My Explosive Journey into the battles, the ditches and the bombs in the Iraq War, our interview with Eric Herrera.
“A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him”, G.K. Chesterton.
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war with our Interview with Eric Herrera, with his Journey in Iraq with the United States Army is quite the adventure to say the least! Eric is now a US Army Veteran- Started as a Combat Engineer and now author of “a Bomb Hunter’s Story. A story about Eric and his unit clearing the roots through the Iraq war during 2 deployments. Very fascinating story of what military life in the Iraq war was like.
You won’t want to miss this one Y’all!! Eric shares his experience talking about how he came to join the army, what he learned from 2 deployments in Iraq clearing the roads of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Device), how he handled reintegration into civilian life and more.
So I’m very, very excited about our show today. You know, we focus on these real raw conversations for a reason with our listeners about their journey with our guests life changing event. And this was definitely a life changing event. For Eric. Your backup plan app puts your life all into one place. So for any unpredictable circumstance, I can’t even talk today, while taking that painful Aftermath out of a tragedy.
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war. What does that mean? Well, one thing you can count on is that you’re going to either get sick, get injured, get disabled, or pass away or lose everything and a tragedy or a disaster. It sounds very gruesome. But that’s life. And when you’re not prepared, that’s when things when basically when shit hits the fan, because when we have 1000 wildfires in British Columbia as of yesterday, and that, that that’s crazy because I believe they said on the news that we had 1200 all season last year. We’ve already just gotten through July. And we’re, we’re not even halfway through the season yet. So it’s crazy. And all we lost a town in British Columbia, a whole town got burned down. And these people did not even have a five minute evacuation. Notice. They basically jumped in their car and drove away while they still could. And so they lost everything. And some of them even lost their cars, as well. So some of them stayed to try to keep their homes. And it’s very scary. So I always feel that people are blessed if you’re given even a five minute evacuation notice. And listeners, what would you take with you?
If you were given five minutes? What could you grab? And what would you need for later, because all of your documents, all of your items, you know, you’re going to have insurance claims later on, you’re going to have all sorts of issues that you may need something that’s in that home, and of course was Surfside in Florida, with the condo collapse a few weeks ago, there was many deaths, and many survivors of that condo collapse as well. But they also weren’t very lucky in being able to take anything with them. So I want to, you know, really put that through to you guys that sometimes we’re not given five minutes in a car accident.
Or as Eric’s gonna tell us being blown up. You’re not given five minutes notice and say, Hey, hold on a second, I want my five minutes before anything happens. doesn’t work that way. And sometimes we have to be prepared for the unexpected, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. So let’s get this party started. I’m going to bring on Eric Herrera, and introduce him to everybody. Welcome, Eric. Thank you for having me. Oh, you’re welcome. I’m so excited for this show. As you know, I’m a military brat. And grew up for 30 years, with my dad’s years in the force in the army as well. And so I know some of the lingo only because the guys that used to dance with me would ask me who my dad was before they would dance with me. And I always used to, you know, basically, okay, let’s, let’s go, let’s not tell them the truth, because then they won’t dance with me. So, I did my time in Germany. And I understand that you did too.
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war. And I’m so excited to hear your story. Eric has been out of the military. Now. He’s a US Army veteran. He started as a combat engineer, and now an author of a bomb hunter story. Very fascinating story of what military life in Iraq War was like, you don’t want to mess this story, everybody. Eric shares his experience talking about how he came to join the army. And what he learned from his two deployments in Iraq, clearing the roads for IEDs, which are improvised explosive devices on how he handled reintegration into civilian life, which is really tough for a lot of military guys. Because you, you almost have to find what you’re good at what you know, from being in the military to what you can do in the outside world. And sometimes that’s a little bit difficult. So when private Eric Herrera began his military journey, he started at the bottom like they all do. Basic Training, gave him the courage to do things. Better basic training in military life. And I understand in the RCMP, as well as in the police force in Canada is very similar, where they really yell and scream at you. But I’m so excited to hear your story, Eric. And do you want to start from the beginning of when you first joined and tell us all how that journey went for you?
Yes, so I graduated high school in 2004. I played a lot of sports. So that team atmosphere gave me a lot of that structure. Went to Northern Illinois University. And I did participate. If you want to put it that way. I was more interested. In the party life and just hanging out with friends, I never really attended class, I ended up getting kicked out in Northern Illinois University. My mother gave me an ultimatum, go to community college, get a job, live at home. I really did not want to do that. I had a couple of friends at the time, decided to go into the military. And I decided, Hey, why don’t I go look into it as well. I didn’t want to go infantry because I knew my mother would kill me. But picking the child that I picked was probably far away worse than infantry at the time. So when you when you went into it, did you have the choice of what area you wanted to go into?
Yeah, I looked at combat engineer. But the description for combat engineer when I came in was building fortifications and clearing minefields. As a kid, I like building things. And I thought, Hey, why don’t I try that out. But when the Iraq war happened, that job description changed, because that description before was mainly for World War Two and Vietnam soldiers. When I was coming out, the military decided to use COMBAT engineers, because we knew what explosives look like, different types. So we were best suited to find IDs. Oh, cool.
There must be so much training and how they? Well, they must continue to try to hide them. Right? We’re jumping the gun here a little bit. But it’s interesting, because they must have always continued to try to trick you didn’t they?
change it up a bit. Yeah. Also, we also need called breachers.
So one of our other jobs was able to get into things. So we were trained to build certain explosives to breach obstacles. So we kind of know what to look for. That was one of the main training, but yeah, trying to trick us the different things that they would use. To build these ideas were somewhat impressive and the ingenuity behind it was a little bit scary, with fine ideas with cell phones, beepers, garage door openers, lead pressure wires, so there would be Christmas lights, maybe across the road, which would look out of place and became more evolved with fps, which were lasers that were used to detect heat. So anything that went by it, such as our vehicles would set off IEDs. How they disguise these things were quite incredible, there would be chunks taken out of the curb. So they would take a chunk of the curve out, mold the ID into the curve and place it back into it. Dead dogs would even be used to hide IDs, and Iraq, a lot of trash piles. So they would hide these trash pile, hide these IDs in the trash piles. But we were so used to being out there that we would actually memorize these trash piles. So if anything was out of place, we would actually get into it and nine times out of 10 there would be something there.
So from where the story started, you joined and you thought, hey, as as you know, guy who came out of high school, basically, that sounds like fun, I guess is what your thought was. So where did you train in the United States at one of the military basis.
