Chris Kudyk. Photographer Unknown

Chris Kudyk: Part 1

Chris deployed with First Battalion, Second Marines during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and with Second Battalion, Eighth Marines to Afghanistan in September 2003. In Part 1 of his interview, Chris  discusses crossing the Iraq border on March 19, 2003 and the battle of An Nasiriyah, one of the largest battles of the Iraq War, a few days later. He also talks about training for and coming back from that deployment.


Interview conducted on July 14, 2015 over the phone

Present: Richard Hayden and Chris Kudyk 

Transcribed by Richard Hayden


Richard Hayden: What is your full name?

Chris Kudyk: Christopher David Kudyk.

RH: What branch of the military did you serve in and what years?

CK: I served in the United States Marine Corps from 2000 to 2004.

RH: What was your rank when you got out?

CK: E4, Corporal.

RH: What was your MOS?

CK: 0311 [spoken as oh-three eleven], infantry.

RH: What was your unit?

CK: I served with First Battalion, Second Marines, Bravo Company for three years. Then my last year in, I served with Second Battalion, Eighth Marines, Golf Company.

RH: What motivated you to join the military?

CK: When I reached the end of my high school I was undecided of what I wanted to do. I was playing high school football and I had some aspirations of maybe going and playing college ball. I had reached a point where I was tired of school and I wanted something more. It just so happened that my other buddy – he’s still in the Marine Corps today, we were good friends in high school – he had passed my number on to one of the recruiters and they called me. We started talking about my plans for after high school and he got into what the Marine Corps could offer and joining and serving in the military. He had a lot of positive things to say that intrigued me and he basically sold me from day one.

Then my last year of high school, my senior year of high school, I was basically in what we called the Poolee Program. You basically joined up with the military and they were kind of getting you ready and preparing you for boot camp which was pretty fun.

RH: Why the Marine Corps?

CK: You know what? We always had those days when the military would come to school – they’d have Army, Navy, Marines , Air Force – the Marine Corps was the most in your face. They’d come out and they had the attitude like they wanted to interact with you. I felt that the Army, the Navy and the Air Force were just kind of there and they wanted you to approach them. With the Marine Corps, they were in your face. They offered t-shirts. You did push up contests. They cracked jokes with you. So they were very intriguing and we were talking to them and joking around with them about what interests you the most. And that’s what caught me, how vocal and how committed to you. It felt like they wanted you, you know? So that was why.

RH: Why did you pick 0311?

CK: I picked 0311 because researching through the military, for me and – according to my uncle that was in the military – the way to go was infantry because they did the most travelling. If you got into another MOS you could just get stationed somewhere in the United States and never go anywhere. If you wanted to travel and see the world, go to different countries, the primary MOS was infantry. So that’s why I did it.

RH: How did your family feel about your decision?

CK: At first I think that they were kind of put back by it. This just sprang up on them. They were, I think, expecting me to want to go to college and play football and they thought I was going to do that. I just sat them down one day and said, “I’m considering joining the military, United States Marine Corps.” They were supportive from day one. I said, “well, I want you to talk to the recruiter. He wants to come over and talk to you guys to make you guys feel safe and tell you what they can offer me.” And they were very accepting of him. He actually answered all their questions. It wasn’t one of those stereotypical where the parents freak out and “you’re going to go to war. How could you do this? You’re going to get yourself killed?” They were actually very supportive. My father served in the Army and my mother had two brothers in the Marine Corps.

RH: Where were you on September 11th?

CK: September 11th I was in Okinawa, Japan. It was really early in the morning. It had to have been two or three o’clock in the morning when it happened and I just remember being asleep in my bunk and my roommate waking me up telling me that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. He knew I was from New York and he was like, “wake up!” I told him to leave me alone because there was PT in the morning. I was kind of upset that he was waking me up. [laughs] He goes, “no dude, seriously. Wake up. You’ve got to see this.” I woke up and I started watching it and that’s when the second plane slammed into the World Trade Center.

At that point the whole base went on alert. They were running up and down the hallways pounding on doors. We closed down the gate and basically went on tactical alert in case there was a possible terrorist attack.

RH: As the day went on, what happened?

