FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers may join the Army for college money or to travel around the word, but they can never anticipate what they are going to experience in the military.

Staff Sgt. David Kelley said he has seen more combat at such a young age than many Soldiers could ever dream of.

Enlisting as an infantryman with parental consent, he volunteered to deploy for his first tour in Iraq at the age of 18.

Instead of leaving the Army and starting a new life, he chose to re-enlist, taking the opportunity to teach those around him how to believe in themselves and stay alive - even in the worst of times. He is now a squad leader with the opportunity to serve with some of the same Soldiers that he helped train.

"People ask me sometimes why I serve," said Kelley, a member of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "All I can tell them is: I do it because it is the right thing to do. It's something I feel I have to do; because if I don't, who will'"

Now with two Iraqi tours under his belt, Kelley continues to train and enlighten Soldiers around him with his vast knowledge of war, service and camaraderie.

"I've been fighting since I can remember and it just became part of my life," Kelley said. "I have made some of the most amazing friends in the Army and I fight for them.

"Because in a firefight; I fight for the guy to my right and the guy to my left," he continued. "Patriotism, heroism, medals and awards stop mattering in a firefight. The lives of my friends, the Soldiers I'm responsible for, and the mission are the only things on my mind.

"There is no real way for me to put into words why I serve because if you haven't been in combat you could never understand," he said.