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|An up close and personal interview with U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Togetherweserved.com Member:|
GySgt Terence A. D'Alesandro USMC (1989-Present)
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
I needed direction, structure and discipline in my life. My Father (an Army Korean War vet) died in 1988 and he always told me that "If you don't serve your country, you have no opinion on anything that your country does". That rang in my head and I realized that my immature ass needed to live up to that responsibility.
BRIEFLY, WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
Boot Camp - Parris Island/2nd Recruit Training Bn Hotel Co.
SOI East - Camp Geiger.
Camp Pendleton - B 1/1.
Quantico - Marine Corps Intelligence Activity/Security Office.
EAS - 1995, Reenlisted 2004.
RS Columbia, SC - awaiting orders.
Camp Lejeune - F 2/9.
Parris Island - 3rd Recruit Training Bn/India, Quebec and Mike Companies/DI, SDI, Series GySgt.
Camp Pendleton - L 3/5, 3/5 Police Advisor Team - 2.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
Operations Desert Shield/Storm - Saudi Arabia/Kuwait - Rifleman.
Operation Restore Hope - Mogadishu, Somalia - Team Leader.
Operation Iraqi Freedom - Baghdad, Iraq - Squad Leader.
Operation Iraqi Freedom - Baghdad, Iraq - Platoon Sergeant.
Operation Enduring Freedom - Sangin/Kajaki, Afghanistan - Company GySgt.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
Being an escort for our KIA from Iraq in 2005, PFC Lewis Calipini. I escorted his body home to Hawaii from Dover AFB then to his burial in the National Cemetery on Oahu. It is forever etched into my mind. 2/9 will not forget "Caterpillar".
Finding out Sgt Roy was KIA in Afghanistan in 2009. I knew him as a PFC in 2/9 and knew he was going to be a hell of a Marine. He ended up in MARSOC and lost his life for his country when he was a Sgt/squad leader.
Sgt Tawney KIA in Afghanistan in 2010. A hell of a Sgt/Squad Leader and his wife was pregnant when we deployed. That will never leave my mind as well.
1stLt Byler telling me while I was carrying the stretcher to the medevac bird, "Gunny, make the pain go away!". He made it but he lost both legs. I'll never forget that.
Cpl Faust and LCpl Gallegos both WIA in Afghanistan and losing limbs but being okay. LCpl Barron and LCpl Billmeyer, both WIA in Afghanistan and lost limbs but won't be forgotten by their Lima 3/5 brothers. Billmeyer told the Corpsman before he put him on the bird, "Tell Capt Murray that I said to fuck these bitches up for me!" Then he said, "My nubs hurt Doc!". That's the type of Marines who are in the Corps.
Doc Herrera stuffing gauze into Billmeyer's stumps saving his life when the tourniquets wouldn't take because it was too high up the leg.
LCpl Grosky WIA telling me while on the stretcher, "FUCK YEAH GUNNY, OOHRAH!" with his Achilles tendon blown apart and his right calf muscle gone.
LCpl Leasure, a hell of a SAW gunner, being shot through the leg. That tough bastard is okay.
LCpl's Broehm and Pearson murdered by a rogue ANA soldier in cold blood while standing post. They were shot from behind. They had no chance. Putting them into body bags when Doc couldn't save them.
2ndLt Kelly, the best Platoon Commander I've ever seen, blown away by an IED that was in a stream. He had no chance.
LCpl Litinski, triple amputee from an IED. LCpl Goebel shot through the neck and asking for a cigarette and a woman while on the stretcher awaiting medevac.
LCpl Mortinsen giving me a "pound" while on the stretcher with shrapnel wounds all over his left side from an RPG.
Cpl Pearson shot through the leg and being the tough bastard that he is. He's fine and wishes that he was still with his boys doing their job.
LCpl Corzine, one of my favorites, losing both legs to an IED. He made it to Bethesda and hung on for three weeks. He died Christmas Eve 2010 with his mom and brother, LCpl Corzine (0311 with 2/5), by his side. He'll coordinate Gunny's working parties in heaven for me.
LCpl "Cafe" Laate wounded by shrapnel. He lost his left eye. He's okay and he won't have to hump that PRC-119 around anymore.
Cpl Montgomery lost both legs in an IED blast. Another one of our awesome Team Leaders and NCO's. Monty will be missed.
