25 | Graves


I see his hand sticking out of the rubble, and I just Graham by the hand and pull them out. And I'm in I'm in pants, no shirt. No shoes. No socks long before enlisted in the army Samuel graves developed a work ethic that separated him from his peers, he preached whatever job he was doing with exceeding his own expectations. As the only goal. It's the kind of attitude that people who count on you learn to appreciate pretty quickly throughout his military career. He benefited from equal parts hard work and dumb luck. But at the end of the day, the difference between chance and fate isn't that significant because once you step onto the battlefield close calls or given their the known unknowns. I raised up to fire at him. I was thinking this is a car bomb coming right at me. And that's exactly what it was. What is true bravery? What makes a hero a hero tested by the worries of what's happening at home, thousands of miles away. And the reality of what you're facing here. And now when your life is in danger every second and it's either killed or be killed from wondering and incongruity media. This is Anthony Russo. And this. Is war? Hi, this is Anthony from this war. And we've got some really exciting news. You can now listen to new episodes of this work completely ad free exclusively on Stitcher premium. In addition to our ad free. Shows you also can listen to tons of other. Wondering shows like sort and scale or American history tellers, plus with Stitcher premium you get access to hundreds of hours of original content. Audio documentaries and exclusive bonus episodes from some of your other favorite podcasts. If you're one of those people who likes to skip over ads. Anyways, Stitcher premiums, probably a great solution. You don't have to hover with your finger over the thirty second or fifteen second button. You can just listen through the whole show uninterrupted sign up now for a free month of Stitcher premium by going to Stitcher premium dot com slash wondering and using the promo code wondering. Then once you signed up just download the Stitcher app for Android and start listening. That's Stitcher premium dot com slash wondering. And the promo code is. Wondering w. N D E R Y. Samuel Greaves. Didn't exactly joining army because he was out of options, but he was running out of direction he'd spent three years at Troy university in Alabama running track. But college just wasn't his thing. He ran up some debt and knew he needed a life reset which was something the army offered after that the decision was easy. His father had been in the army and the signing bonus. Plus, the kind of focus that comes with becoming an infantryman was all he needed to sign up for four years in the army was my twenty seventh birthday, and we were going to be meeting the recruiter that day. So I was getting the mourn putting a pot of coffee on parents have will TV in the kitchen turned on just in time to see the second plane hit at anything about this gonna cause a war. You know, we didn't really know what was at the time. But still got ready went down to the recruiting station and me and my bra. Went down there and recruiter was driving us up to Montgomery, Alabama where the met station was where we take our final os. And and they were gonna ship us to forbidding where imagery basic training is it was going just like that. And we got about halfway Montgomery in the recruiter. Got a call saying all the bases locked down. So we turn around went home. And they said, we'll let you know when it opens back up when we get back to normal business or whatever. So when home had dinner with some friends, and buddy deal, and he's like, you know, you still feel good about this decision. You know, they were gonna pay me. And they were going to do all this when there was no war. I can't really go back on my word just because you know, things change basic trainings, not too difficult for twenty seven year old former athlete who's been working at physically demanding jobs for nearly a decade. The waiting was a problem though. It isn't a grave was in any rush to get to the war though. He would do his job when the time came. It was more that since it was the end of summer. There was a bottleneck in processing add to that the effect of the September eleventh attacks on the army superstructure and the bottleneck only got worse the fourteen week process. Continually was pushed back so that although he arrived in September graves didn't graduate basic training until February two thousand and two he deployed to Germany than Kozovo where the US peacekeeping mission was well established by the time. It got to Iraq in February two thousand four his unit was part of a well oiled machine primed for the fight. So we went to Ford offering base called breastfeed Mora to do missions. We had to travel in every day and later on when things got pretty bad. We ended up moving right into the city. So that we were right there. He figured out pretty quick what the batter is were. And win stuff was about to go down. Because. The streets would be pretty busy would be going through. And then all of sudden, everybody starts disappear. And he just knows about having. We were on a road called heat. It was where we went when we're looking for a fight basically straight start to clear out kinda wondering what's going on. Because you know, there's our first contact. We're just working our way down the road on the other side of the road