11:01 | Mike Schlitz tells about the circumstances that led to his injury and all of the life changes that occurred as a result.
Keywords : injury accident IED(Improvised Explosive Device) burning skin damage laceration Iraq desert detonation
Growing up, Mike Schlitz knew that he needed the discipline that being in the military would provide. After he joined up, he knew he had the drive to succeed in the military and move up the ranks.
Right after 9/11, Mike Schlitz remembers the sentiment of excitement among some in the military around going to war. Once they shipped over to Iraq, they went to a special school to learn how to deal with the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army.
Working with the Iraqi Army was difficult because they didn't have the same sense of nationalism as American troops. As the war went on, it got increasingly difficult, especially as the casualties started to mount.
Mike Schlitz tells of his time going back to Iraq the 3 times after his injury and how it helped him through the healing process. He defines what a hero means to him and the impact that his mentors have had on his life.
Mike Schlitz is very proud of being a Ranger and stands by everything that that stands for. At the end of the day, he is glad that he served his country and would do it again in a heartbeat.
While flying from Tallil, an Iraq Air Force base, they were caught in a massive sand storm. With nothing between Tallil and Babylon, no way to see the tandem bird, and at risk of flying into Iraq power lines, they were forced to land and wait out the storm.
During his first enlistment with the Army, Steve Hamlet was sent to Honduras. While there, Hurricane Mitch, one of the largest class 4 hurricanes in history, swept through Honduras and destroyed entire neighborhoods and killed over 10,000 people. He gives insight on the truly horrific images of witnessing people float down the river and describes his role in rescue and aid for civilians during this tragic event.
As a young man in the post war Philippines, Salvador Sarmiento wanted desperately to join the US Navy so he could send money home to his family. He had just about given up when a chance encounter got him past the crowd and into the system. His first stop? The spud locker.
Ralph Puckett's favorite tour was the three years he spent in Germany with a Special Forces Group. He had his family there and the Ranger learned a lot from the assignment. It was early on for Vietnam, but he heard stories and began reading up on it. Back in the States in a Pentagon job, he asked to be put on the list to go.
After his time in the Air Force, Steve hamlet decided to go back to Army. Almost immediately after, he was sent to Iraq. He was with Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 171 Aviation Battalion where he flew all of the missions from Baghdad and south. A typical mission could be anything from escorting generals to shipping equipment.
He never went to basic training but he knew how to march from ROTC. It hardly mattered for Salvador Sarmiento because all Filipino sailors in the US Navy were stewards and cooks. After making his peace with seasickness by signing on to kitchen duty, he was there at the Bikini atomic test.
After twenty two years of service, Ralph Puckett retired and had a successful private life, but it was inevitable that he would reconnect with his beloved Rangers. His talent at building confidence is put to very good use at the Ranger school.
After deciding to ETS (End Term of Service) with the infantry division, Steve Hamlet soon joined the non-deployable space operations in the Air Force Reserves. He gives insight on his experiences and his role in operations. He also gives an account of one of the more tragic experiences in which one of the space shuttles exploded on its way back to earth.
What do men need in a leader? Ralph Puckett draws on his long experience to answer that and then relate it to today's challenges for the military. He notes that some mistakes are repeated and that perhaps, "What we learned is that we don't learn anything from our wars."
Described as his “claim to fame,” Steve Hamlet gives an account of a yearlong mission while in Kosovo, in which he tracked a supposed leader of several undisclosed groups. He was primarily responsible for stopping what would have been a disastrous attack on an undisclosed city in another country by this very same individual.
In the Air Force during the Cold War, Val Archer was retrained again, this time as an instructor and education specialist. He recalls his assignment in England at an RAF base and the eagerness of most personnel to participate. After retirement, he looked back at the struggles over segregation and realized how it made him stronger.
After his time in Honduras, Steve Hamlet spent time deployed all over Eastern Europe where he was a non-commissioned officer in charge of military intelligence detachment operations throughout different parts of Eastern Europe. He was primarily responsible for source operations, where he established working relationships.
After suffering severe wounds in Korea, Ralph Puckett spent two years at the Ranger Department in various training assignments. Then he went to a command assignment in Puerto Rico, a "go to war" company. He was given the job of setting up a short orientation school, experience that would help him on his next assignment.
Steve Hamlet gives an account of his experience during basic training. He recalls his most difficult experiences and discusses how he felt those were necessary for his growth as a soldier. After basic, he went on to Advanced Individual Training where he eventually became a Chaplain's assistant.
Career Marine Jay DeGraw served a tour as a recruiter. He had fourteen high schools in his area so he was good at it. He learned to keep a special group of potential recruits in his back pocket in case another station was running short. A boy asked how he could get some of those sharp pants. He said, "These are trousers. Girls and sailors wear pants!" That was good for six recruits and he used it again.
At the end of the war, Val Archer was part of the Tuskegee Airmen, a ground crew member. In 1947, the Army Air Corps became the United States Air Force and began the gradual process of desegregation. His unit was broken up in twos and threes, and scattered to desegregate all-white bases everywhere. He says the true desegregation of the armed forces wasn't really complete until the Vietnam era.
He had made Master Sergeant in El Toro and was, once again, back in Hawaii when Jay DeGraw was offered the chance to become an officer. He declined, but another NCO at a larger organization took the offer and that assignment became his. He had been Motor Transport Chief of one unit. Now he had thirty two to manage.
Frank Aiken joined the Army to go fight in Korea, but the Army wouldn't cooperate. They tried to get him to stay on as an instructor and then they sent him to Germany. Disillusioned, he left the service after that tour. But he rejoined and finally made it to Korea as a post-war advisor. After two tours there and another in Germany, he would taste combat in Vietnam.
It was an interesting assignment. Help the Columbian Army establish a Ranger training school and get it going. Ralph Puckett built up the program from nothing and he knew it was going to be very good, but he did have one problem, what to call the Columbian Rangers?
Engineer Bill Ely was instrumental in supporting the 6th Army's successful Pacific campaign, and once he came home, he continued a long, illustrious career in the Army. From the Pentagon to Paris, he served in a variety of administrative engineering roles.
In Korea, he had switched from Radio Operator to Radio Repairman with a little on-the-job training. After that tour, Arthur served at Ft. Hood for a while and then tried his hand at civilian work. He reenlisted and learned avionics repair and then applied for air traffic control school to learn that valuable skill.
His final service in Vietnam was not for the Army but for the State Department. Kenneth Moorefield was in Hanoi to open the US embassy and served there from 1995 to 1998. He says that the government officials who had been in combat were much easier to deal with due to their mutual respect as soldiers.
While unloading equipment from one of the milvan containers in Balad, Iraq, there was suddenly some indirect fire. Steve Hamlet discusses the experience and describes it as being “unnerving” and “shocking” when experiencing it for the first time. He also touches on the role of embedded reporters and the significant amount of falsified information found in their reports.