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There was a memorial service for the fallen brothers a few days later. It was the best way for the marines to begin putting closure to the loss of some of their closest friends. After the eulogies had been said for their fallen by their commanders and friends, roll was called. Names of the marines in the company were called, and they all answered present. The names of the fallen were called three times each, each time with more emphasis, to make sure they were not present. “Corporal Snyder. Corporal Joshua Snyder. Corporal Joshua D. Snyder.” Taps was played after the third calling of the name, while the entire formation presented arms to the rifle, boots, and helmet memorial. All the talent in Hollywood could not capture the emotion and drama of this moment. Tears streamed down the faces of some of the toughest men. PFC Brown was eulogized by Corporal Barbosa, the marine who led him to Christ. Sadly, three weeks later, Corporal Barbosa was killed in a vehicular accident. It's almost as if his work in this world was done when he led PFC Brown to Christ, and he was called home to the Lord.
There wasn’t another combat casualty after the morning of January 7. Every day, sometimes several times a day, for the next three and a half months, the marines had to put on their gear and patrol the same streets and walk among the same people who took the lives of their friends. They didn't always enjoy it, but they got the job done. By the end of their tour, the marines of Echo Company had captured or killed more known insurgents than just about the rest of the battalion combined. The incredible resilience and professionalism of the men of Echo Company never cease to amaze.
They later learned that the sniper that stung so badly that January morning was firing from a modified vehicle, much like the DC sniper in 2002, and techniques were adapted to deny him any additional opportunities. He was killed on the outskirts of Fallujah by Third Battalion, Fifth Marines just after Echo Company left.
Before David handed the command of the company over to the new leader, he left what little wisdom he had gained from his experience in Iraq. “In the end,” he said, “your life is not about you. You're in the middle of it, but believe it or not, your life is about everyone else around you and how you choose to influence them with the short time you have. It’s your responsibility to make the most of each day and each breath that God puts into your lungs. Remember Josh Snyder, Jeriad Jacobs, Kyle Brown, Felipe Barbosa, and Brett Lundstrom, who left their futures in Fallujah intersections of Henry and Fran, Cathy and George, and Cathy and Frank Streets. Tell their stories and how they died for their country and for their brothers in this company. “
These men are all heroes. The best example of selflessness in the company was Sergeant Joshua Frazier, who ran out under fire on the morning of January 7 to drag PFC Brown to safety. He volunteered to return to Iraq for a third tour, where he was killed by a sniper on February 6, 2007.
I have alluded to the spiritual battle that is going on a few times, but now I want to make a strong point regarding it. In a real-life battle, it can be easy to recognize the enemy. At other times, it can be a little harder. In spiritual battles, you will never see the enemy, so you always have to be on guard. You may not be able to see the enemy, but you can certainly feel the effects of the battle. You may be suffering, going through a trial, in pain, facing temptation, feeling depressed, or maybe feeling a disconnection with God.
We are in the middle of a spiritual battle, and there isn’t much you can do about it. You can’t escape it. You can’t hide from it. You can’t run away. All you can do is choose: give in to the adversary or cling to Christ. For you to fully grasp this idea is to understand that we live in a sin-filled world. Every person and animal has a tendency to sin. We can’t undo sin by ourselves. We can’t fight the enemy by ourselves.
Our job as Christians is to stay connected with God. We can view Jesus as the battlefield commander. If we stray away from Him, we can get caught by an enemy sniper. The enemy will sever the connection we have with God. You will never be able to fight off a squad of enemy soldiers on your own. The problem we have is to stay connected with God.
There will be times when we do stray away. In those times God will seek after you and try to bring you back. If you ever get separated from the rest of your military unit, they will seek after you too. When they find you, I’m sure you would gladly embrace them. You may be reprimanded for wandering off, but at least you are alive. When God finds us after we wonder off, we need to gladly embrace Him too, instead of treating Him like the enemy. Accept the rebuke given to you, and learn from it.
Since Jesus is the battlefield commander, we must obey all of His orders if we want to survive. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Sometimes commanders and those in charge will make a poor decision. Jesus never makes bad decisions. Jesus will always bring you through the spiritual firefight and out the other side. There is no promise that He will keep you from all harm in your spiritual firefight, but He does promise to bring you through it (John 15:2; Proverbs 11:8). You just need to put your trust in Him and let Him bring you through.
It is not easy to stay connected with God when there is so much going on in the world we live in. There are so many distractions around us: technology, games, fashion, relationships, cars, houses, and music. It’s easy to forget God exists and that He is here for us. Our job is to dig through all the distractions and find God. The distractions will occupy our minds to the point we can’t communicate with God. Therefore, we must be intentional in staying connected with God. If we are not intentional in staying connected with God, then we will be destroyed by the enemy. God can only save us when we grab hold of his outstretched hand.
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About the Book
Combat Ready was written by and for veterans and active-duty personnel. It takes you on the journey from beginning to end of the military life paralleled by the life of a Christian. Personal and combat stories are interwoven into the book to bring it to life.
Unfortunately, some people have gone through live-action combat. But few people know that everyone is in the middle of the largest war ever fought. There is a battle being waged between good and evil. Combat Ready will show you how to be properly equipped for this battle, to come out on top. Combat Ready shows how you are uniquely qualified to be a soldier for Christ.
About the Author
David served in the US Marine Corps from September 1998 to November 2002. He was in the infantry as a TOW gunner in Second Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment. David turned his life over to God and was baptized in January 2005. He has a passion to reach those who are suffering through life. Veterans have been through many hard times, and he wants to show them they can have a better life and there is hope for the future. He has learned that veterans and active-duty service members are uniquely qualified to be Christians. Without his military experience, David may not be a Christian today. David now lives in southwest Michigan, with his wife and two dogs, getting his master's degree in divinity at Andrews University. He has been a youth pastor in the past and now works in a local Seventh-day Adventist church.