Two Iraq Vets' Journey to Find Peace

Two soldiers, battling different wounds of war, reunite years after one saved the other's life.
3:00 | 12/14/13

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Transcript for Two Iraq Vets' Journey to Find Peace
It is a holiday story about love and forgiveness. And a long road to finding peace. This season our parent company disney has made a special point on the air and behind the scenes of welcoming home the men and women who have been serving the country overseas. Tonight, we celebrate two war heroes. For ten years, abc's chief global affairs correspondent martha raddatz has been following their story and now she brings ace final moving homecoming for our series american valor. Even today, it haunts them. Staff sergeant robert miltonberger and specialist thomas young had been in iraq five days. In april 2004, rolling unprotected into one of the worst street fights of the iraq war. We see the -- the charlie company truck just like the one we were riding in, rode down the road to us. Four flat tires. Engine on fire. Their truck too came under withering fire. But what miltonberger did next would leave him with a silver star. I get the first casualty guy right next to me got hit. It was carnage. Kept going. Two soldiers got wounded. One was an ankle. The other one I couldn't see the wound. Then I find the spot in his back. So I stick a bandage down there. All the time doing this, I got my hand on the -- on the other wound. The second chest wound. Reporter: Next to him, thomas young. He kept saying I'm pair litzelitz litz -- paralyzed. Reporter: To save his life, he felt he needed to tell a lie. I was look no, you are not. Everybody is laying on him. There was nobody laying on him. Reporter: Indeed no one laying across young's legs. He was paralyzed. A bullet severed his spine. ♪ I speak for a man who gave for this land ♪ Reporter: He and miltonberger never saw one another after that terrible day in baghdad, and desf despite his disability. Young would stay active. He married. And threw himself into the an type war movement. But as the it turns out, not all wound are physical. What do you still think of april 4th? About two or three times a week. Reporter: When I spoke with miltonberger, eight months after the battle, despite receiving a silver star for his life saving actions that day, he could not shake the guilt for walking away when young had not. When you think about it, what do you think about? The soldiers that were with me that got hurt. Just like they replayed the thing in my head. Yeah. I don't know why. Reporter: Miltonberger retired from the army and went back to his home deep in the louisiana bayou. I caught up with him when his house was destroyed by a hurricane. Shortly after he returned from war. Among the items that survived the storm -- the silver star. I don't tell people I got a silver star. My brother-in-law, brian told me at work. I got a silver star. My wife tells him. I don't tell him. What do you say when they ask about it? Yeah, I got one. Reporter: End of conversation. As miltonberger tried to put the war behind him, young became the focus of the powerful 2007 documentary body of war. All of a sudden, my body just went completely numb. I couldn't feel anything. But young's life would soon get much worse. A pulmonary embollism took even more of his mobility. By march of this year, after talks with his new wife and family, he made an astonishing decision. He was ready to die. Word spread quickly among those with whom he had served. A final reunion was suggested. Thomas young wanted to see one of those from his past. The man who saved his life. Robert miltonberger. So once again, we paid a visit to miltonberger. He was reluctant to make the philanthropist to trip to see young, obsessed with the lie he had told. I think it will be -- good for robert to go. And finally get rid of some of his guilt. That he carries about this. I know this family so well, by now. What robert hides. How it has aged him. And how bechher tenderness has the made it possible for this soldier to do the hardest thing he has ever done. It brings up emotions that you don't want to feel anymore. Heading to portland, she hopes this reunion, arranged by abc news, will make even a small difference. I love him. If he hurts, I hurt. I just want him to be as happy as possible. Waiting for them in portland is young and his wife claudia. We need to catch up on homeland, I guess. The good news is that young has had a change of heart. He no longer wants to die. He wants to fight. I just want to spend as much time as I can with my -- with my current wife, claudia. If it weren't for her, I would have -- done myself in a long time ago. Claudia has lovingly made their apartment their lives as rich as possible. We just want to hang out and chill and have a good time and watch movies. We want to be as normal as anybody else. As we arrive at the young's address, miltonberger is bracing himself for what he will see, what he will feel. I am trying to keep the emotions down't I don't know what to expect. I am kind of excited. Hello. Hello. Please come in. Thank you. Hi. Hi, nice to meet you. Come all the way back. Straight back and to the right. Okay. Reporter: The reunion is slow and awkward at first. The two men say little. It is young who finally moves the conversation telling miltonberger what he has wanted to say for so long. I -- bear no grudge against you. I lied to you. You were just -- trying to -- to help me -- have me not do something worse. I was feeling guilty because I didn't get shot in the truck. Oh, man. Reporter: For the wives it is almost too much. It's very good to see you. Thank you for doing this. Reporter: The emotion comes out when weep all sit d all silt down together. Miltonberger's got was deeper than I ever suspected. You thought you would walk in here and say it is your fault. No, pull a gun out from underneath and shoot me. Reporter: Did you think that? That's how deep that goes? Why would he shoot you? I just think the worst every time. Any situation. I would never shoot anybody. I won't either. Much less you. Reporter: Belinda, did you know he was thinking that? Because he feels like he should have protected them. There is a reason that thomas young wanted this reunion. I have the deepest and the most respect for -- for robert mullenberger. He its one of my heroes. In this moment, he and claudia are trying to give miltonberger back the gift of life that he gave them when he saved young almost ten years ago. I wouldn't have known him if it wasn't for you. This is never going to go away for you. Oh, no, no. I don't think it goes away for any of them. Reporter: Miltonberger does not really want the memories to go away. He believes it would dishonor those who died. Those who lie wounded. But maybe -- just maybe -- this reunion will make the memories a little easier to bear. And it has taken nearly ten years, but finally, robert miltonberger is really going home. For "nightline," I'm martha raddatz in portland, oregon. ]

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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