"I remember just giving him a hug. I'd known Larson since he came in the service and, I mean we had been together forever," he said.
The soldiers sat for a moment, drinking the soft drink, a platoon staple.
"Warmest Dr Pepper you could ever imagine. But man it was good," Romesha said.
The battle for COP Keating had been raging for hours. By now, most of the outpost was on fire or destroyed.
Until they could make it to the mortar pit in the corner of the camp, there was just one more thing for the soldiers to do: recover the dead soldiers.
Romesha was worried the militants would make off with the bodies. He wanted the families of the fallen to have closure. He wanted them to be able to be with their sons just one more time.
Militants were still firing into the base when the staff sergeant and his soldiers went out on to the base to retrieve the bodies of Gallegos and Martin, who was found with two gunshot wounds at close range to the back of his head.
They found the body of Griffin, who was killed in the rescue attempt.
Hours later, the soldiers found Hardt's body strewn amid the corpses of Taliban militants. He, too, had been shot in the head at close range.
Other soldiers, meanwhile, got to those trapped in the mortar pit.
Planes and helicopters filled the valley by late afternoon, and a quick reaction force was on the way.
It wasn't enough for Mace. He died from his wounds. He was number eight.
That night, the soldiers hunkered down on the base. Half the soldiers slept at the aid station, while Romesha and his men bunked down in the barracks.
Jones pulled out his guitar and started to strum Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."
It was still dark in the north central North Dakota city of Minot in late January, when 31-year-old Romesha climbed into his car for the 90-minute commute to his job as a field safety specialist for an oil field construction firm.
He had left the Army in 2011.
It was time. He had spent years away from his wife and three children. He had missed so many moments.
The radio kept him companion on this long daily drive. Sports scores, conservative talk radio and occasionally some country music. Every now and then, a Johnny Cash song would bring him back.
For a few minutes, he was back in Afghanistan listening to Jones make up "quirky, little songs" that he and Scusa would sing to the unit.
Romesha doesn't concentrate on the bad stuff -- the death, the destruction.
"I still reflect on my time in Afghanistan. But when I'm doing that, I'm thinking about the quirky little songs that Jones used to play. I'm thinking of that Mountain Dew or that Dr Pepper. ... That was our drink forever," he said.
"I'm thinking of the days in the gym. I'm thinking of the constant teasing going back and forth."
He's thinking, he says, about the men he served with.
But it is clear the memories -- the fight, the losses -- remain with him.