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American Veteran: How 'The Reaper' made peace with the aftermath of war

Army Ranger Nick Irving, veteran of the U.S. Army.
Ben Bloodwell
Army Ranger Nick Irving, veteran of the U.S. Army.

In commemoration of Veteran’s Day, the American Homefront Project collaborated with the PBS documentary series American Veteranand the companion podcast, American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories, to profile men and women who have served in the U.S military.

Sgt. Nick Irving made a name for himself as a special operations sniper in the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion. He deployed six times to Iraq and Afghanistan, earning a reputation as one of the deadliest Army Rangers in military history.

“Our job set is very focused,” Irving recalled. “We have a list of guys, bad guys, that we have to kill or capture, and we don’t stop until we knock out as much of that list as we possibly can.”

But once he left the war zones behind, civilian life was far less straightforward. Irving shared how he found his calling in the military and beyond.

Nick Irving was recorded by Insignia Films for GBH. 
This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. 

Funding for the American Homefront Project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Funding for American Veteran was provided by the Wexner Family Charitable Fund, Battelle, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, JPMorgan Chase &Co., and Analog Devices.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.