These Veterans Fought al Qaeda. Now They’ve Started 162,000 New Businesses

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The sun rises as Soldiers of Company F, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, wait in the early morning for two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to pick them and bring them to a nearby town to conduct a patrol, Sept. 18

Ten years ago, Blake Hall was nearly blown up at work. A platoon leader in the Army Rangers, Hall was in charge of a reconnaissance unit stationed in Mosul, Iraq. His team was on routine patrol one day when a bomb exploded near their base. Then mortar shells began to fall, pummeling the combat hospital inside the base, injuring 10 during the first few blasts.

Suddenly, Hall was racing his men across the Tigris River, hoping to find the mortar unit. They were outnumbered and facing attacks from three directions, without air cover or other support. Yet they ultimately destroyed the unit, capturing four al Qaeda fighters and killing two, Hall says, while avoiding any casualties themselves.

“It was a miracle, really,” says Hall, who was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for that day’s work. “God was good to us, to me, that day.”

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