from where I was at a grenade got thrown from over a fence or something in exploded next one of our guys little ways off, and we got lucky, you know, he just took some concussion from it. I mean, he continued on the mission. We moved a little further down the street. We started taking fire in you know, we didn't know how many we were dealing with. So without knowing that really we just kinda peeled back weighed in advance on the soldiers. I mean, the people were fighting didn't wear uniform zones always hard to tell what was going on. We went forty days in a row. Oh that we got into a firefight. Samara was SUNY city loyal to Saddam an insurgent hotbed these people were highly motivated to get the Americans out breastfeed. Moore was on the outskirts but graves squad was in the city. They were supporting a special forces contingent that it established a base in the city centre during those highly Connectik weeks, they would block off the street with Bradley's while they patrolled just to prevent vehicle borne idea tax in the middle of the day patrolling everyday was a critical part of the mission because sometimes patrol as a patrol and sometimes it's a faint that conceals a bigger mission. Like a raid on an alleged weapons cache. Well, we went into this house, and we searched it in like attached to that house was like an empty house. We found a big RPG's and a bunch of weapons and stuff. So we started interrogating or questioning the house next door or that was attached to in. He finds stuff then you can't prove. This anybody's the just that's the way it was. I mean, I mean, how do you know, if it was there's not probably was. But there was no way for us to prove we had e OD unit. He was crazy a member we called him to come in and blow up the ordinance and I -member him muttering. I'm gonna blow every damn window in this neighborhood. And he hooked a ton of C four up to that thing. And we blew it in place. I don't know if we blew all the windows. I just member him saying that there was a multi part mission and attempt at winning hearts and minds while also working to stamp out the insurgency, which made it a doubly dangerous assignment. The insurgents didn't wear uniforms, except when they were infiltrating the Iraqi police so soldiers never really knew whether they could trust the people they were working with moreover in the middle of the city that was essentially at war with itself, the US was trying to help make a plan to rebuild the city's infrastructure. Unfortunately, there was no way for them. To be all things to all people. We got hit by a ton of car bombs truck bombs, whatever we ical born ID's. We are on a mission. We had blocked off this one St. we were talking with a local leader about doing some work on a school. So my company commander was in had gone in with him with my squad to take a look at the school. And we had the Bradley's blocking off areas in Constantino wire out. But there was a wall around the school. So one of the Bradley's on the east end. Like, it was pulled up there in like like it. So if somebody was coming behind that wall, he wouldn't see to the last minute while had been inside the school talking. I'm like, all right. I'm gonna go check positions on outside and just go check out the area and make sure everything's all. Right. So a member me in Stutzman we walked out, right? When we walked outside this core bomb. It comes barely around that corner goes around the Bradley. It goes right through that concertina wire. So it is literally heading right for me and Stutzman die raised up to fire at him. I was thinking this is a car bomb coming right at me. And that's exactly what it was the Constantino RAB wire wrapped around the inside of the tire in it jerk the wheel to the right in it ran into a house that was there. And then it blew up and killed a couple of people in that house, including child even though we we were there trying to do something good by fixing up school. And we were just coming into the area. We got you know, because this happened in these these people died, you know, it was it was our fault, basically. And that's that's that's what we had today. With a lot of times, we went into it with the best intentions as soldiers. You know, we thought we were going in there trying to you know, the right thing try and make their life better. But you know, by the end, all we. All we cared about staying alive. We you know, what what they thought by. Then was the last thing on our mind. It was a weirdly escalating game of cat and mouse with the soldiers working to discover insurgents and destroy their caches of weapons and the insurgents trying to carry out attacks while moving or hiding their weapons both sides dug in the city and its residents were caught in the middle. It's important to remember that Samara was at the time much like Faluja, but with fewer foreign fighters and the Americans were tipping the balance of power from the Sudanese to the Shia with every successful raid. They also weren't making a lot of friends with the unsuccessful ones. We knew we were going in noggin doors on a mission. You know, we would go in at night, or whatever, you know, a lot of these places had gates on the houses and stuff. So, you know, as a team leader, I probably had hop that gate open it from the other side to let the other guys in and then we would run to the door lineup on the door as a team leader. At carried a shotgun. Done that we would blow the