War in Afghanistan: Bravery from the "Hard Rocks." (PHOTOS)

Notes from different corners of the world.
March 18 2011 7:12 AM

Courage Under Fire

It was a quiet day in Afghanistan … until the explosion.

(Continued from Page 1)

"We weren't leaving until we got Meari's body," Wysocki said. "We were taking fire from just about the whole city." The soldiers shot through nearly all their ammunition before help finally arrived. After bringing Meari's body to safety, Wysocki and the other soldiers asked if they could rejoin the fight. "They wouldn't let us go," Wysocki said. "I think they knew if they let us go back out, we'd raise hell. I was fucking pissed. I was ready to kill everyone in Senjaray."

Four months later, the squad hadn't lost its desire for revenge. Wysocki: "There is never one day when we don't want to take it to the Taliban." Pereira: "I want to stay and fight for the guys who died."

Mine sniffing.

Their actions that day had not gone unnoticed. Wysocki had received a Silver Star, the Army's third-highest commendation, for courage under fire. Pereira was waiting to hear whether he would be awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, which ranks second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Just seven DSCs have been given to soldiers in Afghanistan. Other squad members received Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars.

Hearing their stories, I envied these men. For them, all the clichés were true. Facing death, they refused to retreat. They fought for the men beside them. They proved themselves as warriors. They acted more bravely than most civilians could even imagine.

And yet … their courage hadn't saved Curtis, 24 when he died, or Meari, 21. Their deaths were no one's fault, least of all their own. They simply happened to stand next to a man who believed that self-destruction offered its own path to glory. I couldn't forget how Pereira described the bomber. He's making eye contact with me. He's absolutely smiling. Very nice.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 30 2014 1:23 PM What Can Linguistics Tell Us About Writing Better? An Interview with Steven Pinker.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.