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Heroes of Leidos | Leidos
HOL - Main Image
HOL - Sonya
HOL - Marnie
HOL - Rebecca
HOL - Tom
HOL - Sean
"As a third-grader in the fall of 1969, I remember being in awe as we watched the replay of the first Moon landing. I knew then that I wanted to fly. In addition to the passion of flight, my father — a Marine — was the biggest influence on my decision to join the service. He instilled discipline as well as love of country, noting that we enjoy our freedoms because of the sacrifices of the men and women that wear and have worn the uniform. Earning a 'pilot slot' through the Rutgers AFROTC program allowed me to achieve my boyhood dream of flying; as well as my second goal of world travel. A 23-year Air Force career enabled me to experience many countries and cultures. While these trips were filled with great experiences, they also made me realize what a privilege it was to live in the United States. This left a deeper sense of citizenship, knowing that the values of our great country are worth dying for and the ultimate sacrifice could be yours every morning you zipped up the flight suit and went to work."
"Patriotic duty and family tradition led me to the Army. Service provided me with stability and focus, putting me on a technical career path that's allowed me to continue my service to community and country. I was recently honored by Maryland as its inaugural Veterans winner of the Governor's Service Award. Years of work around the world helped me win this coveted award. A few years ago, I was accepted into a White House public service leadership program and had the opportunity to lead a service project for the First Lady. There is one line of hers from that experience that remains with me: "As you come up in the world, make sure you bring someone up with you." I think it's very inspiring and rings true no matter who you are, where you are or what line of work you're in. I have experiences that cannot be gained as a civilian, and access to a community of veterans that support each other. We always look out for one another. Never underestimate what a veteran can bring to the table. We often have a plethora of applicable skills to bring to the workforce!"
"I enlisted two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, feeling an obligation to serve as a result of the events of that day. Being a veteran has made me realize the important things in life. As a medic in real-world life-and-death situations, both in Iraq and at Fort Hood, I realized there are many times in our lives that others may feel that a situation is an emergency — especially in the civilian workplace — and that I have to "triage" each situation and react/act appropriately. Having treated casualties from the U.S., foreign countries, and enemy insurgents, I am of the mindset that all lives are equal. Being a veteran means that a person has put the needs of the United States and the military branch they served in before their own. It means that you have experienced something in life that only other veterans understand and can relate to."
"My parents met as commissioned Naval officers. I grew up with the Navy all around me and felt the call to serve my country early on, starting with attending the U.S. Naval Academy. The Naval Academy is a challenging environment that tests the physical and mental limits of its students and molds us into leaders. It helped me develop invaluable skills not just for my military service, but for my civilian career as well. The single most important lesson I learned during my time on active duty is to always remain flexible to adapt to the hand that you are dealt. Take advantage of the opportunities granted you, even if those opportunities are far different than what you believe you were 'designed' to be. Serving this nation is not for everyone, but I am proud to be included among the ranks of those that have worn a uniform and felt the call to serve."
"I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to serve my country. It was a sense of patriotic duty, along with a desire for adventure and travel, which led me to join the Army. During my military career, I was inspired by all of the leaders, soldiers and non-commissioned officers with whom I worked, and still stay in touch with many of them. They were the reason I was successful and the reason that I went to work every day. I'm touched every time I receive a letter from a soldier or leader thanking me for my influence and leadership. I am proud that many of the soldiers I mentored continue to serve and have risen to leadership positions. It's those interactions that I miss the most, but I still have the opportunity to care for, influence and help our soldiers today with Leidos. Mission first and people always!"
"My family has served in the U.S. military in one capacity (and service) or another for many generations. As a highly-decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, my father was my most profound influence. He was a constant reminder of my obligations as a man, soldier, and citizen of the United States. Being a veteran is a badge of honor that I do not take lightly, and it means that I have a responsibility to heighten awareness of veteran sacrifices and the things we owe veterans as American citizens. Veterans made sacrifices that most people cannot even begin to understand, and many suffer deep emotional scars that most likely will never heal. They are people just like everyone else, but they deserve all of our respect because they have given so much so that we can have so much."
