In my essay, I describe my military experience and how it affected my life. I describe how what I saw and did, and the people I met, helped make me glad for the things I now have and my life.
During my time in combat, I was lucky enough to serve with my brother Samuel. He was the one that joined up in order to fight for our freedoms. My father believed he was brainwashed by the local media into joining up and feared for his life greatly, ergo he was happy that I joined up too.
I was placed in basic training in my local area, and so was in the same barracks as my brother. We found basic training very easy, as our upbringing involved a lot of work outdoors on our farm and protecting the local bear population from poachers. Both my brother and me were very physically fit and were never given any trouble by our drillmaster.
The day eventually came when we were shipped overseas, and ended up in a part of Eastern Europe that has seen insurgency rise very quickly. We didn’t know at the time, but they were being heavily financed by a local group and had grown in far greater numbers than our military leaders had assumed.
Recon in the area we were placed was shaky, but we had no reason to believe there was heavy enemy activity in the area because the local populace had been very tight-lipped about the subject. I discovered later that recon was bad in the area because the local villages and local town were conspiring with the insurgents. Many of the local people had family members who were with the insurgents.
After entering the forest area near the eastern town, we were shelled unexpectedly and forced to make our way to cover on foot. Our troops were picked off one by one and our leaders demand we advance because we were taking heavy losses. The dust from the shells made very good cover and the remainder of our troop were able to move through the woods into a fortified area very easily.
Whilst on the outskirts of the enemy’s fortified position we were hit with a toxic gas. I and a few others had masks, but the troops behind us were hit without warning and dispersed in a blind panic to get away from the gas. My brother was among them and lost his vision, as many of the men did, which lead him to run towards the outskirts of the forest.
The intense noise made it difficult for me to call to my brother, but I found my way to a clearing and lost the other men as I shouted for my brother. Beyond the clearing, I heard him calling out and found him blinded and caught up on barbed wire. I pulled him free and saw that he had been shot in the stomach by high caliber rounds. He died in my arms but was able to hear my voice before he passed.
This episode changed my life. It helped me to understand that time with all people and things is limited. I understand that the only comfort we have is gratitude for the fact we actually had the things we lost in the first place. Though my brother’s death saddened me, I think it is a form of beautiful sadness because the only way his death could have made me as sad as it did was because he made me so happy when he was here. It made me glad for the times I spent and spend with people and the things around me.