By Matt Hopper
Six years have passed since America first invaded Iraq. U.S. boots hit the ground running and quickly brought long-anticipated liberation to the dictated country. Those watching at home saw troops make expeditious advances, toppling an iron statue of Saddam Hussein amongst cheering Iraqis. A brief sigh of relief could almost be heard as all exhaled in unison. The deep breath that followed, before the celebration was complete, anticipated the events to come. Less frequent have symbolic achievements akin to that day streamed the airwaves. What followed were nightmarish images of battlefield firefights intermixed with moments of sheer heroism, leaving dread in the guts and pride in hearts of every American watching our men and women fighting overseas. As of July 2009, 128,000 American troops are currently deployed in Iraq. Staggering numbers, as U.S. troops account for approximately 30 times more soldiers than any of the other countries currently serving combined. Washburn has sent soldiers to Iraq since the beginning of the war effort, but three more will heed the call of their commander and chief. One soldier will join two brothers, all three of which are friends, making a solid group serving the same unit. All will work together to maintain the foot soldiers’ "guardian angel," the Black Hawk helicopter. Before they take to the skies, here are their stories.