"I was born at Minot Air Force Base (my father was an officer). During one of his assignments, we were stationed in Germany. When I was 9, we went to see the Berlin Wall. After leaving, we heard that a man climbed the wall, crossed no man's land, and tried to scale the other wall into West Berlin. He was shot in no man's land. Neither side could agree on who would help, so he was left there and later died. On another trip, we toured Dachau and Auschwitz. These concentration camps horrified me. I became very socially aware. In high school, I decided I wanted to serve my country. I remember thinking, as an African American — with our community's many struggles in America — that while America is not perfect, it is certainly the best thing going. America is worth protecting and, if necessary, worth dying for. I was so proud to walk in my father's footsteps and pay homage to a nation for which there is no other like it."
"Many of my relatives have served or are serving in various branches. One of my proudest moments came after an IED blast on a vehicle. The photos showed a completely destroyed vehicle. Miraculously, none of the occupants were seriously injured. One soldier called home to let his family know he was OK. His mother was having difficulty believing him, so he asked me to talk to her. I was able to assure her that medically, he was fine. Not convinced, she wanted to see him to be sure. I knew where his first stop in the States would be, but it would be so brief that at most, she could wave to him from a distance. She was willing to drive a few hours just to see him get on another plane, so I called in the favor. It was a small thing for me to do, but she was so grateful for the opportunity to see her son. My service helped me learn to separate people from their past. Some of the best people I served with had criminal histories. Military service was their best way of getting out of their neighborhoods and getting a fresh start."
"My dad was an Army veteran and I had been a Cadet in the Civil Air Patrol prior to enlisting in the Air Force. With my love for country and interest in aviation, it made perfect sense to me — it was my way to 'pay it back.' I had more responsibility as a 22-year-old Staff Sergeant than most people experience in their lifetime. That sense of responsibility has served me well. I even spent two-and-a-half years on nuclear alert duty. Think Dr. Strangelove — it's not that far off! Veterans bring many diverse and unique experiences to the workforce. Give them the opportunity to put those experiences to work, and it's a win-win situation for all involved."
"My inspiration was my stepfather, a retired Navy Master Chief. I served in the Air Force 27 years and my proudest moment was a deployment to Laos with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. There, I provided communications for search and investigation teams looking for evidence to account for our fallen heroes. No matter where I was serving, just knowing I had the proud duty to defend our great nation made it all worthwhile. Coming home to see family safe, healthy and happy put the exclamation mark on the sacrifices. It was an honor to serve and I have tremendous gratitude for both the freedoms we enjoy and the sacrifices made by so many."
"Joining the Royal Australian Navy was something I wanted to do from a very early age. I enlisted at 17, straight out of school. My proudest moment is also the most sobering. We were conducting an ANZAC Day Dawn Service while on duty in the Middle East, only hours after a terrorist attack killed three of our Coalition partners. The way we all came together to rescue wounded, whilst managing the threat and stopping other attacks, stands out to me as the most defining and life-changing experience of not just my career, but of my life. This event was a tragedy, but stands out to me as an example of what can be achieved when you bring together the most professional and committed people; the importance of teamwork; and the responsibilities we all hold for continuing on with the mission to ensure our fallen are honored and remembered always. Every single ANZAC Day since has added meaning to those of us that were there that day and it remains to this day the best team and most remarkable group of people I have ever had the honor of serving with."
"I believe that everyone could benefit from serving in the military or something like the Peace Corps before college. The first thing that comes to mind from my time in the Navy is the people — broad backgrounds coming together, focusing on a mission, and taking care of each other. The chief engineer of the USS Groton was an inspiration of mine during my service. He said that only 2% of people who say they are going to college after the Navy, actually do so. He was a 'mustang,' meaning that he had been enlisted and then went to college and became an officer. I saw his words as a challenge to me to do it. Veterans put their lives on the line so we can have the freedoms we have. They need to be taken care of if they are not able — we all owe them, every day."
"I think about all the places I've visited, all the different societies and people I've met. I have memories of good times and bad. I have images of horrible scenes and wonderful experiences, of death and destruction and celebration, of places I would love to revisit and others I would never want to go to again. I'm now completing a bachelors in psychology with military resilience and hope to work towards a masters so that I can help out fellow veterans with any mental health struggles. I miss the camaraderie the most, especially in the explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) field. That job was one where you had to trust your coworker with your life. Being a veteran means some great life lessons and experiences. It means that I tend to look at life through different lenses than others. I'd like people to know that the military lifestyle is one of the most difficult. It is hard on the veterans and their families. Some think we are given too many privileges and compensations, but believe me, they are all earned and we appreciate all of those that are given."
