“I think it may be time to call it quits on this war.” I wrote those words from a metal building where I slept on the Camp Bastion airfield in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It was October 2013, and earlier that day, a senior Taliban commander stood in handcuffs 20 feet from the cockpit of my V-22 “Osprey,” but we returned to base without him. It was the low point of my deployment.

Twice a week during this deployment, we would fly two Ospreys with escorts to an airfield just southwest of the embattled town of Marjah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place three years earlier.

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