Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier - We Are The Mighty
Mighty Moments

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

A new Soldier who led his unit on the rifle range and on the PT field got a special BCT (Basic Combat Training) graduation from his command after suddenly taking ill and being hospitalized.

New Pvt. Angel Hernandez began his basic training journey last November with Company B, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood. Almost immediately, he set himself apart from the pack and made it clear he was a high performer. By the time training had concluded, Hernandez had earned not one, but two Army Achievement Medals: One for having the highest marksmanship score in his unit, and another for having the highest ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test) score.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

But despite Hernandez’s remarkable effort in training, he wasn’t able to attend his unit’s BCT graduation on February 4th due to suddenly taking ill. After being admitted to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, he was then transferred to University Hospital in Columbia, where he awaits another transfer to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. While the Army has not revealed what illness took Hernandez out of training, they did point out that he had managed to complete all of his graduation requirements prior to taking ill.

Had Hernandez not fallen sick, he would have been able to graduate with his friends and peers in February. With that clearly impossible, the Army chose to do something a little bit different: They held a private graduation ceremony for Hernandez right there in the hospital he’s staying in. The Army even set it up so his family could watch the ceremony virtually.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Pvt. Angel Hernandez, a Soldier assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, receives his Basic Combat Training certificate of completion and two Army Achievement Medals(Photo by Brian Hill)

“He completed all of the graduation requirements; he just wasn’t able to walk across the stage with his peers,” said Capt. Lee Johnson, Bravo Company commander.

“We just decided to seize on the opportunity while he’s here now to graduate him in person and recognize him for his achievements — give him the recognition that he deserves.”

On March 3, just under a month after he would have graduated, Hernandez participated in the private ceremony, which saw Lt. Col. Christopher Scott, Hernandez’ battalion commander, present the young Soldier with both of his Army Achievement Medals and his graduation certificate. Scott emphasized Hernandez’ tenacity during training as he spoke.

“This is really special for all of us to be able to come up here and make sure he knows that he has graduated and is a Soldier in the United States Army,” Scott said.

“He is resilient; he is exactly what the Soldiers of this nation need to be. He’s exactly what the people of this nation deserve.”

Hernandez accepted his command’s praise with a great deal of humility and went on to say that the sort of support he was receiving in the hospital felt as though it was in keeping with how he felt throughout training, thanks to a positive atmosphere throughout BCT.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot during basic training,” he said. “You develop a really close relationship with your battle buddies because you learn to rely on them and they learn to rely on you as well.”

“It feels great to be able to recover … I joined the Army because I want to serve my country.”

Hernandez will be close to home while undergoing treatment at Walter Reed. His family only lives about 30 minutes from the military hospital–But Hernandez isn’t looking to take it easy. He’s already planning on getting back into fighting shape.

“When I come back, I want to come back stronger,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Mighty Moments

Love and duty: Army Sergeants Major marry – virtually – after meeting at Academy

This April, sitting in front of their respective work emails, Joe and Jenn McAuliffe were pronounced man and wife. In separate states, distant Army bases and during work hours, their life as a married couple began.

This was possible due to a Montana regulation that allows for double-proxy weddings – where neither party has to be present in order to be married. Both are represented by fill-ins. This was a plan they put into place due to the ongoing saga that is COVID-19.

After their Memorial Day weekend wedding plans had been pushed to the right, and with no clear feasible date in mind, the pair decided to make their own path.

“I said, ‘What if we get married on paper, because if something happens to one of us – we’re not married – the other couldn’t get leave [and travel];” Joe, who works in TRADOC, said.

He added that, while five states allow for marriage by proxy, only one allows for a double-proxy union. So it was decided: they would file in Montana, choose their anniversary date and time, and continue the day as usual.

“We were both literally at work in our offices. We got an email that said, ‘Congratulations you’re married,’” Jenn, working in INSCOM said.

The wedding came three years after the couple first emailed – a nod to their future – as upcoming classmates in the Army Sergeant Major Academy. Each was searching for roommates among their respective peers, and they, along with others, moved under a single roof.

Months into the school the pair started dating, then after two years as an item, they became engaged.  

