For the men and women taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, each day brings the possibility for tragedy or victory, death or heroism. They are not mutually exclusive, and often a single instant produces them all. These themes run through the pages of the ninth edition of Stars and Stripes' annual Heroes special section. These tales of valor, courage and compassion tell the story of a nation at war.
One of the challenges faced in compiling these stories is getting battlefield heroes to say anything about themselves. Teamwork comes naturally to them. Individual attention does not.