I grew up in a small town called Milo in the beautiful state of Maine. I have a big family and was raised with good morals and discipline. I played sports in High School and worked many different jobs growing up. After graduating high school, I enlisted in the Marines at 17. And before I knew it, I was on those famous "Yellow Footprints."
As an Infantry Machine Gunner, I spent my first four years stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC. My first deployment overseas was in Okinawa, Japan, in 2000, and again in 2001 for another six-month deployment. During my second deployment, I reenlisted after the horrific September 11 attack.
My next duty station was located in Quantico, VA. I went on my B-billet to become a Primary Marksmanship Instructor and Small Arms Weapons Instructor. I worked at three bars/clubs part-time and as a security guard aboard Ft. Belvoir Army base. I was always working and staying busy during those short few years. As the War raged in Iraq, it was only a matter of months before I had the opportunity to fight beside my fellow brothers-in-arms.
I received my new orders back to my old stomping grounds, 1st Battalion 2nd Marine Division. I was only in my new unit for a month before deploying to Kuwait and "The Triangle of Death," Al Iskandariya, Iraq. Two short months into my combat deployment, I was hit by a secondary roadside bomb. I suffered an "unknown" Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), as my injuries were not life-threatening. After two short days of light-duty, I continued with the deployment, and my TBI went undiscovered, and I was not diagnosed until post-deployments.
I returned to Iraq in November 2005 as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant. Upon completion of combat operations, our unit crossed the Kuwait border. And within the next week, I received a Red Cross message. My Father's health was declining, and he needed immediate emergency assistance back home in Maine. My Father fought in Guadalcanal as an Infantry Machine Gunner. After my Father was stable, I began working on my rehabilitation at Camp Lejeune, NC. Eventually, I had two right knee surgeries in 2007 and was diagnosed with severe PTSD and a TBI in April of 2007. I worked for several months as the Officer in Charge (OIC) Siminutions Center under Special Operations Training Group. I was transferred to the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East (WWBN-E) in December of 2007 to work on my ongoing recovery and medical needs.
During my recovery, I had several surgical treatments for my spinal injuries, along with a year of cognitive rehab and speech therapy. I received my medical discharge and deferred my findings in December of 2008. This decision gave me the drive and purpose to help our Wounded Warriors in the Marine Corps and Navy. Unfortunately, I could not remain in my primary infantry occupation because of my injuries. I chose to be retrained as a Career Planner, specifically to work at the Wounded Warrior Battalions. I was transferred out to Wounded Warrior Battalion-West (WWBN-W) aboard Camp Pendleton in July of 2009 to work under the Expanded Permanent Limited duty (EPLD) program.
While on "Patient Status," I helped other Wounded/Ill/Injured Marines with transitional services if they were medically separated/or helped them get back into the fight. After two years, I convinced the Headquarters of the Marine Corps for an assignment in Afghanistan. However, one day before starting my deployment work-up, I got some bad news that would turn the tide of my Marine Corps career.
In January of 2011, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer that required surgery followed by eighteen days of radiation treatments. Unfortunately, I had a suicide attempt while in my recovery and went inpatient for two and half months for Severe PTSD, alcohol dependence, and depression.
Upon treatment and remission of cancer, I was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2012. I immediately went back to school to work on my Associate's degree. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed again with testicular cancer in May 2013. I had to have another orchiectomy surgery followed by Chemotherapy to eliminate the cancerous tumor. Afterward, I was able to finish my Associate's degree.
My brother Tom and I combined our knowledge and military experience to start a Firearms training academy. We ran a successful company in Southern California and Middle Tennessee for a few short years before developing a non-epileptic seizure disorder. My PTSD was causing dissociative episodes and panic attacks. I loved to teach, train and help others learn how to defend themselves safely. We instructed civilians, police, and military alike in defensive tactics, competitive shooting, and the Laws of Self-Defense.
However, I could no longer safely conduct range operations due to my condition. Because of this developing condition, we moved to Colorado Springs in September of 2018 to get my seizure disorder under control.
Currently, I am receiving treatment for PTSD, Panic Attacks, Dissociative Disorder, along with back and knee injuries. A recent four-level spinal fusion has given me a better range of motion and helped with my neuropathy and grip strength. I joined Victory Service Dogs in February of 2019 to train a psychiatric service dog. I graduated with my Service Dog, "Gunner," who has been a blessing from God and all things Golden. (Golden Retriever)
I try to excel at every task and mission I have been given throughout my life. I strive for excellence and hope to achieve the goals of becoming a healthier man, a better father, and a husband to my lovely wife. In addition, I want to help others who struggle with their disabilities and the Fog of War. Some of the best memories I have in my life are; the day I earned my Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, meeting my wife Laura, followed by the births of our children.
I have fought the good fight, and it is time to move on and put the War behind me. However, freedom is not free, and we all have made many sacrifices during this nation's time of War. Please remember that "You Never walk alone," and life is simply about the Human connection developed over time. Those life connections mold your legacy that will be forever etched in stone.