through the photos he'd taken.

Soldiers build a checkpoint with dirt while under fire outside of Kunduz, Afghanistan, in 2010. The region was heavily controlled by the Taliban at the time.

Afghan villagers greet U.S. soldiers from outside a bakery in Kunduz.

A memorial service is held on Forward Operating Base Kunduz, Afghanistan. Army Specialist Brian "Bucky" Anderson was killed in action by an IED three days before.
See Arin's story
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