Friday, October 20, 2006

T-18 Days and Counting: "Great Americans"

A colleague sent me the paper below, entitled "Great Americans," written by his grandson Peter Floyd, and gave me his permission to post it here. His grandson's class at his USAF technical school was given an assignment to write a paper about why they joined the military. Peter's paper was one of two that were chosen to be read during the graduation exercises. After you read it, I am sure you will understand why it was chosen.


When your grandfather is a retired chief master sergeant, your dad is a Sgm your mom a Staff Sergeant in the Army, both of you older brothers are Corporals in the Marine Corps, and all of your Aunts and Uncles are a part of the military. It's very clear what they want you to do with your life. Join the military. As a 17 year old kid who was just about to graduate High School there was only one thing to do Rebel.

I was determined not to follow that line. I wanted to go to college and have fun and just be a normal teenage college student that has to beg his parents for money. Little did I know that a new awaking and new determination that would open my eyes? But it wasn't my own strengths and determination NO it was my middle brother Lcpl Brian Floyd.

15 days before my High School graduation my brother was very severely injured from an I.E.D explosion in FALLUJAH , IRAQ. His hands and head where impaled by shrapnel from what was his HUMMV. He was immediately transferred to Bethesda Medical Hospital. Seeing what was done to him, how bad he was my whole world fell apart. When you grow up as an Army Brat your family is all you really ever have. I wondered how someone could do this to my own brother. They have no idea of the pain they put my family threw. It only reinforced my thoughts that the military just wasn't for me.

I left my brother's side to attend my graduate High School only to come back to find him up and walking down the hall way on his own. It was so amazing to see that because, one week before they didn't know if he was going to live or not; and then to see him walk, I swear in that moment I saw god in him. I knew he would be ok

Two months later he got to come home. Still on I V. and without a STRUCTURED Forehead he was in need OF A FRIEND. I put my dreams of College on hold to be the one to stay with him. Being with him 24/7 we talked just like old times and relied on one another. One night we were up real late and he was talking about how miserable he was. I asked him well does your head hurt what you need. He said, "I need my team". And my team needs me back over there". I said, what are you crazy; you just got hurt and you're not going to get out. He said, Peter I raised my hand up and swore that I was willing to give up my life for this country. I'm still alive so im going to keep on fighting until I can't anymore. What we talked about that night struck me threw the heart like a knife. It made me think maybe there is something more to the military than what I see. If my brother almost lost his life and he is willing to get back up and do it all over again than either he took one too hard to the head, or he has experienced on of the most amazing events of his life.

Seeing him get his purple heart was amazing I was so proud of him. And I realized then that I wanted him look at me the same way I look at him. I didn't want him to see his little baby brother. I wanted him to see the fighter and the Warrior in me. He was one of the first people to return to full active duty after suffering a serious brain injury. He reached his goal by returning to his team and going back to Iraq Sep 5 2006. Looking back on our conversation a year ago I completely understand why he didn't quit. He didn't do it just for himself he did it for those he left behind. Instead of having sympathy for what happened to him I have a fear of not knowing what his limits are. So what inspired me to join the air force? It was the determination of another during his struggle that changed my life and I'M proud to call him my brother and my teammate.

Peter Floyd
U.S. Air Force

Related story and pictures from Marine Corps News:

It’s all in the family for Jacksonville Purple Heart recipient

Nov. 22, 2005; Submitted on: 11/22/2005 10:02:18 AM ; Story ID#: 2005112210218

By Cpl. Mike Escobar, 2nd Marine Division

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2005) -- Whether wounded on the battlefield or resting in a military hospital back home, injured Marines have always relied on the support of their fellow service members and loved ones to motivate them on the often rough road to recovery.

Nineteen-year-old Lance Cpl. Brian Floyd received more than a few words of encouragement from his family, but a unique understanding of the trials he faced as a wounded combat veteran of the Global War on Terrorism in Iraq.

“It’s a family tradition to serve our country, no matter what branch of the military we do it in,” said the infantryman with 1st Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, explaining how every member of his family is or has been a member of the nation’s armed forces. “We’ve always supported one another, and it feels great to have them by my side when things like this happen.”

The Jacksonville, N.C. native referred specifically to the encouragement his loved ones have given him throughout the past six months, a period of time marked by numerous surgeries and physical therapy sessions.

Floyd, a 2004 graduate of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, N.C., was wounded in action on May 1 near Fallujah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

“I’d been manning the gun turret at the time,” he explained. “The armor shield right in front of the gun broke (during the blast), and a shard of metal slipped underneath my Kevlar (helmet). I ended up taking shrapnel to the head and in my left hand. I got knocked out, and the next thing I remember was waking up at (the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.)”

From that time on, Floyd said his family was there to lend him a helping hand.

His father, Army Sgt. Maj. Willie Floyd (retired), pinned the Purple Heart Medal onto his son’s chest here Nov. 16.

“I’m so proud of Brian’s dedication to duty, and also extremely grateful to his corpsmen and command for taking care of him,” Sgt. Maj. Floyd said after the ceremony. “They did what they had to do to get him off the battlefield that day, and they’ve given us back that fighting spirit that Brian possesses.”

Also present at the ceremony were Lance Cpl. Floyd’s mother, Army Staff Sgt. Georgette Floyd; two brothers, Lance Cpl. Willie Floyd and Peter Floyd; and two of his aunts, Army Sergeants First Class Elizabeth German and Ta’Juanna Denmark. They had traveled from bases in Fayetteville and Fort Benning, Ga., to see their wounded Marine presented his medal.

“After what he (Brian) has been through these past few months, I’m the one who looks up to him now,” said Floyd’s older brother Willie, who is also based here and serves as a machine gunner with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

Currently, Floyd resides at Camp Lejeune’s Wounded Warrior Barracks while he receives what he said will be his last surgery. He said he eagerly waits to return to full duty to once more fight alongside his brothers in 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, and that he never lost his passion for the Marines.

“I’ve wanted to be a Marine since I was 12 years old,” Floyd stated. “I’m hoping to do 20 years in the Corps, and maybe even more, because there’s nothing else for me to do in this world.”

Photos included with story:

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Lance Cpl. Brian Floyd, fourth from the left, poses for a group photo alongside several of his relatives and his friend, Petty Officer 3rd Class Micah Selcer, far right, after being presented his Purple Heart Medal here Nov 16. The 19-year-old infantryman with 1st Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and Jacksonville, N.C. native said every member of his family serves, has served or is waiting to serve in the nation's armed forces. Photo by: Cpl. Mike Escobar

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Lance Cpl. Brian Floyd, an infantryman with 1st Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is presented his Purple Heart Medal here Nov 16 by his father, retired Army Sgt. Maj. Willie Floyd. The 19-year-old Jacksonville, N.C. native was awarded this medal for injuries sustained after a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle while he and his teammates had been conducting security and stability operations outside Fallujah, Iraq in May. Photo by: Cpl. Mike Escobar