He served as a mechanic, the chief mechanic for his battalion. He loved his job and was devoted to his unit. As they trained and prepared to deploy to Iraq, he promised them. He guaranteed no HMMWV would break down outside the wire. That is a big promise to make. He was an E7, a Sergeant First Class with over ten years in the Army. He knew the HMMWV’s in Iraq were hand-me-down’s from five previous rotations. They came with all sorts of mechanical issues. But, the SFC knew his skills and he knew the capabilities of the mechanics he supervised. He promised and he meant it.
The SFC was dedicated. He performed much of the work himself, based on the firm belief that he would ask nothing of his soldiers he was not willing to do himself. So, he lifted the 55 gallon drums with no hesitation. He heard the disc pop when he incurred three herniated discs. He was out of action for months, if not forever. They took him to Germany, the nearest base with back specialists.
Two weeks after he left Iraq, two of his HMMWV’s broke down. Two were killed. Two were evacuated to Germany, where all the worst cases go. It wasn’t his promise anymore. But, he felt responsible all the same.One of the KIA’s was his buddy, Achmed, the Iraqi interpreter. The E7 was angry, angry at the war, angry with himself for getting hurt when his unit needed him.
The E7 worked hard everyday to recover at BAMC, Ft. Sam Houston. The promise was never far from his mind. The doctors said he had more determination than anyone they had ever seen. He should be a medical retirement, but he worked so hard. The doctors did not know about the promise. They did not know about Achmed. The E7 never forgot either.
A year later, he was close to full rehabilitation. The doctors thought he was a medical miracle. The wife knew. She knew about the promise and about Achmed. She wanted to shake him when he said he would transfer to the 101st or the 82d Divisions. Both divisions would deploy very soon to Iraq and Afghanistan. The wife knew why he wanted to transfer, why he wanted to deploy again. She wanted to shake him, sometimes. But, she also understood. That was why she loved him, because he always kept his promises.