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  • smithqb19

The ones that didn't make it back home.

I didn’t know Brad Rappuhn well, he wasn’t in my squad but we were in the same platoon. But I can tell you what I know, stuff I know after doing about 30 missions with him in bad guy country. I can tell you that he was a SAW gunner. He carried a 15-pound MK46 with 600 rounds of 5.56 belt ammunition. I can tell you that we did some of the toughest infiltrations of my career that summer in Southern Afghanistan. Carrying 80 pounds of gear through pomegranate grape fields, poppy fields, irrigation canals and wet soil is no easy feat.

I can tell you that he had a tattoo of a grenade on his ass cheek. Something that he got after basic training, as a lot of Infantryman do after completing 14 weeks of One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, GA. I can tell you that while he was taking out some bad dudes armed with RPK machine guns and RPGs, that he took some shrapnel from an enemy hand grenade in that same ass cheek that had a grenade tattoo. That was his first Purple Heart. A few months later his second Purple Heart took him away from his family in Grand Ledge, Michigan, forever.

He was Killed in Action on 8 August 2010. His Team Leader was Killed in Action with him. Bradley Rappuhn was never going to let his Team Leader down. He died while stepping into the dark and unknown, a brave man who would rather die than let his friends down. The most admirable way to live and die.

I met his family at his funeral. Blue collar, down to earth, honest. Just like I grew up in West Virginia.

I can tell you that I put a can of Copenhagen Long Cut in his casket. As he laid in his casket, I placed the can under the side of his right arm. He looked strong. I can tell you that when I start to make excuses, I remember that he never made excuses.

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