It was happenstance, they said. Not expecting to meet “the one,” both McAuliffes were caught off guard.

“I actually think we were very fortunate in the amount of time that we were able to spend together, even with him deploying,” Jenn said. Citing quick flights and four-day weekends, the couple averaged a visit together every six weeks, except for Joe’s stint overseas.

After years of long-distance dating, they were married. Joe popped the question after returning stateside.

But with the pandemic in play, their time together became nonexistent – they didn’t see each other for six months. After rendezvousing over President’s Day weekend in 2020, they wouldn’t meet again in person until they were legally wed.

With military travel regulations and restrictions at their respective bases, visits were simply not an option.

In fact, the reason they ended up getting multiple visits together, once bases allowed, was due to Jenn’s shoulder surgeries. Joe traveled there for her treatments and she was able to travel with him to recover.

“Our recent time together, it’s kind of funny, it was from convalescent leave,” she said.

All-in-all, however, the McAuliffes are dedicated to making their union joyful, even if they got a non-traditional start. Eventually, that will mean a shared home with acreage and distant from big cities. But for now, it means traveling when their jobs allow and sharing their best moments through smiles and playful banter. Jenn, from her rented house that she shares with a roommate. And Joe, from his stationary camper slot, with Jenn’s rescue dog, Roxy.

The rest? They’ll figure it out as they go. With the last two-plus decades planned for them, there’s time to plan. Joe, who’s coming up on his 27th year in the Army, says he always knew he wanted to join the military.

“Once I hit year 11 I said, ‘Ok I’m staying in,’” he said, also citing his daughters as reasons for finding success.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

Lauren, 24 and daughter, Izabella, 6, top left. Shania, 23, top right, Katelynn, 21 bottom left, and Roxy, 11.

Meanwhile, Jenn just hit 25 years of service, giving credit to her father for serving as her inspiration. However, it was never a life goal to stay in until retirement.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in for any longer but I did,” she said. “Something that Joe and I talk about, we were meant to go to the academy and meet each other, that’s why I stayed in.”

“Not necessarily for the Army or aspirations to be a Sergeant Major, but I was meant to meet Joe at the academy.”

Articles

This Marine knows the meaning of service

David Miller is VA’s Male Volunteer of the Year. A Marine Corp Veteran, Miller served in Vietnam during the TET II offensive with 3rd Marine Division (9th Marines).


Miller says he got involved in volunteering “due to the fact that the Vietnam Veterans were ignored and mistreated and misdiagnosed for years after they returned home. I just wanted to make positive experiences to help all Veterans and also to help them with their issues for health and benefits.”

“I speak to youth about how important it is to honor all our Veterans. And after I was diagnosed with my cancer and in a wheelchair for five years, I kept volunteering to not think about my illnesses as well as to help other Veterans with the same problems. This was self medication for me as well.”

Also read: ‘Pin-ups for Vets’ creatively shows appreciation for veterans

The National American Legion Hospital Representative at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center, Miller has volunteered for 27 years and finds the most emotional part of his volunteering is the interest he takes in the hospice and the really sick and disabled Veterans. “It made me thankful for my life, being a cancer survivor.’

He and his wife Kathy Ann live in Largo, Florida. His two grown sons, Jeremiah and Adam, live in Orlando. “They have accomplished so much in their lives.”

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Semper Fi. (Photo courtesy of the VA)

Miller says his only real hobby is, “speaking to children and youth about the importance of patriotism and how important it is to honor all our Veterans. They provide the protection that allows them to enjoy the freedoms that they take for granted.”

And he encourages them to volunteer. “I would hope we can start getting more younger people and younger Veterans to volunteer at our VA hospitals and in the community. They would get so much satisfaction from helping our heroes from the past, present and future. Our Veterans are the life blood of this great country of ours. We must make sure that is never forgotten in all our future generations.”

As part of his volunteer duties, Miller visit patients daily and meets several times a week with Veterans them with their claims and benefits. “I also am an advocate for all Veterans who need help with appointments or any other issues at the hospital or in the community.” He also speaks with young Veterans at MacDill Air Force Base who need guidance or help with any VA issues when they leave the service.

