On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War I ended. The end of the War to End All Wars was commemorated on every following November 11 by the observance of what was once known as Armistice Day. This observance became a national holiday by an act of Congress, and in 1954 U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day. In this way all U.S. veterans are honored on November 11 of each year.
Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Census Bureau both collect data concerning the nation’s members of the Armed Forces primarily by use of three data collecting surveys. These surveys are the American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, and Survey of Income and Program Participation. As with most of these kinds of surveys, the most up to date numbers are a few years old.
Here are some veteran related statistics for Veterans Day:
There were 21.9 million veterans in the United States in 2009.
Of the nearly 22 million U.S veterans, 1.5 million were females. This means that females comprise nearly 7% of the nation’s veterans and males make up 93%.
The racial profile of U.S. veterans for those reporting a single race is varied:
80.8% reported White
10.5% said African- American
5.0% stated Hispanic
1.2% responded Asian-American
A break down of the number of living veterans by times of service:
2.3 million veterans were in World War II (1941-1945)
2.7 million veterans were in the Korean War (1950-1953)
7.6 million veterans served in the Vietnam-era (1964 to 1975)
4.5 million veterans served during the Gulf War (1990 to present)
5.6 million veterans served peacetime only.
Some of the veterans in the above listing served in more than one conflict:
47,000 veterans served during the Vietnam era and both Gulf War eras but in no other period.
78,000 served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam era.
741,000 served during both Gulf War eras.
230,000 served during both the Korean War and the Vietnam era.
156,000 served during both World War II and the Korean War.
The median age of all living veterans was 60 years old in 2007. The median age was 61 for men and 47 for women.
The states with the most veterans are California, with 2 million, Florida and Texas – each with 1.6 million. These three states account for nearly 24% of all veterans.
Not surprisingly, the median ages of living veterans varies by when they served:
Gulf War era – 37 years old
Vietnam era – 60 years old
Korean War era – 76 years old
World War II era – 84 years old
Veterans from the WWII era are passing away at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day.
5.5 million veterans have a disability.
About 20% of the U.S. population is a dependent child or spouse of a veteran.
71% of veterans cast a ballot in the 2008 election. As a comparison with the general population, only 63% of those who are not veterans voted in the 2008 election.
The median annual income of veterans was $35,402 in 2009 inflation adjusted dollars.
The total amount of federal government spending on veterans is $95.6 billion.
Of veterans age 25 and older, 92% of them have a high school diploma. In comparison 85% of the entire U.S. population age 25 and older has a high school diploma.
Whenever you get the opportunity, be sure to thank a veteran for his or her service. Don’t feel the need to wait until November 11.
The young filly showed great promise every time she ran a race. Many believed she would be a prize winner. But she never got the chance. In June 1950, North Korean troops stormed across the border between South Korea in a surprise attack that changed life on the Korean Peninsula. It also brought the sport of horseracing to a standstill. With no races to run, owning racehorses became a financial liability for their owners. Like many others, she was abandoned at the Seoul racetrack. A young Korean stable boy named Kim Huk Moon took over feeding, watering and grooming her.
In October 1952 some U.S. Marines from the 5th Marines’ Anti-Tank Company’s Recoilless Rifle Platoon discovered the young filly and decided she’d be valuable for carrying supplies into combat. The platoon leader, Lt. Eric Pederson, paid $250 of his own money to buy her. The only reason Kim sold his beloved horse was so he could buy an artificial leg for his older sister, Chung Soon, who lost her leg in a land mine accident.
Because she would be transporting the Recoilless Rifle into battle, the Marines decided she be named Reckless. During her training, she quickly became a unit mascot and allowed to roam freely through camp. On cold nights she slept in the Marine’s tents. She was known to eat anything and everything. Among her favorites were scrambled eggs and pancakes in the morning washed down with a fresh cup of coffee. She also loved sweets of all kind: cakes, cookies, even the hard chocolate bars that came with C-rations. When she got bored she was known to eat blankets, hats, even poker chips.
But her bravery under fire and her innate intelligence in numerous battles made her a hero. Learning each supply route after only a couple of trips, she often traveled to deliver supplies to the troops on her own, without benefit of a handler.
