I have their faces imprinted on my memory. Faces of the dead.
Dead soldiers. Men who gave their lives in the defense of our country. They went out on a mission, a mission that would be interrupted by death.
In the morgue of eastern Baghdad, I looked in their faces. In the trauma room of the combined aid station, I signed the cross on their foreheads. At the head of the litters, I raised my hand in a final committal just before they were taken onto the helicopters for their Hero Flights.
Their faces are in my head. Fresh faces of young men and a few who were beginning to gray.
The faces of the dead are overshadowed by their living faces. The faces of the ones I knew are more real in my memories because I can remember them alive. Their smiles, their laughs, their looks of sincerity. The naivete of one, the cockiness of another. The shadow of fear in one soldier’s eyes; the wet eyes of another who lost a family member back home.
These are the memories of a chaplain, the man who ministers in life and death. And he’ll carry their faces with him forever–both the living and the dead–because they are his flock.