RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Throughout today's show, we have asked members of the 182nd Infantry Regiment to share their most vivid memory from a year spent at war.
PFC JOSHUA STEIN: My name is PFC Joshua Stein. Memory, I guess my fondest was being able to come home. You know, that was by far, like, the fondest that I have. I got off a plane and, you know, God, I couldn't tell you how many people were swarmed in the airport just to see me - my dad, my stepmom, my grandmother. My grandfather was in the hospital. Three weeks before we were on our way home, I was talking to my dad on Skype and he was like, you know, your grandfather's in the hospital. He just had a stroke. You know, I was so happy to be coming home and I just felt my heart just sink. I was just like can this really be happening? You know, I'm so excited to be coming home and now, you know, uh. And I think my biggest fear was not being home for, you know, my grandfather's death because, you know, I know I wanted to be there because I love him very much. My grandfather and I were very close. He would always say jokes but they were always the same jokes, you know. Just the same old jokes that grandpa will always say. His favorite one was who is Jose's cousin? And his cousin's name is Jos-B. Same joke, I mean, but, you know, it put a smile on my face. Unfortunately, you know, he just recently passed away. He just went into severe cardiac arrest and his heart just stopped. And by the time they got him over the emergency room they said there was nothing they could do. They tried reviving him a few times but they said it was already too late by that point. There was nothing they could 'cause he had no pulse. But, I mean, he got to see me in, you know, my uniform and everything. And I wore my dress blues to the hospital so he could see it. On his funeral, they wanted me to make a speech. And the rabbi came up and said, you know, the eldest grandchild would like to say something. And at first, I was like, wait, what? My father voluntarily told the rabbi that I was going up to make the speech, and I was like, oh boy, here we go. So, you know, I got up and I did my speech. I almost broke down in the middle of it. But I know if I would have broke down then the whole family would have just started crying. It took every ounce of my willpower just to, you know, swallow it down and just continue it up. And, you know, I think that made my family feel a lot better knowing that I was staying strong.
MARTIN: Private First Class Joshua Stein. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.