The Valpo Core Reader


Todd Uzelac

Document Type

Life and Death Essay

Publication Date



In The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien each soldier was responsible for carrying various items. The specific things they carried were "partly a function of rank, partly of field specialty" (O'Brien 5)--things they needed in order to do the specific jobs they had as soldiers. While I was a soldier in Somalia I personally carried several items. A Kevlar helmet, Kevlar flak jacket, M16 rifle, ammunition vest with eight full loaded ammunition magazines, two canteens of water, and a medic bag weighing approximately twenty pounds. After a period of time items like this begin to weigh on a soldier, causing him to want to remove his helmet or rucksack, in an attempt to lessen the burden. Unfortunately for a soldier, it is the mental and personal baggage that they carry that becomes a part of them for life.