9:11 | At first, the wounds were simple. A lot of frag wounds and Corpsman Joseph Poquiz was thankful. One day when he was on radio watch inside an abandoned house, an insurgent threw a hand grenade into the room. There were two Marines in there with him. He was the lucky one. He only had a concussion.
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His family had its share of Marines and sailors. Joseph Poquiz came from a background of appreciation for the opportunity you have in America. He decided that it was in the medical field that he could do his best service to others.
For Joseph Poquiz, life changed forever on September 11, 2001. The entire baseball team at his high school wanted to enlist in the Marines. He had already decided on the medical field. "That's a Corpsman," one of the guys said. He started running and getting in shape.
He had been through Navy basic training and the first school for Corpsmen. For Joseph Poquiz, it was almost like learning a new language. He learned how to "sweep" the body and locate any injury. The next stop was the Field Medical Service School, which was like basic all over again, harder even.
After completing his training as a Navy Corpsman, Joseph Poquiz was attached to the 3rd Marine Division in Hawaii. They were destined for Iraq after some field exercises. On his first night in the desert, he was amazed at all the stars. On his first day at the forward base, they were hit with an IED.
When Corpsman Joseph Poquiz got to Iraq with his Marine unit, he quickly found out that his medical kit made him a target. He split it up and concealed it, adapting like he was taught. The insurgents made IED's from a huge array of old munitions and detonation devices including one made from discarded IV tubing.
During his second tour of Iraq, Corpsman Joseph Poquiz was based in Fallujah, where he helped train medics in the Iraqi police force. He knew some of them were former insurgents, but it was an important task, helping them establish some order in the war torn country.
After two tours of Iraq, Corpsman Joseph Poquiz was considering Navy SEAL training. He started doing the necessary work, but the birth of a second child made him reconsider.
Within four days of being injured in Iraq, Dale Beatty was at Walter Reed hospital in Maryland where his wife was waiting. During his recovery, he was inspired by the actions of those who helped him to do something himself to help other wounded veterans.
Blake Bourne expected to do cool "guy stuff" involving weaponry and bombs when he joined the Army. He remembered that and laughed when he had to navigate nearly impossible logistics to supply an ice cream social for some Arab sheikhs.
LTC Garnet Derby was killed when a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle, also taking 3 other soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter. Brett Stroney recalls the incident and the memories of LTC Derby.
Though he was severely injured in Iraq, Dale Beatty has no animosity towards anyone. He acknowledges the good leaders that he had in the Army, who all shared one important quality which he tried to emulate, and he shares an experience he had in an Iraqi family's home that gave him a sobering perspective on our mission there.
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.
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.
Understanding how the military operated while stationed in Kosovo became essential for Tommy Rieman and it gave him a good first step towards future deployments. Deciding to re-enlist and go to Germany was a very exciting next step for him.
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.
During 9/11, Tommy Rieman was on guard waiting to act if necessary, which they ended up having to do for a training mission. Deploying to Iraq was a transition after his time in Kosovo but they were prepared to do whatever they needed to do.
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.
National Guardsman Dale Beatty was at work when he saw the 9/11 attacks unfold on TV. He knew immediately that he would be going to war soon. That was confirmed when he was sent to California for desert training. After further training at Fort Bragg, his unit readied to deploy.
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.
Growing up with both parents as Marines, Christina Cross grew up with a military influence in her family that caused her to want to join. Living on a military base as a kid was very influential for her and helped give her a sense of what it was like. She still remembers the influence that 9/11 had on her life and desire to join the service.
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.
Being a female soldier in Iraq allowed Christina Cross to be very influential especially among the women & children that they came in contact with. By learning what Iraqi women were good at, they were able to create a Women's Business Center that let the women sew, knit and create products that they were later able to sell at the bazaar.
It was an old Iraqi Air Force base in northern Iraq that the Americans settled into and began to fortify and improve. Dale Beatty noted the grass and trees near the base and they gave him the idea that maybe they were far enough north to avoid the heat of the desert. He was wrong. The base kept taking fire from the surrounding area, so patrols were started to find and eliminate the threat.
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.
Patrick Sauer remembers the difference between pre and post-9/11 America, especially the changes that happened in the military. Hearing what happened to one of his college friends on United 93 spurred him to push for overseas deployment.