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A Soldier's Creed
I can still feel the tears dropping off my cheek. My name is Patrick Dale, 157th Infantry Division, United States Army. They told us we were the best equipped, best trained and best prepared. On the morning of August 9th, 2010, three days before the war in the Middle East would end, at Tall’Afar Air Base, four-thousand two hundred men and women would be killed, fighting to their last breathe.
I was woken up by the sound of whistles, screaming, bombs and gun fire. I grabbed my boots and pants, my dog tags clinging together in a hastily pace. I grabbed my vest, and ran outside.
Fire, mortars, the smell of death and burning flesh squeezed my nose. An officer in the Air Force, lying on the ground, his leg bleeding profusely from a large piece of metal cutting through his leg. He yelled out to me, “G-Grab it…Take!” He pointed at an M16 rifle lying on the ground, a few feet away from him, with his dying breathe.
He grabbed his cross, which was covered in blood, screamed and finally closed his eyes, with the look of pain wiped off his face. I dropped my head, as the officer was finally put to rest. I grabbed the rifle, then ran over to him, read his nametag on his BDU. It read Jonse.
I grabbed his dog tags and searched him, looking for any memorabilia. I found an AMMO Coin, Airman’s Coin, and a picture of a woman and two young girls. I felt engraved markings on the back of the photo with my forefinger. I flipped the photo over and saw some writing on it, written with a red pen.
“My sweetheart Emilia, and my two wonderful gifts from God, Rose and Vanessa.” I placed the photo in one of my left breast pockets on my vest after reading it. As I was crouching next to the officer, Navy Seamen, who were going to school on a Navy Ship, were running past me, knocking into me and tripping.
I gathered myself, and picked up the rifle once again. I’ve never killed anyone. I didn’t want to, but how could I forgive those terrorists? I thought about what was happening once more, after taking a three hundred sixty degree turn around view of the base, and gripped my rifle with all my strength.
I heard one fellow Army Soldier shout out, “They got LAWs!” I didn’t know where to go. I once again looked around, and saw a group of about 3 soldiers pinned down about fifty meters up, and only one of them had a weapon.
As I figured out what to do, my tunnel vision started to grow. I saw and heard, in my head, a thousand men and women, each from different branches of the Military-Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard-Saying the Soldier’s Creed. Over, and over, and over again.
Then, without hesitation, I tightened my vest, grabbed my rifle, and dashed across the base to the soldiers pinned down, saying the Soldier’s Creed. I ran to Hangar 2B, then to Hangar 5Z, then to a concrete barricade. I looked over the barricade, as I was crouching down, and saw the only soldier of the 3 men who had a weapon give his gun a confused look. He started hitting it.
I knew it was jammed. I saw a group of 5 men with automatic rifles, with turbans and foreign clothing, creeping up on the Soldiers. I laid down, held my breathe and put the hostiles in my iron sights of my sleek, steel, cold M16. I pulled the trigger and fired upon the first enemy in the front of the pack. Frightened, they scattered, as the enemy fell to the ground.
I saw the soldier finally get his gun un-jammed. I stood up, and ran over to him. I saw he had a Colonel insignia on his BDU. I asked him what his duties on the base were before the attack, “Guarding the southern post, sir.” It was quiet for a few seconds, then we heard a loud whistling, and it began once again.
I looked at the Colonel and screamed over the bombs and gunfire, “You’re under my command now, Colonel! Fire on my lead and stay on my six!” He acknowledged me, and they followed. I immediately thought of how to evacuate these young soldiers. I thought, since I was near the firing range, there had to be a weapon, at least a handgun, there.
It was only about 30 to 40 meters away from our position. I looked at a private at the back of the group, and told him to go first. “Hand the private your weapon, soldier.” The Colonel, once again, acknowledged me and did so. We tried so hard, but we couldn’t stop it.
I watched the private run about 20 meters out, his weapon sticking out from his chest, staying on guard, and get shot. I got so angry. I loosened up my vest, brought it up over my head and arms, and dropped it. I threw my gun on the ground, as I dashed over to the young man.
He was in shock, his body twitching like a light bulb dying out. I picked the private up, and threw him over my shoulder. “The Soldier’s Creed, say it!” He spewed blood all over my back, as I was running back to the other soldiers. “I am…” He was coughing the words up from his throat. I ran as fast as I could.
I got to the other men and threw the young soldier down on the ground. “Medic! Anybody!” One of the men had a pair of scissors, “Sir…” He gave me the scissors and I cut his shirt off. The men were staring, they didn’t know what to do. As I cut his shirt off, I saw a giant hole, I could see inside of this young, brave soldier. I knew he wouldn’t live.
With the sound of gunfire and explosions, the Colonel starting saying the Soldier’s Creed. “I am an American soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army values.” The rest of the men joined in. I was saying it under my breath. I grabbed the dying man’s right hand, and the others joined in. One of them started praying. Gasping, in shock and fighting for life, we tried to comfort him. “I will die before I let go” I looked as his name tag, “Davis.”
I felt horrible for not knowing his first name. The young man slowly let go, as his heart stopped beating, his body stopped twitching. I tilted my head, and shut his eyes. As I did with the Air Force officer, I searched him for any memorabilia. I checked his pockets, and instead of finding a photo I found two letters, folded into each other.
I got chills as I read them. The first one read:
Haha! I told you Lizzy had gotten big. She’s just so funny! Anyway, I’ve only been here for two weeks and I’ve already made a lot of great new friends. We even made a funny video where me and my new buddies were singing Macho Man on an M1 Abrams Tank! It’s great sis, so don’t worry about me. Tell Mom and Dad I love them. Love ya sis!
Sincerely your little bro,
I picked up my vest and put it back on, and put the first letter in the same pocket as the officer’s photo. I read the second one, which was a reply to Adam’s letter. This one read:
Hey little bro, I’m glad you’re having a good time. I wish you were here, because what I’m going to tell you would be a lot easier face to face. I wish I was there to comfort you, but…Mom’s cancer got to her brain yesterday…She passed away this morning, Adam. Please come home safe and fast. Dad loves you and misses you, so does Nadia and I, she misses her Uncle.
With love, Danielle.”
I shed a few tears, but not before a convoy of jeeps rode by with a megaphone, I could barely hear them, but I made out some of what they said, “All personnel must evacuate, Zeus will be dropped!”
Zeus was a small bomb that was just finished being built by the Air Force. “You have 2 minutes! All personnel evacuate!” I looked at the men and told them to leave. “Grab what you can and get out of here! GO!”
Knowing the Soldier’s Creed, I had to stay behind. I ran back to my barracks as we parted. I grabbed a flare from a chest that was knocked over and an M9 handgun. I grabbed every person that was alive I could back to Humvees that were evacuating soldiers.
As I turned around, after about the sixth person I put into a Humvee, I saw a flash. It felt as if a horde of snakes were attacking me.
Now, I’m dying. At the time of me writing this, I’m in the eleventh room, second floor of a Navy Medic Ship.
The war is over, but the death toll is not.
Don’t worry sweetheart, I love you. Tell the kids and my mom and dad I love them too. God bless you all.
Your loving husband,