“At first, I was violently nauseous and vomited. But after that, I felt the euphoria. A feeling I had never felt before. Throughout my teenage years I was always so angry, and so depressed. I had very few periods of time when I felt happy or ecstatic. Maybe playing hockey, going to see my favorite bands in concert, or falling in love, but none of those came close to this new feeling. I was numb, but happy. I was calm, but energetic. I felt like I was the Paul I used to know. My girlfriend and I went from doing pills once in a while to multiple times a week. Eventually, some of our friends started selling them, and the Percs were easier to come by. I began doing them without my girlfriend. Then I started to hide the fact that I was doing them. I graduated high school with no skills to speak of, bouncing from job to job.”




“I could fill an entire book with what I experienced there, but to keep it short, I had to do and see things I never, in a million years, would’ve imagined. I lost a total of 6 brothers, 3 very close to me, and a total of 12 of my brothers are amputees in some way now. Eddie was one of my best friends. I was best man at his wedding, and roommates with him and his wife. He was the first casualty, and the day I heard of his injury and thought I might have to bury him was the first and last time I cried or felt emotion for almost two years. I learned to suffocate these human emotions. And after all this pain and loss, after all the sweat, blood, and bullets, I came home. I had failed my mission. Instead of taking their place, Tobin, Jefferies, and

Contreras took my place in those body bags.  I came home, when Tobin, Jefferies, and Contreras didn’t. I made it home on a return flight in coach. They came home in pieces in a box, under the plane.”