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Episode 3: Any Station This Net


Alex Flynn & Brent Wingfield

3: "Any Station This Net" with Alex Flynn and Liam Corley
A combat photojournalist fears conflict. From the streets of Afghanistan he tells his story of unwinnable war and moral injury. Another soldier avoids being the last casualty of a forgotten war. He decides whether he must get out of his current life of revolving battles or go back home, where everything is foreign.

Julia Evans: From KPBS and So Say We All in San Diego, Welcome to Incoming, the show featuring stories from the lives of american veterans, told in their own words, directly from their own mouths. I’m Julia Evans. Alex Flynn joined the army in 2008 and spent 4 years in the infantry. He became a combat correspondent for the next 3. He writes about Afghanistan in the way of a photojournalist, in snapshots. Home now, the way he exists with conflict and danger is complicated. Alex Flynn: I’m terrified of driving cars, I’m terrified of crossing the street. I’m incredibly cautious when I do everyday activities because people are stupid. I know, trust me. Julia Evans: He’s also drawn to continuing his work as a conflict photojournalist. Alex Flynn: I’m more addicted to just the idea of being in a place where everything counts. Julia Evans: His vignettes show as the space between home and that relationship with danger, but I’ll let Alex tell you the rest. Alex Flynn: My name is Alex Flynn and this is my story, Narratives. Private Miller is eating a Pop-Tart now and later today he’ll have watched two men die. Then he’ll tear into dinner afterward like it’s the last meal he’ll ever have. His platoon sergeant, a veteran of inconceivable horrors in Iraq and Afghanistan, will remark, “It’s so fucking weird man, every time these guys see death like that, they get hungry. I’ve never been able to figure that out.” Later that evening as the sun slowly dips below the horizon, with the staccato of small arms fire and tracer rounds arcing through the sky, he stands on the back ramp of a Stryker staring into nothing and says, to no one in particular, or maybe says to me since I was the only one staring at nothing with him, “I can’t get the faces of all dead people I’ve seen out of my head.” I’ll be taken aback, and I won’t know what to say so I’ll try and joke, “That last guy didn’t have a face, kid. Chill out.” Then he’ll snap out of it, giggling like the 19 or 20-year-old kid he is and we’ll go back to talking about girls and booze and how it’s bullshit that it’s so cold and we’re not allowed to build a fire. He’ll ask me to email the pictures I took of him today. “My family would probably print ‘em out,” he says. “They’re really proud.”   I'm standing in the frozen food section of Sam's Club and I hear the beeping sound of a forklift and I close my eyes and I'm back. Back in Afghanistan; in freezing rain, lighting a cigarette, and the second I spark my lighter I’m standing in a cloud of dust. I can't breathe because my mouth is filled with grit and I can't hear anything except a high-pitched ringing and my cigarette is still burning on my lips and the thirteen-year-old boy I was following around a corner is convulsing on the ground in-front of me. The nearby Afghan National Army soldiers are gone, presumably blown apart. I notice bits of their uniform stuck in a nearby tree, fluttering in the breeze; which for a moment is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But the kid, that poor kid, his legs, jaw, and left arm are gone and I'm giggling because I'm in shock and it looks like the kid is doing the worm but he's not. He's in his death throes. It's dead quiet because the kid can't do anything but make gurgling sounds as he fades and I hear one of our vehicles reversing to pick him up and check on me and it sounds just like the fucking forklift in Sam's Club and my girlfriend says, "Baby, are you alright?" and I shake it off and walk toward the automotive section and buy new tires for my Subaru. Nice tires, the most expensive all-weather tires I can buy because I'm not fucking dying in a car accident.   Julia Evans: Thanks for being on Incoming. You were a combat correspondent? What came first for you, the army or journalism? Alex Flynn: I’d always been interested in journalism. I’d always been interested in photography. When I joined the army, that’s what I initially tried to do, but it was 2008, and George Bush needed kids to go to Iraq. So, they were like “no, that’s not a job you can even do in the army. Be a machine gunner.” I was in the infantry and I just took pictures all the time. I always had my camera with me. My bosses, my team sergeant, squad leader and everything, they wanted me to go to the [inaudible*] correspondent school for the army and be dual qualified. It’s called a secondary [inaudible]. They were cool about it. they knew what I wanted to do. I was provided the opportunity to do it. I went to the Army’s Broadcast Journalism School in Fort Meade, Maryland. Julia Evans: In your work, I see a dichotomy. You have a lot of really dark situations and imagery, then this portrayal of pretty immature stuff. 