The motion-activated doors opened with a soft hiss as the soldier walked into the emergency department at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

He was covered in dust, a bandage affixed to his neck, his pants shredded.

A doctor stared, giving him a once-over before asking what happened.

“I got blown up,” the soldier said, staring right back.

“Blown up.” For centuries, soldiers have known the ravages of that phrase.


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