The horror and absolute brutality endured by members of our armed forces on battlefields throughout our nation’s history can cause one to shutter. Grotesque disfigurements, painful screams and nauseating smells of death are a steady diet served to battle weary combatants in conflicts around the world. 

There are innumerable ways in which a person in the military can be broken down. Terrain, fatigue, dysentery, lack of proper nutrition and, last but by no means least, a well-disciplined soldier trained to kill you.

Visualizing one’s reactions in a combat setting while under fire is an imaginary excursion, until it actually occurs. How will one hold up in battle? Will they freeze, evade or shirk their duties and responsibilities? Will they become paralyzed with fear and let themselves and their comrades down? At the moment of truth will they lose their nerve, the battle and perhaps the war?

During U.S. Marine Corps boot camp our drill instructors never played into our fears and insecurities. They focused their attention on building accomplished warriors with impeccable skills, proficient in every manner of warfare.  

We believed and trusted in the process. The confidence in ourselves and one another prompted an air of invincibility and eagerness to demonstrate our masterful accomplishments. Training readied us for the battles to come.   

However, upon entering combat, and as the months of killing and being killed wore on, the thrill was gone.

This Memorial Day we honor our combatants who were killed in action. Please join us in remembering their sacrifice.


John Donnelly

Purple Heart Recipient 

Key Largo

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