"But probably the most painful of moments were when we lost people. I'll never forget the smiles on my friends' faces, T & Mitts. They were both strong characters who represented the army values. There are thousands just like them, and each soldier killed had a story. We tried to tell that story to the world. Rather than focusing on how they died, we described how the person lived, the difference they made to the world. Nobody ever saw these memorial stories but the families and the few small town newspapers who were interested. We learned our lesson of spamming a memorial story to the larger outlets like AP. The editors deleted the story and used the photo of a crying soldier hugging the memorial display of an M-16 bayoneted into a box with the soldier's helmet on the buttstock and dog tags on the hand grip. The photo cutline read: A soldier mourns the loss of a fellow comrade. Elsewhere in Iraq, 14 killed in a large explosion outside... you get the point. Just a single sentence. No name. No family. Just a sentence and then elsewhere in Iraq. That's hardly justice for a soldier who gave that reporter the freedom of press."
"When the Iraqis die, it's just as hard to swallow as when it's an American soldier. My good friend and interpreter, Samir, was killed on the very day I went home for leave - back in September. He was captured by terrorists when he was on his way to the palace. He managed to escape; had he not, they probably would have beheaded him. As he ran through the market, trying to get away, asking for help, the people said "get away from us; you work for the Americans." His back was sprayed with bullets and he died on the concrete sidewalk. He was there for hours before anybody notified us or moved his body. "Don't touch him, let him rot, he worked for Americans." We had this saying, "we're here for Samir." He was a great guy."
Thank you for your service Sminklemeyer. And thank you for sharing these stories of your brave friends who paid the ultimate price of freedom in Iraq. God bless them and may he comfort their loved ones.
Welcome home soldier!