Miller adds, “I would just like to say that I am honored and humbled to accept this great accolade as National Volunteer of the Year. With all the service organizations that are involved, there are so many deserving people that should have won this award. I love to help Veterans in all facets of their lives both at the VA and in the community. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to donate my time for such a worthy cause! God Bless our Veterans and God Bless our great country.”

Intel

This cool short film about SERE school may earn the Air Force an Emmy

A new short film created by the U.S. Air Force has been nominated for an Emmy Award.


Produced by Airman Magazine, the two-minute video captures the harrowing challenges airmen face during SERE training. “The Perfect Edge” compares the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program that airmen undergo to the process of forging a survival knife, and the parallel is visually striking.

It features real footage of participants engaging in the intense wilderness survival and physical training exercises at SERE, along with narration by Senior Airman Joseph Collett, an instructor at the school.

Check it out:

(h/t Task Purpose)

NOW: SERE School is about more than just being tortured

Articles

The first openly-gay service member fought the Air Force to a standstill

Leonard Matlovich joined the Air Force in 1963. He served three tours in Vietnam, volunteering for all of them. The son of an Air Force Chief, his service record was nothing short of exemplary. The only problem was that Matlovich was gay in the military at a time when discrimination was accepted practice.


Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Leonard Matlovich enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, CMSgt Matlovich by his side. (leonardmatlovich.com)

Matlovich might seem like an anomaly by today’s standards. He was a conservative Republican and a staunch Catholic who hated the reforms of Vatican II. He even converted to Mormonism later in his service.

In 1966, he received an Air Force Commendation Medal for bravery during a mortar attack. He personally ran to the base perimeter to bolster the defenses there and help tend to the wounded.

He was innovative and dedicated. An electrician, he came up with a nighttime lighting system for base perimeters that inhibited the ability of North Vietnamese snipers to target the base population. Matlovich personally repaired all the base systems during nighttime attacks, never waiting until the dust settled. This is how he received a second Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Matlovich receiving the Bronze Star while deployed to Vietnam as an Airman 1st Class. (leonardmatlovich.com)

His supervisors called him “dedicated, sincere, and responsible,” and “absolutely superior in every respect.”

Matlovich received  a Purple Heart while clearing mines near Da Nang. He was blown up by a mine and as he lay there in pain he realized the physical pain was not nearly as bad as the pain he felt for hiding who he truly was.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Leonard Matlovich recovering from his wounds in a Vietnam field hospital.

That’s when he decided to challenge the Air Force policy on homosexuals in the service. By 1975 Matlovich was up for a discharge based on his sexuality. He lawyered up and was determined to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court. It caught the media’s attention and Matlovich became the first openly-gay person to appear on the cover of a U.S. magazine.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

The Air Force decided to let him stay if he signed a document saying he’d never engage in homosexual acts again. Matlovich refused.

He was going to be drummed out of the Air Force under a General Discharge. It was upgraded to Honorable by the Secretary of the Air Force, based on Matlovich’s service record, but that didn’t stop the Tech Sergeant.

In 1976, Matlovich and his lawyers took their case to the U.S. district court in Washington, D.C. to argue the Air Force policy violated the same constitutional principles that recently won Civil Rights cases for African-Americans and women in the United States.

All it led to was a re-wording of the DoD anti-gay policy.

He fought to stay in the Air Force as an openly-gay man but in the end accepted that the court cases would never stop. He took a cash settlement for his back pay, which he immediately donated to nonprofits who fought for gay rights.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Matlovich with his honorable discharge certificate.

Matlovich spent the rest of his life fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community in the United States. In 1986, he was diagnosed with HIV and began to fight for more attention to HIV/AIDS research. Matlovich was a vocal critic to the Reagan Administration’s response to the outbreak of the disease.

When Leonard Matlovich died of AIDS in 1988, he was buried in Washington, D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery. His gravestone doesn’t have his name on it. He wanted it to be a memorial for all homosexual military veterans. It reads:

“A Gay Vietnam Veteran | When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Matlovich’s tombstone in Congressional Cemetery.

Leonard Matlovich’s gravesite has become a pilgrimage site for the LGBT community, especially those serving in the military of United States and other countries.

