On April fourth, two thousand and four I found myself bleeding and in shock, waiting for an evac on the dirt. Surrounded by family. It is a day I will always remember, not to sound too cliché.
The circumstances of how I got there are a whole different story, told better by others. But I lay there bleeding and naked on a stretcher waiting on a helicopter to take me to the Greenzone in Bahgdad. The medics had cut off all my clothes, making sure I didn’t have other injuries. To my knowledge, my main injury was a bullet wound in my back.
Next to me were two guys, Gonzo and Perry. Perry, I didn’t know at the time; he was in another Company, Charlie, maybe. Gonzo was in Alpha Company with me. To be honest, my memory isn’t super clear on all the details. I remember Gonzo yelling at someone to get me something to cover me up. I was shaking really badly, and it was evening and cooling down. Both Gonzo and Perry were giving me a rub down, practically a full body massage to keep me warm. I remember Gonzo saying, “you better not tell anyone about this,” as he continued to try to warm my battered body. The fella he sent finally came back with a woobie (a lightweight blanket we are all fond of) to cover me with; I think he may have grabbed it from my tent. Either way, I never saw that woobie again; I loved those things.
Years later, almost two decades now, I think of that moment. How two guys from completely different backgrounds, Gonzo was Mexican, and Perry was African American, sat there comforting a naked white guy on the battlefield. It was done with the care and love one would show to a sick or injured family member. What I learned from that moment is brotherhood knows no color. You are my brother, and I don’t care if you are black, brown, yellow, or pink; I am going to stand by your side and give you everything I have got. It’s such a beautiful thing. Now, if we could expand that same feeling to those outside of the military. What a beautiful world it could be.