"My father wasn't exactly thrilled when his 17-year-old daughter asked him to sign a consent form for Airborne School. 'Over my dead body,' he said. I turned 18, signed my consent form, and that summer I went to Airborne School and got my wings. My first jump was terrifying! They packed us in like sardines. We felt the weight as the C-130 climbed to 1,250 feet. There was no going back now. The jumpmaster yelled '20 minutes!' I could feel my heart beating against my chest. I could feel something in the pit of my stomach. '10 minutes! Get ready!' We unhooked our seat belts and positioned ourselves to stand up. I was afraid and excited, hoping that I hadn't forgotten anything that I learned in the previous two weeks. When the jumpmaster finally gave the 30-second warning, everyone was ready. My hand was on my static line and my other hand covered the ripcord for my reserve parachute. The drone of the engines was all you could hear. Everyone was silent. And then we heard the command, 'Go!' The stick moved swiftly toward the side door. There was no time to think, no time to fear, everyone was moving swiftly and in unison." (To be continued ...)
(continued ...) "I was out the door and, immediately, I felt like a rag doll in a tornado (this would be the prop blast). After a hard pull, my parachute opened. It was amazing! It was so beautiful, so quiet and peaceful. I remember thinking, 'This is what a bird must feel like.' That only lasted for a few seconds as I saw the ground quickly coming up to meet me. I had to prepare to land. I pulled the wrong risers and ended up moving with the wind (meaning I went faster). I hit so hard my helmet flew off. I felt pain and nausea. I laid on the ground trying to get my bearings. My parachute caught the wind and started dragging me along the ground until I remembered to deflate. I dislocated my shoulder and when I reached up, I popped it back in. I didn’t tell anyone about my injury. If you were hurt, they sent you home. I did my last four jumps without any problems and only a little pain. I wanted my wings more than anything! Later, I was assigned to the 50th Signal Battalion (Airborne) at Fort Bragg and was one of only two female officers in a unit with over 30 officers. I think being physically fit and jumping every month helped prove that we could keep up with our male counterparts."
"All veterans have made a sacrifice. Whether it's Christmas with family, the birth of a child, or vacations at the beach, every vet has their own story of sacrifice. That's the most challenging part. When you're called up, you're putting your life on hold. But we know what we signed up for. It's an incredibly rewarding experience, and knowing the people you work with have also sacrificed forms an enormous level of trust. The people you're serving with have a common goal of working together to achieve a mission. That selfless service is what being a veteran means to me."
"Wounded warriors and families that lost loved ones deserve our eternal thanks and support. We should do all we can to support Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives, Gold Star Children, and Wounded Warrior Project. I'd love to see all the sons and daughters of our fallen comrades receive full scholarships to top-ranked colleges and universities. If they work hard as undergrads, they should receive full scholarships to the best medical schools, law schools, and business schools, too. I'd love to see them get excellent internships and jobs from the best companies in the United States. I also want people to know about organizations like Fisher House Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, Wounded Heroes Foundation, and The Gary Sinise Foundation to name just a few. Honor our veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice by supporting the loved ones they left behind."
"There are moments in your military career that always stay with you. I managed a propulsion plant when I was an engineer onboard a U.S. Navy destroyer. It was Thanksgiving, and we had a rough couple days filled with equipment failures. It was easy to be discouraged being a long way from home during the holidays. My CO, Commander Miller, sat next to me and said, 'You're going to have tough days, but it's how you handle yourself during that time that matters most.' That was over 30 years ago, and yet I can remember it like it was yesterday. It's one of many life lessons that helped motivate me throughout my career."
"We returned to the base and noticed protesters waving signs and yelling outside the gate. Our friend riding in the car was a fighter — he drank hard, fought hard, and loved any excuse to get physical. I had no doubt he was a 'hot head.' As our car slowed, he jumped out and sprinted towards a person leading the protesters. We all thought, 'This is it, we are going to jail.' We ran towards him, preparing for the worst. When we finally caught up to him, we were stunned by his response. He was shaking the protester's hand and saying, 'I am glad to see you out here using the rights I pledged my life to defend.' The angry, red-faced protester deflated like a kid's balloon. You never know what motivates someone, and after that day I had a much higher opinion of that airman. I also learned an important lesson about seeing into people and their motivations."
"I was home on leave immediately before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. After helping family and friends evacuate, I volunteered to return as a National Guard liaison. I was brought to tears when I saw my hometown underwater and ravaged by the storm. Coast Guard and National Guard helicopters could not save everyone. I provided direct intelligence support that allowed for timely rescue for stranded civilians. I earned an Army Achievement Medal for my effort. It serves as my most cherished award and a reminder of why veterans serve. I was able to work with some of the most diligent and unselfish people. They all helped me become the man I am today."
