Service & Sacrifice: Under Attack

A snapshot of the burdens being shouldered by brave U.S. troops and military families around the world.

U.S. Army soldiers conduct an artillery live fire exercise at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 1, 2023.

By Tom Sileo Published on December 29, 2023

Middle East

Almost every day since October 17, the U.S. military has come under attack in the Middle East.

As The Stream‘s Al Perrotta noted on Wednesday, “there have been more than 100 attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East by Iran-backed militias, with minimal U.S. response.”

Christmas Day might have marked the most troubling moment for American troops since Iran began ramping up its proxy attacks amid the Israel-Hamas war. As The Daily Caller News Foundation reported, three U.S. service members were injured in a drone attack “by Iran-affiliated Kataib Hezbollah group at Erbil Air Base in Iraq.” One injury was listed by the military as “critical.”

On Wednesday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who recently withdrew from the Republican presidential race, announced that the injured soldier is a U.S. Army pilot from his home state.

“Please join us in praying for a full recovery for U.S. Army pilot and Langdon, ND, native Garrett Illerbrunn, who was seriously injured in a drone attack Monday in Iraq,” Gov. Burgum posted on X. “Today we shared gratitude with his father, Brad, for his son’s courageous service.”

We will certainly be praying for this brave soldier’s recovery and ask you to join The Stream in asking God to heal this wounded warrior.

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This time, the U.S. military was given the green light by the Biden administration to strike back at Iran-backed terrorists.

“In response to multiple attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes against multiple facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq at 8:45 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 25,” U.S. Central Command posted on X. “Early assessments indicate that these U.S. airstrikes destroyed the targeted facilities and likely killed a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants.”

The Jewish Institute for National Security of America published a report this week stating that “there have now been at least 105 attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria and seven U.S. airstrikes since October 7.”

“While the rate of Iran-backed attacks against U.S. personnel has dropped in the last two weeks, it is not because the Iranian regime has been deterred by U.S. strikes,” the report also said. “Instead, Iranian aggression has shifted primarily to the Red Sea, where the Houthis have increased attacks on ships, while continuing in Iraq and Syria.”

Incredibly, the U.S. military shot down three ballistic missiles in the Red Sea on Tuesday. Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson reported that Tuesday’s conflict with Iran-backed Houthi terrorists marked the first three times in history that “a U.S. warship has shot down a ballistic missile in combat.”

Clearly, the brave men and women of our military are facing dangers not seen since the bloody withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Please pray for these deployed heroes and their worried families here at home.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

While this space is normally reserved for inspiring military homecoming photos, I thought we would end the year by recognizing the selfless men and women who help their fellow service members enjoy delicious holiday meals on bases around the world. The below photo was taken at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve.

Military Christmas

Base leaders serve Christmas Eve lunch to U.S. Air Force airmen and their families at the Hale Aina Dining Facility on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii on December 24, 2023.

To all of our nation’s defenders and every single military family: thank you for sacrificing your holiday seasons to keep the rest of us safe. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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