“I was on post in Iraq during the early years of the war (2004) The guy with me was always the quiet one in the platoon. It was late in the night and we got sick and tired of being sick and tired and decided to do something we weren’t supposed to do at night. Smoke a cigarette.

I handed one to my buddy on post and he took it and gave me a nod in thanks. We smoked for a few minutes in silence and said something odd.

He looked up, blew out a breath full of smoke and said, ‘You know man. I grew up in an orphanage. Before I joined the Marines, I never had a family or any friends. This might sound fu**ed up, but this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.’

Now, almost 17 years later, I still think about those words almost every day. It’s hard to explain. Being around death and destruction is a terrible thing, don’t get me wrong. But doing it with a group of friends like that? It’s closer than friendship. I suppose they’re the truest family you ever could have.”
– Lance Corporal James Emerson, US Marines. Iraq War, 2004.
As we always say here at Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.