One of Reckless’ finest hours came during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March of 1953. This particular battle, according to one writer “was to bring a cannonading and bombing seldom experienced in warfare … twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble.” Reckless was in the middle of all of it.
In a single day during the battle, she made 51 trips on her own, carrying over 9,000 pounds of ammunition and walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies ignoring the sounds of battle as artillery exploded around her. When she returned to the ammo dump, she often carried wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns and the din of battle. She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line. Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down from carrying out her duties.
She was given the battlefield rank of corporal in 1953, and then a battlefield promotion to sergeant in 1954, several months after the war ended. She also became the first horse in the Marine Corps known to have participated in an amphibious landing.
Her military decorations include two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, all of which she wore proudly on her red and gold blanket.
Sgt. Reckless was a household name in the 1950s earing her media coverage that rivaled attention bestowed on other famous animals, including Lassie and Seabiscuit.
Her wartime service record, featured in The Saturday Evening Post, and LIFE magazine, recognized her as one of America’s 100 all-time heroes, alongside George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
When the war ended in 1953, she was retired and brought to the United States to live out her retirement years at Camp Pendleton. Her popularity continued where she made appearances on television and participated in the United States Marine Corps birthday ball. A horse so heroic during the Korean War, she was officially promoted to staff sergeant in 1959 by Gen. Randolph McC Pate, the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Seventeen hundred Marines marched in her honor during her promotional ceremony.
Sgt. Reckless was well cared for and treated as a VIP during her time at Camp Pendleton where she produced four foals. She developed arthritis in her back as she aged and injured herself on July 13, 1968, by falling into a barbed wire fence. She died under sedation while her wounds were being treated. At the time of her death, she was estimated to be 19 or 20 years old.
Although so famous in her day, she is mostly forgotten by history. Author and screenwriter Robin Hutton is doing something about that. Upon hearing the horses’ story for the first time, she got goose bumps. She is quoted as having said, “When I first heard of her story eight years ago, the first thing that came to my mind was why haven’t heard of this horse before? She should have had at least three movies done on her. But when I Googled her name, there was nothing on her. It was a travesty and I started writing a screenplay and later the book ‘Sgt. Reckless America’s War Horse.'” The book is due out in August. Documentary filmmaker Victoria Racimo is marketing it to HBO.
Racimo’s short documentary of Sgt. Reckless was shown at the 2014 Kentucky Derby and together with Hutton they succeeded in having a race named and run in her honor during the 8th race at Kentucky Oaks.
Robin Hutton also led the effort to see Sgt. Reckless immortalized in bronze. “I just thought she needed to have a monument so people would forever know who she was,” Hutton said.
A statue by sculptor Jocelyn Russell of Sgt. Reckless carrying ammunition shells and other combat equipment was unveiled on Friday, July 26, 2013, in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, one day before the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
There is a lock of her tail hair in the base of the statue.
BM2 Jeff Bridges
US Coast Guard
(Veterans – view more military profiles of famous people on www.togetherweserved.com)
Short Bio: Often a discipline problem at school, Jeff’s parents sent him to a military academy his freshman year of high school in order to teach him discipline, and take his mind off of girls. Upon graduation from University High School, Bridges followed in his brother Beau’s footsteps and enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserves with the help of his father’s Sea Hunt connections.
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WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
By the time I graduated from high school in 1962, young men either went to college or knew the draft would eventually catch up with them. My grades in high school were less than stellar and there were no expectations from teachers or family that I was “college material.” So, my best friend and I went to see an Army recruiter. We tentatively signed up as Nike Ajax Repairmen. As soon as the recruiter left the office to make copies of documents, the Air Force recruiter from the office across the hall walked in and invited us over to his office. Within the hour we signed papers to join the U.S. Air Force. The decision to join the Air Force for me centered around my concern that I might not have the mechanical ability to be a Nike Ajax Repairman, whereas the Air Force tested recruits for inherent and acquired abilities prior to job training and assignments. Who told the Army recruiter of our decision is lost to time, but I must admit the Air Force recruiter made a bold move. I’m thankful to this day he did so, as the Air Force tests demonstrated clearly that I didn’t possess an ounce of mechanical ability.
WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
After technical training as an Administrative Specialist at Amarillo AFB, my first assignment was at Donaldson AFB in Greenville, South Carolina with the 63rd Field Maintenance Squadron of the 63rd Troop Carrier Wing (MATS). I worked as a Security Clerk in the Orderly Room. Shortly after arriving at Donaldson, I learned the base would be closed and the 63d TCW moved to Hunter AFB in Savannah, Georgia. We closed down the Orderly Room in about April of 1963 and I was assigned as the 63rd FMS Mail Clerk at Hunter AFB. I transferred to the Aero Repair Branch on the flight line under the direction of CMSGT William G. Jones. When he transferred up to the Field Maintenance Office as Maintenance Superintendent, he took me with him. I essentially became the squadron resource on the Air Force Manual 39-62 and edited airmen and some officer performance reports before forwarding them to Wing Personnel. Due to the zero error rate on reports to Wing Personnel, I was asked to interview for an administrative position at the Office of Deputy Commander Material, 63rd TCW. Although selected for the job it was not very demanding and by the summer of 1965 I grew restless and bored with the job.
Personnel told me of an opening for a special assignment in the state of New Mexico. To apply required an intensive background check, an official Air Force photo session, work history and references. Intrigued, I joined the other candidates vying for the position. Selected for the position in April of 1965, I was assigned to the 1090th Special Reporting Group, an Air Force detachment at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sandia Base was from 1946 to 1971 a nuclear weapons installation of the Department of Defense and run by the Army. From April of 1965 until my discharge from active service at the nearby Kirkland AFB, I worked in a classified mail/record room that maintained a tracking system of secret and top secret documents.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
No, I spent my entire four years of active service in the U.S. The 63rd FMS and other squadrons under the 63rd TCW did provide early support operations to Vietnam and other areas of Southeast Asia. Then, the C-124 Globemaster was the only aircraft large enough to carry heavy military equipment into combat areas. Quickly, however, a newer transport aircraft took over the job and the C-124 soon phased out of operation.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
The one year I served at Sandia Base. The Sandia Base, Kirkland AFB and Albuquerque communities were quite unique. Both Sandia Base and Kirkland employed a large civilian workforce. Sandia Base, in particular was an eclectic community where civilians, Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force personnel worked side by side. Because Sandia was an Army base, an E4 (then A1C) in the Air Force was considered an NCO and could join the NCO Club. The Staff Sergeant who supervised me was not only a boss, but a friend. I often think of those months at Sandia Base and Albuquerque – it’s like the motto on the New Mexico license plate – truly a “Land of Enchantment.”
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
There were several such individuals, but if I must narrow the list down to one it would be CMSGT William G. Jones. I was a young and inexperienced airman when I joined him at the Aero Repair Branch of the 63rd FMS. Despite his rank and experience, he trusted my judgment and limited expertise. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I gained an immense degree of confidence and self-respect under his tutelage. I emulated his leadership style in my civilian work environments.
A wide variety of symptoms may be signs you are experiencing PTSD:
Feeling upset by things that remind you of what happened
Having nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event that make you feel like it’s happening all over again
Feeling emotionally cut off from others
Feeling numb or losing interest in things you used to care about
Thinking that you are always in danger
Feeling anxious, jittery, or irritated
Experiencing a sense of panic that something bad is about to happen
Having difficulty sleeping
Having trouble keeping your mind on one thing
Having a hard time relating to and getting along with your spouse, family, or friends
It’s not just the symptoms of PTSD but also how you may react to them that can disrupt your life. You may:
Frequently avoid places or things that remind you of what happened
Consistent drinking or use of drugs to numb your feelings
Consider harming yourself or others
Start working all the time to occupy your mind
Pull away from other people and become isolated
How can I help a friend or relative who has PTSD?
If you know someone who has PTSD, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do to help a friend or relative is to help him or her get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment for your friend or relative and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourage him or her to stay in treatment, or to seek different treatment if his or her symptoms don’t get better after 6 to 8 weeks.
To help a friend or relative, you can:
Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
Learn about PTSD so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing.