doors in a lotta times with at least early. That's what we did until we found out that just kicking a man was allowed easier than blown them in. And I blew the door in with shotgun. And then we kicked it in after that when we went in the door. There was a guy laying there he had a pellet in his leg. But he's laying there with a screwdriver like he was waiting on us to come through the door. I think the door we went in was leading into the kitchen. Most of them had flat top roofs, and you could go up on the roof. So we would go in. And then we would search the whole house all the way up to the roof. We would bring everyone in to one room that was there, and we had interpreters that worked with us our Lieutenant or the commander was there. Whoever would begin the questioning in why we searched for whatever we were looking for, you know, we're going into this house. I mean, I don't blame him for protecting it. So I don't know. I don't think we found anything in there. So you know, I. The shot a guy in the leg that probably wouldn't do anything. But that's what the Intel was, you know, the constant fighting may the local government rethink the strategy, and they asked the Americans to keep to their compound and let local take care of security whether this was just poor shortsighted governance or an explicit attempt by the government to preserve the insurgencies debatable in the coming years. The she would rise to dominate the Sunni minority and Samara would be played with -tarian violence for his part graves was set to do whatever was asked of him part of it was his age having had real responsibility before entering the army. He knew that setting yourself to your work was easiest if you focus your pride less on your compliments and more on the job to be done. He also just wanted to be good at what he did. And he was going to get his chance to demonstrate it plenty of times in Iraq right before door one nine. We started taking fire mortar started coming in our, geez. Small arms fire. Sorry coming in. So you know, we had trained through this with them. Why were there we had finding positions on the rooftop everybody had assigned positions, and it was to nine man squads that had been you know, were from my union and then an eight-man SF team against two hundred. Now, we were in a very fortified compound. So my position was in the motor pit at that time. I was a team leader. I also went around all the positions check on all the guys. So I was moving a lot from position to position from all the fortified positions just to make sure they have ammo that nobody's injured that they're good. They got water. They know their sectors of fire, and they're scanning, you know, if somebody needs to be relieved I can do that as well. Even though it was a squad leader craves didn't have any more combat experience than the other guys in the squad's there, and certainly not as much as the special forces guys, but he was older and if not calmer at least a lit. A bit more focused on the job at hand. All through the night. He moved between firing positions reminding the soldiers who are outmanned nearly ten to one that they still were part of a well-trained well-equipped brotherhood and just like they trained if everyone stuck to their job and had enough nerve they would get through the night, just fine. And so they did. So we here in at least five or six fighting positions on the roof, and each one of had some sort of heavy machine-gun or bigger or we had a couple of that had sniper rifles in. We were talking to the outside to the base outside. Just saying, you know, we probably need to get some more ammo in just just in case something happens. Again, mean another guy, Nick Sanders. He was the Bravo. Team leader. I was the alpha team later at the time when we came off of one hundred percent protection, which is what we were at when the battle was going on. We say most guys the bad. There was a couple guys. Stayed up positions. But we started breaking down and cleaning all the heavy guns because they get carbon buildup once you fire a lot in and they were fired a lot. We are just coming on where we were going to try and get some sleep and boom a whole pops off again. So most of them were coming from buildings that were often the distance it went on for two nights. So basically, we fought them until almost daylight and it kinda died down. And then the same time the next night. It started back up again, with the exception of one guy who lost a piece of his ear to an RPG blast. There wasn't one American casualty at the base during those two days of fighting part of it can be chalked up to dumb law, which was the insurgents main tool when it came to mortaring, but another part of it came down to a well-chosen fortress. Expertly defended graves has a certain amount of pride in having directed much of that keeping his guys alert and on task and rested and supplied as he moved from fire. Position to fire position occasionally providing relief. So all the positions were sharp keeping the enemy at distance where chance was their primary ally wasn't an accident. But still without the ability to go out, everyday patrolling the SF base would be untenable within a month. The army would extract to a national guard base outside the city where they would watch as the enemy began fortifying the city of Samara. Hiring can be pretty time consuming. He posted job to several online boards only to get tons of the wrong resumes. Then