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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pilot Bill Hanna returned to service for the Berlin Airlift and remained in Europe to provide transportation for the Cold War effort. He remembers a little wine-based detente in Italy when Communists marched on his picnic. Also, he explains why he decided on a career in the Air Force as a result of walking into a clothesline.
Doug Heckman returned for a second Iraq tour and chipped a golf ball into Saddam's lake at the Grand Palace on his birthday. This was the wrap up to a great career and he reflects on that and on the relationship between Americans and their warriors.
Bob Wylie's first post as a Naval air traffic controller was in picturesque Monterey, California. Then it was on to the east coast at Brunswick, Georgia. A short stint back in private life was unsatisfactory so he returned to the Navy and became an air crew member as a secondary job.
Doug Heckman had been part of the initial Special Forces leadership in Afghanistan and in 2005 he volunteered for Iraq. He and his men got their combat badges the very first day when an IED hit their convoy. He says the Iraqi people are like people anywhere and were very hospitable to him.
His last duty was at the European Command in the early seventies. West Pointer Bill Ray found that the Army was falling apart there to the point that there was an actual mutiny in a Signal Corps unit. He speaks of his feelings about visiting the Vietnam War Memorial and of the lessons he feels should be taken from that war.
"Get up! The world's ending. I'm making eggs." His roommate's words woke Blake Bourne on 9-11 and his whole world changed over the next few days. Savagery threatened the Norman Rockwell world he had grown up in and it led to his graduation from Ranger school as an Army officer.
His job was to keep the tanks going in Cold War Germany and he did just that, including going to school just on turrets. Bill Morris recalls that school in the foothills of the Swiss Alps and also remembers the all night engine overhauls on the mighty tanks. There was even some excitement when he made a wrong turn and drove his maintenance truck into East Berlin.
Farm boy Bill Morris joined the Air Force Reserve, thinking it would keep him away from Korea, but his tests showed such great mechanical ability that the Army drafted him right out of the Air Force into the Army. They needed maintenance personnel for armored units in Germany, so he never saw Korea, after all.
It was an odd return home for Blake Bourne, single and based in Germany. One thing he noticed was the tighter bond with his fellow soldiers who had served together in Iraq. He also encountered the best commander he had ever met, LTC John Meyer.
Bill McCowen entered the jet age when he moved from the B-29 to the B-47, which he handled so well he became an instructor pilot for the aircraft. Shrugging off the trouble he caused when he let a 2nd Lieutenant fly in the front seat, he was among the first to regularly fly at high altitude, where he was startled by his first sight of a contrail.
At the end of the Big War, Bill Bates served as commander at two Marine barracks including Lakehurst, New Jersey, where airships were stationed and where a famous zeppelin had crashed. Then it was back to Quantico for amphibious warfare school, where he learned the complex and difficult aspects of landing troops on an unfriendly beach.
It was an exotic post, the Pacific atoll Kwajalein. Bob Wylie was an air traffic controller and worked search and rescue as well at the Naval air station there. Then it was back to Georgia for advanced school and further grounding in VFR, Visual Flight Rules. He was assigned to the Philippines just as a massive buildup of forces began in Southeast Asia.
The missions were so secret, that when the plane returned from the East with no insignia, our own fighters were scrambled to intercept it. Bob Bruffey maintained that plane and when one of the crew defected to the East, he had to go to Washington for debriefing. He couldn't help but laugh at his intelligence contacts there.
He had joined the Army to go find the bad guys. It took him seven years after 9-11 but Blake Bourne was finally going to be deployed when he got a call from his commanding officer. Instead of a rifle platoon, he was going to command a support platoon. He wasn't even sure what that was, but when he found out, he was mad.
When Air Force technician Bob Bruffey shipped out to Germany for the second time, he was sent to Libya for air/sea survival training. This involved being pulled through the water in a parachute. When the chute wouldn't release and he was pulled under, he experienced an eerie calm just at the edge of death.
He always wanted to fly. In fact, Al Muller was building model airplanes before he could read. This naturally led him to the Air Force and after basic training and a first assignment transporting troops, he entered the Air Force Institute and became an Aeronautical Engineer.
Kenneth Moorefield came out of West Point expecting to go to Vietnam, but instead was posted to the Dominican Republic, where he underwent his first medical evacuation in the wake of a riot. He already had a sense of what he would face once he got to Vietnam from the writing of Bernard Fall.