CK: At first they came through and said, “does anybody have relatives, family or friends that live in the New York area, specifically in the New York City area? If you do, you can contact and try to get a hold of them. You can contact them and find out if they’re safe.” They allowed those guys to do that while everyone else, we had to pack up our bags and get ready because we didn’t know what they were going to do with us, whether we were going to fly out and go somewhere. They started having tactical meetings and situation reports about what was going on, what we were going to do.

And then later on in that day word had come down that we were going to go fly out to Guam, the Air Force base in Guam, and provide security for the base there because they felt that the base was vulnerable so they wanted extra security. By the end of that day, it was probably two or three o’clock in the morning, we had loaded up onto an AC 130 to get ready to fly out to Guam but then they told us to stand down and go back to our barracks. Then we had another meeting that night and they basically told us that, because we were so close to the changeover and another unit was coming in to replace us, that we were going to go back to North Carolina where we were stationed. The other unit that was coming in, they were going to take over and go to Guam.

RH: Where did you go to boot camp?

CK: I was in boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina.

RH: What was your follow-up training like?

CK: After boot came you have ten days of personal leave and then right after that you have to report to Camp Geiger in North Carolina which was the School of Infantry. That’s an additional six to eight weeks of training, advanced infantry training. It’s more intense training. It’s more of advanced infantry training where you learn to shoot machine guns. At this point they’re kind of testing out individual Marines to see who’s fit to operate certain machinery so that’s where they separated you and kind of said, “OK. These two are going to be riflemen. This group of people will be machine gunners. This group of people will be TOW gunners,” which is armor, weapons division. Basically it’s just more training, more hiking and tactical – forced marches, spending six days out in the field, digging trench holes and a lot more infantry tactics. There was about eight weeks of that.

RH: Did you feel in general that your training prepared you for what you had to face?

CK: Yes, for the most part. We didn’t really do a lot of desert environment. We were kind of limited to working in the forest. We didn’t get into too many details about desert training or stuff like that. There was this training program where you would go out to Twentynine Palms in California for your desert training – desert warfare training.

The school is just basically tactics. Learning to fire and maneuver and operating the weapons system, changing them, maintaining them. So overall it doesn’t really prepare you for what you’re going to face but for the actions that you’ll have to use out there, yes, definitely. The training did prepare you for that.

RH: Great. Good to go. Where were you stationed in the US when you deployed?

CK: I was in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Did you serve in Iraq, Afghanistan or both?

CK: I served in both. I actually served in Cuba with a detainee camp and then I served in Iraq for the invasion and then when I came back from Iraq, that’s when they started doing changeover and I got sent to Eighth Marines to deploy to Afghanistan.

RH: What were the dates of each of those deployments? If you could, start with the Cube one.

CK: I was in Cuba from April of 2002 to July of 2002. And then when we came back from Cuba they sent us on leave, thirty days of leave, and then they recalled us to go to Iraq. So we had to do a work up for that so we came back in July and then we deployed out on ships to go to Iraq to Kuwait. Actually, first we went to Kuwait and then we were deployed from November 2002 through July of 2003 I was in Iraq.

And then when we came back from that in June, by the time we got home – we had to take a ship – it was probably the second week of July, we went on leave again. We had another leave period and then they called everybody out and basically what they did was – I only had one year left on my contract – they picked everybody and said, “if you’re not reenlisting, raise your hand,” and they took the names of the people who weren’t reenlisting. I wasn’t going to reenlist so I raised my hand. I planned on getting out. They told us to come out later that night for formation. When we came out they called our names again and told us to pack our bags to go with Second Battalion, Eighth Marines to deploy to Afghanistan in September. When I was with Second Battalion, Eighth marines, I was in Afghanistan from September of 2003 to late May of 2004.

RH: OK. I wish you could have seen my face when you told me that story because I was like, [makes a pained noise] “aww!”

CK: [laughs]

RH: Let’s talk about the Cuba deployment. What was the mission of your unit when you were in Cuba?

CK: OK. The mission for us there was to provide perimeter security for the base and to transport detainees from the airport to the detention facility. We also provided QRF, which is Quick Reaction Force, within the facility and, the towers around the detention facility, we monitored the towers. So we were basically just correction officer duties for the detention facility. The United States Army manned the actual facility and we were just extra security.

RH: What were some of the notable events that occurred during that deployment?

