US Military Base, Iraq, January 20, 2008 – My name is Partha Sarathi Dasa, and I'm an ISKCON devotee and US army sergeant. I've been on active duty in Iraq since 2003.
Last night, as we prepared for a mission, one of my soldiers went crazy. He loaded his M4 assault rifle, pointed it at my head, and yelled, "If I have to leave this base one more time, I will kill you, and then kill myself!"
He was serious. The selector lever was on "fire," the barrel two inches from my face.
I was sure I was done for, and started chanting Hare Krishna in my mind. Externally, however, I tried to reason with him and diffuse the situation. As soon as I managed to distract him for a moment, I tackled him with the help of another soldier and detained him.
We brought him to Combat Stress, and I stayed next to his bed all night chanting japa and reading Caitanya Caritamrita to him. I have failed you, Srila Prabhupada, I thought. I was not able to give this boy Krishna, and as a result he was overcome by the material energy. I thought about how fortunate I was to have Krishna, and to experience real loving exchanges. But had I given enough thought to those who didn't? Had I not felt enough compassion for them?
This morning, the boy awoke and looked at me and apologized. He wanted to know what I had been reading, because it soothed his soul. So for nearly 3 hours, I told him about Krishna, the nature of the soul, and about unconditional loving exchanges with the Lord.
Now this boy has a second chance. I think that in this life, we must endeavor to bring everyone to Krishna. We owe it to humanity. I saw in this kid's eyes the fear of birth, disease, old age and death.