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war. I did my basic training nit in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Since I’m from Chicago, it’s not too far away. It’s maybe like a 45 minute plane ride. But that’s I spent 16 weeks there. And basic training was a little rough for me because during college, I guess gained a lot of weight. So I’m talking like 6364, but I was about almost 280 pounds. So I was almost about 100 pounds from the standards of the military. But during basic training or 16 weeks, I ended up losing about 70 pounds. Yeah, cuz they work too hard. Yeah. And just I built more confidence, being in basic training. And then they gave me my decision to join a duty station. So one of them was I picked Germany and ended up in Frankfurt, Germany,
which everybody is near Frankfurt. So I did my time in Germany as well. I was just south of France. firt but used to go to the army base a lot, the American army base quite a bit. Theirs was always bigger and better than ours. Canadians never really had too much. We were always the helpers to the Americans. We were never really the even now, you know, what do we have one navy ship and a few planes? I don’t know. But we don’t have much compared to what you guys have. So it took you over to Germany for more training. I assume you were over there for twice. For once.
Yeah, so I ended up in Schweinfurth. Fall of oh five. The unit was just forming. And it was one of the last combat engineer battalions. So battalions made up maybe about 500 soldiers, usually combat engineers are distributed between squads to infantry units. But we were one of the very last combat engineer units. So a lot of soldiers from Bamberg, words Berg. Think Nurnberg as well. And us new recruits coming in from the states all came to Schweinfurth. Because that’s what they were gearing up for, for our deployment. But we kept on getting pushed back from our deployments. And it was getting a little bit weird. But there’s reasons behind that that we found out later on.
And did you do the training before you went to Iraq, then in Germany for preparation?
So yeah, the big training base in there is Hohenfelds and Griffinworth. Now, it’s a big hub for us installations. But yeah, the graphic here and Hans felts are up in the mountains. So it was a little bit nerve wracking, because every time we would go train, it’d be in the middle of winter. So it’s a negative 10 degrees and we’re training to be an environment that’s 100 plus degrees. So it was kind of hard to replicate what we would do. We’ve made best of what we had.
How about the training with keeping up with the the electrical part of what they could keep doing with these explosives? Did that assist you in Germany with trying to train for that part?
Yes, and no. A lot of ideas that we would practice with were from artillery shell rounds or mortar rounds. But the ingenuity behind it all. I mean, nobody’s even chlorine bombs, propane tank bombs. And it wasn’t until we got to Kuwait. We did some training, and we were actually trained by English and Canadian soldiers, with the equipment that we were going to have to use during our deployments.
So the Canadians do know something. So what about So you went from Germany with the training? And then you did you come back to United States and then go to Iraq? Or did you go right from Germany to Iraq, I was, I was a brand new private, so I didn’t have the time to go back. But since we got delayed more and more, there was a time period where I was able to go back for me about a week and a half before the deployment because we then ended up deployment, deploying until almost the end of summer, beginning of fall of oh seven, or about six.
Which down the road, we found out that it was more of kind of a power power deployment, the deployment would put, I guess, more accolades under higher leadership’s belts. So they were kind of forcing the deployment, which pushed the training and a lot of units weren’t prepared. My first deployment. It was named the most deadliest deployment from any European unit. Oh, it’s a little controversial thing with it all. But I explained in my book that it was more of power plays, then. reasoning, reasoning. Yeah. Um, so you flew over to Iraq, I guess. And you arrived. Did you Go somewhere else. Like, did you have a couple stops before you arrived in Iraq?
Now my duty station was Baghdad, my first deployment. So Baghdad has the large, largest base that’s there. That’s where the Baghdad airport is. And where the main hub of also Iraqi troops were, as well, that would train.
Okay. So did you go with their same training group that you were with? In Germany, too? They’re the same brothers that you worked with them?
Yes. And no, that was another thing that kind of happened with us was that we did a field rotations are usually about 60 days. So you train with the soldiers, 60 days non stop, you sleep in the same quarters, everything. And maybe a week or two before we left for Baghdad, the unit decided to move soldiers around. So the whole 60 days was almost kind of a waste about training with knowing how guys work. What are their specific jobs, that really all went out the window on a lot of us were really upset with that, then it was just another the rail and the deployment, right? It’s like having a team when you’re training with them, why wouldn’t you bring the team to go win? Right? It makes sense instead of breaking them up. And but so you arrived in Baghdad, and what happened from that point?
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war. We got attached to a unit that was there for the year. And so what would happen is that we would take over their vehicles. Being common engineers were in these specialized vehicles called RG 30. ones. There were South African vehicles that were a little bit more bond resistant. They had V shaped halls, they were kind of deteriorate, deflect shrapnel, things like that. But our main vehicle was called a buffalo I actually have a miniature model of it.
Oh, cool. Okay, so it’s like, kind of like a big Jeep poor?
No, this, this vehicle is about 20 to 30 feet high, and about 50 feet long. So I mean, on the back, you see there’s a ladder, you actually have to climb into this vehicle. So this vehicle is a lot more bomb resistant. And our main weapon as combat engineers, is this crane that we have on the front. And this crane could hold maybe about 200 to 250 pounds. So if we ever found anything that was buried, or we had to move stuff on the road, we would use this crane to move things around and make a decision on if it’s actually an ID or not. This was our main weapon. And this is what a lot of these surgeons would try to break down before anything else.
Oh, I see. So it’s kind of like the outside of a tank because it’s kind of more bomb resistant than to.
And I’m getting a little bit ahead as my second deployment came, they developed more armor for these vehicles and to help protect them more. Well, that must be kind of cool, though. Yeah, but we, we’ve seen a lot of damage that happened to these vehicles with larger explosives. So that part’s not so cool. That they said that they were bomb resistant. Most of the time that wasn’t. Oh, so that’s the way we ended up losing a couple of soldiers, my first deployment.
I’m sorry to hear that. So going back to your first deployment to Iraq, did you call the new guys anything? Because I know my dad used to. He did his time in Egypt. And he was part of the United Nations section. And they used to have a name for the newbies that came to Iraq. Did you guys have a name for newbies?
There’s different names. A lot of them are a lot of vulgar names. So yeah, it’s they would if there was new guys that actually came in while we were deployed, they would get most of the crap details or had to put in the most work because they were fresh.
So kind of like when you go to a team, the new the newbies, get all the shit jobs. I guess basically, pretty much. Yeah. So you landed in Baghdad, this must have been all very, very eye opening for you because you’re you were really new at this. What was your feeling? When we land? The first is when we landed in Kuwait. And it was the middle of the night. And they opened up the doors to the plane then nothing but sand and that he just hits you like instantly. It was like a almost like a breeze in the middle of the night. Like a furnace. Yeah. And but it wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t humid. It’s just the heat of it all was just the worst part of it. So I mean, working in conditions are a little bit rough. And you’re hoping that the AC is working that day?