you have to sort through all of those resumes. Just to find a few people with the right skills and experience those job sites that overwhelm you with the wrong resumes. They're not smart. That's why you should do the smart thing. And go to ZipRecruiter dot com slash this is war. Unlike other job sites, ZipRecruiter finds quality candidates for you. It's powerful matching. Technology scans thousands of resumes to identify the people with the right skills education and experience, then it actively invites them to apply for your job. So you get qualified candidates fast. It's no wonder that ZipRecruiter is rated number one by employers in the US this rating comes from hiring sites on trust pilot with over one thousand reviews and right now, my listeners can try ZipRecruiter for free at this exclusive web address ZipRecruiter dot com slash this is war. If you love this show show your support to it end ZipRecruiter. Her by going to ZipRecruiter dot com slash t h I s I s wer. That's ZipRecruiter dot com slash this is war. Ziprecruiter, the smartest way to hire. Graze received. The bronze star for his performance during the attack on the special forces compound, he also was elevated to sergeant partly stemming from that night, but also because of his work ethic. You see the word was out that he could be counted on. And as they saw the political solution for Samara begin to come apart. It was critical that everyone be ready for anything. They hadn't been in Iraq national guard compound for long before the difficulties of sitting outside the city became a mistake -able, and once they pulled us out, and there was no presence in the city and surgeon started setting up minds and given traps for us for if we came back into the city when we were training that Iraqi national guard, and we also had sniper position basically set up on top of the building over watching the bridge to take out anybody trying to set a flow belli's is on the bridge me. And Nick Sanders the other team leader we're on watch that night on the sniper position. And so we had a fifty Cal machine gun and a fifty Cal sniper rifle in the position some nightside's that we could see onto the bridge with them. And you know, we were bullshit and talking and every once in a while we look through the night vision and check out the bridge and just make sure nothing was going on. All of a sudden, we started taking fire overhead trace around started flying over our head, and we jump on stuff and Nick starts firing at where it was coming from. And he ended up shooting the guy, and he fell in to the water and got caught in the damn they pulled him out of there. The next morning, and it was an Iraqi policeman. We knew a half of the policemen. Were insurgents that same guys we were working with during the day was who you're finding at night the police came to our compound and kind of made a big deal the following morning in. We basically sent him on their way the disconnect between the Iraqi police the Iraq national guard and the US forces. Vacillated between comically irritating and outright dangerous. The Iraqi national guard was notorious for disregarding fields of fire so much. So that during firefights, it could be difficult to tell whether they were shooting at American forces on purpose or out of Ignatz grave said the most fear he ever felt on the battlefield was when the national guard was mixed in beyond that there were problems with desertion and graft, but just as with their battlefield incompetents distance between dereliction of duty and abetting the enemy. Sometimes was a blur. This was one of the greatest frustrations for a lot of the US military. It wasn't merely that the Iraqis ignored their training. It was the fact that the consequences could be so disastrous when they did the following day. So we were in this compound that was not set up. How it should be? Like normally we we said a barriers where you can't like drive straight in. You gotta go through a maze to get in. You know? So you can't get like a running start at something and drive a car bomb in there is just a piece of Constantino y. Fire across the gate, and it was the Iraqi national guard guys were manning the gate, this Iraqi police truck shows up with the Iraqi policemen in they opened up the gate form he hits the gas. He comes barreling in any runs into the building trying to go through the wall into where we were at. But it hits the wall in the tires to start spending. Once he couldn't get into the building. He reached on to the dashboard in. There was a couple of wires. He stuck the wires together in it blew four hundred pounds of explosives so blue in both wall. So it blew in all the first room blue in the second wall going into our room and then the roof collapsed on top of us. I was sleeping. It felt like I was getting tackled by somebody basically there was thirty eight of us inside the building. If the truck had made it through the wall as a plan appears to have been it likely would have killed all of the soldiers inside. Shouts of. Alarm rose up as the rest of the people at the base rush to respond, but just as the recovery effort began it was clear that a defensive one would be needed as well where I was sleeping in the second room. I was right next to the wall. But right in front of my head was like a small frigerator like a three quarter size for Dreyer that had like water and stuff in it. So when it blew it in that fridge, like protected