19 year old, 20 year old stuff. It’s unsettling. Can you tell me where that comes from in your writing? Alex Flynn: When you’re a journalist, if I’m going to write a news story that corresponds with my photographs that- we went into this village today, and some people got blown up. People got shot and died. Go down on paper and go out to the wire services and news agencies, it will say 3 dead. Acronyms and stuff. you can pass it off so easily, and that’s now how I process. I don’t like to process death, especially death that I’ve witnessed like a statistic or a numbers or acronyms or anything. I wish there was a better way to describe how people died, because photographs are one thing. When you pair photographs with writing and stuff, you can paint a picture that is a lot more horrific. Julia Evans: Do you feel like your camera was able to create a barrier between yourself and the trauma? Alex Flynn: As a civilian journalist, kind of. Now, working now. But as a soldier, an army correspondent? No, it didn’t create a barrier. If somebody got blown up, it wasn’t my job to take pictures of them. It’s my job as a soldier to save their life. Help them. As a soldier, as a combat correspondent, there’s no question about that line. There’s no questions about your moral responsibility. It’s your job as a soldier to take care of people that are dying. I’ve held- IV bags in my left hand and taken pictures with my right. Julia Evans: What kind of work do you do now? Alex Flynn: Conflict. Conflict stuff. I think what I’m supposed to say is that it’s a calling to cover all that, but it’s not. War is exciting. As long as you don’t die, or someone you know dies, it’s exciting. Getting shot at is fun. It’s an adrenaline thing. I see it more as a civil service. Photojournalism, at least my role in photojournalism, is more of a civil service. firefighters and firefighters because they’re not scared of running into a burning building. To be a documentarian or to provide a historical record of something, you can’t be scared. There are certain people that aren’t going to be scared to do it and those people need to be doing it if they’re capable. I still have legs. I still have hands. I can use a camera. I know I can make pictures when people are shooting at me. So, as long as I have that assurance myself, there needs to be someone that can take it. Julia Evans: It makes me think of the ending of your story at Sam’s club, how you want the best tires for your car. Alex Flynn: I’m like an old woman. I’m like a grandpa or grandma. I don’t drive fast, I drive a very safe car. I’m terrified of [inaudible], someone’s life is in danger. That might be a byproduct of war and conflict and stuff? Maybe? Julia Evans: And then on the other hand, would you consider yourself an emergency junkie? Alex Flynn: Is there a way to use junkie in a positive way? Emergency junkie? Freebasing emergencies? I don’t think I’m specifically addicted to that sort of adrenaline rush where I’m going to do something incredibly dangerous just to feel that for a moment. I’m more addicted to just being in a place where everything counts. Everything matters. It’s life and death. When I wake up in the morning, and I’m walking around Afghanistan, I have to pay attention to everything. Everything’s turned on, you just feel more alive. If I can think of a specific incident, when I realized I was good at it, I wanted to pursue photojournalism. I can’t remember where I was. Somewhere in southern Afghanistan. I got ambushed, some people fired 3 or 4 RPGs at us and small arms fire, like AK-47s. When I went back and reviewed, I had a videocamera. I was shooting B Roll. For the first 5 seconds, my hand was shaking. Then it stops shaking entirely. I kept doing that. every time I get in a firefight, every time something sketchy would happen, I’d go back and look at my footage. I’m not shaking, I’m perfectly calm. That’s good.That’s good. There was a specific incident, which was that ambush. I remember looking up at this kid, trying to find some way to shoot him, and being perfectly calm with my camera. Julia Evans: The scene in Sam’s Club, we think we’re going to understand it at first. This narrative of a PTSD flashback, and I think you take it somewhere else. do you deal with this a lot, that people act like they understand your experience. They fill in the blanks post combat? Alex Flynn: Yeah, people do— I think with greater public awareness, greater public understanding, there are less people saying “I understand what you’ve been through” and “oh, yeah ,I know how that feels.” That’s like crisis management 101. You don’t tell a person that’s just about to jump off a bridge that you know how they feel. That’s not helping