Happy Veterans Day to TIME’s own Iraq War veteran, Nate Rawlings.
Read about some of his experiences on TIME.com:
“Stuffed into the backseat of the station wagon, I clenched my fists to make sure my hands weren’t shaking. The first time I drove this road was in 2006; my first glimpse of Baghdad was from the commander’s hatch of a Bradley fighting vehicle. After that day, I led or participated in more than 400 missions and patrols. We would lurch down the highways and through Baghdad’s neighborhoods, sucking on cigarettes and praying that the roadside garbage didn’t hide improvised explosive devices that would suddenly erupt.”