Mighty Moments

Watch ‘Lone Survivor’ Marcus Luttrell Motivate The Alabama Football Team With This Incredible Speech

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
The Alabama football team had former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell partly to thank for the team’s 25-20 victory over Mississippi State last Friday.


The 39-year-old retired SEAL gave the pre-game pep talk to members of the Crimson Tide, recounting events from the 2005 Operation: Red Wings, in which his four-man team fought a vicious battle against insurgents while trying to escape down the side of a mountain. During the initial battle, Lt. Michael Murphy and Petty Officers Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz were killed, with Luttrell being the lone survivor of the mission.

Also Read: This Is Canada’s Version Of SEAL Team 6

Luttrell’s book, “Lone Survivor,” was later made into a movie of the same name. Both recounted the incredible heroism of the entire team, including Murphy, who was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

“At no point in time was any of my teammates afraid of anything, at no point did anybody stall in the door, so to speak,” Lutrell says in a video of the apparent talk. “They didn’t kind of back up and say ‘hey i don’t want to be in this.’ It was, ‘this is what we’re here to do, let’s do this.'”

Although a video of the talk has apparently made its way online, The Blaze has noted it may not be from this specific pre-game speech. Either way, it’s well worth watching.

“I was sitting on the edge of my seat,” tight end Brian Vogler told AL.com. “Any time you can talk to somebody like that, you’re completely locked in to everything that’s going on, every word that’s coming out of his mouth. And honestly, once he got done talking, I wanted to run through a brick wall.”

Watch:

NOW: Here’s How US Navy SEALs Take Down A House

OR WATCH: How The ‘American Sniper’ Screenwriter Earned The Respect Of The Navy SEAL Community

Articles

13 little-known facts about Arlington National Cemetery

 


1. The property used for Arlington National Cemetery was an estate that was forcibly acquired from the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1864.

2. The first military burial at Arlington was William Henry Christman, who died of non-combat related illness, on May 13, 1864.

3. The first African-American to be buried there was William H. Johnson, an employee of President Lincoln.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Union soldiers in front of the Lee family estate during the Civil War.

4. In December 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Lee family’s favor that Arlington had been confiscated without due process. After that decision, Congress returned the estate, and on March 3, 1883 Custis Lee (Robert E. Lee’s eldest son) sold it back to the government for $150,000.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

5. President Herbert Hoover conducted the first national Memorial Day ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, on May 30, 1929.

6. Arlington did not desegregate its burial practices until President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

7. Five state funerals have been held at Arlington: those of Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, his two brothers, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, and General of the Armies John J. Pershing.

8. U.S. presidents are eligible to be buried at Arlington whether or not they served on active duty since they oversaw the armed forces as commanders-in-chief.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

9. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded by the U.S. Army since July 2, 1937.

10. Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War was interred on May 28, 1984. President Ronald Reagan presided. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred, under the authority of President Bill Clinton, on May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family had them reinterred near their home in St. Louis, Missouri. Since that time the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown has remained empty.

11. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently offers 57 authorized faith emblems for placement on markers to represent the deceased’s faith.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

12. Prior to 2007, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs did not allow the use of the pentacle as an “emblem of belief” on tombstones in military cemeteries. This policy was changed following an out-of-court settlement in April of that year.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

13. Arlington National Cemetery conducts approximately 6,900 burials each year.

Articles

13 Photos Of Santa Hanging With The Troops

Sure, Santa is known for riding a sleigh and giving out presents. But when it’s time for Santa to “git some” he calls on the troops.


Sometimes, Santa needs a few inches of armor …

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Jocelyn A. Ford

…and other times he wants the treads and big guns.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Army Sgt. Quentin Johnson

When he’s flying, he may do the WSO thing.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cheryl Nolan

But he can also go single seat, if required.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Air Force 1st Lt. Stacie Shafran

Santa’s always up for saying howdy to the troops he meets along the way.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Air Force Civilian Beau Wade

 And he’s not beyond helping out.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class David Mercil

In a pinch, he uses air drops — so much faster than landing at each house.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Ferguson

Helos have all of the space of the sleigh without the inconvenience of feeding the reindeer.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Huntoon

When the chimney is too small for Santa, the Air Force helps him by lowering the presents on a hoist.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch

Claus sometimes heads to the rope course for a confidence builder before the big night.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Menzie

Jolly Old Saint Nick is also pretty good on a ruck march.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Marine Corps Civilian Kristen Wong

He’s been showing the military love for a long time.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Navy

And the troops are always happy to see him.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Aubree Rundle

Merry Christmas from WATM!

