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He had been given a break from work detail and was just finishing his smoke when he heard a loud explosion from third platoon’s area. As he ran up to see what was going on, several marines were already there standing around looking at a downed marine. Holiday rushed up to the scene and was stopped short in his tracks. There before him lay a man almost blown in half. He could see the man’s spine and little else. He looked into the man’s face, a young kid no older than he was himself. He saw the man look straight at him and then look away.

Holiday watched the life leave the young man’s eyes. He knew the exact instant the man had died. It left him cold and numb—in shock. But Holiday found it fascinating to see life one second and then nothing the next. Holiday kept staring at the dead marine, pondering what he had just witnessed, vaguely aware of being given orders to remove the body. But Holiday was frozen—unable to move to obey that order.

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