4:02 | Once in Iraq, 2LT Peter Sprenger explains how he felt not knowing who was winning the war and why basic training was tougher than the living conditions he endured in the desert.
Keywords : Operation Iraqi Freedom victory Baghdad Iraq morale sleep maintenance food training
2LT Peter Sprenger describes why he joined the Army after 9/11, his feelings about facing the battlefield, and how his training prepared him and his comrades for a different kind of war in Iraq.
Ferocious fighting and a myriad of cultures in Iraq, took 2LT Peter Sprenger and his fellow soldiers by surprise. Their training didn't prepare them for what they faced.
Trained very well before arriving in Kuwait, 2LT Sprenger experiences a Scud missle attack and witnesses just how well American forces are prepared. He describes what it's like to brace for chemical warfare in the desert heat.
Not knowing when he'd go to Iraq or what was going on politically, 2LT Sprenger recalls how it felt to finally enter the country. He relives the difficulty of moving through the desert while heading toward battle.
First assigned to an air assault, 2LT Peter Sprenger describes how that changed to a ground approach. He recalls experiencing an unexpected odd mix of fighting in Iraq and passing out candy bars to Iraqi children.
2LT Sprenger recalls not knowing how the enemy might attack at night during Iraq's desert sandstorms, and how a soldier's imagination can keep him on constant alert.
The first time 2LT Sprenger faces direct fire it gets his adrenaline going. He recalls how US troops intimidated Iraqi forces and how training prepared him for the real battlefield.
The uncertainty of war weighed heavily on 2LT Sprenger's mind. He describes how he prepared mentally for a surprise attack in the streets of Iraq.
Capturing Baghdad quickly surprised 2LT Sprenger and his fellow troops. He recalls all the excitement, how it boosted morale, and gave soldiers hope that they'd be home soon.
After moving North from Baghdad, 2LT Sprenger describes a surprising twist in the Iraqi culture, people dressed differently, and were more technologically advanced than he ever expected.
2LT Sprenger tells of weapons left unguarded and how dangerously coordinated attacks strengthened his resolve and dedication to fight the Iraqi enemy.
Slammed by powerful explosives, 2LT Sprenger describes the sheer terror of being blinded and badly injured. He relives the heroic efforts of those who helped him scramble to safety.
Blinded by an explosion in Iraq, 2LT Sprenger describes his Medivac Convoy and the first moments he spoke to his family about his devastating injuries.
After being badly inured, 2LT Sprenger describes the emotional ups and downs of his recovery, how his severely injured comrades fared, and the care he received at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Despite losing his eye, 2LT Sprenger describes what drove him back to the battlefield, how his doctors helped, and what he endured to become an Army ranger.
There was one last big action just before his tour was over and then Jon Keen could look forward to returning home. The replacement unit that moved into his position in Afghanistan began taking casualties right away, so nothing had changed. He reflects on the challenges he faced there and how the attack on September 11, 2001 shaped his life.
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.
His father had a long Army career so it was not unusual for Jon Keen to join ROTC in college and then enlist in the National Guard. He was in basic training on September 11, 2001 and the events of that day would have a profound effect on the rest of his training and on the rest of his life. After Airborne and Ranger schools, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2005.
On the Afghan border with Pakistan, platoon leader Jon Keen had the difficult job of finding Taliban fighters and sympathizers among the local population. Sometimes, this did not make many friends. He did have a good friend in his interpreter, who at great risk to himself and his family, helped the Americans.
On a mission to visit the Afghan villages in his area, Jon Keen's unit experienced its first casualty and he experienced his first live fire. Many of the civilians were resentful of the American soldiers and he relates two incidents which contributed to this feeling.
There was a concern that Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles could be fired against Israel, so a Ranger detachment was one of the units inserted into Iraq to make sure that did not happen. As part of this operation, Ken Keen was helped by the close camaraderie among Rangers, men that he already knew and men that he just met and could trust.