Articles

These are some of the best military challenge coins

The challenge coin game is a military tradition with murky roots. The game is played where one service member at a bar challenges another to present their challenge coin. If the challenged doesn’t have their coin, they have to buy the challenger a drink. If the challenged service member has their coin, they get a round on the challenger.


Few people play the game anymore, but unit coin designs say a lot about a command. Here are some of the best challenge coin designs we’ve seen.

1. U.S. Army diver coin

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Andrew Rayle

It’s cut into a cool shape and has many of the Army’s diver badges on it. It both identifies the holder and calls them to go after even higher certifications as a diver.

2. The Mickey Mouse challenge coin

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Leticia Lapp

The military has a long history with co-opting copyrighted materials for its unit coins, murals, and posters. While most units go for something violent or that caters to an adult crowd, the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando made one that reminded everyone just how easy it is to get to Walt Disney World from the center. It’s a 40-minute drive.

3. Trample the weak

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: David L. Nye

Most units, especially in the Army and Marine Corps, go aggressive. But this Airborne infantry coin went the extra mile to remind everyone that the infantry has one job and Chosen Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade plans on being good at it.

4. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Abraham Essenmacher

The most senior enlisted man in the Navy has to represent, and this coin from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West lets everyone know where the coin came from. The cut of the coin is very impressive as well, with a gold chain trailing down the anchor.

5. South Park

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: David L. Nye

The South Park coin is a popular design. Everyone just changes the location and calls it a day. It gets laughs and lets the holder brag about their former duty stations.

6. Friday the 13th

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Leticia Lapp

For Navy chief petty officers, one of the major ceremonies is being accepted into the chief petty officer mess hall. The men given this coin were accepted on Friday the 13th and were rewarded with an awesome coin.

7. Aggressive POW-MIA coin (via Military-memes)

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Facebook.com/military-memes

The barbed wire and flag of the National League of POW/MIA call to mind the nature of life for prisoners of war while the crossed rifles hammer home the meaning of, “… or send us back.”

8. Tickets

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Leticia Lapp

These clever coins remind sailors of the ball they went to by appearing as their tickets into the event.

9. Medal of Honor challenge coin

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Mike Dowling

While the coin’s design is fairly basic, it’s also well done and instantly tells people that the bearer has met one of the nation’s greatest heroes.

10. Submariner memorial coin

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Doug Lapp

Members of the Silent Service patrol the world’s oceans 24/7. This coin lists the hull numbers of every ship lost to the depths.

11. The poker chip

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: David L. Nye

Poker chip coins are lightweight, iconic, and allow a phrase to be printed on the edge of the coin. This one celebrates the Marine Corps School of Infantry.

12. The classic stamp

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: David L. Nye

The classic stamped metal disc is a great coin design that seems most commonly used by iconic units. The Marine helicopter squadron of HMX-1 that flies the President gave out this coin.

13. Clear challenge coin

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Cristina Collesano

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this coin is clear. It’s a rare choice that makes it stand out despite a relatively simple design.

MORE: The 18 greatest fighter aircraft of all time

AND: 6 things the US stole from the Germans during WWII

Articles

Cpl. Kyle Carpenter jumped on a grenade and saved his best friend’s life

On Nov. 21, 2010 while providing security on a rooftop in Afghanistan, then-Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter jumped on a grenade to save his best friend’s life, an action he later received the Medal of Honor for.


“I only remember a few moments after I got hit,” Carpenter told me previously when I interviewed him for Business Insider. “But nothing before.”

The scene was near Marjah, with Carpenter and his squad — supported by engineers, an interpreter, and Afghan National Army troops — moved south of their main base to establish a small outpost to wrestle control of the area from the Taliban. It was Nov. 19, 2010, and as Carpenter told me, they were guaranteed to take enemy fire.

