HOOAH!: Erased

Chad Graden

My ears are ringing so loudly they hurt. I’m not sure what happened; we were all here one moment, then suddenly I felt myself flying through the air. I can not see anyone else because the air is thick with smoke, dirt, and debris. It’s hard to breathe because the air is thick like butter. I try to stand up, hoping to God that I still have my legs. I can feel them, but it is hard to stand, so I just stumble around like a mad drunk man. My ears are still ringing, but I am starting to be able to hear again.

I still can’t see clearly, and I trip and fall over something. I feel around with my hands and realize it is another person. I figure out its Sgt. Gomez. He’s alive too, but he doesn’t seem well. I sit down and pull him up into my arms. He tells me that he’s dying. I tell him that he’s going to be okay. He makes me promise him that I will tell his children what he did for his country. He cries for his wife. I cry with him.

We sit there like that for what seems like forever waiting for someone to help us. Nobody comes. The air is too thick, nobody can see us. Gomez is a religious man, and he wants me to say the Lord’s Prayer with him. I don’t know it, but I try. I heard it before in Sunday school when I was a kid. I start. “Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name…” He tries to say it with me, but he is crying. He’s crying out in pain. He tries to say the prayer, but he’s getting confused now. I don’t really understand what is going on. I don’t get why there isn’t someone coming to save us.

When I finish my version of this prayer, Gomez becomes silent. I can not hear him anymore, but I can feel him twitching in my arms. Then it all stops. There is no more praying, no more crying and no more movement. Gomez has been erased. Three more bombs go off, but I hardly notice it.

This story is true, and similar stories like this happen almost every day in war. People die, good people. Sgt. Gomez was my friend, my hero. He wanted me to live for God, to be a good person. I think about him every day, and dream about him at night. I dedicate my life and everything I do to Sgt. Gomez.