Yeah, well, you have a lot of uniform stuff on to so although they always say it’s better, but I don’t know how because you’re so hot underneath it when it’s so hot out. But me being a bigger guy. I was mostly the gunners for a lot of our vehicles. So I wouldn’t be on top of the vehicle with 50 cows or any other type of weaponry that we had. Only half my body’s inside. So I’m half my body’s cold and the other half was hot. But they were trying to protect gunners a lot more. And some of it got kind of ridiculous. They wanted us to put in bomb resistant suits. And me being me, I volunteered they put me in this bomb suit. And they try to put me in a gun hatch of a regular Humvee. And I couldn’t even get into it because it was just so bulky. And me being bigger, it was a lot worse. And so during both of my deployments, they kind of made us wear certain things, we had to wear more capital or pads on our shoulders, they were trying to make us wear visors like visor shields. I know my second deployment, I had to wear a harness. So I wore this huge body harness that would attach to the floor of the vehicle. So just a lot of times, these higher explosives would go off, and sometimes the gunners would be shut out of the hatch. And they would end up falling 20 feet up in the air and hitting the ground. So this harness was designed to keep me inside of the vehicle was more I’ve never really liked the harness I I still have some psychological issues with that about things being around my neck. Being close, I mean, I can’t wear sure shirt and ties because then I start sweating and hyperventilating. But for the last year and a half. I’m slowly getting out of those things.
Yeah, cuz it would kind of feel confined and claustrophobic kind of right?
Yeah, I would have to wear a neck guard with my body armor, and then having that harness, which just keep everything tight and having my helmet and everything is just a lot of it just was really uncomfortable.
me to be a robot in those cases, I guess. But they wanted you to be does it actually work? Was it ever tested.
It would restrict a lot of movements because I’d be attached. So it’s kind of like a seatbelt. So if you’re in an accident, it tightens up so you really can move. So if you really do want to move all of a sudden, you might like strain yourself a little bit in the legs. And I did that a lot trying to get up but I think it would be an impact and I get like pains in my legs all of a sudden just because of that pullback.
Right. So for everybody. I did right what a gunner is. Where do I have it now? is responsible to surveillance target acquisition and direct fire to engage the enemy. Is that right? Good. I get it right. Pretty good. Okay. So what were you ever in tanks? Did you guys ever have to do the tank thing?
We as I said before, we were the only one of the last combat engineer units. Another unit that was in the area was from Fort Hood. And they actually had combat engineers attached to their infantry unit. They weren’t really doing much with them. So they came over and helped us out and they did have Bradley tanks so they would take take them out on their missions. Our schedule was basically morning mission, afternoon mission and a night mission. So it’s three units and every two weeks we would rotate days afternoons and nights and We would do these missions, six days a week, so once a day, for maybe up to eight to 12 hours a day, and we would actually be going five miles an hour down the road, looking out the window, trying to find these IDs. A lot of units knew who we were just by our vehicles alone, but how slow we were going and most of the time, we would come across units that would come behind us, and they realize who we are. And they would stay behind us as long as they could to wherever they were going. Because they knew that we were the ones that were finding the IEDs and that they would be safe. Was there regular people around? like regular Iraqis? And in Baghdad? Yes. So I mean, it’s, they have their main centers and some suburbs and things like that. But yeah, there was constantly people around, but you don’t know where the bombs are going to be, too, you know, we don’t. So even if you’re in town, you don’t know, if you’re set up or not, there are subtle signs that we wouldn’t notice. If the area was just completely flooded with people, we knew that there was a very slim chance that there would be an IED, sometimes we’d be going down a certain road, and you notice that the people are gone, or there’s no cars driving anywhere, then you kind of know that the neighborhood knows that there’s something there. And that we have to be more vigilant.
So tell us about Did you ever see lot I might I know my dad used to come home and say there was lots of kids in the red in the middle of the road street tour, waving them down and asking them for money and food? And did you ever come across stuff like that?
And Baghdad? Yeah, there’s kids everywhere. So a lot of them asking for candy. So some of us would have bags of candy would throw some out for them. Sometimes people would ask for water would throw, they’d always go around with cases of water just in case we ever got stranded anywhere. Sometimes we’d throw them out. But I mean, a lot of the times we’re out so often that we would recognize certain people because we would see them every day. So we never really developed relationships with them. But we knew that it was more kind of a safer area, or we knew what was going on. Right? Because you’re more familiar with it. What was the Is there a worst time morning noon or night? Is there a scarier time to do that shift.
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war. Nighttime is most the most active, that’s when they’re usually going out and placed in these IDs. But real dangerous, actually, after we leave an area. So the roads have certain codes. So green is the road is completely safe. Right? The road is red, which is it’s still danger, but not so dangerous. And then there’s black where only certain units could go on black roads. And we were one of the units on black roads because we had the best equipment. So when we’re going down the road, the road does turn green, but only after 100 yards, then it turns back to red. So a lot of times after we would pass a certain area. That’s when they would place the IDS because we were gone and they think that we’re not going to come back so this is gonna be the perfect time to play something. That’s what usually happened.
Oh, they’re tricky, aren’t they? So what was your experience when you did? Did you ever have to when you found the explosive anything ever happen? With your guys like, Oh, you stay in the vehicle? Do you get out?
No, we stay in. So if we ever came across everything, we would have to make sure the area’s safe, make sure no one goes near them. And what we would have to do what we call the EOD unit. So they’re the disposal units. So they would come out and depending on where we were at, if we’re far from the base, sometimes it takes them an hour, two hours just to get to us. So as the deployment was going on, we were finding more and more ideas and we requested that these EOD units come on mission with us. And a lot of them they were really against it because they didn’t even want to be out there. But I mean, well, we’re gonna call you out here anyways, so we’ll come witness and get it over with Wayne never win more than two days without finding something our unit alone found 126 IDs. And that’s not including the ones that were fake or the one that had blown up on us. Wow. So when did you find the one that blew up on you guys? In your first deployment to Iraq or your second? My our first, so that was happening so often that me myself, I’ve been blown up twice, but a lot of my fellow soldiers have been blown up three, four times. And we’ve lost four soldiers, my first deployment, and then also a couple of others that were severely injured that couldn’t continue mission. Wow.
That’s awful, isn’t it? So what was that? Like? What was your first experience of what happened that you guys got blown up? It’s more of a, like, Did that really happen type of thing. Because then you see the flash. And then you hear the boom, like a second later. So we were so used to it that when we saw the flash, we were able to think fast enough, that would be like, Oh, shit, and then the boom comes. A lot of times, it would maybe damage our vehicle a little bit. And we would continue mission. Sometimes we would have to assess it a little bit more, or sometimes the vehicle got damaged, and we have to tow the vehicle back.
Our area was so was such a hotspot, that our unit actually had a to, to blow up policy. So if we got blown up on mission, and we had and we were fine, we continue mission. If we blew up and our vehicle was broken, we had to bring the vehicle back, and then go back out right away. Oh, no. But during that time, it’s maybe like two hours. So you add two hours on top of the mission. So if we got blown up that second time, then there say okay, you could cancel the mission and come back. You don’t have to go the rest of your life. But right. It’s it was just so bad. My first deployment, that’s when also Bush had his his surge. So he brought in maybe like 10 20,000 new troops and because and we felt that too. I mean, we we had to be out there more often because there was a units moving around more and more. And it just got real busy. Wow, geez, what were the tires like tanks then? Or like, you can’t, because otherwise the tire would normally blow up as well. Right?
