A Time Meant for Warriors

By David Leavitt

My life’s journey has been one dedicated to serving our great nation with twelve years of honorable service including three combat tours.

It’s a privilege and honor to be part of the legacy of the 101st Airborne Division, whose valor stretches back to the hallowed battlegrounds of World War II.

The 101st Airborne Division’s history is steeped in tales of heroic courage, none more profound than the legendary Battle of Bastogne, a battle which turned the tides of WWII.

In the winter of 1944, the 101st Airborne Division was deployed to the Ardennes region of Europe to defend a critical juncture of Bastogne, which the Germans needed to capture to facilitate their advance.

Outgunned, outnumbered, and surrounded, the brave men of the 101st stood firm against the tide of German aggression. Despite enduring relentless bombardment, casualties, the cold of winter, and severe supply shortages, they refused to yield. When the German forces demanded their surrender, General McAuliffe defiantly replied, “Nuts.” For ten days, the 101st Airborne Division held strong and didn’t give up.

General Patton and the 4th Armored Division finally reached Bastogne and opened a corridor for reinforcements. Yet the battle wasn’t over. Despite their losses and their harrowing experience, the 101st picked up their gear and prepared for the counter-offensive to push the Germans back and regain lost ground. Their resilience, their unyielding spirit, echoes through the annals of military history.

Reflecting on these historic moments, I’m reminded of the hardships and sacrifices endured by my brothers-in-arm during our own trials during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Kufah, Iraq – March 2003

At just 22 years old, I found myself thrust into the chaos of war with every possession I owned strapped to my back as we made our way through Iraq. Uncertainty gnawed at the back of my mind, wondering if any of us would return home in a flag-draped coffin.

I think of the endless maneuvers, clearing buildings as we pressed forward deeper into the heart of Iraq. I can still feel the pain of my raw, blistered feet and see the blood saturating the leather of my boots. Nights were spent in unconventional shelters, whether it was in a burnt-down or partially destroyed building, the desolation of an open field, or among the eerie silence of an abandoned factory. However, sleep was a fleeting luxury, overshadowed by the relentless symphony of machine-gun fire and explosions echoing in the distance through the cold night sky.

I vividly recall watching my brother succumb to heat exhaustion, his body collapsing to the ground as the medic yelled urgently for water, tearing off his body armor in desperation. As I felt the dryness of my own parched lips and the relentless thirst gnawing at me, I instinctively tossed him my last canteen of water and watched as he dumped the precious contents onto my brother’s chest, desperately trying to revive him and save his life.

Thirsty, tired, and delirious, I pushed through the fatigue as I entered and helped clear a towering five-story building, knowing I had three more miles to march under the scorching Iraqi heat without a drop of water left to drink. But amidst the darkness and the daunting challenge, there shone a beacon of brotherhood, a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

In the face of adversity, we stood together, shoulder to shoulder, unwavering in our resolve. When someone would stumble, we’d help them back to their feet. When the weight on their backs became too much to bear, we divided the load among ourselves and helped carry that burden. When one of us was too hurt or too weak to walk, we’d lift them up on our shoulders and carry them through to the end. When one of us died, we mourned together. This bond forged in the crucible of conflict is what sustained us through some of our darkest hours.

Mosul, Iraq – June 2003

Today, as we stand on the precipice of uncertainty, facing challenges that seem insurmountable, I urge you to summon the same indomitable spirit that fueled the brave men of Bastogne and my brothers-in-arms through Iraq. We may be surrounded, outgunned, and besieged on all sides, but we will not falter. We will hold our ground, united in purpose and unwavering in our determination.

To those who seek to undermine us, who doubt our strength and resilience, I say this: “Nuts.” We will not surrender, we will not retreat, and we will not accept defeat. We are warriors, born for this time, forged in the crucible of adversity, and we will prevail.

As I look around, I see the same fire burning, the same unyielding resolve that carried me and my brothers through the darkest of days. Together, we will rise to meet the challenges that lie ahead, united in purpose and steadfast in our commitment. However, this is not just about getting to the finish line, but we must be looking onward to the horizon, for there is a larger war, and this is just one of many battles we must fight and win.

In each of you, I see courage, integrity, and unwavering resolve. I see the making of extraordinary leaders who are destined to lead us into the future. Like my brothers-in-arms, you possess the bravery, determination, and resilience needed to overcome any obstacle in your path.

Together, we will write the next chapter in history, standing firm in the face of adversity and forging a path forward. Now is the time to be bold, be brave, and be free.

David Leavitt is a US Army veteran and a candidate for State House of Representatives in District 25. Visit his Substack to read more.

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