my head from the wall getting blown in and all this shrapnel. So it protected me once with it coming in. So I got knocked off this car what the wall blown in. But the fridge took a lot of the impact. And then the fridge fell on top of me, and when the roof caved in it protected me again, it was a coordinated attack. So as soon as that blue not even a couple of minutes later, they counted at thirty eight mortars came flying in our PG's third flying in small arms fire came firemen. There are to ask. Pex of training one develops your muscle memory and keeps your approach solid, but there's another maybe even more important aspect, the one that ties UT responsibility people who live up to the second one like graves tend to rise in the leadership ranks. They don't ask what they need to do. They observe what needs to be done and an added to what they know they already have to do. But to have this kind of sense be the first thought reaction when you wake up under a pile of rubble still is pretty impressive. I was able to pull myself out. I didn't get knocked down. I'm basically, the only one inside this building in the rubble that's conscious. And I knew that this guy might converse was sleeping in the bunk right next to me. So you know, it's like a dust cloud because it's like concrete debris like in particles floating in the air. I see his hand sticking out of the rubble in. I just Graham by the hand, and I'll pull them out, and I'm in I'm in pants, no shirt. No shoes. No saw. Fox. So I grabbed him walked through the rubble take them to the other side of the building. And people are that were not in the building or starting to come over and help and finding position we're trying to set a security because now mortars are starting to fly in. So we're, you know, not only are we going crazy 'cause we just got hit by this bomb. But you know, we're under attack told a guys to to guard the entrances and lay converse down go back into the building. And a member I saw some shoes laying there some boots, and I put on these boots, and they are both left foots. So I'm walking around with these huge boots. That are not mine that are both left feed. I see a weapon sticking out of the rubble I-, I sling the the rifle put it over mush older in. You know, we started pulling guys out of there in setting up a casualty collection point, you know, other people are starting to help to and but I pulled like six guys. Out of their sergeant witty who was my squad leader he had like a piece of concrete with rebar and stuff sticking added on top of them in a member. This guy Patrick was saying I can't get it off of him. Not came over not just pulled it off of them. Certainly great leader great guy. He was little bitty. He was probably the easiest guy. I carried out of there as the rest of the soldiers beat back the external assault graves continued returning to the building for others. Even though they were on their own base. They had to do the same kinds of immediate triage. They would have to do on the battlefield save the wounded first than worry about retrieving the dead. It's the kind of thing that teams obvious on the face of it. But it's a little harder and practice a member mean guy were trying to dig a guy out that was in the front part of the room and a member I cleared out around his head and the top of his head looked fine. But when I touched his head. It was soft. It was like jello that guy. He we're like trying to pull them out. And I'm like, he's dead. We got to move on and get somebody else. I remember the guy was like we gotta get out. Gotta get him on I go we're going to get him out. But we gotta get the guys that are live out. I this guy is not alive. That's just coldness of war. I mean, all those guys got pulled out. But you know, you just have to wait. You gotta do when the dust cleared five US soldiers were dead in about twenty including graves were wounded to put the attack in perspective. It had been less than two weeks since Iraq took its first post-war shot itself governance as he attacked came to an end, though graves wanted to stay on shrugging off what he thought was just a knock in the head. But standing there wearing two left boots with a broken rifle hanging off of his bare shoulder. He didn't make much of a case for being completely fine. He got packed off with the rest of the injured. 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Keep you mindful of your health, go to take care of dot com and enter this is war five zero. The battle it ended. But there was still work to be done. Although he could not stay and help with the rest of the cleanup effort or the armed response. Grace found a way to make himself useful on the way to the hospital. Certain witty is in shock. He's having like these fits where he like he's laying there, and he's breathing funny. And then he'll just all of a sudden go. And he liked would sit up and I'm trying to hold him down. We're trying to drive to the main base. And I remember there was an oxygen bottle like at the top of the bunk. So he's like sitting up, I got my arm across his chest. And as he sits up, I'm like pushing them back down and every time I push them back down his head is hidden this auction bottle. So it's like he'd come up and pushing down and go. And then I'd push him back. He'd come up again. I push him down. So it was almost like comical and basically, converse and Sanders. I was with them. Sanders had took an a bunch of travel and stuff he was all scratched up and cut up. And I think his head might have been cracked open converse. The first guy pulled out he had a new thorough. She had collapsed long. And you know, they all got Pat step. Remember, I got there, and they were in like beds when I walked into the ten or whatever it was that they were all set up in. I just pulled up a chair in between them and sat there, and I was there for a while. And they're like have you been checked out yet? I'm like now, but I'm fine, and they came and and they said your head's cracked open cleaned it up while sitting there and put a couple of Staples in Hasely, it was kind of nice because we were there and the nurses were like asking if we need anything. I was like, man. 