On Aug. 15, 2006, Tom Cotton’s platoon was patrolling the streets of Dora, a neighborhood in southern Baghdad, in the small hours of the morning. Riding shotgun in the second vehicle of his convoy, Cotton felt unusually secure. Combat engineers had cleared the streets of trash, which often obscured roadside bombs, and most people were indoors, in observance of the curfew. Looking out his window, Cotton saw a box in the road and thought, “That could hold a bomb.”
Then it exploded.
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