“So, what happened to you?”
“I was shot.”
This doesn’t make sense, “You were shot?”
“Apparently snipers don’t like Blackhawk pilots.”
This guy is sitting here in front of me in a wheel chair with a massively swollen leg that has multiple wounds on it, fresh wounds. He seems to be in fairly good spirits and fills me in on the details. Suffice it to say that he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, just his job, and that job put him in danger that resulted in wounds that will affect him physically and mentally for the rest of his life.
Wow do I feel like a coward now for getting out of the military when I did. I only served 6 months in Iraq during the initial push, saw zero combat other than calling in one airstrike on what was more than likely an empty couple of buildings that I couldn’t even see. I did it all off of a map. I was not shot at, never felt fear for my life, didn’t get mortared at the various places we stayed from the southern tip of Iraq all the way up to Mosul. I was very protected. I only pulled my gun in self-defense once to get a crazy driver to show me that he didn’t have any weapons and had a legitimate complaint. There were non-combat challenges like trying to help the guys who snagged Saddam’s sons get communications with an aircraft that was on station to give them support, and trying to talk locals into believing that we were there for them while watching out for our EOD teams who were dismantling dangerous unexploded ordinance throughout Baghdad, but nothing that was intense or surreal.
I ended up getting out of the military at the end of my enlistment right as my unit was getting ready to deploy again. I knew they were understaffed throughout the careerfield and I was an asset that was leaving when my country needed the skills they had trained me for. What a loser I am. This guy was flying, probably on his third our fourth tour, and willing to stick his neck out still, all these years after 9/11 and President Bush’s decision to go into Afghanistan and then into Iraq. I feel so indebted to this soldier for being in the spot he was in to take the hit while inserting guys on the ground. I can’t imagine what the guys on the ground were getting into if there was a sniper taking pop shots at the pilots.
Nothing compares to that sacrifice. Not even martyrs for religious reasons. I can’t see me getting beheaded in the remote corners of the Philippines by some radical Islamist as being the same as sacrificing myself for my country. Is that wrong? Does that mean I am not a true believer of who Jesus is and what He did?
I mean this guy could have died. What if he did die, then would he care about the theology behind the cross?
What does this say about life in general? About having a purpose?
Why is Keith Alan Wadley here on this earth?
I can’t even provide for my family’s well-being, but I bet I could with sacrifice. Why do I feel entitled to the things I want, like medical insurance, being able to afford to live in a safe neighborhood, having dependable transportation, eating food that I don’t have to worry about killing me from food poisoning, etc…?
I believe the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is supposed to give me my purpose, but I just can’t seem to make it the most important thing in my life. My perspective is definitely not eternal. I am more concerned with my next career move than I am about making an impact for the faith. And here this guy is who can’t feel his big toe ever again and might walk with a limp the rest of his life because he cared enough to serve, even if for selfish reasons. He still was willing to take the risk. It just makes me feel lower than dirt for having gotten out when I did.
Am I alone?