Sgt. Richard McCurry was leading his men down a street in Anbar, Afghanistan. He had briefed his men before they walked down the street and informed them to watch all the roof tops. The Taliban would stage up on roof tops and shoot down on the soldiers as they walk down the streets. This was just another day for the soldiers and they moved slowly down the one street watching every corner. I was the third man in this group with Sgt. McCurry walking directly behind me. I had been assigned to WHA- Watch His Ass- This was an important assignment because not only that you had to watch for the enemy, you had to keep your leader safe.
We kept moving forward when all of a sudden gunfire rang out, my heart about exploded with total fear. I looked down the street and lying face down was our point man Jermaine. He was a soldier out of Jacksonville, Florida and was an outstanding athlete in high school. His goal was to sign up for the football draft when he got out of the Army. My worst fear was that Jermaine was not alive. We walked up to him with bullets flying in all directions. It took a few minutes to get up to him and I think I shot a few Taliban along the way. I rolled Jermaine over and he had a smile on his face. He blinked his eyes and said it was a good thing he had his Easter peeps in his pocket. I told him I don’t understand. The bullet hit the package and deflected the bullet. I told him to get up quick and start shooting. We needed to get out of this hot area as soon as possible. Jermaine got up real fast and brought his M16 to firing position and started firing. He took one step forward and another shot rang out and Jermaine fell to the ground again. I walked up to him and there was bleeding coming from his mouth and he was not moving. I could see the color being removed from his face. Jermaine had passed right in front of me. All his hopes and dreams were stopped right at this moment on the streets of Afghanistan. I stood there for a few seconds to reflect what I had just been witness too. I thought to myself, and asked a question. Why am I in this place? I didn’t have time to answer because out of the corner of my eye I could see a Taliban on the roof top ready to shoot. He was aiming his weapon directly at my Sargent. I brought my M16 up real quick and with rapid fire I took down that enemy.
Our group finally made it to the end of the street and there was a tall cement wall that we all got behind for protection and to access the situation. Sargent McCurry told us that we had to go back down that street and retrieve Jermaine. We never leave another soldier behind. Back down the street and again the shooting started. We shot at them and they shot at us but we retrieved Jermaine and dragged him down the street and behind the wall. Our radio man called for a helicopter to come and bring him back to our base. They brought a Chinook helicopter which brought our whole troop back to base. Sargent McCurry had all of us pay our respects to this soldier we lost today. This is what he said to us. You all fought hard today and you win some and lose some. I just want you to remember this young man today and know that he fought for his country. He gave the ultimate sacrifice and to know that in any situation that I hope you will give that same to save others. We all bowed our head in prayer for Jermaine.
Life moved on and I was in a lot of other firefights but I will never forget this one day we lost Jermaine. It has now been 10 years since I have been back to civilian life. I am having trouble sleeping and every noise I hear outside reminds me of a firefight. I cannot drive down the highway without thinking it is an ambush. How can I forget all this and go back to normal life? They never told me that my mind would be damaged like this. I have talked with other vets from other wars on how to relieve these horrid memories. They all told me you will never forget. You just have to move on and realize what you have done for this country.
This story is a fictional story, I do not want to have this bring back bad memories for our soldiers, but do want to realize that PTSD is very real. You cannot go through traumatic situations like war and not have some kind of PTSD. Please reach out for help, Like the old soldier replied, you never forget what you have seen. It is the help that redirects some of these thoughts and gives you second chance of life. You do not need to deal with this alone.