"Medics lose Mateo's pulse twice and scream, "Sergeant, Sergeant, hang on." Wounded in the shoulder, side and leg, he blinks and reaches down, feels his uniform wet, drenched in blood . . .
"No, it is just sweat. He is covered in sweat. It is two years and seven weeks since the ambush in Ramadi, Iraq. But tonight, as on so many nights, his mind is not in his parents' comfortable Port St. Lucie home. Again tonight, Sgt. 1st Class Jose Mateo remains on active duty in his nightmare of Iraq.
"The clinical name for what he feels is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which hardly captures the vivid and relentless reliving of the ambush in Ramadi on July 5, 2003, that took his gunner's leg and blew the fingers off another soldier's hand.
"The battalion photographer, Spec. Edouard H. R. Gluck, said, "If hell physically exists, if there is in fact a hell . . . it is Ramadi."
"Mateo does not disagree. "It was really ugly, hot and filthy. It smelled bad, sewage running in the streets, but that was not the worst of it. It was not knowing when we would be hit, who was hiding in the shadows, where the bombs were planted, whether the concrete barricades were rigged to explode when we drove past on patrol," he said quietly, averting his eyes, as he often does when talking about Iraq."
Please, please, read the rest in The Palm Beach Post.