Tales of valor, courage and compassion

An uneasy peace is coming into focus.

A decade of constant war rid the world of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Gone too are thousands of fighters who would do violence upon the U.S. military. Thousands remain.

Americans at home are weary of it all, their support for the ongoing war dwindling with each new opinion poll.

The Iraq War has ended and a road map has been drawn for a withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. For the men and women who must close out Operation Enduring Freedom, the fight goes on. The end will not arrive before the next bomb, the next bullet.

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 eighth edition of Stars and Stripes’ annual Heroes special section. These tales of valor, courage and compassion tell the story of a nation at war.

Dakota Meyer refused, at any cost, to leave his comrades behind on the battlefield, and his country repaid him with the Medal of Honor. A group of veterans — from Korea, Vietnam and more recent wars — refused to let today’s veterans be forgotten upon returning home, and their generosity helped a cancer-stricken Iraq War vet through his final days.

These are the among the stories you will find here. The mission for Stars and Stripes and for you, our readers, is to let them never be forgotten.


— Derek Turner, Heroes editor

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Stars and Stripes - Heroes 2012