Sergeant First Class
Branch of Service
Years in Service
OIF & OEF
Why did you join the military?
I wanted to give back to my country and do my part so my children would not have to.
What is the single-most important lesson you learned while serving?
The importance of dedication so something larger than yourself
A note from Erik
I remember my first deployment to Iraq as if it were yesterday.
I was a SPC and assigned to Washington LZ in the green zone. I will never forget 2 major events while I was there.
In the beginning of the deployment when the incoming alarms would sound we were all scared and looking for the shelters to get into, most of us were convinced we would lose people because of how often the green zone would get hit and we could hear the launch of the mortars that were coming at us.
We all survived but what stands out is that by the time I was 1/4 of the way through my deployment I would hear the launch and be able to tell if I had to run or not. It was very strange being able to tell where the mortar would land by the sound of the launch. After getting past that first 1/4 of the deployment I felt no fear.
The second memory was the crash of two OH-58’s. You see I was, and am, an Air Traffic Controller. I was operating “Baghdad Radio” a flight following radio system. I remember getting a call from a AH64 Apache telling me that two 58’s went down. I spun up everyone to the incident and remained in contact with that 64. Then the 64 requested fast movers as the locals were climbing all over the aircraft.
Once called in it took some time. A second 64 was also over the crash site and they did a show of force then landed next to the downed 58’s. Both of the apaches picked up all 4 pilots and strapped them to the outside of the Apache.
Unfortunately all four were dead. I had to transmit on two different radios and only one of my mics were working so I had to plug in unplug and plug in again. It reminded me of the telephone operators. I had to make sure the Apaches were clear so the fast mover could drop 500lbs bombs on the crash site as locals tried to grab sensitive equipment.
Those two will always stand out to me.