He runs an internet cafe on a military base. He wants to be deployed to the field

He runs an internet cafe on a military base. He wants to be deployed to the field

He runs an internet cafe on a military base. He wants to be deployed to the field

On this week’s StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative, Marine Staff Sergeant Nick Bennett talks about his desire to be deployed to the field after running the internet cafe on base.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It’s now time for StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative to share the stories of service members and their families. Been 21 years since the start of the war in Iraq. Marine Staff Sergeant Nick Bennett deployed in 2004 and was stationed in a region known as the Triangle of Death. His assignment kept him on base running the internet cafe, but he wanted to be out in the field, so he requested to join a security team led by Sergeant Major Dan Miller. They recently spoke at StoryCorps.

DAN MILLER: Why did you want to join my combat team?

NICK BENNETT: Both of my grandfathers are World War II vets, and I’ve always wanted to follow in their footsteps.

MILLER: And you had come forward and you were like, hey, I want to get out and help the mission.

BENNETT: A lot of Marines, that’s how we’re trained. We’re going to go fight.

MILLER: Yeah. You want to face that fire.

BENNETT: One day, we’d gotten a call to come to the command post. I heard a whistle come in over my left shoulder, and I knew what it was, and I knew I wasn’t coming home. The rocket took off the back part of my right leg, four of my wrist bones, took off the back part of my hand, chipped a bone in my back. The shell casing impaled me in the right shoulder, and I took shrapnel in my left side and arm.

MILLER: And I remember doc told me to keep you awake. And so I was tapping you on the face, and then the taps turned to slaps. And you’d look at me, and your eyes would get bright for a second, and then they’d go dull again. And I thought to myself, you got Nick hurt. Nick should have never ever been in that position.

I would have dreams where the rocket was coming in, and it gave me enough time to get in front of you and take it all, all of it. I remember I found your gas mask carrier. And you had a picture of your family in there. I thought I just orphaned these kids and widowed this woman.

BENNETT: In the hospital, my grandfather, who was a prisoner of war in Germany, called me this war hero. And I just sat there and cried because this was the man that I idolized growing up.

It wasn’t until years later after Iraq that I found out about you saving my life. I would call and just say, hey, I love you. Please call me. I need to talk to you.

MILLER: With the voice messages, I’m sure I listened to them but then, out of fear, ignored them.

BENNETT: Just so you know, I never held it against you.

MILLER: But the first time meeting you after so many years, the initial emotion was nothing but joy.

BENNETT: It was so cool to finally see you in person to be able to thank you. You gave me a life that day. I’ve always wanted a brother, and I couldn’t think of a cooler bigger brother than you. And any chance I get to be with you, I’ll be there.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: That was Marine Staff Sergeant Nick Bennett and Sergeant Major Dan Miller in Lafayette, Ind. Today, they’re part of the Wounded Warrior Project, which brought them together to meet for the first time after they served in Iraq. Their interview was archived at the Library of Congress.

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