Now the tanks have the tracks. So yeah, I mean, I mean, this this tire alone, maybe it comes up to my thumbs up to my chest. And I’m six foot four. So I mean, they’re they’re huge tires and way, way a ton too. So I mean, it’s it’s heavy.
Yeah, I remember as a kid, getting, we got to ride in one every summer. That was our summer treat. We got to use a tap get in a tank or something. Oh, hold on one sec. I’m gonna fix the window here.
Too much noise out there. Alright, so we only got the fun part of writing and when we didn’t have to worry about blob bombs or anything. So when you heard it, did you? You didn’t see it first, obviously. But sometimes you did pick up on it. And did you use laser and everything like that too, to find them.
So the head of the convoy would be the most the vehicle that was ahead of the Congo, we’d be most vigilant. So if they saw some suspicious, then we would stop. We would have the buffalo I showed you earlier would come up look at it. If there was nothing, then we would continue mission if there was something that we would have to call it in. Even if it was fake. We couldn’t just say, we know it’s fake. We can’t continue we have to have the EOD guys come out and check it, dispose a fake ID. But most of the times when these fake IDs would be put out there would be blatantly obvious so they just be in the middle of the road. But the main reason for that was that most of the time we were being videotaped. Later on we would we got an infantry unit came up to us and said, Hey, we found a cache and we found a lot of videos of your unit. So that razor the hairs on your back knowing that people are watching you. But at the same time we knew that we’re actually Making a difference and making an impact on a situation
did did also gonna say when you first got bombed and you were all in the vehicle, what happened to you? What did you feel like because in the blink of an eye basically that’s what happens. Like you said it goes, you see the flash and then you hear the you only have a second to think not even the first time I’ve been was blown up. I didn’t even notice it happened I I was in the back of the vehicle I was in Berlin, my lieutenants vehicle. So I was monitoring a lot of the computers that were going on. And all of a sudden I ended up on the floor and fell dust. In my lungs. I was coughing, and I just really did not realize what happened.
And then all of a sudden I’m like, Oh, crap, we just got hit. And it was us. My first reaction was to go to the front of the vehicle, because check on everybody. Because I couldn’t really see anything because of all the dust and everything grabbing grabbing the gunner driver, my LTS I everyone’s Okay, he’s a Yeah, we’re fine. But a lot of times what would happen was every, we when we get blown up, so for some reason, the comms, the communications, and that vehicle would go down. So other vehicles that we’re trying to get in contact with us couldn’t, we couldn’t they couldn’t hear us it was what happened was most of the time. So then we go through our procedures of thinking mass casualty because no one is answering. So all we see is the vehicles moving along the windows they’re trying to look in. I try to get to the back of the vehicle, because they actually fit those RG is the only way in and now was the back door. So I had to open up the back door tried to give the thumbs up as they could that were good. But a lot of the times when we did get blown up and we didn’t have any injuries, it was always the guys that would see see that. And then all of a sudden they think, okay, we better stop and all of a sudden it blows up. And that is they think like I should have called out sooner as they get kind of upset with yourselves. I would say this is like the sick part of it all is that we we actually laugh about it afterwards, even though it’s a serious situation. But that’s the only way that we can psychologically get through it. If we laugh about it later, right? That’s the only way we’re able to get through not to dwell on it. And it’s a little sickening, but that’s what we had to do.
Well, yeah, I guess that’s your life. So it’s kind of like a video game or something. like playing a video game and oh, that got me. And you laugh about it and move on, I guess. Right? Yeah, that’s the best you could do. And how was the first experience for you to you came out, okay. And everybody was alright, in the vehicle. Everyone’s alright. As I was talking about that, too, blew up blown up policy. Our vehicle was down. So we had, we had to go back and get a new vehicle. We got back to our motor pool, our medic was checking us out. He said that you want to go, you want to go to the CCP. So that’s the casualty collection point or the hospital. And we’re like, no, it’s like, I’m fine. I might just got the wind knocked out of me a little bit. Because the idea is if you actually get injured, and you go to the CCP to be treated, you’re you’re actually automatically awarded a Purple Heart. So the Purple Heart is for getting injured in wartime. And a lot guys have us in the vehicle, we did not want to do that we’re not going to I’m not I’m not going to go to the CCP for headache when there’s other guys losing their lives or limbs or anything like that. Right. So I turn that I turn that down along with the others. What was so what was so interesting about that night was is that we didn’t have any more or any art any more orgies.
So the LT had to go in a Humvee and I was kind of the odd man out because I would be kind of useless. So I told by Lt says you could go back you go back to your room and and just chill out and wait for us to come back. As they told me you know what’s there I can’t do that. Because if I do that, then the next mission I can’t go back out. So I said, I’ll go in the Buffalo. There’s an extra chair in the buffalo go in there. He says, All right, go ahead. I must have been on edge the entire night just sitting in that buffalo because we would we would find another ID later that night. And I actually got up out of my seat and ran to the back of the vehicle trying to get away from it. And the guys were like, what are you doing? Where are you going? I was like, I just had this thing where I had to get away. It was just a reflex. But yeah, it’s just that was it because you weren’t used to that vehicle. Do you think that’s it was I mean, I just got blown up maybe a couple hours earlier. I didn’t want to get blown up again. So yeah, running away from this situation? I don’t. It was like a little blackout moment that I had. Yeah. It was a little bit funny. But I mean, at the same time, it’s something that’s like, bury my head. Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, that the rest of the night, I was kind of like sitting on the chair. Just a little nervous. But I knew I had to be out there. Because if I didn’t go back out there, I would have been even worse wreck. Mm hmm.
Yeah. Cuz you’d be wondering, because they are your family? Aren’t they? Really? When you’re there? did what was your was did both of those bombs that hit you? Um, were they in the first deployment? Or was that in your second?
Oh, it was my my first deployment. During our first deployment, we had a lot of incidences where we did lose soldiers. We lost them on two separate times. One actually happened on Christmas Day of Oh, six. It’s still a little bit upsetting now from a lot of us, because we were actually protesting against a Why are we going out on Christmas Day? No, no other units in the area were actually out that night. And they were telling us that we had to go out there. So we were kind of what’s the point of going out there if there’s no going not going to be anybody there, right. But they insisted we had to go. And so we went. That night, we ended up getting hit by an ENFP that I told earlier. So it’s the FP is a laser that detects heat. And then these DFP is there’s like these copper route copper cylinders that are made about 12 inches in diameter. And depending on how they make it, they can be between three, four, we’ve seen some 12. But this one ended up being three, and it hit our front vehicle.
