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Clear thoughts As I reflect upon my experience in the Persian Gulf War I can recall the fighting all too clear. The time was 2110 hours on 16 January 1991. The ground war had been underway for five days and I was mentally exhausted. My platoon had been assigned the duty of clearing bunkers. During the last portion of our briefing we were given explicit instructions to ensure that we all made it back alive. We were also instructed to take prisoners if we could, if not, do what you were trained to do, "kill". Those orders will always remind me of the reason I am alive today. Within minutes of receiving our order we were headed to what was going to be a turning point in my life, front line combat. After walking almost an hour a member of my team detected movement about one hundred meters straight ahead. I halted my squad, grabbed the radio from Pvt. Tucker and warned the remainder of my platoon. I whispered into the handset, " Rock six, Rock six, this is, rock two Charlie, we have positive contact". Without hesitation, the commander ordered us to engage. Sparing no hesitation on my part, I directed two members of my squad to wait at the right side of the bunker, the other three men were to follow me. We dropped into the prone position onto the cold, wet, Saudi Arabian sand and began to crawl toward the left side of the bunker. While crawling, I realized that we could be killed within seconds; it was my job as squad leader to insure that wouldn't happen. Was it fear, excitement, or perhaps a mere lapse in concentration? I wasn't certain if I could, or even had the time to weigh the feelings I was having. I halted my men, regained my focus and re-clarify the importance of our mission. Upon completion of our final plan of attack we continued to crawl toward our objective. As we approached the bunker, I realized that it was not only a bunker, but a trench line as well. I crawled back and radioed the commander of my findings. He began to repeat his last order, "Rock two Charlie, engage your objective", when a new order was given. That order was to send one man inside to investigate. At that very minute, my world stood still. I had to make a decision. Which one of my warrior brothers was going to be the unlucky man? The decision was simple, I'll send myself. Without notifying the commander, I slid into the trench as silent as I could possibly be. Once inside the trench, I looked to my right and then to my left. No one was there, at least not in the trench. I began to move toward the bunker when an Iraqi soldier, like a ghost appearing out of a fog, stepped out of the bunker. I knew that our orders were to take prisoners', but the decision was his; would he die today, or would he surrender? With one look at the American flag sewn on the left sleeve of my uniform, he laid down his rifle. I motioned for him to walk towards me and to climb out of the trench. With his hands above his head he proceeded up the side of the trench, only to be detained by my men. My mission wasn't over yet; I still had to clear the bunker and survey the remainder of the trench. I began to move toward the bunker at a slow and steady pace. As I approached the entrance of the bunker, I noticed a soldier lighting a cigarette. Taking full advantage of the light provided by the match, I could make out three figures standing in the darkness, there were no weapons in sight. Without delay I said a short prayer and committed to the task at hand. I ran inside shouting some words that I understood to be their native language. But the men simply stood there looking at me with tears in their eyes. In disbelief I shoved one of the men against the wall of the bunker. The other men ran up to the wall and stood next to their friend. Their surrender was in parallel to the hundreds that had surrendered the

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