Once upon a time, from 2000 to 2004, I was an 82nd Airborne Paratrooper; ultimately, deploying to fight in the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. My journey with The US Army began at Ft Benning, GA for Basic Training, Advanced Infantry Training, Airborne School, and Ranger Indoctrination. Once my six-month training was complete, I was assigned to the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Ft Bragg, NC, where we trained and trained for three hard years. We jumped out of all the big planes and helicopters, with a full combat load, and usually into the darkness of night. In the field, we endured the desert heat, buggy woods, soggy swamps, and the gritty, cinder block shoot houses; again, usually at night, wearing night vision goggles. On the range, we became proficient in every type of weapon system that a soldier could imagine. As an E4 Specialist, I found myself training newcomers, leading whole teams, and at times, I even led the Platoon. As for awards, I hold three Army Achievement Medals, as well as three Army Commendation Medals, Peruvian Jump Wings, the Combat Infantry Badge, and even won first place in the Division Marksmanship Competition. It goes without saying that by the time we deployed for the Invasion of Iraq, my training (and a lot of luck) may be the reason I made it home alive, and in one piece. Some of us were not so lucky, but they live on through me. Since my separation from the Military, I endeavor to remember that nothing will ever be that hard or serious again, that all life is precious, and every day is a gift.