them. You don’t know how that person feels. I also think there is an issue in the United States now of PTSD being fetishized. That’s a good word for it. It’s almost been popularized by these movies and it’s just weird. It kind of irks me, how accepting people are of PTSD. It’s because of popular culture, so people form these opinions and narratives from movies like American Sniper or something. They have a preconceived notion in their head about what PTSD is. There’s so many different forms and so many layers to that story that aren’t told. People assume oh, you have PTSD. I have a lot of people assume I have PTSD, which is untrue. I saw a Behavioral Health Specialist, and the guy was like you don’t exhibit the classic symptoms of PTSD. You don’t exhibit any of these. There’s no avoidance. You went to Ferguson, you’re not scared to go to war. You’re not scared. We should look into these things like depression and these different types of post traumatic stress, or moral injury. That’s another thing that is gaining more public traction. For me, moral injury is— I have more than an issue with some of the things I’ve done that is immoral, which wouldn’t be typical stuff that you would think. If I’m a soldier and I say I’ve done immoral things, you would think oh, I killed a civilian or something. That’s not hat I’m talking about. I’m talking about politics or regional politics, or like my role as a soldier in a particular stage of the war, in an unwinnable war. Julia Evans: It was the last day, the last mission of Brent Wingfield’s tour in Afghanistan, . And he’d left his decision down to the wire. Would he stay in? Or get out? Brent Wingfield: “There’s... I don’t know, that bond. It’s enough. It was enough to keep doing it.” Julia Evans: He knew from his time in Iraq that there was no such thing as a perfect tour, a perfect homecoming. But this time, in Afghanistan, he was lucky. He was almost there. Whether that meant he should quit, or re-up, he couldn’t decide. But I’ll let Brent tell you the rest. Brent Wingfield: Hi, my name is Brent Wingfield and my story is called “Homecoming.” As I trudged through Afghanistan’s lush Mizan River Valley on what would be my final combat patrol, I stopped momentarily to catch my breath before climbing out of a knee-deep canal and over an earthen embankment. I wanted to keep my guys out of the river bed where we were easy targets, and off the roads where the locals liked to bury explosives. They didn’t usually like placing the IED’s in or around their homes, so to hell with the roads, I thought. We took the safest route: through their fields and farms. None of us wanted to be the latest casualty in a forgotten war, and no one was trying to be a hero, especially on our last mission. I stopped and relayed instructions via radio to my two team leaders. I told them to start maneuvering their fire teams towards me; we were taking a detour. I took a deep breath and scaled the retaining wall. When I reached the top, I looked at the fields ahead. An acre of red poppies danced playfully in the breeze as the craggy mountains cast a looming shadow over some mud-walled homes ahead. I marveled as the Afghan cliffs slowly swallowed the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. “It’d be kinda pretty if it weren’t for all those crappy houses,” Guenther’s voice came from over my shoulder. Brian “Hans” Guenther was one of my team leaders and closest friends. Though I outranked him, Hans was twelve years my senior. He was like an older brother. I met eyes with the mustachioed man, smiled and looked back to the sunset. “It’s beautiful,” I paused, “but tainted.” The lush valley was a light show of colors, littered with crude, mud-walled houses, dirt roads and the scars of centuries of war. I was captivated. The views were tremendous, but I was sick of seeing them at the same time. I missed my home, my wife, and my pug, Roxy. I missed having a beer after work. My gut wrenched over the decision I knew that I had to make, a decision that I knew was long overdue. But I wasn’t sure if I was ready, or even wanted to hang up my boots and say goodbye to life as an infantryman. After a seven-year-long love-hate relationship with the Army, most of which was spent overseas, I realized that I loved seeing the world and the camaraderie and the experience of serving, but I had long-since grown weary of the caveats. I was at the end of my enlistment and had to make a choice: re-up or get out. I wanted to stay in but I was tired. I was tired of saying goodbye to my wife, tired of keeping my family at a distance, and I was tired of keeping a guilty tab on my growing list of dead friends. I longed for a “normal” life, even though I didn’t have any idea what the hell that even meant. I just knew that it had to be better than all this. But on the other hand, I loved what I did. Training soldiers and leading them through combat was the most rewarding experience of my