He’s The Only Marine To Make It Out Of His Squad Alive, And It Haunts Him To This Day

Lauren Burgoon
You've never seen a cartoon like this: one Marine's fight for survival after his entire squad is killed.

“Catch you guys on the flip side.”

Those were the last words spoken by Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Williams before his life changed for good. How haunting those words turned out to be.

Williams was on a rescue mission with his Marine squad in Iraq in 2005 when he was ordered to switch vehicles. Just minutes later, a bomb hit his squadron’s truck, decimating it and blowing his comrades into pieces – pieces Williams had to protect from dogs until helicopter support arrived.

Williams’ story and the aftermath of living with survivor’s guilt are animated in a new short film released by StoryCorps. The project records people’s stories and life experiences.

Normally just the audio is recorded, but StoryCorps decided to produce a short animated film for Williams. The juxtaposition of animation and the subject matter is jarring, but effective. 

Williams’ story is a particular gut punch about managing to live after experiencing such horrible deaths.

“I’m most proud of not blowing my head off by now,” he says. “It’s just a whole lot easier if you’re dead. But that shouldn’t be your tribute to your dead friends.”

StoryCorps is collecting veterans’ stories. Hear Williams’ story and other veterans at StoryCorps’ website