[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/05/17/btsc.ware/art.michael.ware.jpg caption="CNN's Michael Ware"]
“I am not the same fucking person,” he tells me. “I am not the same person. I don’t know how to come home.”
It’s October, six months after our first meeting, and Michael Ware, 39, is at his girlfriend’s apartment in New York, trying to tell me why after six years he absolutely must start spending less time in Iraq. He’s crying on the other end of the telephone.
“Will I get any better?” he continues. “I honestly don’t know. I can’t see the — right now, I know no other way to live.”
To begin to understand where he’s coming from, Ware wants you to see a movie. He filmed it. It’s just after midnight during the second battle of Fallujah, November 2004. The marine unit he’s hooked up with has cornered six insurgents inside a house, and with no air support available, the only way to take them out is person-to-person. Staff Sergeant David Bellavia doesn’t like the sound of that — odds are one of his men, or he, will die in the pitch-black of an unfamiliar house — but he knows he can’t just let these guys go. So he asks for volunteers to go with him: Three men raise their hands, followed by Ware, who as a reporter (then for Time, now for CNN) is the only one without a gun or night goggles, and still can’t explain why he went along. He just couldn’t not.
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