By Jose “Joe” Lopez, 473 Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division (Retired)
After a 15-month deployment in northeast Afghanistan near where it borders Pakistan, it was finally time for me to go back home to Texas. My commanding officer told me to stay an extra three days because someone always gets injured right before a group goes back to the States. When I agreed, little did I know that this person would be me.
On the first of those three extra days, I’d already packed up all my gear. Most of the other guys were out on a mission and our base was almost deserted. I remembered that the Christmas packages had arrived late this year, as they usually do when you’re deployed overseas, and that this had left a giant pile of cardboard boxes. A guy in the nearby village usually collected our trash, but his truck was broken again. So I decided to take care of it. When I got to the motor pool, I found a private who offered to drive me into town to...
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