Cpl Little, another tough bastard, shot through the arm and back on patrol as we speak. He's what a Marine NCO is.
Cpl Wyatt KIA by gunshot wound in the head. I'll miss talking baseball with you brother.
LCpl Parker, another tough, blue collar senior LCpl who LOVED my working parties. The kid works until he drops. Now he's a triple amputee but his toughness will get him through.
Sgt Sherwood with shrapnel all over his arm. Wrong place at wrong time and the grenade found him, but he'll make it too because he's another tough motherfucker.
Sgt Kelly with shrapnel all over and in his ankle and not wanting to get on the bird. That doesn't surprise me at all. Yet another tough Lima 3/5 bastard.
LCpl Long losing both legs and being more angry that he's leaving than the pain he was in. Just a boot straight out of SOI to Lima 3/5 then straight to combat. A warrior.
SSgt Garcia getting shot through the face in one cheek, out the other with no teeth or tongue damage. A lucky Marine, big time. Cpl Ramirez dragging him behind the wall and patching him up in seconds because Doc was with another Fire Team too far away at the time. SSgt Garcia stood up with a bandaged head and continued to fire on the enemy all the way back to our consolidation point and insisted on walking to the medevac LZ. The last thing he said to all of us was, "I'll be back in a week, what do you all want from the Camp Leatherneck PX? It's on me, Marines". Another 3/5 warrior.
LCpl Gilliam losing both his legs in an IED blast. Another tough bastard. Another one of those snuffies who could have been a Sgt. The kid barely talked, fought like a warrior and was always working. Cleaning gear, cleaning his MATV, saying, "How's it going, Gunny?" and looking me in the eye waiting on my response because he had his Company Gunny's back on all those resupply missions that I rode with him on. What a tough fucking kid.
LCpl Brown caught shrapnel in the face from an IED explosion. He'll be okay. He's a great kid who will pull through this with a smile on his face. I'll get to continue to talk international soccer with him.
SSgt Voeller getting shot through the shoulder and staying the happy go lucky guy that he is afterwards. He's a former recruiter who could sell you anything and that laid back mentality will pull him through anything, including his recovery. He came back to his Platoon 2 weeks later.
Sgt Amores getting blown up by an IED. Triple amputee but never knew what hit him. He didn't suffer and that's all that matters. A hell of a Marine, God rest his soul. RIP brother.
LCpl Flora, a former Silent Drill Platoon/8th and I Marine, getting hit twice in a month by an IED. The first time, a concussion, the second time getting some shrapnel and not wanting to be medevac'd. Yet ANOTHER tough Lima 3/5 bastard who refuses to go down regardless of the danger or his health. His Fire Team is all that matters to him.
All the Lima 3/5 Docs and 3/5 PAT-2 Docs who have saved lives with their work and fearlessness. And to the USAF and British medevac pilots who land those birds wherever we need them and get there fast as hell. And the Combat Engineers who take point for us, sweeping with their metal detectors, finding IED's before they blow us up.
LCpl Maenza and LCpl Congilosi, both WIA Combat Engineers serving for us and with us side by side, and the Afghan Army and Afghan Police who fight right beside us. RIP Afghan soldier who was killed right beside a Lima 3/5 Marine on 23 Oct 2010 in Sangin, Afghanistan. The three Afghan Police officers who were wounded in Kajaki, Afghanistan from IED blasts while serving with us and beside us. One lost both legs and the other two took shrapnel. May they live a productive life. RIP Afghan Police officer who was killed in an IED strike in Kajaki, Afghanistan on 28 Dec 2010 while serving with us and beside us. They are good men and warriors.
Cpl Pyeatt from 2nd Radio Bn KIA on his first patrol in country. Killed by an IED in Kajaki. He didn't suffer. He was with us on our patrol to intercept enemy radio chatter and he was fearless out there with that heavy comm intercept gear, doing his signal intelligence job with the grunts with no questions asked and no hesitation. Me and Cpl's Bruce and Ramirez put him in the body bag in the wadi and we know he died being a Marine and he died in support of the 3/5 Grunts trying to make a difference in this hell hole.
Our Afghan interpreter, "Mikey", screaming in agony from the IED blast that killed Cpl Pyeatt and the shrapnel that hit him in the ass and legs. We got him out of there with Cpl Pyeatt's body on the medevac bird and he's fine now.