And we lost our gunner, the driver, and the TC. So the guy that was in the front of the vehicle, another soldier was in there, he ended up getting severely wounded, he ended up losing the vision in his eye and a lot of shrapnel in the arms and legs. Kind of the first. Like, this is real type of thing. Hearing that hearing over the radio, the K was really surreal. And it was just, it hits you. And I’ll never forget that hearing that over the radio. And that night I was in my LTS vehicle. So I heard a lot of the chatter between us. And the other units we were trying to get to help us. Unfortunately, we were actually kind of left out there then a lot of things happen that I explained in my book, a lot of things just kept happening, never get wrong, got the situation worse and worse. And we were calling for help and no one was helping us we were pretty much stranded out there for maybe about eight hours by yourself, trying to get people to come and help us. People either just ignored us or they made up an excuse why they couldn’t come. We’re fortunate enough to have a have an aviation unit come out and help us with security because I was also a gunner. And we only had another vehicle that had a gun on it. So me and the other gunner we have to pull it 180 degrees security. So he’s got one side I got the other so and even being at night, it was just draining just having the weight there. And like being on guard then is that being on brand making sure known columns, but this is and there’s really hardly any street lights on. The vehicle that ended up getting hit ended up catching on fire. We ran out of fire extinguishers, we couldn’t put out the fire. So for those eight hours, we actually had to watch this vehicle burn with some of our brothers inside of it. Oh, gosh, the one thing that I will never forget. And it took me so long to actually say this was the smell. Actually the smell of human flesh burning. Yeah. And just smelling that death. still hasn’t left me to this day. And it’s just something that I couldn’t save for maybe about 10 years. Yeah, writing in the book, all the emotions, I had just lifted all that pressure.
Mm hmm. It, I guess when you talk about it, it’s it helps to relieve that. But you can’t get that vision and smell out of your mind. And the powder dust I guess. And the that smell comes from that burning? Must be horrible. That’s,
yeah, so at the same time, so we used 50 caliber machine guns, the rounds are very large. And there was a lot of them inside that vehicle. So we would have to take cover because the 50 Cal rounds are going off because it was so hot. So often the vehicles making sure that we don’t get hit. And it was just it’s like you can’t win. No, it wasn’t until early on the next morning. Our first sergeant decided to save fuck this, he actually went and knocked on people’s doors saying Come with me. We’re gonna go get them. And they finally came out that morning. But the damage was so severe to that vehicle that they needed a lot of equipment to put it on a flatbed. So we’re actually there for maybe like another hour and a half of them trying to recover. And if we were probably one of the fathers out there, and we’re northeast Baghdad. So I mean, it was a long trek in going five miles an hour just to get back might have been another hour, hour and a half. Yeah. coming in. It was just the just, I was just completely drained. I mean, we really couldn’t say anything to each other. All we could do was just look at each other. And they wanted us to go in and give our reports. They had all the chaplains there. It was just, they wanted us to read to give our accounts write it down and everything. And it was just real draining. And the thing that set us off the most was our unit told us that we have to go back out there that night, that same day, go back to where it happened. And at that point, we were just we just kind of said no, we’re not doing that and fought against it. And they said, Alright, we’ll give you will give you a day rest. So they gave us a day, right? This is the next day you have to go back to that spot. And what was that purpose? Because there’s going to be more explosives, they figured it’d be more. And they wanted us to see in the daytime, what it looked like, and leaving the gate that day. I don’t think my asshole was so puckered up that it was actually hurting me. It was just I didn’t even want to go back out there. Because just going through that experience again was just horrifying.
Your whole body just like shuts down. Yeah. Did what do you think hit that truck? Was it something thrown at it? Or was it actually that the truck went over it?
It was an ENFP. So it was it was three copper cylinders about 12 inches in diameter. One ended up going through the gas tank, which ended up starting to fire. Another one went through the side and I believe another one went through through the side of where the passenger and driver were. So it ended up hitting the passenger went through him and killed the driver instantly. And that’s what we assessed from it. I see Also, during that night when we were pulling security I had my night vision. So I was surveilling the buildings and found these two big bright lights on top of one of the buildings. And I was like that’s a little weird. So I Take my thermals off, there’s actually no lights. So I put my thermals back on, but I still still see these two big, bright lights. And I’m wondering what the heck are these bright lights, all of a sudden, these lights stand up. And there’s two people, what they were doing, they were leaning over the edge, and they were pulling the wire from the ID to get rid of the evidence. So I told my lt there to combat and so I shot the two combatants. In my mind, I know I got them. But things were happening that night where one of the infantry units went to the wrong building. And they said they’d never found anything. So it was never really confirmed on this day if I got him or not. But I know in my heart that no, I gotten what’s that like shooting somebody like that? It must feel kind of good in a way. It did relieve me in some way. I don’t have any regrets from that night. And I will never have any regrets because I know what I did. And so I engage the enemy. If you asked me that question, before the military, I might have a different answer. But being in that’s something that I mean, we were trained to do. So. Yeah, really just second nature at the time.
Especially after having hurt some of your guys, you’re Yeah, you’re just like, I’m gonna get them.
And well, what trouble me most was, is that a lot of the families of the soldiers that that passed, never actually really knew what happened that night, they were told snippets, I was under the impression that they actually got to read the whole report of what happened because we had to actually write the reports, I was told that they never got any of that they just said, maybe like a brief description of what happened. And it was cause of death by ID strike. So they never really knew what happened, which kind of made me more upset and was one of the reasons why I wanted to write it. Even though I gave my account of what happened, and they didn’t want to say the truth, I’m going to tell the truth. I’ll tell you what happened. Like it or not, but as I said, you’re gonna have to answer for something a lie that you might have told, I’m not gonna lie.
Yeah. So your would have Afghanistan be kind of the same similar story as where you were,
Afghanistan would be a little bit more different. I mean, there are cities, but a lot of what was going on was in the middle of nowhere. So a lot of the ideas would be deep buried IDs. So there would be very deep under the ground. We rarely had that because we were actually on concrete streets, there might be an occasion where there might be one that they hide underneath the sewer, and hide it underneath. We’ve only had a couple of occasions where that happened. It was never really happened to us, but it did happen to some other units.
Did they ever hide something like explosives around women to draw to draw them? We never came across anything like that. We were always afraid, as I said that they would put IDs and, and dead dogs. It was kind of obvious that there was something in them because you got this dog that’s inflamed. But we were always afraid. They would put IDs under dead people. I mean, it would be a lot of occasions where we would come across civilians that were lying on the road that were killed by insurgents, or just because they talked that something or something you never know, I guess.
