I met someone recently, a former Marine, who went to war in Iraq.  Twice.

His experiences have shaken me.  They are resting on my mind, and I cannot stop thinking about them.  They’re not haunting me, but they are echoing.  My mind keeps hearing, and seeing, what he shared.

“I am not a hero,” he told me.

He hates when people call him a hero.

“The soldiers who didn’t make it back are the heroes,” he said.

That statement alone has shown me how brave he is, and how brave every soldier is.  It always surprises me when I thank a soldier for his or her service, and I receive this response: “Just doing my job.”

The former Marine I spoke with told me that, after a while, the rockets and mortars that were being launched at them, constantly, became the expectation.  He, somehow, was able to accept that it might be his time, with every rocket that landed.  Until then, he said, he would just keep doing what he was “supposed to do.”  Search for survivors, treat  them on scene, or carry them to where they could be airlifted to the medical hospital, and help as many of his brothers and sisters as he could.

To me, that is a hero.

He told me about the time he anticipated death.  He heard a loud thud, he hit the ground, closed his eyes, and waited… but the rocket that was inches away from him never detonated.

As I listened, I grew more and more interested, intrigued, impressed, and amazed.

I was shocked that he survived, and even more shocked that he was telling ME about his experiences.

He had no idea how fortunate I felt to be sitting there, listening intently, visualizing every detail.

I just wanted to share this, since it has affected me in such a tremendous way.

I hope to hear more stories, and if given permission, I’ll share them as well.

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