But it will be up to the everyday Joes, the boots on the ground, to tell their stories . . . because no one else will. Who were these men? Why did they join the military? What did they do over there? How are they now? And what has kept them close since they first went to war together? These questions may be important only to those who already know the answers, but they need to be shared just the same.
Soldiers are traditionally a guarded bunch, reluctant to show emotion or share their feelings, so the following is a rare look into the collective memory of one group of soldiers in Iraq almost a decade ago.
No unit, active-duty or otherwise, fired more rockets downrange than the 158, who fired over 900 rockets during that brief war to repel Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait. It was a point of pride for the soldiers firing the rockets and the Oklahoma Army National Guard in general.
Those soldiers came home heroes, and many of them remained in the 158 when the future members of the OIL enlisted in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But no one suspected the 158 would be similarly called-upon in the near future. Television advertisements for the National Guard promised new recruits a monthly paycheck, commissary benefits, and a pension in exchange for "one weekend a month; two weeks a year" of their time. It was an easy sell, and later education benefits further sweetened the deal for young men and women fresh out of high school and soldiers transitioning from active-duty at Fort Sill.