"In high school and college, everything came pretty easy for me. That changed when I was unable to find a job after graduation. It was the first time I experienced failure. I decided to follow in my uncle's footsteps and join the Navy. I'll never forget how immature and irresponsible I was when I joined and how quickly I grew up. It was quite an adjustment for a newly married 22-year-old man. I wasn't accustomed to someone else telling me what to do, where to go, and when to be there. The Navy taught me structure and discipline, which helped me become a truly independent adult. After active duty, I was able to take what I had learned and get an engineering job. The armed forces provided me with a great opportunity to gain experience and independence."
"I was always scared of heights, so I'm not sure why I attended Airborne School. After a few jumps, that fear subsided a bit. Once I became a jumpmaster, I was hooked. Then it's not just a jump, it's an airborne operation. I could interact with the pilot and crew, I was responsible for the paratroopers onboard. My father was a paratrooper. At my graduation, he pinned his original airborne "wings" on my chest during the ceremony. I still have them. I am thankful that I made the decision to follow in my father's footsteps and join the Army. It instilled in me the values that shaped my life and my career and has molded me into the person I am today."
"I was flying over Iraq with my squadron commander when we received orders to support ground forces near Sadr City. One of the vehicles in the convoy broke down, and they were in a dangerous place. We flew half a dozen shows of force at about 100 feet. I can only imagine how loud the jets were from such a low altitude. Our troops were able to fix the disabled vehicle and continue the convoy safely out of the city. I like to think the two Strike Eagles flying overhead in full afterburner helped them return home unharmed. After spending hundreds of hours on training flights, it was rewarding to know that I could make a difference."
"The storm scattered boats and cars in tree tops as if they were little toys. It's a sight that will always stay with me from my time aiding the victims of Hurricane Katrina. That deployment made me realize and understand the resolve and resiliency of American citizens. Serving to help our own in their time of need is the greatest honor for a veteran, in my opinion."
"My son was nine months old when I learned he had to go stateside due to the evacuation. I served most of my enlistment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in the early '90s. Cuban and Haitian refugees were arriving by the boatload on a daily basis. We started experiencing more and more riots in the Haitian refugee camps. There were growing concerns about the safety of non-military personnel, and the government decided to evacuate all families and civilian workers off the base. My son's father was also active duty military, so I had to find someone stateside who I could trust to care for my son. I received three days to notify my parents, fly with him to Michigan, get him settled in, and then return back to Cuba. As a mom and a service member, leaving my son without knowing when I would see him again was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I knew there was always a risk that I would have to leave him someday. I had a job to do that supported a much bigger cause."
"On my son's fourth birthday in 1989, I was falling out of a C-141 jet with over 200 pounds of equipment strapped to my body. The enemy was shooting at me and my parachute as I fell 490 feet. Within 9 seconds, I was on the ground with my closest Ranger buddies securing Torrijos/Tocumen Airfield. Two weeks later, we captured Manuel Noriega. I'll never forget the invasion of Panama. My proudest moment as a veteran came when I was in Afghanistan. My son Dan told me he was enrolling in ROTC at Norwich University. He wanted to serve like me, except his plan was to be an infantryman, unlike his 'MI weenie' dad. He was making important decisions in life, without his dad. Between the two of us, we have four Bronze Stars and over four years deployed in combat zones. He is still serving our nation and Army at war today."
"There was no place better for spy games than my first assignment in Berlin. We were all members of an exclusive club that frequently crossed the Iron Curtain. I stood feet away from President Reagan in front of the crowds at The Brandenburg Gate. We were listening anxiously and then it came, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' The crowd erupted in cheers, and I knew this was an historic speech. We had a front row seat to the collapse of the Soviet Union."
"I graduated high school in a time when girls were supposed to become teachers and nurses, not go into the military. My dad encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and not what was expected of me. I spent three years on-board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. We deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in 1994. It marked the first time women had deployed as crew members of a U.S. Navy combatant."
"I was 23 years old, and while I wasn't even old enough to rent a luxury car, I was put in charge of a multi-million dollar weapon system and the crew that operated it. That summer we took part in NATO exercises that brought ships from the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, and others to New York City during the U.S. leg of the deployment. As we led this multinational flotilla through New York Harbor, I remember standing on the bridge as we sailed in formation past the Statue of Liberty, past the Twin Towers, past the amazing New York City skyline and thinking how great it was to be an American and how proud I was to welcome these allies to 'our house.'"
