2:46 | 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.
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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 dramatically recalls what happened after an explosive projectile slammed into an army truck injuring two buddies and killing an officer all the soldiers respected.
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.
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.
He was raised by a Marine, so when Josh Lipe went off to boot camp himself, he knew exactly what to expect. He was amused instead of intimidated by the mind games but there was one problem. He injured his ankle and kept on going. That was a mistake.
A huge sandstorm kept the Marines buttoned up in their vehicles for hours. After it cleared, they rolled into the town of Al Kut, where the enemy had an ambush set up. SAW gunner Jason Wilebski and Company made them wish they had not done that. Part 1 of 2. (Caution: strong language)
The Marines were living in converted shipping containers and stuck with bad chew and bad Iraqi cigarettes. The desert cammies were filthy so Josh Lipe had his squad change into greens so they could wash them. This led to some incoming from a stiff First Sergeant. (Caution:strong language)
They train you to get out of an ambush by assaulting through it, if you can. That's exactly what Jason Wilebski and his fellow Marines did in the Iraqi town of Al Kut. It helped once thay figured out you had to milk the grenade before you threw it. Part 2 of 2. (Caution: strong language)
After the Blackwater contractors were killed in Fallujah, Josh Lipe's unit was part of the force assembled to clean up the town. He had a premonition about a friend in a different unit that he happened to see and it turned out to be true. When he had fought his way into the city and had a moment's rest, he got hold of a satellite phone and had a dramatic phone call with his mom. (Caution: strong language)
Three times around in Iraq and Jason Wilebski was ready for a calmer experience. His next assignment wasn't that calm, though. It involved a lot of live fire training. He was one of the trainers, known as coyotes.
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.
IED's were a growing problem in Iraq and Josh Lipe was alarmed at the piles of stones that he thought had something to do with the bombs. That turned out not to be the case, which was a big relief. He remembers a huge Iraqi truck stop on the trip north and he can still smell the bad diesel.
Interpreter Ali Alzubaidi was amazed at how warmly he was welcomed into his first American unit. Some of his family had just passed away but now he had a family of 150. He began to feel unsafe when he wasn't with them, however, especially after he got a threatening phone message.
No matter what you think about a conflict, you should support the troops who fight it. That's the message Jason Wilebski wants people to remember. He pays respect to the leaders and grunts he served with and reveals what music they were listening to while breaking up stuff in Iraq.
When the 9/11 attacks occurred, Josh Lipe was at Security Forces school in Chesapeake, VA. The base instantly went on war footing and students were put on guard with live ammo. Rumors were flying as the young Marines waited in suspense to find out if more attacks were coming.
The Iraqi insurgents would often set a new device in an existing crater on the road and pave it over to look like a road repair. Dale Beatty was in a Humvee escorting a fuel convoy and he was aware of this tactic. When he spotted one of these patches in the road, he instructed the driver to go around, but this turned out to be the wrong move.
When Josh Lipe came to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, the unit was understaffed. They were going to go to Iraq shorthanded but there was no lack of spirit. While he waited in Kuwait to cross the border, he found out what night vision can do to star gazing. It was spectacular.
When the vehicle hit an IED, Emmanuel Melendez-Diaz was in the doorway and took most of the blast. All he could think of as he looked down at his shattered body was how long it would take before he could get back to his buddies, but he was beginning a long road to recovery. (Caution: strong language.) Part 1 of 2.
It was great to have a Spectre gunship overhead. Jason Wilebski really appreciated the cover from the air as he fought on the ground in the Iraqi town of Karmah. His unit was taking sniper fire from a mosque but there was a solution for that. (Caution: strong language)
Josh Lipe had a feeling they were headed into an ambush and he was right. He should have been OK. He was in the second truck and they usually tried to take out the first or the last, but in this IED attack, his truck was hit. The blast knocked him out and when he came to, he began to check on the rest of his guys. Their reactions when they saw him let him know haw badly wounded he was. (Caution: strong language)
He was on patrol and running missions for a month in Fallujah and Josh Lipe was finally getting the benefit of all the training he had gone through. His squad was comprised of Marines that were straight out of central casting, some real characters.
When he pushed into Iraq, Jason Wilebski was part of the Marine infantry attached to a tank unit. At first, he could only hear the sound of the building battle as he rode in a sealed up Amtrac. When he dismounted, he saw a couple of Cobras take out some Iraqi tanks. It was a dazzling display of firepower. (Caution: strong language)
As part of the Marine Corps Security Forces, Josh Lipe's unit was assigned tasks such as guarding embassies and safeguarding nuclear fuel transfers. When the bombing range in Puerto Rico was reopened following the 9/11 attacks, they had to mix it up with some local protestors.
For a third time, Jason Wilebski deployed to Iraq, this time as a squad leader. He and his Marines were angry that they had been pulled back the last time they were there because they felt they could have finished the job. One thing that was different this time, there were a lot more IED's. (Caution: strong language)
He walked into the hospital at Al Asad under his own power but Josh Lipe was soon out cold for 36 hours. He'd been badly injured in an IED attack and was in a frenzy when he woke up. Take me back to my men! That was impossible and he was flown back to the US to recover. The transition was not easy. (Caution: strong language)
When he found out he was assigned to Twentynine Palms, new Marine Jason Wilebski began to be regaled with horror stories about the place. "It was 130 degrees and they were throwing beer bottles at us," claimed one of his instructors, describing his arrival there.
After recovering from his injuries, Josh Lipe was on the field to greet his unit when they returned from Iraq. He became an instructor in several areas, first in the Marine Corps and then in the civilian world. He'd nearly been killed by an IED but he felt sure he was saved so he could teach others.
There was definitely a favorite song in the 3-4 Marines. As they waited to sweep into Fallujah, psy ops cranked up the loudspeakers and it was game on. Twenty years later, Josh Lipe reveals the name of the song and tells what it's like to be together with his guys once again.
He grew up working on a dairy farm where there was always work to do but Jason Wilebski was now a Marine. The training made that feel like nothing. The pace was relentless as his unit prepared for the invasion of Iraq. (Caution: strong language)
It finally caught up with him. Josh Lipe had gritted his teeth and kept going back in the School Of Infantry when he injured his ankle and foot. Now he had a bone spur that required surgery just as his unit prepared to deploy to Iraq. He was going to miss the deployment.