How we survived Iraq

From The Telegraph:

Patrick-hennessey_1433262c For much of his time in Iraq, the big decision of Patrick Hennessey's day was what to read. While guarding Iraqi detainees, he and young officer friends would lounge around sunbathing in boxer shorts, holding impromptu seminars on the relative merits of The Iliad over Catch 22. When the idealistic Balliol English graduate defied his parents to join the Grenadier Guards, he expected adventure and was disappointed to find it mostly within the covers of books. After he was shifted to Baghdad, that changed: quiz nights alternated with terrifying patrol duties.

Then, in 2007, he was sent to Helmand province where the action was relentless. In one 48-hour push up the Sangin Valley, his team of six, without Afghan support, had to take control of 80 compounds. By the end of the tour, his company of 36 had lost 12 “blokes” – one killed, the rest injured – and three of the six officers had been sent home. Hennessey, one of the youngest captains in the Army, was the only platoon commander left. With each new empty bed in the room, each friend helicoptered out hooked up to a morphine drip, his introspections shifted from the relative merits of Homer and Heller to why he simultaneously longed for and dreaded danger. “Is fighting sexually charged because it is the greatest affirmation of being alive?” asks Hennessey, now a 26-year-old law student in a civvy suit.

More here.