Talk to your friend or relative, and listen carefully.
Listen to feelings your friend or relative expresses and be understanding of situations that may trigger PTSD symptoms.
Invite your friend or relative out for positive distractions such as walks, outings, and other activities.
Remind your friend or relative that, with time and treatment, he or she can get better.
Never ignore comments about your friend or relative harming him or herself, and report such comments to your friend’s or relative’s therapist or doctor.
Reach out. Call a friend, family or someone you trust.
Friday morning February 2, 2008 was cold in Baghdad but since Friday is a big shopping day, shoppers crowded the markets throughout the city. At one of Baghdad’s most popular gathering places, the al-Ghazl animal market, hundreds of closely packed shoppers moved from stall to stall when suddenly and without warning, a huge explosion shattered the silence, killing dozens of Iraq’s.
Twenty minutes later, another bomb ripped through an open air market in south eastern Baghdad.
The two suicide bombers who carried out the attacks that ultimately killed 99 people were mentally challenged women with Down’s syndrome. The unwitting pawns were apparently fooled into wearing explosive vests which were then detonated remotely by mobile phones as the women mingled with crowds, killing 46 people and injuring 100 in the al-Ghazl explosion. In the second bombing at the smaller bird market in south-eastern Baghdad, 27 people were killed and at least 67 wounded, many dying later.
When it became apparent that Al-Qaeda terrorists had used women with the minds of children to carry out their suicide bombings, Iraqis were horrified and angry. The American commanders were equally upset, taking immediate action by preparing an attack on the Al-Qaeda cell responsible. A few days later, on February 4, 2008, a raid was executed on the terrorists’ compound.
Among the American Task Force raiders in the nighttime mission were two U.S. Navy SEALs: Chief Petty Officers Nathan “Nate” Hardy and Michael “Mike” Koch. As in any small, elite unit, the two were close friends, counting on one another to watch the other’s back. Both also came from families with a tradition of service. Hardy’s grandfather served with John F. Kennedy on PT-109 during WWII. Koch’s dad had a career in the U.S. Air Force and later, he and his wife became civilian contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nate Hardy was born December 28, 1978 in Cape Cod. He grew up in Washington and Pennsylvania and his family settled in New Hampshire in 1988. It was in high school where Nate, a star soccer and lacrosse player, made the decision to join the Navy and become a SEAL immediately after graduation. Nate joined the Navy in 1997, following in the footsteps of his two grandfathers, both Navy veterans. After graduating from BUD/s in May of 1998 with class 221, he was subsequently assigned to SEAL Team 8 out of Virginia Beach where he served from 1998 until attending U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group’s (DEVGRUs) Green Team selection course in 2007.
Michael E. Koch, born May 12, 1978 in Omaha, Nebraska, enjoyed adventures wherever his father’s military career took the family. Growing up, he learned to climb mountains, scuba dive and scale cliffs. During visits to his grandparents’ farm near Jersey Shore, he practiced rappelling by descending the silo. Family outings might include skydiving and snowmobiling.
He attended Penn State University, but left to enlist in the Navy in 1998. Joining the elite Special Forces was always his goal. He entered SEAL training in 1999. After graduating from SEAL training, Mike served in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Each man carrying out the late night mission had specific jobs to do. Nate was the second man on the stack to enter the enemy-held building. Upon breaching, Nate and the lead man, Mike, were ambushed by enemy small arms fire. Mike and Nate were immediately hit. Mortally wounded, Nate engaged and killed the enemy fighters while dragging his wounded teammate to safety. In his final moments in this world, Nate held on to life long enough to pull Koch to safety. He died that night of February 4, 2008 with his dying brother-in-arms Mike at his side. Also killed that night were the terrorists they had targeted.
At the time of his death, Nate was survived by his wife Mindy and his seven month old son Parker, his parents and brother. It was his fourth deployment in Iraq, according to his father, Stephen Hardy, a University of New Hampshire professor of kinesiology. His mother, Donna Hardy, is an administrative assistant in UNH’s psychology department.
