Men at War: Come Home With Your Shield, or On It

The following is an excerpt from a dispatch filed to by Michael Yon, a former Green Beret who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004. You can find his complete dispatches at

The men here can be seen saluting senior officers, while saying, "Sir, with your shield or on it." This is the mantra of Task Force Spartan.

On the morning of 30 July, members of 4-4Cav boarded CH-47 helicopters and at 0300 landed in the middle of a Taliban stronghold.  Over the next 48 hours, there were at least 27 firefights.  The number taken for confirmed enemy killed was eleven, though likely the actual number was considerably higher.  During the first day, one of our soldiers was shot in the face and badly wounded.  His buddies say that had he not then played dead, the enemy surely would have killed him.  His buddies, braving close and accurate machinegun fire, managed to rescue the wounded soldier from a roof.  A Blackhawk MEDEVAC took him away as we watched from a few hundred meters distance.

The three Spartan troops from 4-4Cav who were shot during this mission were all shot on rooftops.  Now, before the armchair generals chime in with advice on fighting positions, please don’t.  It’s not needed unless said experts are right here, right now.

On 31 July, another firefight unfolded.  The element I was with was maybe two or three hundred meters away as the crow flies.  Thousands of bullets seemed to be fired, there were dozens of explosions and the Kiowa Warrior and Apache helicopters joined in with rockets, cannon fire, and machine guns.  We only watched and waited for any enemy to stumble in front of our shooting positions.  The soldiers’ weapons were ready, as was my Canon.  At the moment, our compound was not under attack, though the first Soldier who had been shot in the face the day before had been at our current compound, which was complete with heaps of marijuana drying in the sun.

Maybe 15-20 minutes after PFC Scott was shot, a MEDEVAC helicopter swooped in dangerously and picked him up.  Brice Scott had already died and was going home on his shield, having been shot on the rooftop.

Our element moved to the compound where Scott had been hit.  There was a flurry of activity as soldiers were quickly redistributing ammunition, and others had disassembled their weapons for quick cleaning before the next fight.  Two pigeons landed on the roof only feet from where Brice Scott had been mortally wounded.

Click here for Michael Yon's complete dispatch.