Emergency Room

JAMES NACHTWEY / VII FOR TIME

OPERATION: A soldier is prepared for surgery at Landstuhl; some 20,000 casualties have been airlifted here over the course of the Iraq war

Under a dim bedside lamp in a hospital ward in Landstuhl, Germany, 1st Infantry Division Specialist Shane Salter sobs for his dead sergeant, whose hand he clutched in a morgue in Iraq just five days earlier.

At 22, Salter, from Walla Walla, Washington, is so young that he called 29-year-old Sergeant Kyle Childress "Grandpa." "He always took care of me," says Salter, who lost two fingers when his platoon burst into a bombmaker's house near Samarra one night and was met with a torrent of machine-gun fire. As Childress fell, Salter emptied his M-4 rifle into the dark....

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