Nate’s numerous awards and decorations included two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and a Defense Meritorious Service Medal. In addition to Iraq, he served in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Mike left behind his parents, Donald Koch, a 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran and Jean Ann Burkholder as well as his brother Matthew, who accompanied his brother’s body back to Virginia Beach, also served 6 years in the U.S. Navy and his younger sister, Tiffany. Mike and his sister were born on an Air Force base in Omaha, Nebraska, and Matthew was born on another base in New Mexico.
He also left behind his fiance, Kathy Howell of Virginia Beach. The couple was engaged for eight years.
During Mike’s career, he received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Joint Service Commendation Medal and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. In addition to fighting in Iraq, he also served in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
As they fought and died side-by-side, Mike and Nate are buried side-by-side each other at Arlington National Cemetery.
Actor 2nd Lt Jackie Coogan
US Army Air Corps
Short Bio: Best remembered as Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” TV series from the late 60s, Coogan enlisted in Army Mar 1941. After Pearl Harbor, requested transfer to Air Corps as a glider pilot. He was made a Flight Officer and volunteered for hazardous duty with the 1st Air Commando Grp. In Dec 1943, sent to India where, using gliders, airlifted Brit troops during the night aerial invasion of Burma, landing them in a small clearing 100 miles behind Japanese lines.
(Veterans – view more military profiles of famous people on www.togetherweserved.com)
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WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
I needed direction, structure and discipline in my life. My Father (an Army Korean War vet) died in 1988 and he always told me that “If you don’t serve your country, you have no opinion on anything that your country does”. That rang in my head and I realized that my immature ass needed to live up to that responsibility.
WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
— Parris Island – Boot Camp 2nd Recruit Training Bn Hotel Co.
— Camp Geiger – SOI East.
— Camp Pendleton – B 1/1 – rifleman, team leader, squad leader.
— Quantico – Marine Corps Intelligence Activity/Security Office – NCOIC.
— EAS – 1995, Reenlisted 2004.
— RS Columbia, SC – awaiting orders.
— Camp Lejeune – F 2/9 – squad leader, platoon Sgt.
— Parris Island – 3d Recruit Training Battalion, India, Quebec and Mike Co. –
DI, SDI, Series GySgt.
— Camp Pendleton – L 3/5 Company GySgt, 3/5 Police Advisor Team – 2 SNCOIC.
— San Diego – 2d Recruit Training Battalion – Series Chief DI.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
Operations Desert Shield/Storm – Saudi Arabia/Kuwait – Rifleman.
Operation Restore Hope – Mogadishu, Somalia – Team Leader.
Operation Iraqi Freedom – Baghdad, Iraq – Squad Leader.
Operation Iraqi Freedom – Baghdad, Iraq – Platoon Sergeant.
Operation Enduring Freedom – Sangin/Kajaki, Afghanistan – Company GySgt.
WHICH, OF THE DUTY STATIONS OR LOCATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED OR DEPLOYED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?
Every one of them hold fond memories for me but Camp Pendleton, in particular, holds many memories of me being a young snuffie from Columbia, South Carolina in SoCal and finding my way into manhood, independence, responsibility and maturity. Lifelong friends made there and i will always love the atmosphere there. Two tours on the drill field, one at PI, the other at SD, will also always be special since we shaped the future of the Corps on a daily basis while working ourselves to the bone doing it.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
Being an escort for our KIA from Iraq in 2005, PFC Lewis Calipini. I escorted his body home to Hawaii from Dover AFB then to his burial in the National Cemetery on Oahu. It is forever etched into my mind. 2/9 will not forget “Caterpillar”.
Finding out Sgt Roy was KIA in Afghanistan in 2009. I knew him as a PFC in 2/9 and knew he was going to be a hell of a Marine. He ended up in MARSOC and lost his life for his country when he was a Sgt/squad leader.
Sgt Tawney KIA in Afghanistan in 2010. A hell of a Sgt/Squad Leader and his wife was pregnant when we deployed. That will never leave my mind as well.
1stLt Byler telling me while I was carrying the stretcher to the medevac bird, “Gunny, make the pain go away!”. He made it but he lost both legs. I’ll never forget that.