That “contact” came one day later, when their small patrol base came under blistering attack from small arms, sniper fire, rockets, and grenades. Two Marines were injured and evacuated. “The rest of the day it was sporadic but still constant enemy [AK-47] fire on our post that was on top of the roof,” he said.

While the Marines took sporadic fire while setting up their new base over the next two days, it was on Nov. 21 that Carpenter would distinguish himself with his heroism.

“Enemy forces had maneuvered in close through the use of the walls of the compound across the street to the east,” according to Carpenter’s summary of action. The Taliban threw three grenades into the compound.

One landed in the center of the base, injuring an Afghan soldier. The second harmlessly detonated near the post that was destroyed the previous day. The last landed on the roof, dangerously close to him and his friend, Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio. He didn’t remember actually jumping on the grenade, but multiple eyewitnesses and forensics showed that was exactly what happened.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

“The majority of the grenade blast was deflected down rather than up, causing a cone-shaped hole to be blown down through the ceiling of the command operations center,” the summary reads.

Carpenter was severely wounded, with injuries to his face, jaw, and upper and lower extremities. Eufrazio received shrapnel to the head. Both were immediately evacuated and survived. Eufrazio is still recovering from the attack, while Carpenter has bounced back from his devastating wounds in a fashion that’s nothing short of remarkable.

He received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, on Jun. 19, 2014.

“I mean I would grab that [grenade] and kick it right back,” Carpenter told me half-jokingly, when I asked if he had any regrets. “But besides that … I wouldn’t change anything. We’re both alive and we’re here and I’m fully appreciating my second chance.”

Here’s his full citation, courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps:

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier

Articles

When this Navy SEAL lost his face in battle, he found his true mission


Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
This post is reprinted with permission from NationSwell, new digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal.

After he was attacked in Iraq, Jason Redman could have retired to a quiet, private life. Instead he shed his anger so he could dress other vets.

A year after he was ambushed by machine-gun fire in Fallujah, Iraq, Lt. Jason Redman was still missing his nose. The bullets that showered his body also hit his cheekbone, leaving the right side of his face caved in. And he was wearing an eye patch to conceal a crusty and mangled sight. Returning to his life in Virginia, Redman says it was as if he had become a target all over again — this time to questions and stares from strangers.

The questions themselves — were you in a car accident? a motorcycle crash? — didn’t bother Redman. The fact that no one ever asked whether he’d been hurt in combat did. “It really started to make me bitter,” Redman, 38, says. “We’d been at war in Iraq for six years at that point and I thought, ‘Wow does the average American that I fought for recognize the sacrifice that I’ve made and that others have made?'”

Redman’s irritation began to fester, and after a particularly bothersome gawking session at the airport (“It’d been culminating, and I’d just reached my breaking point”), he took to the Internet to vent. Instead of angry Tweets or passive aggressive Facebook messages, Redman decided to wear his defense. He began designing T-shirts featuring slogans like, “Stop staring. I got shot by a machine gun. It would have killed you.” An American flag adorned the back of each one. As he started wearing his designs, strangers began to nod in appreciation, even thanking him at times. Redman knew he was onto something — that there were countless other wounded warriors who felt the same way.

So in 2009 he created Wounded Wear, a nonprofit that donates clothing kits to warriors hurt in combat and their loved ones, as well as to the families of fallen soldiers.  The kits contain jackets, workout gear and T-shirts that read “Scarred so that others may live free,” a toned-down version of the original slogans Redman used to print. His organization also accepts existing clothing from service members, which the nonprofit modifies to accommodate short-term rehabilitation needs or permanent bodily damage: One of the most requested alterations comes from amputees, whose prosthetic limbs make it difficult to put on regular pants. Wounded Wear provides everything to service members free of charge, raising money from donations as well as apparel sales on its website. So far, they’ve donated nearly 2,000 kits.