Yeah, that and a lot of times we would come across kids. I know an incident we came across a school yard. a sniper ended up shooting the kid in the in the playground area before school, and all the kids were standing around. One of the rules was is that US forces weren’t allowed to touch. lack of a better word dead Iraqis. It was considered in the Muslim religion that if a non Muslim touched a dead Muslim knows to consider desecrating the body. So the best we could do was report it and have the authorities come, but sometimes these bodies would be left there for maybe three days. I mean, we came across one that was there for about a week and a half. just laying there because they were too afraid to pick them up because what was happening was, if they weren’t coming, there would be a sniper there that would shoot the people that would help. It was desecrating the body being in the sun for a week and a half. So, I mean, that was a little thing that I really was against. Because I mean, I know it might be we think it’s desecrated by really, do you want your family member laying in the streets for days? Yeah. I mean, I’m just the oversight. Maybe you can look over that. But I mean, that’s what it was.
But you don’t know if they have another plan? around it, right. So sometimes, sometimes we would have to use that crane to move on, because we never knew if there was an actual ID or maybe they put their needs are a little smaller, was underneath them. So a lot of the times we had to make that hard decision to move on with the crane. And we you would see it from the people, they would get pushback because we’re moving the body like well. I mean, that’s something that we have to do. But I mean, as bad as it looks, or something we had to do, if and to keep civilians safe as well.
Right? And did you see women getting hurt to them? I guess that personally, I know. There was a how there was one house that was next to the base. And we would always honk the horn because the house was filled with women. And they would always come out and say hi, because we would see them every day. later down the road, we heard that surgeons went in there and blew the house up. We weren’t sure if the women were in there. There was also another thing there was a lot of schools were women, like high school age, girls and college too, were going to the schools, they would have a lot of security outside the schools, but then they would try to get in the schools and load them up or because you saw more and more of the women almost kind of wearing Western wear. So like skirts and blouse, and they would have their hijab on but I mean, it was more Western wear than just having the whole cloth outfit on. Yeah, a lot of people are extremists, we’re more we’re worried about that. And I mean, that’s, that’s a civil war between them. really does have nothing to do with us. But I mean, I mean, we’re all living in the same area. So we’re all affected by it.
Right. Um, so you didn’t go anywhere else. After your second deployment, you came back to the United States.
After my first deployment and came back to Germany coming back was was, was a real rough ride, it was a lot of drinking and trying to deal with another incident we had where we lost another soldier which was a good friend of mine. But the best we can do is just remember them. Remember the stories and all the good times that we couldn’t have. I had to go through a lot of medical because me engaging the enemy with my weapon. Being in these explosions and everything, I checked a lot of boxes where they forced me to go see psychologists or there’s a few funny stories that how they went through this process. That was just ridiculous. They they couldn’t make it more obvious that like, we like that there was something wrong with us or something.
No, it’s just nuts. And at that point, you’re wondering who’s crazy.
Yeah, wondering, wonder who is and I mean, I I still have constantly in statements that I that I was actually forced to go see the psychologist. But what I was seeing was guys, we’re going and that would get medication, but they weren’t themselves. They were just shells of themselves. And I told myself, I never want to be like that. I can never just be there. Just sit there and just feel nothing. So I refused a lot of medication and decided to go on my own, which was good and bad. But when I finally came home after it all it took me a while to recover. But being from that timeframe, from my first deployment to my second deployment, I had a lot of things happen to me while I was in my unit. I got switched jobs. I was being a little bit more rebellious because I didn’t like what we was happening to the military when Obama took over, and a lot of things changed in the military, I mean, I know those high standards to get in. I mean, I’m not gonna sound the super soldier. But I had my flaws, too, but I got in. But when Obama took over, it was more. They were actually letting guys in with lower requirements. And it really showed with the new guys that we ended up getting a lot of them were just, they just didn’t really fit in the whole vibe of the military. And a lot of problems happened.
They just needed numbers, I guess. Yeah, yeah, just a number to get more bodies in the seats.
But my second appointment wasn’t as harsh. As my first, I think my second deployment, we only found a few IEDs, we were in a town called Hilah. It’s maybe about an hour south of Baghdad. Hill is more famous, where Saddam Hussein had his mass graves. So the town was really decimated. And when we were there, they were really trying to rebuild it, get things back to normal. So that must have felt a lot better to not be in such a not like your first deployment where it was pretty. I mean, you hardly want to go back after that your first time, I felt more comfortable because myself, and the guy at some of the guys I served with were in leadership positions. And we felt more comfortable that we, we knew that we could get through it, we could teach the new guys how to properly do it. We’ve been through it before, and we can guide them through it. That made me feel a lot more comfortable. But at the time, I was thinking to myself, this is my last deployment, I’m not going to be re enlisting again or coming back. Right. I told myself, I’m going to do my deployment, to the best of my ability, I’m not going to slack off and say, Hey, this is my last thing. I’m going to do my job and keep everyone safe. That was my number one thing that I wanted to do. So I ended up doing my deployment. And then 2010 I decided to leave. And I came back to the States. And where did you land back in your same base again? Yeah, back in Germany. There was new leadership going on in Germany, a lot of the units were being moved to graph and beer is now a graph. And here’s the main hub for all the units that was there, because now the base that I was at was sold back to the Germans. So all the US forces are now in graphic bear in hohenfels. Right now, so they were making that transition to move every the buddy there. But I stayed in shrine for it because I was ETS, you know?
And did you have a choice of where to come back to in the States?
No, I officially left the military. I came back home here to Chicago. It was a little bit rough. I had a plan in place. But I had a lot of hearing loss. So jobs that I was lined up for I got denied I want I wanted to join the Chicago Police Department I got denied because of hearing. I tried to join TSA. Again, I got denied for hearing. So the plans that I had kind of backfired on me and I was kind of like, Oh my god, what am I gonna do now? So I did some odd jobs and says, You know what I got? I got my my GI Bill. I’ll go back to school. I decided I got my four year degree in business administration. Military paid for all of it, so I really didn’t have to worry about that. And I ended up getting a job in property management. But during those 10 years, I did struggle a lot with losing, losing my brothers. So I tried to find certain things that to cope with it. So one of the things I did is I took up fishkeeping I kept up I kept marine salt water takes its but it kept my mind off of everything else. And it was rewarding to where I get to see my fish all the time. I mean i i i even build my own tanks. Oh wow Rach, so I mean I built myself like a 506 on gallon pond by my to get bigger fish, just so just something to keep my mind off of what I had to do. But in December of 19, I actually had my final break down in my kitchen, all of the emotions that I had just came flowing out of me and I felt I felt so much better. And over the next month, I was just healing I was feeling better about myself because I wasn’t holding that stuff in. I decided, you know what, Hey, how about I make some videos on what I went through? Maybe and I’m not so social media savvy. So I wasn’t sure how I was getting those videos out there. And then the pandemic hit. And I says, you know, what, how about I just started writing. So I just started writing more. And the more I was writing, the better, I felt I didn’t have to have all that anxiety and pressure in me anymore. I was putting it on paper and leaving it there. And after I finished the book, I’ve just felt so relieved that I did not have to keep it in anymore. It’s all on paper. And that’s why I decided you know what, I’m just gonna publish, talk about it, write about it and talk about it. Good for you. That’s amazing. And because PTSD and grief in like you had it all, all wrapped up in one all on you.