Cpl Faust and LCpl Gallegos both WIA in Afghanistan and losing limbs but being okay. LCpl Barron and LCpl Billmeyer, both WIA in Afghanistan and lost limbs but won’t be forgotten by their Lima 3/5 brothers. Billmeyer told the Corpsman before he put him on the bird, “Tell Capt Murray that I said to fuck these bitches up for me!” Then he said, “My nubs hurt Doc!”. That’s the type of Marines who are in the Corps.
Doc Herrera stuffing gauze into Billmeyer’s stumps saving his life when the tourniquets wouldn’t take because it was too high up the leg.
LCpl Grosky WIA telling me while on the stretcher, “FUCK YEAH GUNNY, OOHRAH!” with his Achilles tendon blown apart and his right calf muscle gone.
LCpl Leasure, a hell of a SAW gunner, being shot through the leg. That tough bastard is okay.
LCpl’s Broehm and Pearson murdered by a rogue ANA soldier in cold blood while standing post. They were shot from behind. They had no chance. Putting them into body bags when Doc couldn’t save them.
2ndLt Kelly, the best Platoon Commander I’ve ever seen, blown away by an IED that was in a stream. He had no chance.
LCpl Litinski, triple amputee from an IED. LCpl Goebel shot through the neck and asking for a cigarette and a woman while on the stretcher awaiting medevac.
LCpl Mortinsen giving me a “pound” while on the stretcher with shrapnel wounds all over his left side from an RPG.
Cpl Pearson shot through the leg and being the tough bastard that he is. He’s fine and wishes that he was still with his boys doing their job.
LCpl Corzine, one of my favorites, losing both legs to an IED. He made it to Bethesda and hung on for three weeks. He died Christmas Eve 2010 with his mom and brother, LCpl Corzine (0311 with 2/5), by his side. He’ll coordinate Gunny’s working parties in heaven for me.
LCpl “Cafe” Laate wounded by shrapnel. He lost his left eye. He’s okay and he won’t have to hump that PRC-119 around anymore.
Cpl Montgomery lost both legs in an IED blast. Another one of our awesome Team Leaders and NCO’s. Monty will be missed.
Cpl Little, another tough bastard, shot through the arm and back on patrol as we speak. He’s what a Marine NCO is.
Cpl Wyatt KIA by gunshot wound in the head. I’ll miss talking baseball with you brother.
LCpl Parker, another tough, blue collar senior LCpl who LOVED my working parties. The kid works until he drops. Now he’s a triple amputee but his toughness will get him through.
Sgt Sherwood with shrapnel all over his arm. Wrong place at wrong time and the grenade found him, but he’ll make it too because he’s another tough motherfucker.
Sgt Kelly with shrapnel all over and in his ankle and not wanting to get on the bird. That doesn’t surprise me at all. Yet another tough Lima 3/5 bastard.
LCpl Long losing both legs and being more angry that he’s leaving than the pain he was in. Just a boot straight out of SOI to Lima 3/5 then straight to combat. A warrior.
SSgt Garcia getting shot through the face in one cheek, out the other with no teeth or tongue damage. A lucky Marine, big time. Cpl Ramirez dragging him behind the wall and patching him up in seconds because Doc was with another Fire Team too far away at the time. SSgt Garcia stood up with a bandaged head and continued to fire on the enemy all the way back to our consolidation point and insisted on walking to the medevac LZ. The last thing he said to all of us was, “I’ll be back in a week, what do you all want from the Camp Leatherneck PX? It’s on me, Marines”. Another 3/5 warrior.
LCpl Gilliam losing both his legs in an IED blast. Another tough bastard. Another one of those snuffies who could have been a Sgt. The kid barely talked, fought like a warrior and was always working. Cleaning gear, cleaning his MATV, saying, “How’s it going, Gunny?” and looking me in the eye waiting on my response because he had his Company Gunny’s back on all those resupply missions that I rode with him on. What a tough fucking kid.
LCpl Brown caught shrapnel in the face from an IED explosion. He’ll be okay. He’s a great kid who will pull through this with a smile on his face. I’ll get to continue to talk international soccer with him.
SSgt Voeller getting shot through the shoulder and staying the happy go lucky guy that he is afterwards. He’s a former recruiter who could sell you anything and that laid back mentality will pull him through anything, including his recovery. He came back to his Platoon 2 weeks later.