CK: I don’t believe anything really happened that was that notable. The only one I remember is there was one guy who was in the detention facility, they called him Crazy. He was a mentally disturbed detainee and they always had problems dealing with him. He would never cooperate with the Army guys. He would always freak out and whenever they tried to go in and detain him, he would throw his bodily fluids on them and stuff like that. So that was something that was notable, seeing the Army have to deal with them every day. That was probably what stood out the most.

At the detention facility we worked constantly. We would get four days on and then three days off. On our three days off we had to stay on base doing squat. The bay was beautiful. We could go swimming out there. On the boats we could go skiing. The little time we had out there – that was probably the most memorable in Cuba.

RH: Nice. Good to go. Let’s go ahead and let’s move on to Iraq. What was the mission of your unit in Iraq?

CK: When we crossed over into Iraq, our unit was tasked with securing Ambush Alley, An Nasiriyah. I don’t know if you remember hearing about that. It was Bravo Company. The rest of the battalion was outside and would continue onto Baghdad. An Nasiriyah was going to be the main supply route for the battalion. So we had to secure the supply route that led into An Nasiriyah and out of An Nasiriyah. We had to secure those bridges and secure the city. That was our mission.

It was supposed to be light resistance expected. Literally, light resistance and it would be a cakewalk. It wound up being maybe seventeen hours. Before Fallujah, it was the bloodiest battle of the war.

RH: What, specifically was your job?

CK: OK. My specific job. At the time I was a Corporal and I was squad leader. We were in Bravo Company. Alpha Company was going to secure the first bridge and Charlie Company was going to secure the second bridge. Bravo Company would go up in and secure the city. Our job was going to be to go door to door through the city and secure the city so that the tanks and the light armor could push through with no resistance.

What had happened was, one of the tracks and the tanks got stuck in the mud within the city. Charlie came back, “you know what? Come to think about it, our job in Bravo Company was to secure the second bridge.” And it was Alpha Company would secure the front bridge, Bravo Company would secure the second bridge, and Charlie Company would secure the city. So what happened was the tanks got stuck near the closest parts of the city so we had to go in and provide security for the tanks and the tracks to out of the mud, to help them get out of the mud. So they sent Charlie Company to go secure the second bridge. Charlie Company ended up with the ambush and lost about thirty-two guys. At that point, that’s when shit really hit the fan and our mission turned into going in and pulling Charlie Company out of the ambush. We sat at the edge of the city planning our move to go down toward the second bridge and rescue Charlie Company.

RH: If you could maybe, start at the beginning of the day. What was your initial impression like at the beginning of that day?

CK: Of An Nasiriyah?

RH: Yes.

CK: It was quiet. We pulled in just outside the city. We let the Cobras go in and secure because there were reports of anti-tanks guns within the city. They were going so we let the Cobras go in and take out. So we were basically sitting outside the city for three hours.

The Army had tried to go in earlier. Jessica Lynch’s company had gone in and got in there before we did. We were supposed to go through and re-secure the city. They had taken that wrong turn so we actually had to go in early to save the Army and get their company out of there. They had to pull out and they had to send in our unit early in the morning. We pulled in just outside of An Nasiriyah probably at about three or four o’clock in the morning, it was still dark out, and by the time the sun came up it was about eight or nine AM in the morning. At that point everything started to go wrong. We started to get ambushed so we had to go push inside the city. Then that’s when everything – we had gone in to try to pull the Army out. They radioed units to get the Army to pull out and we had to go and secure the bridges early.

Alpha Company wound up securing the first bridge relatively easily because there was no resistance on that bridge. So when we crossed over that bridge into An Nasiriyah, one of the tracks got stuck in the route around the city. That’s when they called us and they asked what unit was in the area. We called in and said, “Bravo Company is in the area. We’re heading in to secure this bridge.” The commander said, “scratch that. Provide security for the tracks.” We had to free the tanks. That’s when Charlie Company pushed forward to the second bridge. This was probably about within two hours – eleven thirty, twelve o’clock in the afternoon is when it all went down. They got ambushed and took, probably, two RPGs and they lost about two guys with the tracks being blown up.

RH: How did the battle end?

CK: By the time it was all over we had pushed through the city and secured it. It got to the point where, Nasiriyah got to the point where the bridges were secure and that was the objective. We had taken the bridges. There was no possible way to actually secure the city because there was so many buildings and they calculated we would take too many casualties going through the city door to door trying to clear the whole thing so they had designated – once you cross bridge one moving to bridge two and going through the city – do not stop. Just go through the city as fast as you can and get out. There was what they called a free-fire zone which is if you took any fire to return fire immediately but do not stop, just push through. So the city remained hot, so to speak, for the remainder of the invasion.

