As I look at the corpse I notice the mouth, or what was once a mouth is filled with a” plug” about the size of an orange. Around the left side of the plug the flesh is torn and distorted. The right side of the face was swollen around the torn flesh and it seemed to push the right eye higher than left. I looked into those dark hollow eyes and then the corpse blinked. I ask him if he was Mister Such-and-Such. He nods and lets me in.
The Soldier turns and heads into the house on a walker, wobbly but with a strange inner strength. Inwardly I am taken back by the sheer lack of body mass as I am lead into the house. I meet the Soldiers wife inside and he goes and sits down in the living room. I ask his wife what name her husband goes by since they list his full name on my orders. I fill in the Soldiers name in the appropriate spots. The Soldiers wife and I go over the paper work and operational check list for the equipment I am delivering. The T’s are crossed, the I’s dotted and check marks where there should be check marks. On the outside business as usual.
As always I start wrapping up the delivery by asking if there are any questions. Since there are none, I close with a statement I always end with. I feel I really mean it every time I speak it but this time it carried with it a conscious awareness that I really did mean it: If there is anything we can do for you let us know.
I have the freedoms I enjoy today because of the Soldier and their Families who support them and stand by them as they both pay the price for our freedom.