When were you drafted or when did you enlist?
I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1989. I served in Operations Restore Hope and in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, in Kuwait.
Why did you choose your branch of service?
It’s kind of a long story. My older brother was getting pamphlets when he was graduating high school. He would just throw them away and I would go into the trash and read them, and decided I wanted to join the military. I decided I wanted to challenge myself; anytime you read anything on the different branches, you always hear “The Marine Corps is the hardest, the Marine Corps is the best.” So I wanted to challenge myself and decided that’s what I’m going to do.
What do you remember about that day?
I was sick, and then kept us all night and we didn’t get to sleep and I was miserable. But I wouldn’t take any of that back. It made a man out of me and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Can you describe a happy moment from your time in the service?
I can tell you one. When we were in Kuwait... when we liberated Kuwait, and the people came running out of their houses, celebrating and screaming, and seeing the happiness and seeing we were actually doing good–that was a great thing.
Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?
I guess, yeah. It has too, right? When you’re out there doing it and there’s a chance you might be going [to war] and you might die, yeah it absolutely changes how you think.
Who was your best friend in the military during your time at war? Do you still keep in touch with them today?
There were actually three of them. We were inseparable. There was Joseph Gilespe [sp], Eliot Sneezy, and Brian Bolander. They were all my buddies and they still are. I
still talk to them all the time. Remembering the Fallen: If they are no longer with us, please share a small way in which you remember them or keep their spirit alive – whether that be a funny story, a heroic moment, or something different that might seem trivial to others, but holds importance to you.
What were the first few months out of the service like?
Frightening. Our boot camp is three months long, and every night I questioned why I was there and did I do the right thing. It was literally the hardest thing I ever did, and looking back on it, I wouldn’t change it. It was the best decision I ever made.
Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?
I would say, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to admit that you need help. That goes a long way.
If you hadn’t gone into the service, what do you imagine your career life would have been? Did you explore a different career after service?
Honestly, I decided to join the military when I was 12, so I didn’t think about anything before that. I kind of knew that was there I was gonna go. And after, I used to work for the railroad and that’s where I had my accident. The good thing about the railroad is they had that military mentality. They enjoy getting guys fresh out of the military because we had that discipline we need to work in the railroad.
Please add any additional stories or meaningful memories that you’d like to share.
Go out and watch wheelchair football! Support your local team. Spread the word. A lot of people don’t know this is out here. The more people that know about it, the better athletes we’re gonna get, the better teams are gonna get and the league is going to be stronger for it. I joined wheelchair football after playing basketball first. Once basketball season ended, football season came and the team I was playing basketball with said “We have a football team.” I went to the first practice, fell in love with the sport, and decided yeah this is what I’m doing.