We had pushed over the second bridge and we were going to provide armor after that. Basically, that night the bridges were secured and that’s when it kind of moved into the Jessica Lynch phase. We were at the bridge and that one doctor from the hospital told us that there was an Army soldier, a female Army soldier, in the building who was wounded. And that’s when the whole Jessica Lynch thing began. So after Nasiriyah, we had moved into the phase of rescuing Jessica Lynch.

RH: Were you directly involved in that?

CK: Our unit was not directly involved. That was a Special Forces operation but we provided perimeter security for Special Operations and the building as they rescued her.

RH: Good to go. I’m going to back up a little bit. You were in Kuwait before the invasion kicked off, correct?

CK: Yes. We were in Kuwait from November until March.

RH: OK. Perfect. On the night before you pushed into Iraq, what was that night like?

CK: A lot of speculation was going on because at that point there had been several times where they said we were going over the next day. We’re crossing, we’re crossing, we’re crossing. Everyone was kind of like, we had one meeting that said we’re crossing. “Ah! This is bullshit. We’re not going to do anything. We’re probably just going to just sit here the entire time and then probably head back to the States. We’re never crossing.”

So the night before everyone was kind of like in dismay and people not believing that we would do it. Not until the next morning did they had this huge battalion meeting. Everyone had to come to the meeting and the Battalion Commander basically gave his pep talk speech because everybody kind of realized that this was happening. Up until that point, no one believed that we were crossing the border. Everyone was like, “no way we’re going in. This will be resolved.” You know? “They will surrender before we even cross the border.” So not until we were given that update, everyone actually realized that this was happening.

RH: What was it like going in?

CK: It was kind of strange in a way. Crossing the border really took all night. It was probably about two or three o’clock in the morning on March 19th when we crossed the border. It was dark out, you can’t really see anything, you’re inside the track – the amphibious assault vehicle – and everything kind of makes you feel sealed in. You’re in this huge line so it’s kind of like a convoy and you’re waiting for your turn to cross through. You have these things which are called berm diggers and you dig a hole. Between Kuwait and Iraq was a big sand dune so they had to have this excavator go in and dig a pathway. So you’re kind of waiting for your turn to go through. So crossing over took about an hour and a half.

March 23rd is when we hit Nasiriyah. From March 19th to 23rd we were travelling across Iraq, the sands of Iraq, uncontested. Nobody. No fire. There was no opposition. There was nobody out there. It was quiet, you know? We ran over a couple of land mines and heard some explosions outside that were big so it was kind of like, this was more like, “holy shit! This is actually happening.” When we crossed over we were actually going to war. So in your mind you’re preparing yourself like, “am I ever going to come back?” You know, is this my time? Am I going to die over here? Am I going to be able to come home? After that, all communications are cut off and you can’t talk to your parents. You’ve got no real chance to say good bye. Once you’re in there the anxiety sets in. You’re like, “oh man.” I was going to do whatever it takes to get back alive. It’s not where I want to die, you know?

RH: Good to go. After Nasiriyah, what are some of the notable events that occurred?

CK: After Nasiriya, we basically pushed through different cities provided support to be conducting vehicle checkpoints and providing safety and protect the traffic of civilians passing through trying to get to Kuwait and get out of Iraq. To go through the vehicle checkpoints, you basically have to check everybody and make sure they’re not soldiers trying to escape. We tried to determine who was trying to flee – who were civilians fleeing and who were soldiers trying to hide and get out.

Probably, for me, one of the more notable events that occurred, actually, there were two notable events that occurred at that point, one where a vehicle was approaching our checkpoint. It was probably about a mile out, we could see out the binoculars. We had had signs set up in Arabic and Farsi telling them “this area is occupied by the United States military. Prepare to stop your vehicle.” The vehicle kept coming. It wasn’t slowing down. We kept calling it in – we were with a tank – and the vehicle kept coming and coming and coming and I’m watching this with one of my buddies and I’m like, “oh my. Is this really happening? Are these guys going to try to crash the vehicle into us?” They finally give us the OK to open fire on the vehicle so we open fire on the vehicle and the vehicle crashes off the side of the road about fifty yards from us. The people jump out of the vehicle and start running. At that point we stopped firing and the tank, the Abrams tank, the .50 cal just opened fire and just mowed all the people down. By the time we got up to see who it was, it was several women, several males. We didn’t know who they were. It was kind of grim seeing what a .50 caliber shot can do to a body.

