This Week at War: War is Not a Movie

The Stream's weekly look at the ongoing sacrifices of U.S. troops and military families around the world.

A U.S. Army Black Hawk crew chief operates a machine gun during a flight transporting troops across Afghanistan on March 6, 2019.

By Tom Sileo Published on March 29, 2019

Afghanistan

War isn’t like a Hollywood action movie. The sacrifices made by our gallant troops and their families are real, painful and – when an American hero is wounded or killed in action – tragic.

When The Stream last published “This Week at War,” the Pentagon hadn’t released the names of the two U.S. service members to lose their lives in Afghanistan last week. We now know that both fallen heroes were decorated warriors from elite military units.

U.S. Army Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, Lancaster, Ohio

Specialist Collette was an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialist. Like the lead character in the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, he was an expert at defusing enemy bombs. Unlike the movie, he was a real soldier with a real family.

A heart-wrenching piece by Stars and Stripes reporters Phillip Walter Wellman and Chad Garland details the love Spc. Collette shared with his wife, Caela.

“He told me that as soon as 9/11 happened, when we were kids, he knew right then that he wanted to join the Army,” Caela Collette told the newspaper. “He was getting out of the Army in February next year and had never been on deployment. He wanted to go on deployment badly.”

Specialist Joseph Collette’s flag-draped casket arrived in Dover, Delaware, on Sunday. Please pray for his wife, family and friends.

Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, Cortez, Colorado

Sergeant First Class Lindsay wasn’t just a Green Beret. He was a husband and a father to four daughters who will be forced to experience weddings, graduations and other special moments without their dad.

According to The Journal, Sgt. 1st Class Lindsay volunteered in 2004, when the Iraq war was raging and the Afghanistan conflict was less than three years old. For the next 15 years, he distinguished himself throughout the Special Forces community.

“Will was one of the best in our formation, with more than a decade of service in the regiment at all levels of noncommissioned officer leadership,” U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Ferguson said in a news release quoted by The Journal. “We will focus now on supporting his family and honoring his legacy and sacrifice.”

Please pray for the entire Lindsay family and especially the fallen Green Beret’s surviving daughters. We ask God to wrap His arms around them during this unimaginably difficult time.

Iraq and Syria

As airstrikes and other military operations continue in Syria and Iraq, one of the Iraq war’s greatest heroes was honored this week at The White House. Fallen U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, who was killed in Iraq on June 1, 2007, at the age of 31, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump.

“As Travis wrestled to get the enemy’s hands behind his back, the man began to reach for something, and Travis knew what it was,” President Trump said. “He realized the man was wearing a suicide vest.

“Just as the terrorist was about to set off the deadly explosives, Travis wrapped his arms and his entire body around him and threw him to the ground away from his troops who were right next to him,” the commander-in-chief continued. “He put himself on the top of the enemy and he shielded his men from certain death.”

The most moving part of the ceremony was hearing from Staff Sgt. Atkins’ surviving son, Trevor Oliver. Having co-authored a book with a Medal of Honor recipient, remarks being made by family members at these ceremonies is an extremely rare occurence.

“Just all over appreciation for his men,” Trevor, 22, said in front of his dad’s fellow soldiers. “Everything you have said to me over the last few days means the world to me and it changes my life – every, every day.”

America is blessed that volunteer warriors like Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins are willing to step forward and defend our freedom. May this American hero’s grieving family be comforted by his well-deserved Medal of Honor.

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Coming Home

A group of brave U.S. Marines is back home after a deployment to Africa. For military homecoming photos, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Home from Africa

A U.S. Marine Corps pilot returning from Africa prepares to hug his son during a homecoming ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina on March 22, 2019.

Thank you for your service and welcome home, heroes!

 

Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of three books about military heroes: 8 Seconds of CourageBrothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo.

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