As we approached the beaches yesterday, all I could think of was one specific line in the speech General Eisenhower wrote us before we left England, “The free men of the world are marching to victory!” I felt reassured as we left in the Landing Craft Infantry even though I could not hear myself think because everything was exploding around me. The firing of the guns vibrated with mighty, beating like blood through a heart. With my free hand, I pressed my fingertips against my chest to try to lessen the sound pounding through my ribcage. Mouths were moving, but the only sound was the gun, everyone speaking the same language, everyone fighting for their own reason. I knew that I would fight with all my heart for my country. I would fight with pride. But now, words are jumping out at me. I still can’t describe the horror I saw yesterday as I got out of the L.C.I. and got in the water, some guys were really scared, I could see it in their eyes. Hell, we were all scared. The water was freezing. As I approached the beach, I saw my own friends a few feet away from me, have their arms shot off or even worse die instantly in front of me. There isn’t much time to adapt once the action begins. It is hard to believe that this is what we’ have been training for and now this is the real thing, We have no timeouts, no restarts, no “Hold on”… However the time it takes you to get your bearings, to adapt, decreases significantly once you realize THIS is what you’ve been training for. These are the scenarios, This is the turf, This is the team, This is the equipment, These are the capabilities. It isn’t just knowing what to do: It’s about knowing that you know what to do. You know what you’re doing, you are ready to do this. As are your teammates. And the main lesson I take away from it, even though we are a reserve force, ongoing, periodic training is critical, no matter how well we think we know our job. Prices are final. There is no easy way to tackle this one. A severe injury is a severe injury. Death is death. You can’t rewind, it can’t be undone. The tragic loss in battle is a fact you deal with. I’ve lost friends before, including in the battle in Hong Kong and my brigade had lost 3 men in Operation Protective Edge. The moments of realization, that something went wrong, and the piecing together of the picture leading to the painful truth, are moments I will never forget. As are the names, faces, joint experiences and little moments. Before the war, there were many reasons why men wanted to participate. Some felt that it was their duty to fight for their country and for freedom. The majority of them were drafted without a prior notice while others escaped the drafting process and remained at home. Most of the books cited in this paper gloss over the reasons for going to war simply because there is nothing to analyze. Either they got drafted or they volunteered. Everything has a different meaning once you live through it. War changes you in ways I wouldn’t have figured out from the beginning, they take away things from you and return little to none understanding. I feel so alone. I am scared. It changes the way you see other people, you change physically and become damaged emotionally. War has taken away something from all of us. You could see it in their eyes, only the people who have gone knows what it is they feel. You learn that death must come sooner or later and that you can never be truly ready for something even if you spend the whole year training for it. The difference between training for eternity to be an expertise on something does not compare to the real thing when real people with a real story to tell die in front of your eyes. Right now a third of my company, a third of us are hiding out in a pit until darkness sets in so we can start looking for the others. I don’t even know where the hell we are!