"The chicken gun has a sixty-foot barrel, putting it solidly in the class of an artillery piece. While a four-hundred pound chicken hurtling in excess of 400 miles per hour is a lethal projectile, the intent is not to kill. On the contrary, the chicken gun was designed to keep people alive."

"Heroism doesn't always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history. Sometimes a chicken can save a man's life."

"The Stoll burn prediction model is a sort of mathematical meat thermometer. The heat of the meat and how deeply into the skin that heat penetrates are the critical factors dictating the degree of the burn. A brief exposure to flame or high heat cooks, if anything, just the outer layer, creating a first-degree burn, or, to continue our culinary analogy, lightly seared ahi tuna."

"By and large, an army shows up to a war with the gear it has on hand from the last one. The Marines arrived in Iraq with Humvees. 'Some of the older ones had canvas doors,' says Mark, who was one of those Marines."

"Despite or possibly because of their low profile, the less visible injuries of war can be the hardest to have."

"There's no linear battlefield anymore. The front line is everywhere. IEDs go off and things go kinetic without warning."

"Combat training for all troops, not just medics, has traditionally included exposure to some kind of simulated gore and mayhem."

"A few words in defense of military scientists. I agree that squad leaders are in the best position to know what and how much their men and women need to bring on a given mission. But you want those squad leaders to be armed with knowledge, and not all knowledge comes from experience."

"Like drunks, the chronically sleep-deprived are doubly dangerous in that they're poor judges of their own impairment."

"It is not the blood in news photos of people shot dead or killed by bombs that gets to me. It's the clothing… The clothing becomes a snapshot of a person's final, poignantly ordinary day on Earth. In autopsy photographs of US military dead, you also see what came between the two. Defense Department Policy is to leave all life-saving equipment in place on a body."

"The autopsy photographers need to get up high to get the whole body in the frame. I guess war is like that. A thousand points of light, as they say. Only when you step back and view the sum, only then are you able to grasp the worth, the justification for the extinguishing of any single point. Right at the moment, it's tough to get that perspective. It's tough to imagine a stepladder high enough."