Though he always knew he would serve and support others who served, Redman says that Wounded Wear is hardly the career path he dreamed for himself. Born into a military family, he often heard stories about his paternal grandfather, a highly decorated World War II B-24 pilot who once crash-landed a plane after being hit, and kept his entire team alive. As a kid, Redman loved to play with an old parachute that his father, a member of the airborne forces based in Fort  Campbell, Ky., had saved from his days in service. “I just grew up with this message of service in our family and very patriotic values,” he says. “From a very young age, I knew I wanted to serve.”

By age 15, Redman had his heart set on the Navy. At 19, he began on a path of five deployments that would take him around the world, including Colombia, Peru, Afghanistan and, ultimately, Iraq. It was there, in September 2007 in the middle of the Iraq War, that Redman and his unit were ambushed while chasing a high-level target. After taking multiple shots to his helmet, elbow and face, he was lucky to be alive. Redman’s rehabilitation required 37 surgeries over the course of four years. The devastating injuries effectively ended his combat career. “I had to learn a different way forward, a different way to give back,” he says. “I said, ‘I’m gonna lift up people around me and I’m gonna continue to lead even if it’s from this hospital bed.’ ”

Which is exactly where Redman’s second act began. While recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Redman grew frustrated by the waves of people who came into his room expressing sorrow and sympathy. He was sick of the pity and asked his wife to buy the brightest color paper she could find — an orange poster. On it, Redman wrote:

“Attention to all who enter here. If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20 percent further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.”

His words were quickly embraced by fellow recovering veterans and went viral online. Even today, nearly seven years later, it remains a mantra for wounded warriors in recovery. Memories of his long and painful rehabilitation inform every aspect of Redman’s vision for Wounded Wear. In addition to donating clothing kits, his organization hosts quarterly “Jumps for a Purpose,” skydiving sessions for wounded vets and their families. With food vendors, musicians and other entertainers, the events are designed to convey a festive atmosphere, offering vets a chance to interact with fellow servicemen. But they are also metaphorical dives — opportunities for wounded warriors to let go of the obstacles holding them back. “It’s not really about jumping — it’s an extreme thing to throw yourself out of a perfectly good airplane,” Redman says. “It’s about moving forward, conquering that fear and taking that step back into life.”

Josh Hoffman, a single amputee Marine whose left leg was lost during an explosion in South Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2011, says Redman was a savior during his recovery at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia. The hospital didn’t have the resources to provide wounded warriors with modified clothing during their surgeries, but Hoffman had heard about Wounded Wear through friends at Bethesda, and asked Redman for help. “For months, I’d only been wearing shorts because my pants didn’t have zippers,” Hoffman says. “Jay modified my service outfits, jeans and all my pants — it was an incredible resource.” Hoffman, who has gone through more than 20 surgeries during his recovery, has gone on to volunteer with Wounded Wear, helping the organization pass out clothing kits at their various wounded warrior events, which he says has become a huge inspiration to him. “They’ve given me another sense of purpose to inspire others,” he says. “Jay’s shown me that even if you can’t do what you were doing before, you can always do something to help other vets. And I should say he’s the most humble person I’ve met, which has helped me strive to become a better person, day to day, which can be very difficult when I’m still working through things myself.”

Redman’s work is getting noticed elsewhere, too. Matt Reames, who with his wife co-founded the annual Never Quit Never Forget Gala to raise money for various organizations serving the country’s armed forces, first heard about Redman’s story from a friend who was also a former SEAL. Reames invited Redman to speak at their inaugural gala in 2011, and says Redman’s inspiring story left jaws on the floor at the event. But it was behind the scenes where Reames really saw the impact of Wounded Wear’s efforts. At a pre-gala gathering, Reames noticed Redman give a kit to a fellow vet named Chance Vaughn, who’d lost the majority of the left side of his head in combat. “The look on Chance’s face was incredible — he was stunned to see someone give him something, that someone cared about what he did,” Reames says. Nearly three years later, Reames says Vaughn still wears his Wounded Wear gear every day. “Jay shows wounded warriors that people do remember, that they do care about what they do, and that’s absolutely needed because war is not this fly-by-night thing. Even when a war ends, you’re going to have soldiers missing limbs, needing help.”

