8:22 | 2LT Pinkerton dramatically recalls what happened after an explosive projectile slammed into an army truck injuring two buddies and killing an officer all the soldiers respected.
Keywords : security Najaf Iraq UH-60 IED(Improvised Explosive Device) Medevac(Medical Evacuation) night EFP(Explosively Formed Penetrator) gunner combat medic
2LT Pinkerton describes why he enlisted in the army and a frightening experience in airborne school.
2LT Pinkerton describes why he stopped training for the Army's Special Forces and how he became part of his brigade's elite security detail.
While training to fight in Iraq, 2LT Pinkerton relives getting married and the loneliness that followed as he prepared for war.
All the excitement of a C-130 flight to Iraq doesn't prepare 2LT Pinkerton for the death of a soldier killed hours before returning home.
2LT Pinkerton relives shocking explosions and indirect fire that awoke him one night and what happened when his brigade set up counterfire.
Assigned as an officer's driver in the lead truck, 2LT Pinkerton describes how he felt the moment after riding over a live improvised explosive device (IED) that miraculously didn't explode.
2LT Pinkerton tells of a harrowing experience during Operation "Black Eagle" when Iraqi forces unexpectedly struck, killing his friend.
2LT Pinkerton reflects back on a memorial service for a fallen friend, and describes how a bagpipe ceremony, a colonel's heartfelt words, and the army rangers honored their comrade.
2LT Pinkerton remembers going home for "R and R," and seeing the first signs of victory after returning to Iraq.
Massive warheads slam into 2LT Pinkerton's compound killing several soldiers and destroying the chow hall. He describes how some soldiers had to adapt, and what he did to help on their missions.
As action in Iraq slowed down, 2LT Pinkerton spent hours working out and studying for a promotion. He describes the excitment of learning that he was going home, and helping the 101st Airborne replacements.
Unable to sleep for two weeks before heading home, 2LT Pinkerton remembers why he slept on rocks near the airstrip, sold a lot of his belongings and volunteered to pack up the plane.
The amazing feeling of coming back home from Iraq was just part of a surreal experience for 2LT Pinkerton as he landed in Dallas. He vividly describes how he and his fellow soldiers were greeted by Texans when they landed.
After staying at home for awhile, 2LT Pinkerton gets "the itch" to go back to Iraq, and explains why it's the right thing to do.
2LT Pinkerton relives the sheer terror of being hit by a powerful explosion on the way to Baghdad. Not knowing if he was badly injured, he describes the frightening moments before he found out.
2LT Pinkerton describes being examined by medics and pulling practical jokes on a comrade, after their truck was hit by explosives. He laughs as he shares what he did and why.
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.
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 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.
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?
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.