The Unknown Soldiers

Image courtesy: Pfc. David Hauk, U.S. Army. Kandahar, Afghanistan, November 12, 2009

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dying in America

Images courtesy: Melissa Jarboe

Unable to move after being shot by an enemy sniper, Sgt. Jamie Jarboe lay in the blood-soaked dirt of Afghanistan on April 10, 2011. As more bullets whizzed above his head during the chaotic battle, the soldier looked to the heavens and made a promise.

“I’m not dying out here,” Sgt. Jarboe said. “I’m going to die someplace like America.”

The 27-year-old wounded warrior recounted the harrowing attack, which left him paralyzed, to The Unknown Soldiers on Jan. 12. Speaking in a soft voice and frequently pausing to catch his breath, the soldier explained why he so desperately wanted to make it out of Afghanistan alive.

“I was thinking about my wife and kids,” Jamie said. “I just got married.”

After being pulled off the battlefield by his brothers in arms, Jamie was still picturing his wife and two stepdaughters as a surgeon covered his face with an oxygen mask. All he wanted was to see their faces again, and after an unconscious journey around the world, he did.

“I woke up at Walter Reed,” Jamie said.

The soldier’s wife, Melissa Jarboe, described the horror of seeing her badly wounded husband for the first time, while also explaining how the experience forever altered her mindset.

“Before this, I never knew there was a Walter Reed and I never knew what a wounded warrior was,” Melissa said. “And now I know too much.”

Through sheer courage and tenacity, Jamie and Melissa Jarboe were able to celebrate their first wedding anniversary this past Valentine’s Day in a hospital room. And just like the day they were married, the couple had big dreams.

“I’d like to be putting together the pieces and be a family again,” Jamie said. “I love my wife and I want to be back with the kids.”

Sgt. Jamie Jarboe died on March 21, just over two months after our phone interview.


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