Once a week we visit Quora, an amazing question and answer site, for military related questions. This week's question:
Tymon Kapelski, Gunner 05-06 Iraq. Human Intel 08-09 Korea, 10-11 Afghanistan
This is a question that, in my eyes, would be very hard to answer with much accuracy. I can only really speak for myself when I answer and although I have heard so many of my friends say the same thing as me, I really can't speak for them.
For me the combat role was a life altering experience. An earth shattering, all consuming event that took up a large chunk of my life. In fact it changed me so much that I can't even remember who I was or what I was like prior to it so my most vivid memories in life are the memories of my first deployment. War is mostly boring theses days. Incredibly mind numbingly boring, and then something suddenly happens. Maybe it's life threatening, maybe not
Maybe it scars you for life, maybe it doesn't, maybe you lose your best friend, maybe you don't. (Didn't lose him)
You joke, cry, laugh, eat, sleep, shit, shave, travel with and protect virtually every person in your section, platoon, or battery in the worst circumstances. You spend more time with them in a year than their wives will in two. You know what they eat, what their kids or girlfriends names are, you watch the same stupid movie 50 times on the worlds smallest laptop screen and split the earbuds with each other so you can hear. You're brothers in misery. Filling sandbags and building bunkers together, dragging each other to cover during mortar strikes, grabbing food for the other guy because he's guarding the weapons for the night/day while you try to find a place to call someone back home, just so you can hear some more bad news about something. You take turns sleeping on the hood of the HMMWV because that's the warm spot when the desert nights start getting cold. You do everything as a team, you watch everyone's back and they all watch yours.
Sometimes your command gets your jokes and sometimes they don't (I do not endorse using anything on that shield as advice, we were immediately made to paint over that)
Sometimes you've got to dance out the frustration (I was in the background throwing dollar bills)
Those things make every color brighter, every bite tastier, every day sweeter. I look at the world through lenses my civy friends will never have because I've gone and seen and done and narrowly escaped things they never will.
I devoted my life to something bigger than me and although I lost so much over the years, my Battles never made me go it alone, there has always been someone there for me day or night. The best people I know in the world are the ones I served in combat with, and if for nothing else I would do it all over again just for them. I think a lot of the answers you hear from combat vets would be the same.