Christmas Eve,December, 2006 I was deployed to Iraq with the army and assigned to Bravo Company. I was a helicopter Crew Chief in an Aviation Battalion. Like any other night we had a mission to get ready for. We gathered our flight gear, weapons, flight snacks and headed for the bird.

Nightly before each flight we received a brief that entailed our route of flight and mission for the evening. I was expecting another six hour flight across the country of Iraq providing troop transport, but the mission had changed. Instead of troop transport, we were now tasked with transporting a fallen angel (fallen soldier) back to a larger base so he could return back to his family on American soil and rest in peace.

As we landed at the small base in the middle of the war zone, my crew grew very silent. While the helicopter was still running, two rows of his fellow soldiers saluted their brother, placed the flag draped casket into the helicopter and shut the door.

As we took off from the landing pad the only talking on the flight were necessary commands that were crucial to getting back to base. As I sat there behind my door gun, it started to sink in. In that casket was a soldier. An American soldier. A man that would never see his family ever again. One of my brothers…

We landed back at the base, and a small company of soldiers held a small brief ceremony as they removed the soldiers casket from the aircraft and placed him on a vehicle.

The one thing I didn’t consider or that didn’t run through my head was his race, creed, morals or beliefs. I only knew that he was a man that lost his life fighting for not only his country, but the freedom of another. The only thing that mattered to me was that he was one of my own. A brother that wore the same uniform as the rest of the United States Army…

We may not all wear the uniform, but we are all Americans. We all stand for something greater than ourselves. There is a sense of camaraderie that comes with the service, but camaraderie is not limited to the military. We had a common goal, to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

We can be united as a nation if we choose to be, we can have that same camaraderie as citizens of this country. The choice is an individual one that will have an impact on the others around you. I ask you not to choose sides. Choose to be united for the good of humanity.

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