life. I loved the guys with whom I served like family, and being a grunt was all I had known since I was nineteen. I wondered if I should just accept the fact that this was my life. I looked around. Maybe I should learn to love this, I thought. I turned to Guenther and his friendly eyes cut through me. He knew me. “Let’s get ready to move,” I told him. “Take us home Sergeant,” Guenther said with a friendly wink. I nodded and smiled. “I’ll stay on point,” I said. “We’ll head through that farm at our two-o’clock and link up with the rest of the platoon ahead.” We bumped knuckles and I started walking backwards. “Roger. We’ll follow.” Guenther said. He turned and walked off to relay instructions to bravo team. I kept walking backwards, admiring the soldiers in my squad. Damnit, I am gonna miss this, I thought as I watched them following in formation. It had taken countless hours of training and a year at war to turn what was once a gaggle-fuck of misfits and teenagers into an effective and cohesive fighting force. I smiled proudly as I watched them climb from the canal and into the poppy field. I turned and started walking to check ahead for sight of 1st Squad. As I stepped, I twisted my ankle and ate shit. Gravity jerked my body one way, and sent the 90 pounds of gear I was wearing violently in the opposite direction. I sailed to the ground like a bag of bricks and apparently, it was quite the sight. Laughter erupted behind me. “Fuckin’ A,” I said and threw my hands up, laughing at myself. What could I do? I brushed mud from my face and struggled back to my feet. As I stood, I caught sight of the lead squad. My Platoon Sergeant Tony Robb was standing with them atop a large, brown hill. I looked through my binoculars and saw him staring at me. His face was red with laughter. Apparently everyone had noticed my fall. “You alright?” Robb half giggled into his radio. “This shit’ll buff out,” I answered into my mine. “Aren’t you gonna miss all this Wingnut?” Robb’s Tennessee drawl cackled through my radio’s muddy mic. Wingnut, I thought. He knew I hated that. “Fuck no,” I answered, still spitting out pieces of Afghanistan as I spoke. I adjusted my gear and noticed an Afghan family standing outside their mud hovel. A small, brightly dressed girl with long, dark hair waved and smiled. She made me think of my cousin. Two men stood beside the girl, staring silently. I looked at the poppies I had smashed and shrugged. They were pissed. I dusted myself off and kept moving. Guenther’s fire-team was quickly approaching from behind. “Watch these guys, Hans,” I motioned in the direction of the men. “We’ve got eyes on,” Guenther affirmed. I reached the edge of the scarlet morphine farm and climbed a wall to the next one. I could see pink and white poppies planted in neat rows in the next field. As I climbed, my mind wandered back to scaling walls while fighting house-to-house in Southern Baghdad years prior. It wasn’t anything like this. Back then, we would quickly climb crude walls, rush into half-ruined homes, and fight our way to the rooftops. Entire neighborhoods would erupt into gunfire and my heart would race as I clutched my rifle’s grip, my eyes and sights racing frantically through the haze of incoming lead. I remembered the confusion of trying to tell which civilians were just trying not to get shot and which ones were trying to kill us; we rarely could. I thought of the adrenaline rush as bullets sang overhead and I remembered the piercing cries from those that struck true. I remembered the ever-present, carnivorous dread that gnawed at our sanity, and I remembered how we fought through it arrogantly. I thought of the dozen guys that didn’t make it home and the couple dozen more who got fucked up, blown up or shot. I remembered how the rest of us were left to carry on and fight in their absence and I remembered how we tried to pick up the pieces of our lives when we went home. The dead are the lucky ones. I was still coming to terms with my first homecoming from war on the eve of leaving Afghanistan. I relived old firefights by night and avoided them by day. I was neurotic about my guys’ safety, because I was tired of seeing young Americans die on forgotten battlefields, in wars no one back home gave a shit about anymore. Fuck this, I thought. But as I heaved my body over a final barrier and walked towards our combat outpost, my mood changed. I led my squad through the second poppy field and onto a small dirt road leading towards our mountain home. After a day spent battling the crags and valleys, I walked the last few painful, muddy steps smiling because I knew that at least this time, it was all different. I took a heavy breath and smiled. I knew that I was still dealing with some old demons, but at least I had managed to keep my shit together. I had trained and led ten soldiers through twelve months of combat, and this time, I was bringing all of them home alive, and most of them