By The Associated PressLt. Rusty Morris, 28, of Sumter, S.C., was Blue Platoon's leader until the fall of 2008. Married with two young sons, he joined the Army after working at a credit union and this was his first deployment to Iraq. A chain smoker for most if his deployment, Morris quit smoking before he went home. He carried his grandfather's Bible from World War II and a laminated family photo with him. His perspectives on serving in Iraq and his talks with sons Roman, 4, and Loyal, 2: "Roman understands. He said 'you got to go back to the Iraq and are you going to help the good people?' Help the good people, yup. Shoot the bad guys, yup. That's pretty much it. There are war stories you want to tell but you don't want to tell. It is what it is." "You find yourself more mad than scared a lot of times. You get blown up or you get attacked and then you have your choice, you either get pushed around or you can push back. Somebody told me that being scared was good because it kept you alive and it kept you honest."
"War is the fundamental flaw of mankind. That's what war is." "The biggest enemy was the economy. Soldiers don't build economies. I don't know nothing about building a business, I know nothing about infrastructure. I know that if you clean up a place and you make it safe that people will show up and try to build something there. But I know that just as soon as you get it safe and you get it built that somebody can come and blow it up. And then what you do is you clean it up, and you make it safe again, and you hope that they build on top of it again. That's what the Army's doing." "I have worried about coming home and how things would be, mostly because I just don't want to waste the great opportunity that I got from Iraq. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about what's important. And I didn't want to come home and ruin any of that chance." "Instead of trying to get a break from my kids to go off on my own because I need some time to myself, I think would rather spend more time with my kids."
"It was like 10 percent scary. The rest of it was 80 percent hot and tired and dirty and then the other 10 percent was kind of just exciting." "A lot of what the media is able to show of our deployment is a little glimpse of what really happens. We really got shot at, guys really got hurt, but we really helped people." "Our patrol gave out a lot of footballs and those kids in Iraq really appreciate the simple things. You give a kid in America a football or a soccer ball and they say yeah and they'll kick it and go on about their business and that's it. But you see the gratefulness in the children. And if there is any hope in Iraq it'll be in their children, I think." "Fifteen months. It's a year and three months. Man, it's two Christmases. It's two Thanksgivings. It's almost two birthdays. It's at least one Halloween. It's a lot of holidays and a lot of birthdays, and when you think you're over near the end, it just gets longer." "It's like extra innings in a baseball game or overtime like you know you're in overtime and the game should have been over a long time ago. So yeah, it sucks. I mean, so close to the end and I lose guys like that and the way that we lost them, you know it could happen to anybody."
"I saw guys that were way better than me, way more fit than me, smarter than me and they don't make it. Fifteen months is a long time and losing guys sucks, but we could have lost more and, hell, I could have not made it back myself. So I'm grateful for what I got and glad that it wasn't worse." "Anyone that you've fought with or bled with, you don't want to disgrace their memory. So I don't want to be a bad father or husband or be financially irresponsible or drink too much. For people that won't ever get to see their kids again, I'm trying to treat my kids a little better than I ever did and take care of them as best as I can." "I did this service and I fought my fight so that my kids wouldn't have to. But the war is always going on out there and it's one of those ideology wars ¿ the war on terror is like the war on drugs or the war on poverty. It exists. It's all in how you want to fight this war. They can say that the war on terror is a bad thing, but like I said there are more soccer balls handed out than there are bullets shot in Iraq or in Mosul."
"I will be in the Army for at least a few more years. It's not a bad deal. it's not a bad deal at all. But hopefully when it's all said and done, we'll live someplace kind of close to the water and it's quiet, and hopefully those boys'll do great and wonderful things and I can be very proud of them."