4:37 | Doug Heckman's Green Beret A Team was a group of highly trained and experienced specialists. Their primary mission area was North Africa. He got to see Rommel's caves in the Sahara but felt the lure of a business career and pursued an MBA while staying active in reserve.
Between West Point and Ranger school, mind and body were as well trained as it gets. Doug Heckman valued those experiences as he deployed to Europe when Ronald Reagan faced off with the Soviets.
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.
The surge was succeeding but at a price. Doug Heckman liked riding in the lead vehicle but was in the second one the day Captain Shawn English had the lead and took the brunt of the blast from an IED. This altered his view of how high the bar should be set for military commitment.
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.
He rose early to play golf but the sight of the Twin Towers in flames changed his plans. Doug Heckman was a Green Beret in the reserve and he knew what was coming. Soon he was selected by Col. John Mulholland for the Special Forces team leading the mission in Afghanistan.
The logistical problems were monumental, but a few hundred Americans from a range of units and agencies ran the effort in Northern Afghanistan from a former Soviet air base in Uzbekistan. Doug Heckman describes the challenges the team faced in supporting the Northern Alliance and remembers Johnny Spann, the first American to lose his life in the war.
Following the tragic deaths of ten Afghan children, it fell on General David Barno to tell President Karzai about the incident. He describes the effect this had on the rules of engagement going forward and he discusses a document he drew up to give guidelines to the troops that would keep them in the good graces of their hosts.
When a vehicle loaded with explosives blew up at the gate, dental officer Mike Barno hurried to his emergency assignment, triage at the aid station. A truck with wounded men from the Afghan Army pulled up and he jumped into the back, ready to help.
Justice details a too-close-for-comfort interaction with a vehicle-borne IED. The IED came as a complete surprise and the entire F.O.B. fell into what Justice could only describe as “chaos” immediately following the explosion. She suffered several injuries and had to work with the nurses back in Bagram and depend on the friendship of comrade Colonel Ellison to come back from the injuries.
Fort Bragg was one of her favorite posts. What did Regena Herndon learn there? Endurance and taking initiative and how to deal with high ranking people. After her retirement, she worked with juvenile offenders and got a lot of satisfaction when lives were turned around.
Regena Herndon wanted to join the military after talking to a recruiter at a high school career night. The fact that her brother would not talk about his experiences in Vietnam did not deter her. Basic training was tough, but she prevailed and became a soldier. Her first post at Fort Dix was a bad experience, but the next one, in Frankfurt made up for it.
Dionne Archibald had many assignments and ships during her Navy career, including the USS Wasp. It was transporting Marines during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. As the information security manager, it was part of her job to deny internet access to those who strayed online.
After technical school in blazing hot Texas, Tyrell Felder headed to her first job as a medical technician at Langley Air Force Base. Her father was career Army, and he told her not to expect to see many minorities in positions of power in the military. She was happy to discover that was no longer the case.
She was young and alone, but the Navy made sure there was someone to meet Dionne Archibald at the airport in Japan as she began her first assignment. She had no problem re-enlisting after her initial four year hitch and went to an advanced communications course before her next post. She lucked out on that one.
Her mother passed away an September 10, 2001. Nothing could have prepared Dianne Butts for the shock of the following morning's events, a national tragedy added on to her personal tragedy. As a logistics officer, she did her part when called to Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she did her job, despite the psychological toll any war zone can bring.
Being stationed in Germany was a great assignment for Dionne Archibald because she always had a love of travel and that gave her a chance to see Europe. After she returned to the States, she was promoted to master chief and returned to recruiting as an equal opportunity specialist.
Dianne Butts talks about the strained relationship with her daughter while she was deployed, an example of the stress on military families. She keeps the PTSD at bay by getting involved with women veteran groups and lobbying congress on veteran issues.
When Dionne Archibald went to the Military Sea Lift Command, she was lucky to get a brand new ship. The job was fueling and supplying ships at sea and it was during this time that she got to make a contribution to the Desert Storm operation.
After thirty years of service, Dionne Archibald left the Navy, but her passion to help people continued. Her non-profit organization Active Veterans With Answers acts as a bridge between veterans and the VA, to make sure they have access to all their benefits.
Emmanuel Melendez-Diaz wanted to deploy to Iraq and he got his wish. The spartan conditions were bearable, but he had a sergeant who badgered him about his English and relegated him to KP duty. Fortunately, he was able to move to another company, where he was wanted, with the help of some breakfast cereal.
After being thrown into combat right away, Marine air traffic control technician Nate Winkler's time in Iraq got a little more settled down. He was in country for eight weeks doing his part to set up and operate forward air fields. Then, relief was sent and he came home, which was fine. He'd got his taste of the war. Part 3 of 3.