were still in one piece. I had done my job well and I was proud. I stopped at the entrance to our sandbagged outpost and kicked most of the mud from my boots. I looked at the faces of my soldiers and counted them as they walked through the concertina wire. I smiled with every passing face. “Awesome job guys.” I keyed my mic for the last time: “Hey Two-Six, Two-Three. We’re a hundred percent.” “Roger that Two-Three. Welcome home,” I heard my Lieutenant’s voice answer through the radio. Guenther waited for me. He and I entered last. “My feet are barking,” he said. “That’s ‘cause you’re too old for this shit,” I teased. “Fuck you, Sergeant,” he said with a smile. We bumped helmets affectionately. “Come on, let’s go get some chow,” I said. The next day, I again counted my guys as they boarded a CH-47 helicopter. It was our ride out of the bomb-laden mountains and back to Camp Disneyland, otherwise known as Kandahar Airfield, or KAF. KAF was our next stop on our way back home to Germany, where we were stationed. “Going home” never felt real until the CH-47 threw massive plumes of dirt up as we lifted off the mountainside and flew south. We were so close to finally leaving Asscrackistan and we all looked forward to the families, booze, and brothels that awaited. I remembered my first awkward homecoming, and I wondered how many years it would take to “adjust” this time. I closed my eyes and listened to the helicopter clamor through the desert dawn. I thought of red poppies. Later that night, Robb Guenther and I went out to explore our interim home. Compared to our forsaken outpost, KAF was a 5-star resort, and we fully intended to enjoy ourselves. The three of us went and bought some cigars and a pizza to celebrate our deployment’s end. We reminisced about humping our gear over mountains, getting rained on and eating expired MREs, all while the assholes stationed on KAF had such plush living conditions. The leviathan air base had USO shows, PX’s and contractor-run dining facilities. There was a weekly “Salsa Night” on the Boardwalk, an actual boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants. “Afghanistan: individual experiences may vary,” I joked as I chewed pepperoni pizza. “Seriously, is it a deployment or a vacation for these fuckin’ guys?” Guenther said. Our twelve months in Afghanistan had truly sucked, and in confounding new ways nonetheless, but my experiences had paled in comparison to the combat I’d seen in Iraq years prior. I remembered seeing burned homes, dead kids, and friends lose limbs. I felt stupid for complaining. “I’m just happy we got everybody here,” I said. “Those soldiers of yours,” Tony Robb looked to me and said. “Brand, Espinoza, Spaulding…” “Yeah, they sure didn’t make it easy,” I nodded. “No, they didn’t,” Guenther agreed. We had been like dads to the guys of our squad. Over the last year, we had walked them through everything from weapons training to personal hygiene issues. “Yeah, we’re all still alive,” I said. “In spite of stubborn soldiers…” “Lazy Sergeants…” Robb teased. “And the most valiant efforts of our chain of command” I said. “You ain’t kiddin’” he nodded. The three of us sat, chewing our food in silence for several minutes. It was nice to finally enjoy the fruits of society again. A greasy pizza and a Coke. I was in heaven. And that’s when Robb’s phone rang. It was one of the soldiers in our platoon. Guenther shot me a worried glance. We could hear the panicked voice. Something had happened back at our platoon’s tents, something terrible. Robb’s brow curled sharply as he listened to the frantic soldier. “It’s Spaulding,” Robb told us as his gut visibly sank. “Spaulding’s been shot.” “He was shot?” Guenther’s voice cracked. Shot? It didn’t make any sense; we were miles away from any real combat, on the eve of our homecoming. Robb looked at Guenther and I. “We need to go!” We scrambled to our feet and out the door. Robb clutched his phone and rifle as he ran. My heart raced. “They’re there now?” he said into the phone. “Good. We’ll meet them at the hospital. I’ll be back at the tent as soon as I can,” he assured the soldier and hung up. “Stop that bus,” Robb motioned and yelled. Guenther and I stepped into the road and tried to flag-down a passing bus. It didn’t stop, so we raised our rifles. After looking down the business end of two carbines, the driver slammed the vehicle to an immediate halt and the three of us climbed aboard. Guenther and I sat in the first row and Robb informed the driver where to go: the ER. “Now, what the hell happened?” Guenther asked. Robb took a deep breath. “All I managed to hear was that Spaulding’s been shot and that Baker did it,” Robb told us as he sat, his tone more of a question. Baker was another soldier in our platoon and a close friend of Spaulding, and although they were both problem soldiers, none of this added up. “That doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “He said something