U.S. Army photo

On May 19, 2004, anti-coalition forces attacked a U.S. military convoy on the northern outskirts of Samarra, Iraq — a routine resupply mission my platoon made at least twice a week. Those of us back on Forward Operating Base Mackenzie quickly learned we had a KIA, but we didn’t know who. We waited in silence, wondering which one of our friends would not be coming back. Eventually, we saw the silhouette of our platoon sergeant trudging toward us across the loose gravel between the tactical operations center and our platoon that slowed all movement. He knew the name. As he got closer, we could see the tears streaming down his face. “Campbell” was all he said. Michael Campbell, a real cowboy who the year before shared Christmas dinner with my family, died that day.

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