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Picture this, you’re 19 years old, on your first deployment in Afghanistan, and before this picture was taken you were huddled around a 12-inch laptop with 12 other squad mates watching some terrible bootleg movie. Yet, it’s OK, because you’re with your brothers and nothing else truly matters.
Your squad leader walks in and yells, “its time, kit up, let’s go!”. You pause the movie and pick up your fully load plate carrier, belts of linked 7.62 for your machine gunner, extra batteries, water, NODS, etc. You strap on your Kevlar which is still soaked in sweat from the morning patrol. As you step out of your patrol base you’re already drenched in sweat because it’s 130 degrees out and you’re carrying 120 pounds of gear. Falling in single file line behind the Infantryman in front of you, you make damn sure to only step on the path marked out by the point-man. Lucky for you, you trust him enough to find the IED’s on your path because both of your lives depend on his ability to do his job.
The terrain of Afghanistan is unforgivable; trash everywhere could be hiding IEDs. The 120-degree heat, waist high canals, irrigation ditches, endless miles of flooded farm fields to be patrolled through, and pockets of trees and brush offering great concealment for the enemy to spring their ambush at any minute. The trees offer little to no cover for you because they could just as easily be booby-trapped with more IED’s.
15 minutes into the patrol you’re caught off guard by a loud explosion that interrupts your friendly conversation about the latest bootleg batman movie you’re watching. All of this sudden, your best friend is missing and there happens to be a large crater where he was standing.