I embedded with Charlie Co, 1-26 Infantry, in Adhamiya, Iraq, in June 2007, and was with them for one of their worstdays -- but they had a lot of them.
In December 2006, 19-year-old Ross McGinnis threw himself on a grenade to save four friends. He received the Medal of Honor.A Humvee rolled over a roadside bomb, killing two soldiers and severely burning the others. In June, a Bradley hit another bomb, and it killed five soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter.Soon after, a well-loved first sergeant in the battalion, 1SG Jeff McKinney, killed himself in front of his men after not sleeping, eating or drinking for several days. Then, a second Bradley hit a bomb, instantly killing four soldiers. The platoon I embedded with was accused of mutiny after they refused to go out after the second Bradley was hit. They said they feared they would kill everyone they saw if they went out because they were so full of rage. Charlie Company lost 14 men, and Second Platoon came home without nine of their friends.
But the book also details their good days, as well as some of the silly things they did, like setting up rat traps in the middle of the night to scare other soldiers or wearing purple wigs out on patrol. I wrote about the guys for a series in Army Times called Blood Brothers.
I joined the staff of USA TODAY in December 2010 as a health policy reporter. For now, that means all Affordable Care Act all the time.
I've written for Army Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Associated Press, NASA, The (Boulder) Daily Camera, The Denver Post, The (Portland) Oregonian, The Salt Lake Tribune and The (Ogden) Standard-Examiner.
I finished my graduate degree in journalism in the the advanced professional program at the University of Colorado in 2007. I also taught editing and page design, and newswriting at the University of Northern Colorado, as well as critical thinking and writing at CU.