The Digital Journalist
© Nina Berman

"I've always thought about death way before I joined the military, just growing up in Chicago and living out here in this world. I had a friend when I was six years old. His name was Charles and he got killed. He was shot in the head. I think it was a stray bullet. My oldest sister was killed by a stray bullet... I was just a few months old. And my father was killed when I was seven. He was being robbed. So death has always been around.

I remember every detail about my legs. Every detail from the scars to the ingrown toenails to the birthmarks to the burn marks. I made it a habit even before I even joined the military, to cherish every part of my body, cause I would always look at it like, "What if this finger was gone, would I be able to function without it?" Things like that I've always had on my mind. I don't know why, maybe it was God's way of preparing me for what was going to happen.

I've been dealing with the military since I was a sophomore in high school. They came to the school like 6 times a year all military branches. They had a recruiting station like a block from our high school. It was just right there.

In basic training they break you down and then they try to build you up. But I always had it in my mind that you can't break me down because I know who I am.

I always wanted to go into education and become a teacher but they just don't make enough to survive off of. So I figure with my disability now and the money I'll get from the government, I can use that plus the money I'll get from being a teacher and live comfortable. So I want to go to college and study education - public school primarily middle school, 6 to 8th grade.

The reasons for going to war were bogus but we were right to go in there. Saddam was a bad guy."

Pfc. Alan Jermaine Lewis, 23, a machine-gunner, 3rd Infantry Division was wounded July 16, 2003 on Highway 8 in Baghdad when the Humvee he was driving hit a land mine blowing off both legs, burning his face, and breaking his left arm in 6 places. He was delivering ice to other soldiers at the time. Photographed at home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 23, 2003.