Jon Keen was back in Italy training with his Airborne unit when he got two pieces of news. One was that deployments would be extended to fifteen months and the other was that they would be returning to Afghanistan instead of going to Iraq. This time it would be the Korangal Valley which challenged the men and the action began the very first day.
Based on the experience from a long career as an Army Ranger, Ken Keen has some advice for young Rangers and some gratitude for those who have undergone extensive service following 9/11. He also notes how their influence has spread throughout the services since Gen. Creighton Abrams' charter which established the modern Ranger battalions.
Perhaps the scariest experience for Jon Keen in Afghanistan was the night time drive on a particular mountainside road in the Korangal Valley. It was a long way down with not much clearance for the vehicles. One of his most rewarding experiences was the mission to recover a fallen comrade.
Frank Noonan owed the Navy another year. That's how he wound up at the Bikini atoll for Operation Crossroads, the first post-war atomic bomb tests. There were two detonations, an air burst and an underwater burst. He describes the scene and the devastating effects on the target ships. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
He already had a long, distinguished career in the Army but Rock Merritt wasn't done. He served in the Dominican Republic, where he had a hard time believing that taxpayer money was being used to buy off the combatants, and in Panama, where he got to bring his wife with him. (This interview made possible with the support of JOHN & BARBARA MCCOY.)
Jon Keen was helping unload casualties in Asadabad, Afghanistan when he saw his platoon sergeant among the wounded, a sight which seared his memory. It was difficult for the Afghans as well. The dead children he carried from helicopters is another forever memory. During this time, two Medal of Honor events occurred in a large operation called Rock Avalanche.
With a variety of successful engineering assignments behind him, Jack Martin began participating in high level general war planning, first in Washington, and then in an underground facility in the Midwest. (This interview made possible with the support of BARBARA SHELDON in honor of Joseph Graham.)
After commanding the 75th Ranger Battalion, Ken Keen's next assignment was with the US Southern Command. During an official visit to Haiti, he was caught up in the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. The value of his Ranger networking was proven in the relief effort that followed.
Jack Martin was having a fine time his first year at college when his father asked him this question, would he accept an appointment to West Point? Having answered the only way a real man could answer, he chose engineering school at Fort Belvoir upon graduation. (This interview made possible with the support of BARBARA SHELDON in honor of Joseph Graham.)
It was tough during his second tour of Afghanistan, but Jon Keen reveals how he tried to help his platoon cope, including that most sacred of American male rituals, the video game. Not that he had much spare time, because in addition to his duties as scout platoon leader, he ran the detention facility in Asadabad.
After a short bit of shore duty, Frank Noonan was assigned to the USS John R. Craig, a destroyer that was bound for a goodwill tour in the Pacific. It berthed in some unlikely places, including up the Irrawaddy River at Rangoon. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
Army Ranger Ken Keen reflects on the importance of mentors in his career, beginning with the ROTC instructor who talked him into going to Ranger school while still in college. When he retired from the Army, he found a way to carry this forward at Emory University.
Jack Martin was a new lieutenant out of engineering school by way of West Point. His first post was in Cold War Germany in support of the 2nd Armored Division, where he faced a great challenge, moving tanks across the Rhine. (This interview made possible with the support of BARBARA SHELDON in honor of Joseph Graham.)
As documented in the movies Restrepo and Korangal, the action in the Korangal Valley of Afghanistan was fierce. During one firefight, platoon leader Jon Keen took cover and when he looked around for his men, he had a startling discovery.
Working in Civil Affairs, it's essential to understand the nuances of what is going on in the place you're deployed. Christina Cross made sure she was well-versed in the intellectual part as well as the physical training. Being given the honor graduate award at airborne school meant a lot to her.
Ever since he was in ROTC, Ken Keen wanted to be part of the Rangers. It wasn't until he was a major that he made that happen. During Operation Just Cause, he had to miss the jump because of a training mishap, but he still joined the command team on the ground in Panama.