"They were all killed."
After a pause, he continued. "You know you go there all patriotic for your country. Knowing your country is right and you're patriotic for it. Then you're there and none of that matters. The only thing that matters is the guy on your left and the guy on your right. Can he give magazine ammunition when you need it...? The only thing that matters is the guy on your right and left. Can he pass you ammo? And it doesn't matter whether he's gay, black, or smells bad."
"Were you a team guy? Did you play on athletic teams when you were young?"
"No, I wasn't athletic at all, kind of puny."
"Do you think being part of a team is part of the allure of joining the military?"
"Well, there were a lot of jocks in the military."
"I mean, for the jocks and for those who haven't been jocks, is part of the attraction of being in the military being part of what you believe is a good team? Like when you play for a good team, you love being part of it."
"Yeah, that's an attraction early on. But after you're there awhile, you realize the war's bullshit."
"Of the guys you served with, how many do you think believed the war was bullshit?"
"Do you have kids?" I asked.
"Cousins, nephews, family members who served?"
"Two cousins served in Iraq."
"Did you talk to them?"
His eyes seemed to flicker and glanced to the side. Then he responded. "Yes, their mother wanted me to talk to them.... It was too late when they understood what I was talking about. The youngest returned in a coffin. For his funeral he requested, and we played, Jimi Hendrix's National Anthem from Woodstock.