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Veterans’ Tales by Allen Ness

23 Oct 03

Uncle Hank,

We went back to FOB Volturno the other day.  We’re on our third month here, there’s been guys injured, evac’d, a couple in Germany in the hospital but we had our first Paratrooper killed.  Sarn’t Spear and the Delta Comp’ny CO and 1SG went back for the memorial service.  We took two trucks, took some volunteers for the convoy ‘cuz they knew Staff Sarn’t Peterson.  One of my buddies was in Sarn’t Peterson’s squad in Alpha Comp’ny.  I was glad I got to see him, he’s pretty tore up.

From what I gather Alpha had been conducting check points on the “interstate” highway outside Fallujah.  I don’t know if they developed a pattern or if haji just got lucky but Sarn’t Peterson and his squad were setting up and haji command detonated an IED.  It was an artillery round in a rusty old five-gallon bucket, surrounded by scrap metal, bolts and nails.  Sarn’t Peterson was right next to it, it wasn’t f*ckin perdy.  A couple guys caught some of the shrapnel but they’re ok.

We walked in and sat down in chairs set up in front of a small stage.  Sarn’t Peterson’s boots and rifle were standin up front.  His dog tags were tangled around the stock and pistol grip of his M4.  It looked empty, like a black hole in some sci fi movie, tryin to suck us all into the nothingness.  It was the death of our paratrooper’s immortality.  I thought we’d all live forever, somewhere down deep we all thought we would, we’re steely-eyed killers, isn’t that how it works?  We jump out of airplanes fer christ’s sake.  Being good at your job isn’t any protection, being a badass isn’t any protection, Murphy’s Laws will get you every time.  Murphy and f*ckin haji[…]

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