The one that stuck with me most was another vehicle checkpoint. Basically the same thing happened. We were on top of the tank and we had opened fire on the vehicle and the vehicle stopped, turned around and sped off. And about ten minutes later we see these two guys coming down the road and one of them is carrying a young six or seven year-old kid and she had been shot in the chest. We did everything we could to save her and I sat there and I watched her basically breathe her last breath. It just angered me so much to see that happen. My Gunnery Sergeant who was standing next to me, came up to me and said, “does this piss you off?” And I said, “yes. This pisses me off beyond belief. Why don’t they just stop their vehicles? Why do they have to speed up like this and force our hands?” And he goes, “it’s just the nature of life and you’re going to see stuff like this. There’s nothing you can do. Push on.” He goes, “as messed up as it is now Kudyk, I will take this happening any day over that vehicle coming in, exploding and killing ten of my Marines.” I told him, “but there was no bomb in the vehicle.” And he said, “you don’t know that. If we had allowed that vehicle to come through uninspected and he didn’t run, all he has to do is stop but he didn’t stop.” That just kind of stuck with me to this day, you know? Several of us fired on the vehicle and to me it’s like, I just pictured me thinking that, “could it have been my bullet that hit her?” You know? I don’t know. It bothered me for a significant time.

RH: What do you remember most about the Marines that you served with in Iraq?

CK: What I remember most is just the camaraderie that we had with each other. You build a bond with people that are actually deploying, not knowing somebody and not knowing who this person is. Going through boot camp and stuff like this you never knew who this person was and now you’re here in this position where these guys are laying down their lives for you. Two years ago we didn’t know who each other were. So now we’re in this situation where you watch my back I watch yours, you know, we get out of this alive. Guys who got shot, they’re alive. Even some of the guys who died saving other people, maybe jumping on grenades or taking a bullet for somebody else, that’s what resonates the most – when people come together and do all this who were complete strangers at one point. You can’t imagine people looking out for somebody else. You can always think to yourself, I would take a bullet for my mother, I would take a bullet for my father. But taking a bullet for a complete stranger, somebody who was a complete stranger, you could never think of somebody doing that, to lay down their life for somebody else. It’s amazing, you know? And that’s really what builds brotherhood and camaraderie. It’s that relationship between everybody.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Aside from what you already told me, what were your interactions with the Iraqis like?

CK: Most of them, believe it or not, were actually peaceful. Many of them did not agree with what Saddam was doing, his regime was doing, and I always tell people that the media does not portray what it actually going on there. They were only showing you the bad things. They show you the people who spit on you. They show you the people who are throwing stuff at you and shooting at you. They’re showing people dying. Not once did they actually show, or did you ever see, the group of people that come out cheering for you and thanking you for getting rid of this dictator. You know, giving you food, providing you freed lodging. “You can stay in my house. Have dinner with us. Have some tea.” They were very friendly all along. Most of them were very friendly. They appreciated everything that we were doing for them.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Are there any Iraqis in particular that stick out?

CK: No, not really. Most of them moved by so fast because we processed them so quickly – it was move along, move along, move along. Even when the people were coming out, you had to push through the crowd. We never really had any sit down conversations with anybody. That was more towards the higher ups – the Captains and the Lieutenants would go meet with the village elders. We didn’t really have any kind of close interaction with them.

The children stood out the most. The children were always begging for food and candy. Most of the time when you saw children, they were always asking for chocolates. That’s probably what stood out most was the children.

RH: Good to go. What was the most challenging period of the deployment: the beginning, the middle or the end?

CK: Oh boy, that’s a good question. I believe the most challenging part of that for me was the middle of the deployment because the fighting, the battles and the firefights were going on. You’re not thinking that this kind of is happening and when it’s over it happened so fast. The adrenaline was there and you’re happy that you’re still alive in a sense. So once you push onto that, the middle of the deployment kept winding down.

