ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This week, we're going to hear from US men and women serving in Iraq, in their own words. It's part of our series The Span of War. And today, we get started with a 27-year-old corporal from St. Louis, Missouri, who has been in Iraq for nearly a year.
Corporal CORT REED (US Army): My name is Cort Reed, a corporal in US Army. I'm attached to 1-64 Armor. I am 27. I'm living in St. Louis, Missouri, right now.
One of my good buddies, Sergeant Freeman, was killed on November 8th by a sniper. We were trying to coordinate with the mosque to drop off some sheep, so we were actually stopping to the mosque and asking the imam there, the cleric, who we should pass out stuff to. And you know, all of a sudden, I hear a crack. I just turned around, and a couple of feet from me, my buddy, Sergeant Freeman, you know, I just watched him spin and fall down. And, yeah, I knew he was dead. He got hit just beneath the Kevlar, so.
You know, I've talked to the chaplain before and tried to sort things out. I don't know if it will ever be sorted out, you know, because I don't know why it happened. It could have been me, you know. And several other times, you know, it could have been me, and so I don't know if I'll need counseling or anything like that, you know, but, I mean, sometimes it's good to talk about it. And sometimes I find it hard to talk about with people, especially if they haven't, you know, been through the same thing.
But, yeah, that's difficult, 'cause you come here and, you know, get attached to a unit, and you're with a bunch of guys, and you get to know 'em. And you get to know everybody pretty good, then all of a sudden, one's not there, you know, or two or three aren't there. And then you're, like, `Why am I still here?' And to tell you the truth, I try to block a lot of that stuff out a lot of the time, because it's just easier that way, you know. It's just easier not to think about it.
That day that Freeman got hit with the sniper, everybody was doing the right thing, you know. Everybody was--the gunners were up. Everybody was paying attention, but that day, you know, it was just--there's nothing he could do about it. You know, it was just one bad guy that got away with it. And hopefully, we'll find him.
SIEGEL: That's Army Corporal Cort Reed, who's now deployed in eastern Baghdad. Corporal Reed is scheduled to go home in three weeks after a yearlong tour. We'll hear from another soldier tomorrow.
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