about... they were playing,” Robb’s face cringed, “and that Baker shot him in the head.” “What the fuck?” Guenther said. The bus dropped us off at the Combat Support Hospital exactly as the Humvee arrived that was carrying our wounded soldier, Riley Spaulding. His face was covered in blood-drenched gauze. I could see that he had suffered a point-blank gunshot wound to the forehead. My mind raced with questions. The reasons why were still fuzzy; the trauma was all that was clear. I watched four Corpsmen carry Riley Spaulding onto a hospital bed and quickly wheel him inside. Robb, Guenther, and I followed closely. As they pushed the gurney through a doorway, Spaulding’s bandage fell from his face. He’s not gonna make it, I thought. We watched the frantic doctors do what they could. They tried their damndest but it was no use. It was too late. I looked at the bullet hole in Riley’s forehead. It was too much. God damnit. Robb and Guenther headed back to be with the rest of our platoon while I stuck around to fill out the necessary paperwork. What the fuck Spaulding? I looked at his vacant eyes. You were trained better than this! What the fuck were you doing? I choked back tears as I signed my name, officiating his death. He was a lovable goof, kind of like a little brother. And now he was dead. A week later, we were all back in Germany. We landed at Rammstein Air Base near Frankfurt, and then loaded buses on our way back to Vilseck where our lives that were interrupted a year prior had left off. As the bus drove on the Autobahn I stared out my window at the thick, green pines and ferns and rain-soaked roads. I didn’t know what to think about the carefree civilians driving beside us. They were completely oblivious. It was odd to not worry about IEDs in the road. It was weird to be so close to home. Suddenly, it wasn’t such a vague concept. I thought of what it was like going home last time and I shuddered. I wondered what it would be like now. This time, everything was different. I thought about Riley Spaulding. We were less than an hour away. Julia Evans: Tell me what that 100% meant to you, right then at the poppy field when you were done with that final mission? Brent Wingfield: I t’s like I had closure. I knew that my record was clean. h e r e w e r e n o l o o s e ends. I brought them all home like I said I would, and I did my job. I was home. It was so surreal. Like I remember just standing there, like, taking it in. Like, looking around, like, this is it, huh? It didn’t even seem like it was — I don’t know. I felt like at the moment, like my decision was made, I was staying in. Julia Evans: What does it mean when someone loses their life in a war zone, not in combat, but in a mistake, like this? Brent Wingfield: To die in combat, that’s something we went into it knowingly, like we all raised our right hands, we all said we would do it. It was something we were trained to do, we were prepared to do, we were ­ you expected that as a possibility for you, yeah, no one wants to die, but it’s always there, it’s always in the back of your mind. But then when something like that happens. It’s just so disenfranchising. The whole meaning of everything you’re doing, there’s nothing to it. It’s just such a waste. It’s pointless and stupid. (pause) And that’s harder to deal with. It’s easy to say, These are the people that killed my friend, and then to have some kind of recourse against that, you know, to do your job, if anything, it was functional: it helped you do your job, But then when you lose one of your own, to one of your own, it just. Why? Julia Evans: That’s our show.
Incoming is produced by Justin Hudnall with help from myself, Julia Evans. All the original music was composed by Chris Warren, Arianna Warren, and Kris Apple with accompaniment from Alan Jones. In the studio: Kurt Kohnen provides technical assistance Leah Singer is our web editor
Jim Tinsky does web development
And John Decker is Program Director If you like what you hear and you want us to keep making episodes, please, go to and click on donate. Thanks for listening, we’ll talk again soon.

Incoming’s third episode goes all Army, with machine gunner and combat photographer Alex Flynn giving us two snapshots back to back: one in-country of a young soldier he talked down from a panic attack by taking his portrait for the folks back home, contrasted with Alex’s own panic attack, months later while shopping at a Costco, when the sounds of a forklift render him unstuck in time and reliving the experience of surviving an IED detonation.

Then, Brent Wingfield walks us in through the wire on his last mission with the infantry in Afghanistan, done with patrol through the gates and relative safety of his forward operating base, from there onto a chopper, and back to the rear where he and his men would finally be safe. But war never ends where we want expect it to.

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