I was slapped into remembering the severity of it all when a family friend/step-cousin (gotta love postmodern American families), Marine Corporal Luis Hernandez, nearly died on Easter while on a dismounted patrol in Marjah. He spotted an anti-personnel IED in a rut, and being the good Marine that he is, immediately yelled at those behind him to run. That ability of immediate recognition isn't something all men/soldiers/Marines possess - it's inherent, and a testament to Corporal Hernandez's leadership.
The explosion of the IED knocked him to the ground, and shrapnel filled his body in 13 places, mainly in his upper torso and thigh. Unable to walk, his buddies dragged him to cover, tried to stop the bleeding, and called in a Bird for a medical evacuation.
Though expected to fully recover, it's going to be a long road for Corporal Hernandez, just as it was for my soldier, Hot Wheels, who's getting ready to finally leave Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas any day now.
My little brother, Luke G the Rascal King, was able to visit Corporal Hernandez in the hospital, stateside. He found him dipping, a Marine's cure if there ever was one. A parade was held for Corporal Hernandez in his hometown of Wolcott, Connecticut - something he certainly earned. His family is understandably filled with both pride and gratitude. For more information on this, please check out the following links:
Not all soldiers/Marines are as "lucky" as Corporal Hernandez was. Some of my former soldiers and peers have already left for yet another combat deployment, or are gearing up to do so. I have a hard time comprehending this, because honestly, it feels like we just got back. And while the book is cool and everything, and I'm having a good time with it, I've promised myself to not take it too seriously.
Because in the grand scheme of things, it just doesn't freaking matter all that much. Soldiers and Marines are putting their lives on the line every day and night right now in hellholes half-a-globe away, and no words will ever be able to totally capture the tragic beauty of that.