Cpl Ferguson, Bravo Battery 1/10 dog handler, who goes out with us all the time, WIA from an IED that broke his ankle and tore up the other lower leg. His dog, Buckshot, is okay and Cpl Fergie was laughing and smoking a cigarette on the LZ waiting for his bird. Yet another tough bastard. We'll miss him and Buckshot.
Cpl Evans WIA with two broken teeth from the IED that got Cpl Ferguson. Got his bell rung a bit too but he'll be fine. Some rocks and shrapnel got him in the chops. We'll miss "Reverend Evans" around here while he's gone.
Sgt Finney, a Lima 3/5 warrior, took shrapnel to the face and is back on patrol. A tough Grunt bitch and a kid I'd go to hell with in a minute because we'd come back and laugh about it.
LCpl Goins, a quiet warrior, just like LCpl Corzine was. Shrapnel wounds and back to work already humping his M249 SAW. The kid says 5 words a day and will shoot Taliban in the face and go play spades. A damn Lima 3/5 Grunt.
Cpl Bruce losing both legs to an IED in Kajaki and telling us "Make sure you get my IPOD to me. I can't sit in the fucking hospital with no music". A tough, proficient Squad Leader who was a lifer Grunt if I ever knew one. Absolutely lived the Infantry every day.
Cpl Roed getting a compound fracture from an IED in Kajaki and sitting there on morphine puffing on a cigarette asking if everyone else is okay. Fearless Point Man who's luck ran out one day. Yet another tough bastard who won't stay down.
God bless our fallen and wounded Lima 3/5 and 3/5 PAT-2 brothers.
OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
My Drill Instructor ribbon because I trained all my Recruits to one day be a better Marine than me. For them to never make it about their career or about themselves. I put my heart and soul and passion into them so that they could one day teach the next generation of Marines how to love being able to just say, "I am a Marine" and let that be enough.
My Combat Action Ribbon because it's earned right beside my brothers, nobody running away from the gunfire and IED's. Marines all around running TO the fire and IED's, without having to be told to. They do it because they are warriors and we earned it beside each other. It's what we get paid for, what Marines have died for and what Marines STAND for. It's our purpose as Marines: to fight the enemy, and we all earned our CAR the hard way, together.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
Two, first my Heavy DI from recruit training, then Sgt Zimiman Brown (TWS member/GySgt Ret.). He remains the most passionate Marine I've ever seen. I emulated him on the drill field and found myself screaming the same stuff he did to recruits, because it meant everything to me then and it still does now.
Second is SgtMaj Mike Daley (TWS member), my Co. 1stSgt in 2/9 at Lejeune before I PCS'd to the Drill Field. He inspired me to go be a Hat even though I was 37 years old and he continues to guide me and mentor me even though we are of the same age group. He's a hell of a Marine and a hell of a SgtMaj. If it's not about Marines and their well-being and development, he's not interested, period.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Burning shit in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm and using the wrong fuel. Definitely not diesel and having a 50 foot tower of flames raging and Marines wondering what the fuck was going on. Hilarious. But I should have checked the fuel cans better but "the PFC didn't know, Sir".
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?
SC State Trooper during the years I was out of the Corps.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
DI Association - fellowship with brothers who have sweated on the streets of PI and SD and in the squadbays.
VFW - it's an honor to be a member of an organization comprised of combat vets.
Marine Corps Association - it's ours and I'll support it and what they've done at the USMC Museum is awesome.
HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
The focus, discipline and accountability I learned in the Corps has guided me and the all out unselfishness and work ethic you only find in the Corps, even though we don't see it all the time because we're so hard on ourselves, has guided and shaped my life to the core.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?
Unselfishness is the most important leadership trait by far. Marines who fear you will follow you but they'll hate you and you'll regret that when you mature. Marines who love you will die for you,period. It's not about "loving" on the boys or being soft, it's about looking them in the eye and telling them that we're going to work our asses off. It's not always going to be pretty, it's going to fucking suck a LOT of the time but I've got your back, you have mine and we're brothers. Someone is in charge but he's your big brother. Now let's go! They'll follow you to hell.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?
Great bonding place and meeting past and present Marines and developing new friendships. You can't do this anywhere else. And not to mention finding past brothers and sisters. It's a great tool.
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