Sgt. Jacob Blaylock flipped on the video camera he had set up in a trailer at the Tallil military base, southeast of Baghdad.
He lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, blew the smoke upward.
“Hey, it’s Jackie,” he said. “It’s the 20th of April. We go home in six days. I lost two good friends on the 14th. I’m having a hard time dealing with it.”
For almost a year, the soldiers of the 1451st Transportation Company had been escorting trucks full of gasoline, building materials and other supplies along Iraq’s dark, dangerous highways. There had been injuries, but no one had died.
Their luck evaporated less than two weeks before they were to return home, in the spring of 2007. A scout truck driving at the front of a convoy late at night hit a homemade bomb buried in the asphalt. Two soldiers, Sgt. Brandon Wallace and Sgt. Joshua Schmit, were killed.
The deaths stunned the unit, part of the North Carolina National Guard. The two men were popular and respected — “big personalities,” as one soldier put it. Sergeant Blaylock, who was close to both men, seemed especially shaken. Sometime earlier, feeling the strain of riding the gunner position in the exposed front truck, he had switched places with Sergeant Wallace, moving to a Humvee at the rear.
READ MORE @ NY TIMES