"I established a friendship with a member of the South Vietnamese Navy when I was stationed with the Coast Guard in Cat Lo. After I returned to the United States I stayed in touch with him with letters and gifts to his children. When the communists took over the country, I lost all contact with him and his family. One night I received a telephone call. The young man on the other end said that his father and family had been searching for me for years. They got on the phone, crying with happiness that they at last had gotten in contact with me. My phone number apparently had been the last one on a long list of numbers they had compiled through their research. They told me they had gotten out of Vietnam and the their family of nine children were now living in the United States. I never found out how, but I was excited to talk to them again and relieved that they were well. We continued to stay in touch with Christmas cards and frequent letters. Recently I found out that my friend had died. I will always remember him as a good friend. He is a reminder, to me, of the good that came out of the war amidst so much that was bad."
"My Grandfather was stationed on my ship back in WWII when it was a carrier. It even had the same bell on the quarter deck. For Christmas one year, I gave him a simple picture of me in front of the bell. He cried, and we talked for hours about his experiences and mine. It made us very close. He wrote to all his former shipmates about it, and it was published in a magazine. He was very proud."
"I deployed on 9/11. Within hours, all the ships in Norfolk were sortied out to sea. The fall and winter that was supposed to be spent cruising the Mediterranean saw the capturing of Kandahar and the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. Our friends that remained home had to watch in horror, hour after hour, day after day, the shots of the airplanes hitting the towers, scenes from the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. We only had a limited satellite feed, and were too busy to watch it. Being at sea and heading toward the problem gave us a sense of purpose. We felt empowered."
"The day I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and became a commissioned officer, I realized my father's dream. He was from China, and while he served as an airborne ranger in the U.S. Army, he never became an officer. He wanted that for me. When I graduated, he rendered me my first salute. Just before he died this year, he looked up at my brother and me and with fading strength gave us both one last heartfelt salute. It meant a lot. It meant he'd finished his service, he'd completed his mission, and he wanted to turn over his duties to us."
"In 2014 a dear friend of mine lost his battle with PTSD at the young age of 31. We fought side-by-side in Iraq, and he is all I have been thinking about. For those who don't know, PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. People living with PTSD are haunted by traumatic events from their past on a daily basis. So I ask, if you know someone who has been deployed, or even just served stateside, don't wait for them to open up to you. Make an effort to ask how they are doing or spend a little time with them. It may not sound like much, but I can assure you they will appreciate it."
"The base newspaper took this of my boys at their daycare center and ran it on Mother's Day during one of my deployments. Deploying was never easy, especially as a mom of 6-year-old twin boys. I sat in my 10-by-10-foot room in the middle of the desert and wondered what they were doing at that moment. I remember the day I left. One told me before I got on the plane, 'Mommy, don't get dead.' In his dramatic tone, the other said, 'If the bad guys chase you, run faster! OK?' We were engaged in a war on terror that affected the safety and security of every American, including my little angels. The love I have for them and the desire I have for their safe and happy future is precisely the reason I wore the uniform."
"I graduated during a drawdown year and had plans to be an accountant in Washington, DC. A year later, I was leading 36 paratroopers in Central Africa. It was a humanitarian mission following the genocide in 1994. Even historians forget there were U.S. troops in both Rwanda and Zaire at the time, and the violence and suffering were horrific. You try to look at those experiences in a positive light. We are so fortunate to be Americans, and I will never have a bad day. I think that my fellow veterans share a similar outlook. We should all be grateful for what we have, work hard, and take advantage of every opportunity."
"Time flies. Seems like yesterday I was a Lieutenant in Okinawa. It was my second assignment in the Fleet Marine Forces and I was happy to go to a place that held so much USMC history. Now, 23 years later, I'm about to retire as a Lieutenant Colonel. I've received much more from the Marine Corps than what I gave back during my service. I am proud to have served and proud that, in my small way, I upheld the legacy, history and traditions of the Corps."
"While I was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia my wife and I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. We struck up a conversation with a retired Sergeant Major that had lost the lower part of one leg in Vietnam. As our talk wound down and we were about to leave, he thanked me for my service to our country. It knocked me flat. Here was a man who had made such a great sacrifice in service to his country thanking me. I was in my 13th year of my career and had never fired at an actual enemy in combat. That's when I learned what 'Love of Country' really meant."