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war. I know when I left the military in 2010, it was maybe 20 soldiers a day we’re taking their lives, and maybe about five years later was 21. And now this year, it’s going up to 22. Now, Oh really, the numbers going up. And now I’m seeing a lot more of We have to do something. That’s why I like to do these things to get that awareness out more because the number is going up. And it’s it’s heartbreaking. And I know there’s a lot of soldiers out there that are struggling. Yeah, that’s the thing where I tried to talk about is like you have to have, if you’re going to leave the military, you have to have that plan. And if you don’t have that plan, that’s when things really go downhill. And I was fortunate enough to recover from my plan. But a lot of soldiers are less fortunate. Well, they don’t even think of a plan to start with. So I’m gonna get out and I’ll be free of this. But then when they come back, they’re like, oh, what the hell am I gonna do you know? So it’s, it’s rough.
It’s like when people well, it’s not really like when people retire, but sort of, because they think oh, they can finally go and do this. And they can go do that. And they can travel and but then that kind of gets sick after six months, and then they’re lost to know what to do. So yeah, it Do they have a very good system for when you get out to what they can help you do. What I experienced was not really. After I left in 2010, I was an inactive reserve. So I was in the military for maybe about three years after that. But technically I wasn’t I was I would have to report like once a year saying, Hey, I’m here. So the resources that they were giving, it was just maybe like a pamphlet to say, hey, call this number. And sometimes you never even get through or they tell you they just go to the hospital. And you kind of wait six, seven months for an appointment because they’re all backed up. Yeah. And resource centers are far in between. I when I was back at college, I was going through the library, and I came across a table with the lady there that said Veteran Resource Center. And I was like, okay, maybe I should just go look at this. started talking with her. And she was telling me that their office was about seven to 10 blocks away from my house. This resource center was even there. And I was more upset about that. Because I’m like, Well, why didn’t I get the information to know that these actual resources exist?
So I ended up I went one day and they were said we could have some therapy sessions. If you want some group talks. I was like, Okay, well, I started telling my story. And I just felt completely nauseous after speaking with with the counselor, and he says, You know what, I’m not ready. I might come back some other time, but I can’t do this. I never went back. But I wish I did. But I wouldn’t have been able to have this breakthrough that I have. Right. I was more fortunate enough because I’m in Chicago. I’m in a very large city. So a lot of these Resource Centers already available. A lot of these soldiers are from these small towns in the middle of nowhere, and maybe the closest VA hospitals, maybe two, three hours away, maybe the closest resource resource centers, maybe even farther away. Yeah, that’s, that’s a kind of a double edged sword of it all just, there’s not information is not readily available.
And especially when you first come out for the first couple of years, you really need that support. And if you don’t have it, there must be a lot of suicide rates and, and screw ups of some sort.
I know the last three months of my contract, I was home. I would get a call an email almost every day to re enlist. I even had recruiters come up to my door, asking me to re enlist. That’s just like, okay, you’re keeping keep coming in and calling me to come back. But how about you call me Help me know, for a resource center. And the day, the day my contract was completely done? In 2013, I did not get a call an email or nobody ever came to my house ever again. Never. Wow. A little upsetting that actually does happen. of you. You wanna you want me to come back. But you don’t want to also want to give me the help. If I don’t want to.
Right? Yeah, it’s kind of crazy, isn’t it? Although not for that part. But I did know quite a few military men that were either in the military still in the United States or just retired. And they kept they have so many more opportunities in my in the United States and in Canada. By getting special discounts. And I mean, that doesn’t help your brain and the person you are but opportunities for their kids to go to school for less than what the average person would have to pay, or those kinds of things. Disneyland for a military person price is different. Those kinds of things. We don’t have that in Canada. I don’t, I don’t really think we’re given the or veterans or military or ex military are given much of anything. So I guess you’re a little bit further ahead than what we are but still. Yeah, maybe I’m just not aware of it. But
we have we do get that stuff something that’s nice, but I mean, nothing to help your head. Oh, another another thing they like guys that are getting out there. They’re telling. They’ll tell them all Yeah, there is a job waiting out there for you. People love to hire veterans because they’re so well disciplined. Well, that’s true. But at the same time, there’s a long line to get those jobs because every soldier that getting out is told that same thing. And yeah. It’s just you’re waiting. I mean, I even went to a couple of what do they like job conventions for veterans? I went one time, I thought it went pretty well. I talked to a lot of people never got one single call back. I talked to a bunch of other guys. I’m like, Hey, you guys get calls? Like No, no. Never got anything that was more crazy, isn’t it? dog dog and pony show of it all? Yeah, it’s just, I might have went to one other one after that. And never got another call again. Oh, my God, this is just a waste of my time. Yeah. Um, did you ever want to because you were in that shooting, kind of being a gunner? Did you? Are you still interested in going to shoot a shooting range or anything like that?
Or no, I get that question asked all the time. I’m not against guns. I mean, I have one. I think I’m more. I’m more anal about the safety portion of it. I know you saw it. Go to go to gun. I’ll go to like a range or something. And I have all that safety protocol in my head. So I just turns on like a switch on how to properly do things. Some people say they’ve never seen that site and me like I’m completely different at that moment, like something just switched on. Well, that’s, I don’t want that to happen to you. I don’t want that to happen. To me, oh, yeah, turn around and then you end up shooting me on accident as something is. Yeah. I mean, it’s fine. I, I tell people what I experienced and if I ever do it again, it’s, that’s I’m alright with it. It’s not real interest though it doesn’t really? No, it’s not No, not a big interest.
So what really makes your boat float? Now? What do you really other than your fish? What do you think really makes you happy after other than talking with me, after I had my breakdown in my kitchen, my fish in my tanks, they didn’t do it for me anymore, it became more of a job. And I lost interest in very quickly, but I had a lot of my fish for she’s three, five years. So they’ve kind of became family. And it was kind of hard for me to, to give them away. And but I mean, I have a tattoo of my favorite fish that I had over the years. So I always will have them with me, they helped me.
