Ten years after serving together in Iraq these battle buddies reunited!
2024/03/11

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Shawn Dodd hadn't seen his best friend, Jesse Burr, for more than a decade when he opened his front door to a stunning surprise.

Dodd and Burr met in the Army and didn't hit it off at first.

"When Jesse and I first met, I was a brand new staff sergeant in the Army, fairly young, and he was the elder statesman of the staff sergeant team in the company that we were in," says Dodd. "We didn't like each other at first because here I am coming in hot and heavy. I had all these super new ideas, and he's like, look, kid, basically, you need to just calm down."

However, once the two began active duty in Iraq, their relationship began to change.

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"He worked with the Bradley Fighting vehicles, and I worked with the ground troops, and we had to kind of work simultaneously," says Dodd. "And because of that, we actually grew really, really close. And it was such a neat thing to be able to grow from this contempt to this just admiration. I always admired him. I looked up to him. So I wanted to prove to him that I was worthy of his time. And he admired me because of my work ethic and how hard I pushed myself. So together, we really made a good team in Iraq."

Soon, their friendship became a brotherhood forged in combat.

"Jesse's Bradley fighting vehicle was actually hit with an IED at one time," says Dodd.

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"My squad was just finishing a patrol heading back into a compound when we heard the explosion. So we were the first on scene to secure the scene during that situation. Jesse and his team were completely concussed, and we had to pull them out and get them to safety. But it really just made me even that much closer with Jesse because I, for the first time, realized I could actually lose this guy, and I loved him to death."

On returning from Iraq, their bond was cemented in grief when they helped each other get over the loss of their commander, Captain Brian Faunce, who was killed in action.

"We realized we both had the same feelings," says Dodd.

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"We wanted to feel sad. We wanted to feel angst. We couldn't tell anyone in the world, not even psychologists, this, but we were able to tell each other because we went through the same and similar things. We saw the same combat, we saw the same thing, the same areas, the same people. And because of those experiences, it unlocked that conversation that we were both able to have. And I really believe it helped both of us with our PTSD."

Years later, Jesse sent Shawn a handmade wooden American flag to celebrate their time together in the military. The flag was a treasured gift, but with both men wrapped up in their busy lives, a reunion remained on their to-do list. Then, at last, Jesse decided to make it happen, traveling some 900 miles from his home in Tehachapi, California, to surprise Shawn in Vancouver, Washington.

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