"I Realized I Had Waited Too Long to Bail Out From Under the Helicopter"

Six years, 4 tours, 2 units, and 0 regrets. 

I am proud of every moment spent fighting in and rebuilding Iraq. Well, save the moment I realized I had waited too long to bail out from under the helicopter I was attempting to sling an ISU-90 storage container to. By the time I felt the CH-47 had gotten close enough to crushing me that my buddies wouldn’t think I was a wimp for getting out of the way, there wasn’t enough room for me to lift my shoulder and roll out from between the massive helicopter and what I was now realizing would be my aluminum grave. I yelled out, I’m not sure why, but it felt like the right thing for man to be doing when he’s crushed for his own stupidity. Turns out I made it out just fine.

The balance of power in the Middle East, the Iraqi people, international regard for the United States, our military, and many of the young men and women who served did not make it out just fine. The war in Iraq was a well-executed military operation. We did our jobs, remembered our training (except during the incident above), quickly adapted to new situations, and defeated the enemy at every turn. We didn’t choose this war, many of us knew it was wrong, most of us didn’t want to be there, and all of us will be dealing with this war for far longer than any of the foreign policy experts and politicians who still think Iraq was a success.

This post originally appeared on the Truman Project's "10 Years in Iraq Project."