HOPE IN TIMES OF WAR: Memoirs of an Iranian Sergeant
–Coping with an Unexpected Loss and Faith Found
By Ramin Jahedi
A difficult experience can change our personalities,
beliefs, values, concepts and perspective. I have learned
that difficult times can bring about positive change in life.
An unforgettable experience that has changed me into a
new person with a new outlook occurred when I lost one of
my soldiers during the war between Iran and Iraq in 1985.
My war experience made me more conscious than ever,
teaching me that fate is real and unpredictable.
I was assigned as a sergeant in the Iran Special Forces in
1985, during the Iran-Iraq war. Living on the army base
located in the war zone was extremely difficult – we had to
overcome an extensive amount of obstacles, including
limited resources, emotional instability, and absence of
friends and family.
According to U.N. officials and historians worldwide,
hostilities began on September 22, 1980, when Iraq invaded
Iran at eight separate points. At the war’s end on August
20, 1988, the long battle had claimed approximately 1.1
million casualties, including 600,000 Iranian deaths and an
estimated 160,000-240,000 Iraqi lives. Its monetary cost
was enormous, estimated between 168 to 203 billion
In the winter of 1985, I remember seeing snow
everywhere. I was sitting in my office when one of my
soldiers entered the room. He was 18 years old, 6 feet tall
with black hair, brown eyes, and an innocent face.
“Sergeant, I finished my military service today. I just need
you to sign my paperwork so I can go home tomorrow
morning,” he said.
After I signed his release papers, I asked him where he was
going to stay that evening. I told him that he could stay on
our base because it was nearing five in the afternoon. He
declined, saying that he wanted to stay at his base to
spend one last night with his friends, not knowing if he
would ever see them again.
I was worried because it would take him at least one hour
to return to his base by foot in the snow and he would also
have to cross a river in order to reach his destination.
“Sergeant, trust me, I will be fine,” he said. He left the
room elated in anticipation of his last night with friends.
The next day, some of my soldiers and I made a painful
discovery. We found his frozen body in the river, his
paperwork with my signature floating around his body. We
concluded that he had fallen in to the icy water, his death
an unfortunate accident. At that moment, I realized that
I signed his death permit. Had I not signed his release
paper, this tragic event would never have occurred. That
cold winter morning, I learned that no one can run from
Although this incident happened almost seventeen years
ago, I still get mad at myself for what happened to him. He
fought for his country in several battles, but instead of
dying for his country, he died in a tragic accident.
This experience helped me to better cope with my problems
in life. I learned not to fear anything despite surrounding
circumstances, as long as I know to do the right thing.
We must enjoy our lives and the reality of the moment
because the future in uncertain. I believe our lives are in a
higher power’s hands – that which gives us life. We must be
thankful for life and treasure every fleeting minute that
— Copyright © 2013 Ramin Jahedi