'cause I need. I'd love to be able to tell I know this is in the news. You know, my parents don't hardly sleep as it is because we're here, and I was able to Email my dad and just say, look, I can't say much. I was in what happened. But I'm fine. You know, when I can I'll call you this owing safer now. And you know, they're just made me feel good graves had deployed with his brother Joe, but the two were stationed separately the commander got word to Joe that his brother had made it. Okay. Still. There was this overriding concern about the survivors of the attack. This wasn't a battlefield incident. Really or an errant mortar. The guys who were supposed to be guarding the gate while they slept failed to police they were working to support and train turned on them again. And again, it was a kind of environment where you should be a little anxious. They made all of us, you know, a little while after that talked to a couple of Nino psych. They came in. 'cause we went through a traumatic experience or whatever they talked to us as a group, and as individuals when we were talking they were just they were asking some questions, and I was like, you know, I appreciate everything you're doing. You're just trying to make sure that we're all right or whatever. But these guys that right here. This is this is how I'm all. Right. This is this is who's going to get me through. I mean, you know, they become your brothers. You know, we don't talk all the time still. But with social media and stuff this day, you can kind of keep an eye on what guys are doing, you know, they post pictures, or whatever, you know, there's a lot of guys that I went to war with at our have issues in men. I understand, you know, I don't have that problem. But you know, you just want to help them any way. You can you know as him wars hard thing. Not everybody takes the same way. I think being older going in. I was mentally more prepared for the reality of it. And like my brother, Joe, he has some issues with it, you know, PTSD issues, and he has trouble Dale on that sometimes. So, you know, the reality of his wars wars horrible thing. One thing that they did learn from the attack was that the Iraqi government was losing even the pretense of controlling Samara the insurgency had complete control of the streets were so well dug in that they were able to launch coordinated attacks against American Iraqi forces outside the city by September. It was clear the city had to be retaken my squad on our platoon, or whatever we were like the tip of the spear. So we were like the first one's going in. And we were trying to go in silent. We are on the ground with no Bradley's or anything with us a member we're going down this road. And it came to like a t intersection in on the end of the road. It was like storefronts that we were coming up on. We were taking fire from the top of the building across the street. So we're laying down fire my first ours. Is there and he's like come on with me? We're going to go across the road. Throw a grenade on the on the roof. I'm like, all right. Let's go. So I literally come off of my street come around the building and take one step out into the street in an RPG comes flying down the street and literally bounces a couple of feet in front of me. In skips down the road. It's supposed to explode on contact. It skipped down the road about fifty yards. And then blew a. I'm ever we turn right back around. And my first one goes, I think I can throw it from here. Threw it from there through it on the roof and fire and stopped. It went known for like two days. I mean, we had spots where we stopped in kind of found a sideline. I mean, it got pretty crazy. But that's the one thing. I remember about that we did a ton of house clearing for like two days straight, and we took the city back over and then from then on there was always a presence in the city again. So that that wouldn't happen again. At least while I was there having into disservice so much older than most of the others graves was a little bit better able to put things into perspective for himself, at least that was probably part of his success. The other part of it though was that because he had spent so much time nearly a decade working before joining the army. He had a completely different sense of what was important graves. Didn't have anything to prove except to himself wanting to be a good soldier drove all of his decision making, but focusing on cheating excellence by competing against himself. Was part of his personality long before he joined the army. I was accepted in as a leader pretty quickly. No matter what it was I want. I wanted to be the best at what I did. I was a soccer player. I wanted to be best