NPR: StoryCorps' project, the Military Voices Initiative collects stories from members of the U.S. Armed Forces, with a special focus on those who served in post-Sept. 11 conflicts. Every month, highlights from that initiative air on Weekend Edition Saturday.
November 9, 2012 - Harvey Hilbert enlisted in the Army in 1964. He was in the infantry, and in January 1966, he was sent to Vietnam to fight. Five months later, his unit was sent into the jungle. That was the last time he fought in Vietnam.
"It was coming on dusk, and we went into what's called a hot landing zone — means we were under fire," Hilbert told StoryCorps. "We jumped off the helicopters and took a position. And then the enemy stopped shooting."
The company commander sent three soldiers into the jungle to set up a listening post to look for enemy forces and report back. Usually, the three newest men in the unit were sent out for this kind of duty, Hilbert says. He had met one of the men who was sent out that night.
"He went about 100 meters or so out in front of the line," Hilbert says. "But the enemy hadn't gone anywhere. They were embedded in the jungle. And around midnight, they opened fire." read, and listen in, more>>>
November 10, 2012 - Spc. Justin Cliburn, 30, was deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. His job was to train the Iraqi police in Baghdad. During his time there, he got to know a boy in his early teens named Ali, who walked through their compound one day.
"He was very shy. And the second or third time that I met him, he brought his best friend, Ahmed," Cliburn tells his wife, Deanne. "And Ahmed was much more outgoing. And so, Ali really opened up. And, once I met these children, it made every day something I looked forward to."
They would play "rock, paper, scissors" and soccer.
"We were about as close as people that don't speak the same language can be," he says. "I had never been really good with children, and this was the first time I felt like I loved someone who wasn't my family member."
"I don't know what came of him. That's the nature of war I suppose," Cliburn says. "But whenever I see any footage from Baghdad, I'm always kinda lookin' around, wondering if he's in the frame." read, and listen in, more>>>