by Cleo DeLoner
I should have died “over there” on the battlefield with my brothers, with honor and valor. But you saved my life. You weren’t my gunner, my squad leader, my platoon sergeant, or my commanding officer. In fact, you were over 10,000 miles away.
You were my Drill Sergeant.
You trained me to be a soldier…who evolved into a warrior.
You trained me to fire my weapons.
How to throw hand grenades.
To do 3-5 second rushes.
To duck and cover.
You trained me to be a combat driver in a HUMMVEE.
To keep my head on a swivel.
How to effectively clear a building.
You walked shoulder to shoulder with me on punishing road marches.
You kept pace with me every morning in PT.
You pushed me to run one more step that I didn’t believe I was capable of.
You pushed me to knock out one more push-up that I didn’t believe I was capable of.
You pushed me in everything that I didn’t believe I was capable of.
You trained me relentlessly with tough love.
You trained me on how to administer first aid, read a map, and read a compass.
You trained me in hand-to-hand combat in the event that my weapon became inoperable.
You trained me in mock combat situations on field training exercises.
You woke me up in the middle of the night to perform a detail, teaching me the importance of functioning effectively with sleep deprivation.
You trained me how to survive in the heat, cold, rain, wind, and snow.
You trained me to be a weapon.
You were awake before the troops, you went to bed after the troops, and you trained all day with the troops.
I had no idea what I would do and see when I raised my right hand to serve this country.
But you trained me to be prepared for everything I would later witness and do.
When my team and I were ambushed, you trained me to survive that. Others like you trained my gunner and my squad leader to survive that day.
The one thing you never trained me on… was how to survive the aftermath of combat.
How to deal with the PTSD poison.
When I spoke with you years later, while suffering from the invisible wounds of war, I told you how much I hated you for training me so well and saving my life.
You said that you would not apologize.
When you learned of my three suicide attempts, you reminded me of my first general order…”I will not leave my post until properly relieved.”
I now understand that I must live my life with honor and valor for my brothers and sisters who no longer have that luxury.
If I live my remaining days, in service to this country and my brothers and sisters, I know I can still die with honor and valor.
Maybe not on the battlefield with the US Army while facing the enemy, but in service to my fellow man by being kind, compassionate, and loving.
You are the unsung heroes of the United States Military.
You and others like you have saved countless lives of American warriors.
You believed in me
You trained me
You saved my life.
06, November 2016
To my Drill Sergeant, Jack Ennis, US Army Military Police Corps, SFC Retired