© Maya Alleruzzo


Sgt. Jon Fleenor's teddy bear survived an IED.

"I don't necessarily believe in it, but when I don't take it out when I go out one day, if I forget it, I don't feel right. So I guess it works. I'm still alive so far," he said. He was later wounded in combat but made it home.

Sgt. Jose Regalado carried an ultrasound of his firstborn daughter, Jaime.

Regalado made it home to see Jaime on R&R. He was killed 63 days later in an insider attack by an Iraqi soldier.

Lt. Rusty Morris carried the prayer book his grandfather carried as a soldier during WWII.

"People go to war and come back and, you know, I'll do the same I hope," he said.

U.S. Army Spc. Derek Griffard from Santa Maria, Calif., carried a rosary from his first communion.

"When your life is at risk, you just try to hold on to anything that you think will help keep you going and get you home safe to see your family," he said.

U.S. Army Sgt. Cole Weih from Dubuque, Iowa, holds the dogtags his grandfather wore during World War II. He says the tags are a piece of home that he carries with him as a reminder that he's not just a soldier, but that there is still home to go back to.

"I am my good luck charm," said Staff Sgt. Chad Caldwell, 24, from Spokane, Wash. Caldwell was killed by a roadside bomb on April 30, one month after this photo was taken.

All photographs are the copyright of The Associated Press unless otherwise noted. No graphics, pictures or design of any page from this web site can be used without the written permission of the Associated Press. © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Visit apimages.com with any license questions.