It was kind of bleary because you’re kind of like you’re so close to feeling that it’s going to be over soon. You’re kind of feeling like, “is this the calm before the storm? Is this all the stuff that really is going to happen before we leave? Will they keep us here longer than we were supposed to be,” you know? So there were a lot of variables going on. It was getting through that part, probably, that was the most challenging because at that point you have time to sit there and collect your thoughts and think about stuff. That’s probably the most dangerous part, is when you’re thinking about stuff to do. At this point it would really suck to get hit by a stray bullet this far in the deployment, you know? Can I survive?

RH: Alright. Good to go. What was the most challenging non-combat aspect of deployment?

CK: I would say being in Kuwait and getting everybody mentally prepared to be ready to cross over should we have to do that. When you join the military, no one ever thinks – especially when you join in peacetime – you don’t ever think about going to war. Everybody was like, “I never thought I would ever see combat. I thought I would travel to several different countries, meet beautiful women, see beautiful countries and have a great time.” And then when you’re put into that moment when it’s actually happening and it becomes a reality – and you’re in a leadership position – it is to maintain that composure and show that you’re supportive of the people below you, that you are competent enough and can lead them and get them home safe. If you make that promise to them, “I’m going to get you guys home. I’m going to make sure you get home to your families, make sure you get home to your wife and your children. You’re going to see them again. That’s my promise to you. Do what I say, follow my orders and I promise you I will get you home.” The most challenging aspect of that is getting guys to believe that and trusting you, trusting a person with their life.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Aside from the ones that you already mentioned, did you have any transformative or significant events that informed your deployment?

CK: Hmm. I would say, when you see people that you are supposed to look up to and they’re supposed to lead you, they’re the ones setting the example for the Marine you’re supposed to be. I always said there’s garrison Marines and there’s field Marines. There are Marines who excel in garrison, basically. They have the knowledge, they have the idea of what they’re supposed to be. They can spit off the NCO’s creed and they know all the knowledge for being out in the field and public drills and this kind of stuff. They just don’t perform. And these are the people that are the leaders.

At one point one of our staff NCOs had basically lost it. He mentally broke and you don’t ever expect to see that from a leader. If that’s the guy you look to for help it’s like, “where do I go now?” You know? If this guy’s broke, if all of this has broken this man who I look up to, is this going to happen to me? Because this was a guy who was supposed to be your mentor and the Marine that you should aspire to be. To see him mentally break down and give up it kind of devastates you and gets you to the point of like, “what’s going to happen? What do I do now?” It actually kind of changed my whole look into the system of the Marine Corps and it was at that point that I made the decision that this is not what I want. I had gone in, I had signed up for the Marine Corps wanting to do twenty years and be a lifer, spend my life going higher. To see that happen, I was like, “I don’t want this to be me.” I can’t be in an organization and have this happen to me. That’s where it made me, I felt, I can’t be in here. I said, “once I get back, if I ever come back, I’m getting out.”

RH: Alright. Before we move on to post-deployment, is there any other parts of the deployment that I left out that you would like to address?

CK: Umm. Let me think about it. No. Not really.


CK: I made a few points of what went on over there. I think a lot of people got to understand what it was like and what was going on. That’s probably it.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Can you talk about your immediate post-deployment experiences?

CK: Now are you talking about when I got back to the States?

RH: Yes.

CK: Or are you talking about when I got out of the Marine Corps?

RH: Specifically, when you got back to the States from Iraq.

CK: Coming back from Iraq was like we were super men. We had survived brushes with death and to come home and see your family there waiting for you with open to arms, to be able to see my family again was great. It was one of those things where they were like, “thank you! So happy to see you!” And it kind of helps out to kind of decompress. It gets to the point where a lot of people, they turn to recreational activities to distract them. We did a lot of stuff to distract us from what we just went through. At this stage I did a lot of drinking, partying, hanging out and trying to live life.

It’s one of those things where you realize that you only have one life to live and to be able to come back from that, to cheat death so to speak, to look into the barracks, to look next door and to know that some of the guys that you were friends with are gone and you’re never going to be able to talk to them again is difficult too. It’s difficult on a lot of people, especially us. We came back and we lost so many friends so a lot of us liked to partake in destructive activity to keep us distracted, to stop us from thinking too much about what happened. The better times were when we were drunk and partying and when you’re sober you’re thinking about your friends getting killed. You’re thinking about your buddies dying next to you and stuff like that. Nobody wants that. That was my thing. So a lot us just basically just bottled it all and were partying to not think about what we went through.

Part 2 of Chris' interview can be found here.