Throughout times of war, military members face some of the hardest situations anyone can endure — both physically and emotionally. However, there are some wartime moments that remind us of the beauty of humanity and just how connected we all really are. Below is a collection of some of the most uplifting and heartwarming to come from times of war.
You’ll want to hear about one soldier’s touching reunion with a friend he made on the battleground.
A Missionary In The Midst Of Battle
David Eubank is a former American Special Forces soldier turned aid worker. Eubank came into the limelight after multiple news outlets picked up a story about how he ran into the middle of a firefight with ISIS in order to save a little girl. It turns out that Eubank and his family live in Iraq and have dedicated their lives to working with the oppressed people there. On the day they rescued the little girl, they saw many people who had already been killed, and they were surprised to find that young little girl was miraculously still alive. Eubank knew that he had to take the chance to save her.
Love One Another
Risking his own life, Eubank darted between ISIS snipers in order to save her. The snipers continued to shoot, but Iraqi and U.S. forces helped to hold them off. He was able to pull off the rescue and the entire ordeal was caught on video. Eubank said, “It makes me want to cry every time I see the picture because I think she made it, she made it.” An Iraqi General who Eubank was working with has planned to adopt the young girl, and the aid workers have also arranged for her to receive counseling in the face of such a major tragedy. Eubank said he was called to do the work by a higher power. He said, “And I remembered this scripture, ‘Greater love has no man who laid down his life for his friends.'”
Through The Eyes Of A Child
This photo was taken by Tech. Sgt. Adrienne Brammer. Brammer is a 1st Combat Camera Squadron who worked as a combat videographer in Al Muhandiseen, Iraq. In the photo, an Iraqi soldier is seen playing soccer with children while working a patrol. Around the time that this photo was taken, Iraqi and American soldiers often worked side-by-side. One thing is certainly true: although there are many differences that are sometimes glaringly obvious, at the core of it all we are all human beings. And what is better evidence of our shared human nature than the act of playing with kids?
Need A Push?
This photo was taken in Baghdad, Iraq in June of 2007. The photographer said, “This was a really boring day and nothing was happening. The Americans even took a picture of me while I slept under a tree. They were laughing at me and I woke up and saw them start pushing this car of an Iraqi man. His engine wouldn’t start so the Americans helped him.” Being willing to help one another always reminds people of their interconnectedness, even if the act is as simple as pushing a stalled vehicle!
Saved From ISIS
Ten-year-old Aysha was stuck in the middle of a terrifying battle taking place in Mosul. Aysah and her mother had to go for days without food or water, while a fight by forces who aimed to free Mosul from ISIS raged around them. The little girl was clothed in a T-shirt and pink leggings, and could barely contain the gratitude she felt for her rescue. The soldiers gave her a packet of cookies and water which she clutched in her small hands. After days of no nourishment at all, it must have felt like heaven on earth to again be able to eat and drink.
The Taste Of Freedom
A cameraman caught the moment as young Aysha was rescued and thanked those who saved her. Aysha told them, ‘I’m so thankful to you. I thought you would never come for us. We have had no food or water for three days and it was just me and my mother, my father was taken and killed by the terrorists.” Despite suffering so much tragedy at such a young age, Aysha showed amazing strength and concern for other children. She continued, “The IS men have taken away so many children from my village and we don’t know what happened to them. Some of them died. The men made my mother give them her money and jewels and we have had nothing. Thank you, thank you. I would like to kiss your feet.” A soldier gave her a hug and a kiss on the top her head before carrying her off to safety. Thankfully for Aysha, the tenacity of these brave soldiers brought her to safety!
The Candy Bomber
During World War II, Colonel Gail Seymour “Hal” Halvorsen was a pilot with the United States Air Force. From the years of 1948 to 1949, Halvorsen gained notoriety in a very interesting way. While in Berlin, he founded “Operation Little Vittles” with no authorization from his superiors in the military. The operation focused on raising the morale of citizens by dropping candy to the residents of Berlin. As you might imagine, this was quite a hit with the children of the city. Hal was known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” or “Uncle Wiggly Wings.” During the operation, he reportedly dropped an astounding 23 tons of candy to Berlin citizens. He also garnered a well-deserved reputation as a national hero in the United States.
