Hope in Times of War: Memoirs of an Iranian Sergeant

Coping with an Unexpected Loss and Faith Found



A difficult experience can change our personalities, beliefs, values, concepts and perspective. I have learned that difficult times can bring about positive change in life. An unforgettable experience that has changed me into a new person with a new outlook occurred when I lost one of my soldiers during the war between Iran and in 1986. My war experience made me more conscious than ever, teaching me that fate is real and unpredictable.

I was assigned as a sergeant in the Special Forces in 1986, during the Iran-Iraq war. Living on the army base located in the war zone was extremely difficult—we had to overcome an extensive amount of obstacles, including limited resources, emotional instability, and absence of friends and family. According to U.N. officials and historians worldwide, hostilities began on September 22, 1980, when Iraq invaded at eight separate points. At the war’s end on August 20, 1988, the long battle had claimed approximately 1.1 million casualties, including 600,000 Iranian deaths and an estimated 160,000-240,000 Iraqi lives. Its monetary cost was enormous, estimated between 168 to 203 billion dollars.

In the winter of 1986, I remember seeing snow everywhere. I was sitting in my office when one of my soldiers entered the room. He was 18 years old, 6 feet tall with black hair, brown eyes, and an innocent face. “Sergeant, I finished my military service today. I just need you to sign my paperwork so I can go home tomorrow morning”, he said. After I signed his release papers, I asked him where he was going to stay that evening. I told him that he could stay on our base because it was nearing five in the afternoon. He declined, saying that he wanted to stay at his base to spend one last night with his friends, not knowing if he would ever see them again. I was worried because it would take him at least one hour to return to his base by foot in the snow, and he would also have to cross a river in order to reach his destination. “Sergeant, trust me, I will be fine,” he said. He left the room elated in anticipation of his last night with friends.

The next day, some of my soldiers and I made a painful discovery. We found his frozen body in the river, his paperwork with my signature floating around his body. We concluded that he had fallen in to the icy water, his death an unfortunate accident. At that moment, I realized that signed his death permit. Had I not signed his release paper, this tragic event would never have occurred. That cold winter morning, I learned that no one can run from fate. Although this incident happened almost seventeen years ago, I still get mad at myself for what happened to him. He fought for his country in several battles, but instead of dying for his country, he died in a tragic accident.

This experience helped me to better cope with my problems in life. I learned not to fear anything despite surrounding circumstances, as long as I know to do the right thing. We must enjoy our lives and the reality of the moment because the future in uncertain. I believe our lives are in a higher power’s hands—that which gives us life. We must be thankful for life and treasure every fleeting minute that we breathe.

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Hope in Times of War: Memoirs of an Iranian Sergeant



Coping with an Unexpected Loss and Faith Found







A difficult experience can change our personalities, beliefs, values, concepts and perspective. I have learned that difficult times can bring about positive change in life. An unforgettable experience that has changed me into a new person with a new outlook occurred when I lost one of my soldiers during the war between Iran and Iraq in 1986. My war experience made me more conscious <<< Maybe say 'aware', or some other word ? than ever, teaching me that fate is real and unpredictable.

I was assigned as a sergeant in the Iran Special Forces in 1986, during the Iran-Iraq war. Living on the army base located in the war zone was extremely difficul t— we had to overcome an extensive number of obstacles, including limited resources, emotional instability, and absence of friends and family. According to U.N. officials and historians worldwide, hostilities began on September 22, 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran at eight separate points. At the war’s end on August 20, 1988, the long battle had claimed approximately 1.1 million casualties, including 600,000 Iranian deaths and an estimated 160,000-240,000 Iraqi lives. Its monetary cost was enormous, estimated at between 168 to 203 billion dollars.

In the winter of 1986, I remember seeing snow everywhere. I was sitting in my office when one of my soldiers entered the room. He was 18 years old, 6 feet tall with black hair, brown eyes, and an innocent face. “Sergeant, I finished my military service today. I just need you to sign my paperwork so I can go home tomorrow morning”, he said. After I signed his release papers, I asked him where he was going to stay that evening. I told him that he could stay on our base because it was nearing five in the afternoon. He declined, saying that he wanted to stay at his own base to spend one last night with his friends, not knowing if he would ever see them again. I was worried because it would take him at least one hour to return to his base on foot in the snow, and he would also have to cross a river in order to reach his destination. “Sergeant, trust me, I will be fine,” he said. He left the room elated in anticipation of his last night with friends.

The next day, some of my soldiers and I made a painful discovery. We found his frozen body in the river, his paperwork with my signature floating around his body. We concluded that he had fallen in to the icy water, his death an unfortunate accident. At that moment, I realized that I had signed his death permit. Had I not signed his release paper, this tragic event would never have occurred. That cold winter morning, I learned that no one can run from fate. Although this incident happened almost seventeen years ago, I still get mad at myself for what happened to him. He fought for his country in several battles, but instead of dying for his country, he died in a tragic accident.

This experience helped me to better cope with my problems in life. I learned not to fear anything despite surrounding circumstances, as long is uncertain. I believe our lives are in a higher power’s hands — that which gives us life. We must be thankful for life and treasure every fleeting minute that we breathe.

This is very well written, and has a strong impact on the reader.

It is very presumptuous of me to comment on something of which I have no experience, but I don't think that you should carry a burden of blame for this sad event.

Best wishes, Clive
Thank you so much.
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Hey Rami,

Nice essay.

Mehrdad