Iraq: It took my best friend

The nightmares and the short fits of flashbacks rip at my sternum and keep me up tonight. The vivid memories of a mission long passed rush through my mind recklessly. I ask myself each day if there was more I could have done to save them, to prevent the pain and sadness. On this day in april of 2008 in Iraq I lost the one best friend I ever had in this world and a very dear friend also (Sgt. Adam Kohlhaas and Sgt Steven Christofferson Killed In Action). I was there for every terrifying moment, every gruesome realization and every haunting smell and feeling.

Sgt Adam J. Kohlhaas and Sgt Steven Christofferson with Iraqi Child KIA, April 21st, 2008, Bayji, Iraq

The one feeling I have been battling with for the past few years is guilt and shame. The guilt was for my lack of action although I did everything I could humanly, possibly do, I felt like I could have done more for some reason, as if I was some kind of field surgeon when all I was an infantry soldier.

The shame was very similar, in that I felt loathsome of myself for not being there for Adam and Steven. I remember ever faint attempt to revive him and every grain of sand on adams face. I remember the glazed expression on Steven’s face when I found him dead, reaching out for the sky as he laid , torn in half on this lonely road in Iraq. The shame that it should have been me and the guilt that it also still should have been me still drives me into deep depressions that would have, without my loved ones, killed me years ago in a few failed attempts at redemption.

I am where I am thanks to the moments after their deaths and the years that followed were my time to mold my life into the blessing it is now: A wife, a home, a loving family, and all the help the VA hospital can give. They are alway in my heart and I will make sure to continue the best I can with my life to make them proud of me. All my love goes to their parents and sibling on this day of remembrance and honor. With this quote I leave you and thank you for your time. ” The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men” (Minot J Savage)

Warrior Poet: don’t criticize what you can’t understand

Sgt. Adam Kohlhaas & Sgt. Steven Christofferson KIA Bayji, Iraq APR/21/2008

For them:

All along the eastern shore
Some of these kids make me feel poor
And every time I try to leave
The flag pulls so hard on my sleeve
Bullets rain down from the sky
Never knew I could sink so high
Blind and guilty is my name
Honest men put me to shame
Those we save are far and few
Not enough to be thanked by you
Give me purpose give me strength
God is listening for short lengths
When I pass let it be heard
All we thought of was one word
Mother mother hear my cry
When these people ask me why
Blood and tears both pour out now
Trying to feel but don’t know how
This fight has gone on for too long
It’s time to stop this unsung song
I leave my thoughts to you now
I ask forgiveness and you ask how
Don’t forget the ones who died
They will linger by my side
And when you ask about their lives
I recall their last short cries
These men these soldiers these strong few
Died hard and brave and true
– Michael X Ortiz