4:53 | 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.
Keywords : IED(Improvised Explosive Device) security patrols injuries combat medic
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.
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.
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.
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.
After the war in Iraq shifted from a conventional war to an insurgency, intelligence became very important. That and up-armoring vehicles to protect them from the enemy's favorite weapon; the Improvised Explosive Device or IED. Compounding the problem was a lack of disposal teams. For V Corps Command Sgt Major Ken Preston, it was a difficult fight with a steep learning curve.
Bill Pearson had been to Vietnam twice and returned unscathed, but the Army wasn't done putting him in danger. He was assigned as an aviation consultant to Iran, advising the Shah's air force on it's supply of American aircraft. The day he arrived, martial law was declared and it wasn't long before there were mobs outside trying to burn down the building. The embassy was no help. Escape seemed impossible.
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.
Ken Preston's armored cavalry unit deployed to the Kuwait/Iraq border to provide security for the pullout following the swift resolution of Operation Desert Storm. He has vivid memories of the oil well fires and the wreckage covering the battlefield.
Ken Preston had a very rewarding position as 1st Sgt at BNCOC, the basic NCO course at Fort Knox. Scouts, tank and Bradley crewmen and mechanics all received their instruction there. He was elevated to deputy commandant, which meant that he was now the busiest person in the Army. He was right up on twenty years and he filled out the form for a retirement date, but his boss had something to say about that.
A lot of technology has changed, but to an old tank master gunner like Ken Preston, it still comes down to that last hundred yards on the ground, force to force. Getting to that point has been aided greatly by GPS technology, something that helped tremendously in Iraq.
Whether to stay in the service or move on is a question that is well known to service members. For LC Johnson, it was an easy choice. It was a down economy, he had limited options at the time because of his race, and, most importantly, his mother said it was a good idea.
He'd come a long way from those early months of the Iraq war. Ken Preston recalls welding steels plates in the doors of Humvees to make "hillbilly armor." When he became Sgt Major of the Army, he was able to help improve the quality of the equipment in the field. Not only that, more child development centers were built for Army families to improve their quality of life.
The bomber jacket worn by a hometown character caught LC Johnson's young eye, so he always had the Air Force on his mind, not the Army. He was stationed at isolated radar sites in the Southwest, at first. Then he got his first taste of a real Air Force base in Japan, where he worked in supply and at the clubs on base.
On September 11, 2001, there were 130 senior leaders huddled in a town pavilion during a war exercise in Heidelberg. An aide handed a slip of paper to V Corps commander Gen Scott Wallace. He showed it to Command Sgt Major Ken Preston. A plane had hit he World Trade center. Then there was a second slip of paper and the General stood up and addressed the crowd. Everything had changed at that moment.
His sister units had deployed from Germany into Kuwait. Ken Preston's group was held in Germany to set up a program to train tank and Bradley gunners heading to the conflict. Of course it was the middle of winter. After the quick resolution to the war, the training program ended and it was his turn to deploy to provide security for the pullout.
Platoon leader Brooks Tucker was in the Saudi Arabian desert, waiting to see what Saddam Hussein would do. The Marines were training in mock ups of Iraqi defenses, mostly at night to avoid the scorching heat. The men were getting impatient just as the air war started. It wouldn't be long, now.
Ken Preston's first duty was at Fort Hood, where he got a plum assignment in the headquarters company as a tank crewman. There were only three tanks in the section, including the battalion commander's tank. The unit spent a lot of time testing and evaluating new tanks to determine which technology the Army should adopt.
As he progressed in the Air Force at a number of bases, logistics expert LC Johnson enjoyed the environs of places like Los Angeles and England. When he got to Korea, he had a role to play in the Pueblo incident as the man who knew the nuts and bolts of that area of operation.
He was back at Fort Knox, where ordinary tank gunners became master gunners. Ken Preston enjoyed passing knowledge on to young NCO's who could go back to their units as a more valuable asset. He had served in Germany and the Middle East and was coming up on a big decision. Make twenty and retire or keep going?
Operation Desert Storm was so brief that Brooks Tucker, a Marine veteran of that conflict, believes that it may be a forgotten war. He speaks of the lessons learned, including operating in desert terrain and adjusting expectations for possible outcomes.
A big priority for Ken Preston, the 13th Sgt Major of the Army, was helping the families of service members who were being pressed into longer and longer deployments. The armed forces were being stretched thin. In 2009, he was asked to come to the White House to brief the President from the enlisted perspective and he was able to voice his concerns at the highest level.
His dream was to be an architect, but now he was in the Army for a few years. The recruiter tried to help Ken Preston by putting him on an engineering and surveying path, but he found out about a $2500 bonus for committing to an armored unit. That was a lot of money in 1975.
Brooks Tucker was in the suburbs of Kuwait near the famous "Highway of Death," a much photographed road littered with thousands of abandoned vehicles. There was never enough water while they were there, but at least there were no longer any Iraqi Army units either.
It was still his plan to get out, take the GI Bill and go to college, but his unit was moving to Germany so he had to make a decision. Should I reenlist and take the family to see the sights of Europe? Affirmative. He reported there and found lodging and a car and the family followed. Right away, his wife was on her own while he went to the basic noncom course.
The Sgt Major of the Army position was created in 1966 by Gen Harold Johnson, the Chief of Staff of the Army, who wanted a senior enlisted advisor on hand. The 13th SMA was Ken Preston, who immediately sought out and befriended all the previous holders of the position that he could. One of the messages he carried to leadership from the ranks was that there was an unacceptable level of stress on service members and their families because of long deployments.
Looking back on Iraq, Ken Preston recalls how limited the communications were, with very few satellite units to go around. There was internet for the troops, which was not the case in the previous war. Daily communication with home has it down side, though.