by Kevin Taylor & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & irst Sgt. MICHAEL KISH, 35, is still full-time in the Army National Guard. His gung-ho "We're-as-good-as-active-duty" attitude has been tempered by the deaths, injuries and betrayals encountered in Iraq. His journals reveal a complex and observant man. Sometimes he wonders about going back. "Here you have work, you have home, you have to schedule fun time, me time. Over there it was so simple: It was stay alive and keep your buddy alive." After 18 months of deployment, Kish and his wife have gone to marriage retreats to strengthen their bonds. They recently found out they are having twins. "And we just bought this house that I thought had so much room," he says.
Spc. NICHOLAS DAHMEN-BOSSE, 23, joined the Guard while still in high school. It was a fun way to spend time, occasionally blow something up, and get help with college tuition. The bomb that shattered his legs has also exploded his plans to be a physical therapist. He is thinking about being a scuba diver.
Sergeant 1st Class KEVIN KINCHELOE joined the Marines as a young man and was bummed that he just missed Vietnam. Even though his politics have grown more liberal, Kincheloe scratched his warrior itch by spending much of his adult life in the National Guard. A strong sense of duty to his country (and to the soldiers in his platoon young enough to be his kids) prompted Kincheloe to volunteer for Iraq at age 47 -- even though he thought the war was wrong. His platoon came through with one serious injury. He didn't reenlist and is letting his hair grow long.
After living outside the wire in a lightly defended Iraqi barracks for a year, "Deep sleep is a luxury you can't afford," KORY TURNBOW says. He wakes at the slightest sound and can't go back to sleep ("drives my wife crazy"). Instead, at 29, he sits through the rest of the night thinking about what to do after law school (he'll graduate in another year), mentally reviews the family budget and searches for answers to the perhaps unanswerable questions he encountered in Iraq.