Just Another Soldier by P-HarpercollinsPubl


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									Just Another Soldier
Author: Jason Christopher Hartley

This is not your father's war This is Iraq, where a soldier's first duty is reinforcing his Humvee with sheet
metal and sand bags. Or, in the absence of plumbing, burning barrels of human waste. Where any dead
dog on the side of the road might be concealing an insurgent's bomb and anyone could be the enemy. At
age 17, Jason Christopher Hartley joined the Army National Guard. Thirteen years later, he is called to
active duty, to serve in Iraq. Sent to a town called Ad Dujayl, made notorious by Saddam Hussein's 1982
massacre, Hartley is thrust into the center of America's war against terrorism. This is his story. "If you
are distrustful of the media and want to know exactly what's going on in Iraq, you'll have to pray for divine
enlightenment, because only god knows what the hell is going on over here. However, if you want to know
how it feels to be a soldier in Iraq, to hear something honest and raw, that I can help you
with."Sometimes profane, often poignant, and always nakedly candid, Just Another Soldier takes the
reader past the images seen on CNN and the nightly news, into the day to day reality of life on the
ground as an infantryman, attached to the 1st Division, in the first war of the 21st century. From the
adrenaline rush of storming a suspected insurgent's house, to the sheer boredom of down time on the
base, to the horror of dead civilians, Hartley examines his role as a man, as a soldier and as an
American on foreign soil. His quest to discover the balance between his compassionate side and his
baser instincts, results in a searing portrait of today's Army and a remarkable personal narrative written in
a fresh and exciting new voice. Just Another Soldier is more than a war story; it delivers an intimate look
at a generation of young men and women on the front lines of American policy.Whether you're for or
against the war in Iraq, this is essential reading.

Getting dressed in my desert camouflage uniform is something I've done hundreds of times, but it felt
weird to be putting it on again for the first time in four months. Since returning from Iraq, my National
Guard unit hadn't had any drills yet. Typically a drill weekend for us consists of some sort of infantry
training, but this one, taking place at Camp Smith, about an hour away from my apartment, was nothing
more than taking care of some paperwork and attending an awards ceremony and a dinner. I was wearing
one of the uniforms I'd worn in Iraq. It was well worn and comfortable; my boots fit my feet perfectly -- they
were the only pair I'd worn for the last year. My roommate Matt, one of my platoon mates, was in uniform
too now, something I used to see daily in Iraq. But being dressed in my uniform in our apartment in New
Paltz, New York, made me feel fake, like I should be going to a Halloween party.I'm very proud of the
fourteen years I've served in the Army National Guard, but since we'd returned, I hadn't felt very gung-ho
about being a soldier. In fact, I'd done everything I could to be as unmilitary as possible. I hadn't cut my
hair for the entire four months we'd been back until a few days ago. I looked ridiculous with my mop of
hair, like I should have been driving a Camaro and listening to an eight-track. My hair hadn't been that
long in years; I just wanted to grow it as long as I could out of spite. I had also grown a goatee and a
mustache that made me look more like a child molester than a hipster, two other things that had to be
shorn before getting back into soldier mode.Before I deployed to Iraq, I was part of an infantry company
based out of Manhattan. There are a lot of infantry companies in the New York National Guard, but only a
few are based out of New York City. Companies from the city are dramatically different in personality (and
ethnicity) than companies based out of other parts of the state, creating rivalries based more on
resentment than on competitiveness.I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah -- yes, I was once
Mormon -- and spent nine years in the National Guard there, where 99 percent of soldiers were white
suburbanites. When I moved to New York City in 2000, it took some adjustment to learn how to better
interact with the personalities of soldiers who had grown up on the streets. I was one of only two white
soldiers in my Manhattan unit, a company that was almost entirely Hispanic, with a handful of other
minorities. The other white guy was this jovial, barrel-chested Irish cop from the Bronx named Willy, who
quickly became one of the best friends I've ever had. After a few months in my new unit, I realized I
preferred soldiers who grew up in the city to soldiers who grew up in the suburbs.When my battalion was
deployed to Iraq, different companies were combined in order to get us to full strength. My city company
was merged with soldiers from other parts of the state, and the disparity was the source of a lot of friction
that never got resolved, even after eleven months in combat together. Now I was on my way to drill, where
I would see all these guys for the first time in months.I had pulled my uniform out of the duffel bag where
it had been stuffed since I'd gotten back from combat and put it on without ironing it. I'd cut my hair, but it
was barely within military standards and nowhere near as short as infantrymen usually keep theirs. It was
still long enough that my hat didn't fit because of it. My uniform carried no rank. For the past several
years, I'd been a sergeant, but on the second-to-last day of our deployment I was demoted.
Author Bio
Jason Christopher Hartley
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, JASON CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY is a member of the Army National
Guard. He lives in New Paltz, New York. To view many of the photographs he shot of the war in Iraq, visit
his website: www.justanothersoldier.comVisit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your
favorite HarperCollins author.

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