by William Adler

To a KIA
Baghdad, Iraq, October 2005

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In a flash you became invisible to me.

The grey-black ash framed by dun colored dust swirls,




The flood of sound pushing away all sound, swallowed you.

Then that fearsome flood washed over me.

In the swelling mushroom-cloud,

where I stood, at the roadside,

watching you,

I wondered if my time was up-

this time.

But, I never said your name.

Now, the Sergeant Major will shout it out-

your name (with the others).

We’ll sit, where you sat, and walk where you walked.

Amid the pale flowers, flags, and dusty tentage.

All drained of color by that common sun that god made for us.

Outside, the makers of your demise-

The builders, of the bomb.

And inside, the dissembling retinue,

and the once-again mourners.

But our sudden shock is incomparable

to the sharp stab and lingering ache

of the inevitable notification.


Lt. Col. William Adler, U.S. Army, is a military professor at the Naval War College in the College of Leadership and Ethics. He is a career infantry officer with service in mechanized and Stryker infantry formations. He has deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He served as a combat advisor in Iraq in 2004 for the 7th Iraqi Army Infantry Battalion and again in Afghanistan in 2010-2011 with the 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment as a battalion executive officer.

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September-October 2020