"The general stopped in the middle of his speech and ordered everyone to go outside and gather around the flagpole outside the F-15 hangar. There we all were, brothers and sisters in the military, staring up at Old Glory waving, with a beautiful orange glow from the setting sun behind us, staring out at the end of the runway which dissolved into an inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. Everyone was silent when the general said, 'This is what we are fighting for.' Then an F-15 took off and we watched as it climbed over the water until it was just a speck. That night was all about the 'team' and the 'we' and knowing each had to contribute their best to ensure the protection our great nation deserves."
"My mother has been a single parent of five from the time my father left our family in 1963. In 2004, I was presented a Congressional Commendation in recognition of my 20 years of service as a Radiation Specialist in the Navy. The commendation declared the day of my retirement "David A. Schauer Day" throughout the First Congressional District of New Jersey. This came as a surprise to all of us but especially to my mother who was seated on the first row and still resides in the district. She could not wait to return home and tell all her neighbors and friends at church about this great honor. May God continue to bless our great country I was privileged to serve."
"The pastor asked me to stand and announced my return from a six month deployment. Almost immediately, the entire auditorium erupted in a standing ovation. That moment was one of the few times in my life when I've seen my father with tears in his eyes. Reliving that moment sends chills down my spine."
"Instincts took over the second the airplane hit the Pentagon. We immediately picked up truckloads of field medical equipment and sent them up to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, and set up a field hospital to ferry wounded back and forth. But as it turned out, of course, there weren't very many wounded. Most of them—the people in the building—were killed. So, that setup ended up being the FEMA headquarters for much of their operation. We had a place for them to move right into. We then started with the planning operations to figure out who did this and what we were going to do about it."
"As part of my unit's Senior Enlisted Advisory Council, I was proud to support the D.C. Special Olympics as a volunteer, being assigned to one of the schools participating in the games. The kids were wary of us at first, but I remember when we were all eating lunch in the bleachers, this little girl approached me and gave me her sandwich. I don't remember what it was, but I ate it, and felt so happy that I touched a young person's life and created a positive impression of the U.S. military to her."
"After having served 21 years in the Army, and retiring in 2004, my proudest moment as a veteran occurred just a few weeks ago. I was visiting my daughter, a senior at Binghamton University, and she announced her decision to join the military to become an officer. She told me that I was her role model. She was proud of me for serving and who I had become. She smiled while my eyes puddled and said, 'Mom, I will be okay.' I couldn't have been more proud of my kid at that very moment."
"We visited a local mall in Erbil while deployed. The locals absolutely loved taking photos with us. It was great to see that the people appreciated the U.S. and wanted to stand next to U.S. soldiers. You would have no idea there was a war going on. We got to see what Iraq would be like if they stopped fighting."
"Being stationed in Naples had its challenges. It wasn't a war zone by any means, but there were civil unrest and anti-American activities that required us to behave differently than we would have if we were living in the United States. Cars were checked for bombs when entering the base. I once drove off leaving my briefcase in the parking lot at the Military Housing apartments. When I returned home I discovered it had been blown up to ensure it wasn't a bomb. But the proudest moments during my time in the service was standing in front of the CTF67 Headquarters building when the flag was raised or lowered. Standing on foreign soil, hearing the national anthem, and thinking about why the United States has bases all over the world to protect and promote freedom made me very proud."
"I served in Germany, where I saw the Berlin Wall come down and reunification. I served in the Republic of Georgia, where I had a front row view of the Rose Revolution and the Soviet puppets were evicted. I have worked with, and learned from, some great soldiers and jumped from perfectly good airplanes."
"I wanted to serve since I was in grade school. My father served in the U.S. Navy as well as lots of family members before him. I have always been smitten with the military and have had a great deal of respect for the way they carry themselves and serve selflessly. I knew I wanted to serve because it felt like a very clear path drawn out before my very being. There was no other option. I had a dire love for my country that I wanted to show everyone."
"I had just turned 18 when I joined, so that start of my Navy career signaled the abrupt end of my adolescence. From boot camp to the final flag salute, walking off the ship to restart your civilian live, you were expected to be responsible, diligent, tenacious, dedicated and ready and willing to do whatever it takes. When you live in a steel bucket floating in the middle of the vast Atlantic, no one can afford to be anything less because it's a long swim home."