Part of the routine Army training is learning how to take a house. It’s mostly the infantry who does this, but the rest of us learn it also, just in case. One guy kicks in the front door, and the soldiers rush in, single file, to clear each room an subdue any bad guys. My initial training, was with a bunch of other first-timers in a model city with paintball guns, with instructors playing the bad guys. Our leader kicked the door in on cue, and our lead guy froze, just outside the open door, holding us all back. The cadre came stomping over, wanting to know what his problem was. Of course, it was that there was probably a guy on the other side ready to shoot him.
Get this straight, we were told. If you’re the first guy into an armed house, you’re going to die. Get used to it. Do the job right, and your buddie behind you has a chance. Wetried it again. He moved to slow, and got a paintball in the chest. I followed, and got two in the neck (I had a giant hickey-looking thing there for a week).
I’ve always been in awe of our Infantry guys. They go house to house every day, knowing what they’re getting into. Every morning downrange, these guys wake up,and are instructed to get in a humvee and go into town, knowing the road is probably booby-traped with roadside bombs and ambushes, and the town is populated with people who will try to kill them when they get there. And our guys say good, let’s roll.
By all means, they aren’t the only ones taking risks or losing people. Far from it. But they step up and roll out every day with a target on their chest, so the rest of us don’t have to.
So far, more than 4,400 American troops have lost their lives in Iraq, and another 1,000 in Afghanistan. That doesn’t count the soldiers from other coalition coutries. And more are adding to the list as we speak. And that doesn’t count Whatever you may think about this war, take a minute out of your day and give a quick thanks to these men and women who gave their life for their country. They joined up to fight for something greater than themselves, to give their families and friends a better life.
IT IS THE SOLDIER
by Charles M. Province
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.