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SGT Joseph Prince, a soldier from 3rd Platoon, Company A, Task Force 3-66 Armor, pulls security while Iraqi Army soldiers search a house during a patrol Thursday in Tahweela, Iraq. The IA, supported by soldiers from Company A, kicked off Operation Dark Wolf Pursuit One to execute the “clear, hold and build” strategy in southern Balad-Ruz District of Iraq’s Diyala Province. (Ben Bloker/Stars and Stripes photo.)

Who is the Average American Soldier?

The average age of the military man is 19 years old. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father’s, but he has never collected unemployment either.

He’s a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student but not because he’s stupid – just a kid. He pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy that he’s damn proud of, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. His grammar isn’t always the best, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march. He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of cammies: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you’re thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He’ll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life – or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed. He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square-away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking.

In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather did, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

This is the guys! Then there are the American fighting women! She has many things in common with her male camrades, but she is also sassy, playful, and plays as hard as she works. She’s an “activist, a Doer, not a watcher! She’s resourceful, creative, and takes care of her mind as well as her body. She, too, has wept in public and in private for friends or strangers fallen, unashamed. She feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through her body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square-away’ those around her who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. She is fiercely patriotic, and she loves her country! She serves alongside the guys, putting up with their innate crudeness, without batting an eyelash. She looks beautiful with or without makeup. She can march and shoot at least as well as her male counterparts, and looks good doing it! She is proud to be an American. Proud to be a soldier, proud to be woman!

They ask nothing in return, except our for friendship and understanding, and maybe an occasional prayer. Remember them always, for they have earned our respect and admiration with their own blood. These soldiers do their part as tradition tells them, of going to war when and where our nation calls us to do so.

As you go to bed tonight, remember this shot: a short lull, a little shade, and a picture of loved ones in their helmets.

Letter from "Home" (Anywhere, USA)

Fallen Soldier All Alone

Fallen Soldier Far From Home.
Trickling Down His Face A Tear,
Forgetting How It Feels To Fear
Death And All It’s Fate And Glory.
Now It’s Here, No Need To Worry.
Fallen Soldier Waiting for the End
Fallen Soldier Far From Home
He’s One Of Those They’ll All Forget;
But He’s the One Thing You Should Never Forget.
The Life He Lived, The Goals He Set,
The Ones He Loved, The Ones Who Wait
To See His Nearly Forgotten Face.
Fallen Soldier All Alone
Fallen Soldier Far From Home
Now Breathing’s Just A Waste Of Breath
And Living’s Just A Waste Of Death
As He Searches For A New Address;
A Brand New Home Free Of Loneliness.
Fallen Soldier All Alone
Fallen Soldier Far From Home
Lying Motionless On The Ground,
The Battle Raging All Around.
For Now He Is Not All Alone.
This Fallen Soldier Is Welcomed Home.

-Unkown Author-

**Putting it in Perspective
Thank You, Soldiers**

BEKINDREWRITE ~ Inspiration Monday XXIII