Sgt Amores getting blown up by an IED. Triple amputee but never knew what hit him. He didn’t suffer and that’s all that matters. A hell of a Marine, God rest his soul. RIP brother.
LCpl Flora, a former Silent Drill Platoon/8th and I Marine, getting hit twice in a month by an IED. The first time, a concussion, the second time getting some shrapnel and not wanting to be medevac’d. Yet ANOTHER tough Lima 3/5 bastard who refuses to go down regardless of the danger or his health. His Fire Team is all that matters to him.
All the Lima 3/5 Docs and 3/5 PAT-2 Docs who have saved lives with their work and fearlessness. And to the USAF and British medevac pilots who land those birds wherever we need them and get there fast as hell. And the Combat Engineers who take point for us, sweeping with their metal detectors, finding IED’s before they blow us up.
LCpl Maenza and LCpl Congilosi, both WIA Combat Engineers serving for us and with us side by side, and the Afghan Army and Afghan Police who fight right beside us. RIP Afghan soldier who was killed right beside a Lima 3/5 Marine on 23 Oct 2010 in Sangin, Afghanistan. The three Afghan Police officers who were wounded in Kajaki, Afghanistan from IED blasts while serving with us and beside us. One lost both legs and the other two took shrapnel. May they live a productive life. RIP Afghan Police officer who was killed in an IED strike in Kajaki, Afghanistan on 28 Dec 2010 while serving with us and beside us. RIP Abdul Hamid (Gangster), the Afghan Police officer who found over 50 IED’s while fighting side by side with us and pulling them out of the ground with his hands and disarming them. I’ll always remember your smile, your broken English and your all out mental toughness and determination to eliminate the Taliban from your country. They are good men and warriors.
Cpl Pyeatt from 2nd Radio Bn KIA on his first patrol in country. Killed by an IED in Kajaki. He didn’t suffer. He was with us on our patrol to intercept enemy radio chatter and he was fearless out there with that heavy comm intercept gear, doing his signal intelligence job with the grunts with no questions asked and no hesitation. Me and Cpl’s Bruce and Ramirez put him in the body bag in the wadi and we know he died being a Marine and he died in support of the 3/5 Grunts trying to make a difference in this hell hole.
Our Afghan interpreter, “Mikey”, screaming in agony from the IED blast that killed Cpl Pyeatt and the shrapnel that hit him in the ass and legs. We got him out of there with Cpl Pyeatt’s body on the medevac bird and he’s fine now.
Cpl Ferguson, Bravo Battery 1/10 dog handler, who goes out with us all the time, WIA from an IED that broke his ankle and tore up the other lower leg. His dog, Buckshot, is okay and Cpl Fergie was laughing and smoking a cigarette on the LZ waiting for his bird. Yet another tough bastard. We’ll miss him and Buckshot.
Cpl Evans WIA with two broken teeth from the IED that got Cpl Ferguson. Got his bell rung a bit too but he’ll be fine. Some rocks and shrapnel got him in the chops. We’ll miss “Reverend Evans” around here while he’s gone.
Sgt Finney, a Lima 3/5 warrior, took shrapnel to the face and is back on patrol. A tough Grunt bitch and a kid I’d go to hell with in a minute because we’d come back and laugh about it.
LCpl Goins, a quiet warrior, just like LCpl Corzine was. Shrapnel wounds and back to work already humping his M249 SAW. The kid says 5 words a day and will shoot Taliban in the face and go play spades. A damn Lima 3/5 Grunt.
Cpl Bruce losing both legs to an IED in Kajaki and telling us “make sure you get my IPOD to me. I can’t sit in the fucking hospital with no music”. A tough, proficient Squad Leader who was a lifer Grunt if I ever knew one. Absolutely lived the Infantry every day.
Cpl Roed getting a compound fracture from an IED in Kajaki and sitting there on morphine puffing on a cigarette asking if everyone else is okay. Fearless Point Man who’s luck ran out one day. Yet another tough bastard who won’t stay down.
God bless our fallen and wounded Lima 3/5 and 3/5 PAT-2 brothers.