Having helped veterans get their pride back, Redman says his next focus is to bring other forms of long-term change into their lives. He’s written a book, “The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader,” about his experiences, with hopes that it will inspire others, both military members and civilians, to overcome the difficulties in their lives. And he wants to partner with other organizations to help veterans achieve their goals, be it going to law school or finding permanent housing. “We want to build a vast database and network with these other great organizations so that we can see them succeed, see them achieve their American Dream,” Redman says. “The U.S. government can’t do it right now. Compromise is not even a word they’re willing to entertain…so it’s up to us as citizens and we need to work together to do it.”

And with the country’s official drawdown from Afghanistan coming soon, Redman says the importance of that work is more urgent than ever. “The awareness of the wars is already waning. Big battles, guys that are lost — they don’t really make the news anymore,” he says. “Iraq ended, but my scars didn’t go away. Wounded warriors carry those scars for life, so it’s more important than ever that we continue to raise awareness, to make sure our veterans are taken care of.”

More from NationSwell:

This article originally appeared at NationSwell Copyright 2015. Follow NationSwell on Twitter.

Articles

The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

The Air Force and its mission partners successfully launched the AFSPC-5 mission aboard the Space and Missile Systems Center procured United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, May 20, 2015.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: United Launch Alliance

Tech. Sgt. Bruce Ramos, a 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 1 radio operator, raises an American flag from an MC-130P Combat Shadow while it taxis at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 15, 2015.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson/USAF

NAVY

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, perform a flyover during a graduation and commissioning ceremony for the Naval Academy Class of 2015.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Koch/USN

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for an independent deployment.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/USN

ARMY

BIG STEP – On Tuesday, May 19, students at the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School conducted helocast drills. Helocasting is an airborne insertion technique used by small special operations forces to enter denied areas of operations.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Janice Burton/US Army

An Army AH-64 Apache air crew, assigned to 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division conducts pre-flight checks prior to an air-assault operation, part of the Network Integration Evaluation 15.2 exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Sgt. Jose D. Ramirez/US Army

MARINE CORPS

Landing craft air cushion conduct an amphibious assault during the MARFORPAC-hosted U.S. Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Staff Sgt. Jason W. Fudge/USMC

An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires its 120 mm smoothbore cannon during a live-fire event as part of Exercise Eager Lion 2015 in Jordan.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Sgt. Devin Nichols

COAST GUARD

Rescue crews from the Coast Guard 1st District don immersion suits to practice cold water survival in Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USN

A Coast Guard crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
Photo: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USCG

NOW: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

AND: 19 of the coolest military mottos

OR: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

Articles

Watch this Spirit decimate an airfield with 80 JDAMs

The B-2 Spirit is perhaps the most expensive bomber ever built, costing over $1 billion per aircraft (when all the R&D costs are factored in). For that money, though, there is a lot of capability this plane brings.


For instance, the B-2 is capable of dropping precision-guided weapons, namely the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

The GBU-31 is a 2,000-pound bomb, with the smaller GBU-38 packing a 500-pound warhead. Either can use Global Positioning System guidance to hit within about 35 feet of a target. Let’s just say your day won’t go well after that, nor will you have any chance of future improvement.

Its stealth technology also means that the only warning someone has that a B-2 is overhead with hostile intentions will be when the bombs hit.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, May 30, 2006. The B-2, from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., is part of a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

A few years ago, the Air Force ran one test of the B-2 with the 500-pound JDAMs. The plane was loaded with 80 inert versions of the GBU-38 and was sent to hit a simulated airfield in Utah. In addition to two runways, there were other targets simulated, including a SA-6 “Gainful” missile site, a SS-1 Scud launch site, an aircraft revetment, a hangar, and the other accoutrements that one finds around an airfield.

Think of it as a stealthy version of an Arc Light.

A video of the test not only shows the number of bombs a B-2 can carry, but it also shows just how accurate JDAMs are. Note, the runways are also thoroughly cratered, meaning any planes that survived the pass of the first B-2, will be kept at the field until the next strike arrives.

Army holds private BCT graduation for hospitalized soldier
A B-2 Spirit drops 32 inert Joint Direct Attack Munitions at the Utah Testing and Training Range.

Of course, America only has 20 B-2 Spirit bombers available, per an Air Force fact sheet. You can see the video of the strike below.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information