Just Messin’ Around!
Even those stuck in the middle of a war need to have a little fun! This photo showcases Cpl. Garrett Simoneau of Winchendon, Massachusetts as he rides on a cart while being pushed by children in the neighborhood of Husseniyah in Baghdad. Cpl. Simoneau was conducting a dismounted patrol. Despite the seriousness of war, and the fortitude of mind that these soldiers must maintain, taking a bit of time to lighten up the mood is definitely a good thing. Not to mention, it certainly helps soldiers gain the trust and respect of the local community. What a beautiful moment!
Fred The Afghan
Sergeant Craig Grossi arrived in Afghanistan’s Sangin District in 2010. It was nighttime and as soon as the sun came up, his unit came under attack. Speaking to The Dodo, Grossi said, “It was pretty fierce for a couple of days, and I was so preoccupied defending myself.” After the battle finally ceased, Grossi was able to look around and to his amazement he spotted a dog, “with a big goofy head and little legs.” While packs of dogs did roam the area, most were aggressive towards humans. But this little dog seemed different. The military did not want soldiers to approach any of the stray dogs, but Grossi just couldn’t help himself. One day he approached the dirty stray. Grossi said, “He wagged his tail and it blew me away.” The dog was soon happy to accept affection from Grossi. As he turned to leave, he realized he made a new friend. He said, “I feel a little poke at my ankle, I look down, and there he is, following me.” Grossi’s buddy shouted, “Looks like you made a friend,” but Grossiy mistakenly thought he said, ‘Looks like a Fred,'” and that’s the name the good-natured pooch was given in that moment.
Fred’s Secret Mission
Soon Fred began to join Grossi and his fellow Marines on their night journeys to check on local citizens. At first, the other Marines were afraid that Fred would draw attention to them, but somehow the little dog knew not to bark. Soon it was time for Grossi’s unit to go back to the main base where they would be re-deployed somewhere else. Grossi put Fred in a duffel bag and took him on the helicopter with him, although they had to keep his presence a secret. Amazingly, when they arrived they saw that the shipping company DHL had set up a station on the base. He asked the workers if it would be possible to hypothetically ship a dog back to the U.S. They agreed to help. Grossi planned to send Fred back to his parent’s house, however, before he could get all the necessary paperwork together he had to go back to the battlefield. The DHL guys said they would be willing to watch Fred until he got back.
That nearly never happened…
A Happy Ending
While Grossi was in battle he was hit by a rocket and suffered a brain injury. He almost never returned to see his friend Fred. He was hospitalized for some time, but he kept thinking about his dog. However, when he was finally released he began to worry and then soon spotted Fred playing with the DHL workers. Soon, Fred was almost ready to make the journey to his new home in the U.S. However, one last obstacle stood in his way. Grossi could not find a crate to ship him in. Fortunately, one day another Marine waved him down and said that he knew about Fred and offered his assistance. The other Marine was working in a unit that cared for dogs and was able to give Grossi a crate to use. Finally, Fred was on his way home. He arrived in New York City, and Grossi’s family picked him up from the airport. Three months later, Grossi also came home to join Fred. Now, he and Fred travel the country telling their story and they even have a book!
A Kiss For A Baby
How can anyone resist the preciousness of a baby? This Marine of the 1st Division kisses a little baby on the head before going out on a foot patrol in the town of Fallujah in 2004. Now, that same child is probably around 14 years old! At the time, the United States forces were preparing for a possible incoming attack in the area. It is all too easy to forget that children have to suffer through the horrors of war, when they should be the ones who are the most protected. Perhaps, if this reality was kept at the forefront of everyone’s mind, one day peace might actually be achievable.
Caring For The Disabled
The disabled are a population that is frequently affected by wartime horrors. The United States military has worked to help benefit disabled children in Iraq. Pictured here are 4th AAB Soldiers who met at Anbar Operations Center located in Ramadi, Iraq in order to distribute pediatric wheelchairs those young Iraqi children in need. 1st Lieutenant Jonty McCoy said, “Today is the kind of day where it makes you proud to be a Soldier. “This is by far the best thing we’ve been able to see this deployment.” By providing wheelchairs, they literally changed these kids’ entire lives.
