I was in Sadr City looking for something to cover up the body of a fallen Soldier. He had died in a bombing and I could see his blood staining the ground below the stretcher he lay on.
As I searched, my mind brought me back to a few weeks prior when my patrol had come under sniper fire. We were pinned down as the sniper’s bullets struck around us. From the opposite side of the road, several insurgents opened fire on us with AK-47’s. I yelled at my Soldiers to return fire and stepped out of my cover to shoot back. We drove them away with a hail of bullets and somehow, we all managed to make it out without a scratch.
I found a blanket and walked over to the Soldier. Most of the blood drained from his body, his skin had turned almost transparent. Somehow, though, his face looked peaceful. As I laid the blanket over him, I wondered if he was happy with the life he had chosen to live.
I received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor and a Bronze Star Medal for what I did in Iraq. Externally, I was brave. A hero. Internally, I was a coward. Hidden in the closet.