player. I ran track of state champion in the mile. I wanted to be the best at that. You know, sometimes my priorities might have been alive. I should've tried to be the best student. But at you know, eighteen or whatever you realize how that your parents are right? How damn important on his, you know, but you know, as a soldier I wanted to be the best soldier that. I could. So you know, I just tried hard. And I'm I'm so easy going. So even as a sergeant I was a little different, you know, my leadership style was a little different than I was more. You know, most of them, you know, in the army. Everybody calls you by Sargent or by your last name in everybody. Call me Sammy, our company commander would do it. And. You know, how that's how known just 'cause that was well known. I try to be a likable person trustworthy in hard working do things right way in being older having that competitive in wanting to be a leader type thing it it worked well in the military. We just had a really good unit and. You know, a lot of guys come back problems and stuff. I think that I'm able to I'm able to live a great life. Great family. Great kids. Great job. You know, do I think about it? Sometimes. Absolutely. But you know, a lot of that's because we brought everybody back with us alive. You know did guys get injured. Yeah. A lot of us. But it's a lot easier to sleep at night when you know, all your friends made it back if he had any regrets after that first tour, it only might have been that he hadn't enlisted earlier graves had a taste for the army for the Camry and the order in the meritocracy whether he would have had a similar career if he enlisted eighteen is anybody's guess, but at thirty choosing to be a professional soldier is a way tougher call to make when I got in. I was open minded I was like, you know, either way it's gonna be good for me. I said either I do my four years I get out and have money for school. And all my bills are paid off. Maybe I've put some money away. Or a stay in for twenty and make a career out of it going to war, man. It is hard on your body. Just being an infantryman in general is hard on your body. So I was like I can get out now at thirty one in. That's still a decent age to go back to school or get started career start a family, whatever in as a imagery man you in your head. You can't go to another job. You can't be the alpha the frontline guy and then become the support guy in the back, and I just couldn't see doing it to forty seven. So I didn't want to end up serve until I was forty and then get out at forty with no retirement, and then try and start a career or family or whatever how beat up. My body was already. I was like I think it's probably best. 'cause I love I love the job a love doing it. But I also knew if I stayed in than I was. Going to be deploying every other year, or at least. So it just for my situation. I just felt like getting out. And so that's what he did him one of his buddies opened a bar for a while. But as he said being the only sober person around a bunch of drunks was no fun. Plus his buddy decided to reopen head back to war. So they sold the place graves already had had an immense amount of luck on his tour. So it was a little surprising that he had some left. I closed the bar when no clue what I was gonna do. And I just lucked into out fishing with a buddy one day we picked up his wife on the boat. She started asking me what I was gonna do. And she was the office manager for an environmental consulting group. He said man, you'd be perfect for what we do. So man, I fell in love with it. And I've been doing it ten years now. And I went back to school for it. I got four classes left to finish. I take him online. You know, work fifty hours a week. I got a two and the three year old and wife, I work on the road. Try and do as much school work on the road at night. So I spend time with my family when I get home on the weekends. And I love it. I got a great job make good money. My family can get everything they want because of it. And I just been lucky they say luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and there's probably something to that. But it certainly is an all of it luck has to do at least a little bit with being recognized knowing that sometimes you get breaks and favors you didn't deserve. And sometimes you don't get the ones you think you did most important. It's the attitude of not counting on luck. That seems to bring it graves both made his own luck in benefited from chance without trying. But neither of those changed the way he approached being a soldier when you see the effort putting in the work as the end of what you're doing luck is secondary. And whether it comes or not you can sleep knowing that your work stands on its own one way or another. On this is war. When the grenade was called he stayed right there. Right. By my side, you know, at at the cost of his own life. Are you a combat veteran or do, you know, one with a story to tell breach out to us at stories at this is war dot com with your dates and branch of service, and brief description of the experience that you'd like to share if you like to show you can help support us by visiting our sponsors or by leaving us a five star review wherever you're listening right now. This is war was written by me, Anthony Russo and produced by incongruity media, executive producer Hernan Lopez for wondering.

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