Changing Lives, One Wheelchair At A Time
1st Lt. McCoy continued, “The quality of life for these children has now significantly improved, and to be a part of that is amazing.” This event was also made possible thanks to a special United States civilian named Brad Blauser. Blauser, who hails from Dallas, Texas, started the non-profit organization called Wheelchairs for Iraq Kids. His organization has donated over 1345 wheelchairs to Iraqi children as of today. Many of the Iraqi children in need suffer from cerebral palsy and spina bifida or are even amputees due to war. Without access to many modern advances, these wheelchairs are truly life-changing devices. Specialist Gwendolyn Cousin, a Soldier gave her take on the event, said, ” To be able to come out here and make a difference in someone’s life, it’s beautiful.”
Need A Lift?
In this adorable photo, two children are taking a piggyback ride on the shoulders of a soldier. What’s most beautiful about this photo is that the children clearly feel so comfortable clinging around the neck of this young man. It’s obvious that his presence must have made them, and likely their entire community, feel very safe. In a similar way, the children also likely gave the soldier some reminders of home through their innocence and the simple carefree way of acting like kids. Soldiers interacting with children certainly results in some of the most beautiful and uplifting photographs to come out of war through any time period or location.
Target The Hero
In another amazing dog story comes Target, a heroic stray dog from Afghanistan. When Sgt. Terry Young was stationed in Afghanistan in 2009, he came across a stray dog along with two others that the soldiers named Rufus and Sasha. The trio soon captured the hearts of the military men and women stationed at the base. In 2010, a suicide bomber managed to get on base and headed towards the barracks when the trio of strays attacked him, preventing him from getting any further. He detonated himself and Sasha was killed. Rufus and Target were both badly wounded and had to be treated for their wounds. Sgt. Young believes that without them, people would have definitely been injured or killed. Target was later adopted by Sgt. Young and was able to be brought home to the United States, Rufus was also adopted by one of his fellow service members. Dogs truly are man’s best friend!
Dogs have always been around to help their human friends throughout multiple wars. In WWII, “Just Nuisance” was the name of a Great Dane who was brought to a British naval base located in South Africa. Just Nuisance was six feet, six inches tall, and he often liked to lay on the bridges between the ships and docks. That’s exactly how he got his funny name! The dog also had a reputation for intervening in fights or helping sailors who had too much to drink get back to the base. The sailors regularly had him board the train and the people who ran it were none too happy about it. Ultimately, to get around the train operators’ threats (which apparently included putting the dog down), the Navy officially enlisted him as a sailor.
Military Honors For A Top Dog
Just Nuisance was now officially a member of the Royal Navy, and let’s face it — everyone knows the royal family has had a long affinity for dogs. This would likely have been British Royal Family-approved! Because Just Nuisance was now an official sailor, he was also able to ride the train for free, which probably really angered the people who ran the train. Unfortunately, for them there was nothing they could do. Years later, when Just Nuisance finally went to doggy heaven, he was even buried with military honors. Dogs are one of the best ways to get through the rigors of war.
In this amazing photo, an elderly Afghani man offers a young soldier on patrol a cup of tea. It’s amazing that this man, while in the peril of war in his home country, felt obliged out of the kindness of his heart to offer comfort to another. Surely, it brightened the young soldier’s day to be thought of in such a compassionate way by a member of the local community while he is miles away from his own country and the people he loves. If everyone treated each other with such simple kindness the world would definitely be a better place!
Ice Cream Brightens Everyone’s Day…Even During War!
Ice Cream is pretty great, but one man named James Forrestal thought it was one of the most amazing things ever. Forrestal just so happened to be the Secretary of the Navy, and back in 1945 while the Navy spread throughout the South Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he came up with a way to boost morale. He decided to offer the sailors free ice cream. He allegedly once even said, “Ice cream in my opinion has been the most neglected of all the important morale factors”. Somehow, he was even able to convince the government to budget a lot of money for all of that ice cream. The sailors were obviously elated by the good-natured offering of their leader and they ate up the treat (no pun intended). The Navy even designed a barge that was essentially a floating ice cream truck. It traveled through the South Pacific delivering tasty goodness to the sailors. James Forrestal’s creativeness was certainly rewarded and he was later appointed as the first Secretary of Defense under President Truman.