So I always remember that. I mean, I have other Memorial tattoos on me that makes me Never forget what I went through. I mean, I people asked me about my tattoos all the time and all have stories. That’s it’s my way of expressing what I went through, and everything has a story behind it. And that’s cool. Right now it’s mainly what drives me now is getting my mental health back. The last year and a half. I’ve done tons of healing. I’m so much more at peace with myself that I suppose I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s kind of like, I don’t have that burden anymore of having to deal with it. stuck in your head. Yeah, that’s stuck in my head anymore. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Does there anything that makes you like, enjoy life now? Like is it to go fishing or camping or traveling or staying at home and it’s mainly mainly my kids. I do tons of things with my kids going on adventures and dhoop experiencing new things. We have the big aquarium here in Chicago, so we go all the time. And oh, cool. So since I don’t have my fish here, I could go see fish over there. So yeah, that’s some other hobbies try to adjust me But yeah, it’s mainly work for me. And it’s just the peace of mind is more of kind of my hobby. Now. I don’t have to dwell on things anymore. What gets me going and doing these also gets me going TO to help soldiers but mostly a lot of family members that don’t know how to help their veteran or soldier. So I try to, or husband or wife or spouse or partner or friend. Yep. Do you guys get together still then?
small group of you once in a while a lot of a lot of my friends are in different states. But we keep in contact all the time. I mean, that’s maybe one of the things, good things about Facebook. keeping in contact with all of them, helps a lot.
Did COVID really hurt your healing process?
Funny enough. I think the like everyone was panicking about being secluded inside their homes. being in the military deployed this kind of like what we all did. So it really wasn’t any of a change for me. I think I have been in that situation before we’re being secluded not being able to do things I was kind of used to it. So my mindset actually kind of helped in that way. That’s good. That’s really good. Did you have any last final notes for listeners other than getting your book? It sounds really really intriguing. So do you have a copy there?
Yeah, I do have one here. There it is. Bomb. The bomb hunter story, my life clearing the roads that I wreck.
Awesome. And it’s on Amazon, everybody. And it’s the links are down below for everybody to click on the link and you can order one yourself. It sounds very, very interesting even from a female point of view. I I’m very intrigued with, you know, just the story of it all. It’s very, very interesting. And it from being a military brat, I have to admit that it was hard to come back to to a regular civilian life. Because I didn’t fit in. I couldn’t talk about anything that I experienced because no one else would understand what I experienced. That’s what I found difficult coming back to Canada. I couldn’t just jump into university and have a whole bunch of friends. Because what I experienced, they had no idea and I had no common thing with them. So you must have experienced that bit of time where it’s hard to adjust.
Yes, friendships were really hard. That was also another thing when new soldiers that were coming in was that you didn’t want to develop these friendships, because if they did pass, I didn’t want to feel that same feeling anywhere where I lost a friend or brother or anything like that. Yeah. It was a little hard to make friendships because I still had that mindset. I’d be more standoffish. It’s a little rough.
Yeah, yeah. So everybody, um, his book is now available on Amazon. And it’s amazing, what an amazing story. I really felt like I went to a movie listening to you, I just, you know, watched a movie, and you did an awesome job of being vulnerable, and having the courage and bravery to, to really bring that out and share it with others. Because I think it’s really important. And I know how difficult it has to be for you to do that. So thank you, thank you for sharing that with all the listeners.
More things I talked about are the different trainings, there were some more incidences that happen with other soldiers that were troubling. And I know I expressed a lot of emotion here. But in there I go through just the physical grind of each of us. It’s not about me, I always say that. My story is a small chapter in a bigger book, because there’s 1000s of other stories out there that experience different things and hardships. It’s not just about me, that’s another thing I wrote it was to tell our story. Because when I tell people, I’m a combat engineer, they’re not sure what that is. And then when I tell them what I did, it’s always the the Are you crazy?
Like what the heck is wrong with you type of thing. I mean, I mean, we were even, we had a lot of VIPs come out. And we even had a few NPR reports come out on us trying to grasp and what we actually did. Actually, were a little crazy, but I mean, someone has to do the job. Well, it makes us all the world go around, I guess when we choose it, we have to stick with it. Just like if you join a team, you have to join it and put in your time, unfortunately, whether you like it or not, but it’s obviously giving you some tools to move ahead of some sort. He might not know what those are yet, but they must be going to happen at some point for you. Learn those lessons. We I hate lessons of life that were given. It’s like Why did you throw that my way? Why did you do that to me?
So I’m sure we all say that in many ways. But yeah. Well, thank you for being so open. Thank you for sharing that with the listeners. Because it’s, you know, his book is there for everybody to read it and, and really enjoy your journey through this because it sounds like it was an incredible one. And thank you for for being so open with us. Thank you for allowing me to share it. Oh, well, thank you. Well, I don’t want to end this story. Because it’s Thank you, Eric. It was it was it was awesome. And I could probably spend all afternoon talking to you some more about it. And asking more and more questions, because the more you talk, the more questions come up. So maybe we could come visit this again and maybe take a different angle on it if you’d like.
Because it’s so very, very interesting and please take a moment and share And subscribe to our channel, everybody because we’re gonna have some more awesome guests like Eric Come on our show. And you don’t want to miss them. And click on that bell I have to get my hand out Eric because this is my my hand to show and I never seem to get it right click on that bell somewhere down there subscribe, like and share. And click on that bell and I have to sing the 70 song because Ring my bell, ring my bell down below, over there somewhere. And click and subscribe. Thank you followers. Thank you subscribers, thank you. We couldn’t do the show without you. And of course with Eric no one’s Superman, so expect the unexpected. I’m sure Eric felt like he was Superman a few times in his life on that in that unit, because he must have felt like why was I still allowed to be here? When you see your other brothers have their lives taken away? And I think that’s probably one of the difficult cases of of that why question that you need to overcome. When something tragic happens you always say why, why me or why them or it’s it’s just the first thing that comes in your mind and it’s hard to get out of.
So when when you’re thinking of someone right now, listening to the show that you love and care about, please reach out to them, please pick up that phone, we still have phones, please FaceTime them, Skype them, zoom them, whatever it is go and see them. Tell them how much you love and care about them because you don’t know what tomorrow may bring. I hope we’ve inspired each and every one of you and motivated you with Eric’s story today. And thank you very much for sharing and watching and listening to our show today. And I always end our podcast and our live show with Carol Burnett. Do you know who Carol Burnett is Eric?
My Explosive Journey in the Iraq war. Oh awesome. It’s hard to not know or her isn’t it? Because she’s just such an awesome funny lady that she just makes you laugh and that’s what I try to help people with his every bad case might there’s always a silver lining in it somewhere for all of us. So I’m so glad we had this time together just to have a laugh or sing a song seems we just get started. And before you know it comes the time we have to say so long. So so long listeners Thank you. Thank you so very much. Thank you for my German listeners. Thank you for my audience in the United States, Canada and Ireland. You guys are kicking some ass. You guys are coming up and are listening and I have to work on my Irish accent and Swedish to Sweden, I’m gonna have to work on my Swedish accent. If you beat Ireland, I will have to say something in Swedish for you. So I will need some help with that. So thank you, everybody.
Thank you for coming on our show today. Thank you. Thank you so very, very much. And until next time, stay safe, be kind, lots of love. Bye for now. Be Kind, be safe
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