Announcing USMB’s Contest Winner!

US Military Bracelets and Pendants, Towne Craft Designs, Soldier Stories Contest Winner

This Summer, we asked our military communities to share their soldier stories for a chance to win a custom sterling silver emblem US Military Bracelet. We received many submissions that honored and celebrated the integrity and courage of our military men and women. And now, we are proud to announce our contest winner, Sgt. Tim “Old Man” of the US ARMY!

Sgt. Tim’s submission, printed below,  is a story of compassion and bravery – a story that truly captures the intensity of a soldier’s experience. Please join us in congratulating and thanking Sgt. Tim for sharing his story with our community and for his service to our country!

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My Nightmares Won’t Stop

When our country was attacked on 9-11, I didn’t realize it, but my life changed forever. I helped build both planes that flew into the World Trade center. I helped put the wings on both 767’s, and I took it very personally.  Like the millions of others before me, I believed in defending our country. After lengthy discussions with my family, I reenlisted where I thought I was needed. Apparently they thought I was needed in Iraq. I was 36 at the time, old for a front line soldier. One of the nicknames the men gave me was Old Man, we got pretty close. This story isn’t to attract attention, fame, or pity. I have left my name out, intentionally!  I’m writing it with the hope it will not only help me cope with the events I’ve lived, but also with the hope it may give some understanding to others, the horrors and tragedies that our soldiers endure for our country!  We live with these memories the rest of our lives, and only wish we could forget!  I was with the 671st Combat Engineers, with the U.S. Army, 3RD  Infantry Division, and recently returned from a 13 month tour in Iraq. This is but one of my stories!

Before I left for Iraq I told my family that I wasn’t afraid to die, because I knew where I’d go. I was more afraid of coming home without my full senses. I was lucky to return with them, my full senses that is. Although some may slightly disagree! I recall dozens of times when I honestly did not believe that I would make it home alive. You’d think that would make someone lose their mind. Just think about knowing that any second, your life may be taken away from you. You will never see your family again, and they will never see you again either. Imagine this in your thoughts, 24 hours a day, for over a year! I still have a hard time trying to figure out how we made it out of certain things alive. The death and destruction alone made me wonder how I would keep my sanity!

I recall writing home, saying that I hoped I didn’t appear as afraid as I felt, not wanting my men to lose their faith in me. We all had to rely on each other, every second of every day, in order to get out alive. In turn, I had to put my faith in them, and God. This is what I see in my nightmares.

It was August 2003; my unit had been in Iraq for over 5 months now. We crossed the border on day one of the war, with the tanks, part of the front, and we were beyond exhausted. On this particular day, I was at the Battalion Cache, which is a fancy word for Field Hospital. I had a couple semi-serious injuries and had finally been taken there, over 4 months after being injured.

I had been sitting in the waiting area for only a few minutes, when a young soldier ran in and said some local kids had been injured by a UXO (un-exploded ordinance). Myself and a couple other soldiers ran to help. We ran to the gated entrance to the camp, which was only a few hundred yards away. Apparently, the ordinance had gone off while three very young Iraqi children were playing just outside the gate, and a young soldier had disobeyed his orders and went outside the gate and carried them in, one at a time and called for help.

When I arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I remember saying to myself “They’re so little, how could there be so much blood”?  I was the last to arrive, so when I reached for a young boy, about 5 years old, my life changed forever.  As I went to lift him, I saw that practically every organ was out of his body lying next to him.  He had a wound so horrific; I didn’t believe he could be alive. Then I said to myself  “Oh my God, he’s alive”. As a combat medical 1st responder, I know not to try to put the organs back in his body. I took off my shirt and covered his stomach, placed all the parts I could find on it, and ran as fast as I could with my injuries.  As I walked the last hundred yards or so, I couldn’t help but look at his face.  He was so small and innocent. He doesn’t deserve this war, none of them do.  I may sound mean, cruel, unfeeling, cold, etc., but I prayed to God that he would just go ahead and die. I don’t want to think about home, my little girl, my family, oh please just go. Then he opened his eyes, and I almost drop him.  He was just staring at me. A foreign soldier who has invaded his country is carrying him, and crying. This poor little child looks so scared. I came to fight the enemy, why am I carrying this little boy? I know he won’t make it; he shouldn’t have been alive as I carried him. He just looked so scared, “Oh please God, please take him, because I can’t handle this.” I know he doesn’t speak English and I know only enough Farcey Arabic to order a Big Mac. I could only think of one thing to say to him. I told him “Go with Allah”, His eyes told me all I needed to know. He understood, and didn’t appear to be as afraid.

His name was Addie, he was only 5, and he died in my arms that day, before I reached the medics. Before I could tell him I was sorry I couldn’t help him more. Before he could see his country under democratic rule. Before he saw his sister and brother, who survived the UXO, or his parents who came to take him home for burial. Part of me died that day, and I don’t believe I can ever get it back. And to be honest, I’m not sure I ever want it back again.

My name was Sgt. K, Old Man!
God Bless America, and YOUR Troops!
All they do is for you!

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