They say time heals all wounds, but for me, it seems that the longer I wait and the more time that has passed, the harder it gets.
Marines are supposed to be the toughest men on Earth, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm struggling. This week was especially hard because Tuesday was the 8th of the month. My guys were killed on the 8th of September, 2009. I'll admit that this week was filled with lots of tears, bad days and bad thoughts.
It seems that I have not accepted that my team is dead, which sounds crazy. I've verbally stated that they are dead, I've shared the details of that day in Ganjgal Valley countless times with many people, but in my heart it's as if the reality hasn't hit me, yet. It just seems like a bad dream that I'll eventually wake up from.
To avoid thinking about it I try to keep myself busy; running from it as long as possible, but I will say I'm getting really tired. I'm slowing down. What isn't slowing down though is the demons, the reality that my brothers, my best friends are gone... GONE... Gone forever.
But what do you do? Sit at home and cry? Lay in bed? Not eat? Feel sorry for yourself? I don't know. I don't pretend to know. All I do know to do is to keep breathing and keep taking one step at a time, and sometimes that takes all my effort. Feeling the loss of five of the most important people in my life isn't enough, though. I also have to deal with knowing that I am a failure, and I failed them. But I keep thinking that if I can continue pushing myself, in their names and in their honor, I will earn their forgiveness for not being there and saving them. Hopefully, they will, someday, at least understand the reason I let them down...
I accept the responsibility of being a failure. I hold myself accountable everyday and let everyone know that a failure is what I am; not a hero, as so many people have called me. I cringe when I hear that word.
Everyday, and especially on the days when I don't even want to get out of bed, I look down at my wrists and I see their names and I know I have no choice but to push on in their honor and for sacrificies they gave!!!
Lt Michael E. Johnson, GySgt Aaron Kenefick, GySgt Edwin Johnson,
PO3 "Doc" James Layton, SFC Kenneth Westbrook.