I didn’t want to go back.Read the rest here [Link].
When I began reporting from Iraq in 2002, I was still a wild and somewhat naïve twenty-four-year-old kid. Five years later, I was battle-weary. I had been there longer than the American military and had kept returning long after most members of the “coalition of the willing” had pulled out. Iraq had become my initiation, my rite of passage, but instead of granting me a new sense of myself and a new identity, Iraq had become my identity. Without Iraq, I was nothing. Just another photographer hanging around New York. In Iraq, I had a purpose, a mission; I felt important.
As far as a personal essay goes, the first sentence gets the reader into the story by asking "why" and presents an authentic voice that hooks the reader into the story.