I have lost four men durring my service these men were the best. Now that my guys are back, and I might be going again, I can not help but look back. I found Faith, and strength through my trials, and I can only hope that one day, somehow I will be owrthy of their sacrafice.
David Mahlenbrock: I Havn't really talked about his death outside of the Mental health arena. I do not want his death, or the circumstances of it to cause his family any more pain. Needless to say it was the first time I saw death first hand. It was perhaps the most horrible thing I had seen to that point, and it really made me want to re-affirm my Faith. I asked around about him, after the fact, but i really want to find someone that knew him, so that i can learn his story.
Daniel McConnell: This was one of the longest nights of my first tour (the lojngest was when the round hit the POD area) We got a call that some major incident had happened and we needed to boogie out to this sight. I loaded up every medic, and the doctor on the small FOB we were on and drove at high speed to the sight of the incident. It truly amazed me how willing people were to drop everything and put themselves at risk for their fellow man. After cutting the PSG out of the Battery box, and doing some careful, yet ingenious use of Wreckers we were able to get a second man out. Sadly the vehicle had overturned on his chest, and eventhough we made every effort imaginable to get him out, ther was simply no saving him. I can not explain the disapointment i felt at the time, having sucessfully evaced two men from the overturned HMMWV, at seeing there was no hope of saving him. Worse a few hours earlier i had signed him into the internet.
Andre Craig Jr: I have already given my account of that terrible day. I can not even begin to explain how deeply felt this loss was. I realized afterwards that i should have made more of an effort to get to know him. I can tell you that baised on the post-mortem, he did not suffer, as i had belived initially, but hearing the vitals being called out at Loyalty I knew that no matter what i had done, there was no saving him. I questioned myself and barrated myself endlessly, until of all people CPT Brock set me on the right path and told me that even if this had happened on the doorstep of the CSH (pronounced cash), they still wouldn't have been able to save him. I will say one thing about that day, everything was spot on. The platoon reacted well, and made the best of an absolutly terrible situation. I could only hope that were I wounded, people would be as responsive.
James J. Harrelson: "Spanky" I remember how i went around to see how the platoon was doing after Craig's death. He is the one i remember the most. I found him in his bed staring into space. I went to try to comfort him, and he told me that he couldn't stop seeing him hurt like that. I told him that it wouldn't be easy, but it would get better. he looked at me and said "you did a good job Doc. If I ever get hurt I want you working on me". When we first started he was "that guy" the one that always got in trouble, the one that always got the living hell smoked out of him, and yet, he never stopped being himself. His country way was such that he was easy to talk to, and even though he sometimes was pegged as a bit of a hick, he had a maturity beyond his years at time. To hear him talk about Engeneering, and how he was going to go college and get his engeneering degree. . . I'd like to think in his final days i really got to know him. I'd like to think we were friends. I don't know if he suffered. some said he did, some said he was killed instantly. Only God knows. What I do know is that i felt it was my solem duty to bare his litter for the "hero flight" and that someday I will visit Alabama. From the way he describbed it, it must be an amazing place.
No mater what else you may learn from this, know this. These were real people. These were good men. We can not always choose the time and circumstances of our deaths, but you can control how you meet that fate. If you hold your head high, and walk proudly, you will have nothing to fear when you are "called to the carpet" to account for your life.