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This is War


A raw look at the combat and homecoming experience from American veterans who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This Is War” chronicles the trials of combat vets both abroad and at home.

A raw look at the combat and homecoming experience from American veterans who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This Is War” chronicles the trials of combat vets both abroad and at home.
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A raw look at the combat and homecoming experience from American veterans who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This Is War” chronicles the trials of combat vets both abroad and at home.




29 | Higens

Counterintelligence officer Davin Higens talks about his pre- and post-9/11 experience running assets, the difficulties of chasing down bombmakers in the early days of the war, and the complications for interrogators in the wake of Abu Ghraib.


28 | Cheek

Steven Cheek joined that Marines specifically to train and have that training tested. During the eight years and five combat tours he served as an infantryman, he used every inch of that training and more. Because for him, there had to be a life after the war that he could be proud of as well.


27 | Hice

Curtis Hice was one of the thousands of regular enlistees in 2001, people who were joining the military for the pursuit of personal excellence, social improvement and maybe adventure. Although combat deployments always are on the table, he joined at a time when answering that call didn’t seem as if it were going to happen. When it did, he learned quickly enough that loss is a part of war but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept. This show was sponsored in part by Care/Of.


26 | Moore

From the rescue of Jessica Lynch through the recovery of Extortion 17, Nicholas Moore’s Ranger career was punctuated by historic episodes of valor and endurance. The author of Run to the Sound of the Guns shares his story on this episode.


25 | Graves

Long before he enlisted in the army, Samuel Graves developed a work ethic that separated him from his peers. He approached whatever job he was doing with exceeding his own expectations as the only goal. But when I arrived in Iraq, he saw how big a part chance played in war. Show sponsored in part by Care/Of:


24 | Dang

After his brother was killed in the first battle of Ramadi, Anthony Dang joined the Marines in hope of getting revenge. But, as he found out for himself in the second battle of Ramadi, there is no satisfaction in killing, only in living.


23 | Waage

From leading soldiers in Afghanistan to kicking down doors as part of the Ranger regiment, Erick Waage’s career was marked by violence and close calls. He had the kinds of tours that can wear on your humanity if you take a moment to stop and think about it. But if you just keep running and fighting you can avoid dealing with it for awhile.


22 | Davies

It’s possible to kill both without remorse and without malice, but it is impossible to kill without consequence. Even when the consequence is satisfaction or a sense of a wrong righted, killing is something that stays with a person for the rest of their lives.



The heart of a man is...


21 | McPadden

Ray McPadden, a newly minted officer, takes command of an infantry platoon for deployment to Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, where he discovers just how deeply your first deployment can influence the rest of your career, what he can endure and, most of all, what it takes to be a leader.


20 | Buzard

Daniel “Doc” Buzard had been a working paramedic long before he deployed in his late 20s, but his first taste of combat medicine opened his eyes to the possibilities and meaning that providing aid has in a war zone.


19 | Avalos

When you enlist and take the oath of service, you take the oath by yourself, but not on your own. The oath implicates not only your family and friends, but also your future spouse and children, it implicates people you haven’t yet met and, in the case of a distant enemy, people you may never meet.


18 | Satterly Part 2

Tom Satterly fought in the Battle of Mogadishu and ran the “Mogadishu Mile” as part of his first deployment as a Delta soldier. It was the first in a special operations career that spanned into the War on Terror, including the capture of Saddam Hussein and combating the new enemies who tried to fill the power vacuum the toppled leader left. In the end, though, is the question of how a special forces operator copes with reintegrating into a society that doesn’t need specially trained soldiers.


17| Satterly Part 1

During one of the most storied firefights in recent U.S. history, nine special forces soldiers held a house in Somalia, guarding one of the Black Hawk helicopters that had crashed during a routine operation. In the first of a two part series, retired Delta operator and author of “All Secure” Tom Satterly talks about his induction into the unit and the first combat experience in what would be a 20 year career spanning from the Battle of Mogadishu through the height of the war in Iraq.


16 | Jensen

Even when you spend the better part of your adolescence dreaming about warfare, and your teens preparing for it, there still is an unnavigable distance between theory and practice, especially when there isn’t even a war on. You attack enemies that aren’t just phantasms, but phantasms without nationality or goal, just representatives of the vague threat you’re trying to thwart. But when the war and the enemy are real, it is nothing like you possibly could have imagined.


15 | Knapp

Cowardice and recklessness are opposite reactions to the same inclination: putting your wants before the needs of the people you have promised to be faithful to. With Daniel Knapp it is more than that. There is an element of wanting to both emulate and get the respect of those above him. But for Knapp the people above him aren’t the people in charge, they are the people who are better Marines than he is. Those are the people whose approval he craves, because he knows what it means to get...


14 | Mitalas

The flag-draped coffin is one of the most enduring symbols of war. It is a reminder of the cost and also of the responsibility that young men and women take on as part of their service to their country. Brandon Mitalas enlisted in the Marine corps reserves for selfish reasons, but by the time he had sent 226 marines and sailors home under the stars and stripes, he truly understood the weight of remaining always faithful. He also understood something else: Sometimes it isn’t about you.


13 | Lyon

Most of the time when we do something, we’re either doing it for us or for someone else, but in the case of our duty, things can get a little less clear. You see, when duty is the thing we’re doing we kind of are doing it for everybody, to live up to a promise we made that we would fill a specific role in our society. Kenny Lyon was all about finding roles and filling them. Whenever he could see the world as a set of instructions, he could follow along nicely, and that got him pretty far as...


12 | Baskett

Kristofer Baskett was 19 years old when he arrived in Iraq. He had enlisted in the Navy with his sights on underwater demolition but a little more than a year later he was a corpsman doing his best to fit in with the more seasoned Marines to whom he had been attached. The thing is, when you enlist and accept your trajectory there isn’t much more you can do than go with it. As a Navy corpsman Kristofer hadn’t expected to be doing much fighting, but he learned quickly that combat was a school...


11 | Siren

From early on in her training, Vanessa Mahan learned that being an aviator is more than just a test of strength and stamina, it also requires an unrelenting will and focus. What it requires most of all is the ability to shoulder the heavy burden of life and death for dozens of people every time you’re on a mission. On each approach timely action against the enemy ends in casualties or at least a routing on their side. Untimely action can cost American lives. But when you strap in and take...