Staff Sergeant John Diem knows what it means to serve one’s country. That phrase gets thrown around a lot, but John Diem embodies the spirit of patriotism in every sense of the word. He has served multiple combat tours as an infantryman, spending most of that time on the line as part of an infantry squad. He survived a year-long deployment to Iraq’s “Triangle of Death”, where he and his unit suffered almost daily bomb, mortar, and small arms attacks, before four members of his platoon were convicted of murdering an Iraqi family of four in Yusufiyah. Although he projects a somewhat reserved appearance, his peers have described him as an “absolute killer in combat.” The steady and calm timbre he uses in normal, everyday conversation, is the same tone he uses when the bullets are flying all around him. The rigors of combat and in general, the Army, have challenged Diem’s mettle many times, but perhaps nothing tested him more than when Private First Class Justin Watt broke the news to him about the family in Yusufiyah murdered by members of their own platoon. Diem ensured the incident was properly reported up the chain of command, while making a crucial effort to protect Watt from unit leadership who simply wanted the story – and Watt for that matter – to go away. This is a story of service, and making hard decisions in the face of undesirable consequences…A story we all can learn from, and one you don’t want to miss!

“Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death”

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