Stewart Duardo. Fallujah, Iraq. 2004. Photographer Unknown

Stewart Duardo

Stewart fought in the battle of Fallujah in November of 2004. As a driver for the Commanding General's PSD team, he moved into and out of Fallujah through the fighting. After returning home in 2005, he got out of the Marine Corps and settled down with his wife. He is currently a member of the All American Riders, a non-profit organization that works with veterans.


Interview conducted on March 28, 2015 over the phone

Present: Richard Hayden and Stewart Duardo

Transcribed by Richard Hayden


Richard Hayden: What is your full name?

Stewart Duardo: Stewart Romo Duardo.

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

SD: United States Marine Corps, ’97 through ’05.

RH: What was your rank when you got out?

SD: Staff Sergeant, E6.

RH: What was your MOS?

SD: I had four MOSes. Primarily I was a 7212 [spoken as seventy-two twelve], low altitude air defense gunner.

RH: What were some of your units?

SD: 3rd LAAD Battalion, 1st Stinger Battery, Marine Security Guard Battalion and 1 MEF – First Marine Expeditionary Force.

RH: What motivated you to join the military?

SD: My brothers. I’ve got some older brothers and primarily it was kind of in the family. I wasn’t cut out for college I didn’t think so I thought I was going to go out and explore the world and that I did!

RH: Were your brothers in the Marine Corps?

SD: Yes. They were both Marine Corps so they had a little bit of influence. They had something to do with it but I found my own path, man, and it turned out I liked it.

RH: I guess since your brothers were in they approved but how did the rest of your family feel about your decision?

SD: Well, you know mom. Moms don’t like to see their kids going off to the military or war. Moms will worry. But everybody was very supportive. Everybody was very patriotic. Primarily my family’s from Mexico but they’re very happy to be a part of this country. Especially my dad. My dad’s happy to have sons join the Marine Corps and contribute that way to this country.

RH: Where were you on September 11th?

SD: I was floating in a swimming pool with a beer in my hand in Tanzania at the American embassy in Tanzania. I was at the Marine house, as a matter of fact. I was floating in a pool with a beer in my hand. It was about two, three in the afternoon and somebody came out of the house and said, “a couple planes ran into the World Trade Center buildings.”

RH: How did the atmosphere change?

SD: It was an atmosphere of uncertainness, not really knowing what to do. I continued about my business. I knew something was going to change. I was just waiting to follow suit. I didn’t really get out of the pool. I stayed in the pool and continued drinking my beer and figured, “what am I going to do about it?” I was already at the American Embassy on Marine Security Guard duty. But that next day we tightened the screws around the embassy and tightened our security.

RH: During the coming weeks security obviously tightened around the embassy. Was there a major shift in security or how did the situation change?

SD: We continued the same operations. We had seven Marines on deck and one detachment commander so that’s a total of eight Marines, and, actually, two regional security officers that were State Department. We continued with the same amount of Marines. It didn’t increase, didn’t decrease. But we did have meetings with the regional security office to implement more awareness on where we might be lacking it. At the time they were building the new embassy After they blew up the one in ’98 we kind of had – not a makeshift – but a temporary one. I didn’t get to stand post at the new one. I already had left for my second post when they opened the new one but they were in the process of building it.

RH: Where did you go to boot camp?

SD: San Diego.

RH: What was your follow up training like?

SD: It sucked, man. [RH laughs] It’s just the fourth phase of boot camp. Any Marine will tell you that after boot camp you intend to leave and then you report back to Camp Pendleton for MCT – Marine Combat Training. And it’s basically just the fourth phase of boot camp. You’re out in the field learning the weapons systems – the .50 cal, the SAW, the 240, the M16, you know. The big weapons.

RH: Do you feel like your training prepared you for deploying?

SD: It did, man. It did. Whenever I reached a point in training, it prepared me for the next level of training. It trained me to take that next step to that next level that I wanted to undertake. Once I got onto deployment on boat – I was with the 13th MEU too – I came back and got orders to deploy to Okinawa. So that deployment on boat helped me to deploy to Okinawa mentally. Then in Okinawa I had a great time. I reached my four-year point and I wanted to reenlist and I got embassy guard duty as part of my contract so that deployment helped me to take it to the next level of training.

RH: Did you deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan or both?

SD: Iraq.

RH: When you deployed to Iraq, what were you doing?

SD: When I got off embassy duty in ’04, I reported back to my unit in the fleet in Pendleton and it was pretty empty. Everybody was deployed to Iraq already. And the air defense battalion – there was really no need for low altitude air defense in Iraq so what they did is they got the whole unit spun up on infantry tactics and they attached the 3rd LAAD gunners to infantry units. So they were all deployed as quote, un-quote “infantry units.” So when I came back it was a ghost town back at my unit.

So one of the Master Sergeants, he comes up to me and said, “you have a top-secret clearance, don’t ya?” And I said, “yeah. I just got off MSG duty.” He said, “the 1 MEF commander is looking for a driver. Do you want to go up for a couple if interviews to see if you get the job?” So I said, “yeah, why not? I’ll give it a shot. It sounds pretty cool.” So I went to battalion, group, wing and then MEF. I went through four interviews and then I finally got it. I think there was like four or five other Marines. And it’s just like a board. You go up and you qualify. It helped that I had that top secret clearance. So I ended up being the 1 MEF CG’s driver in the rear. And then they said, “no, no, no. You’re going to be the 1 MEF’s driver on the battlefield.” So I was like, “cool!” For some reason they deployed me to Fallujah so I was the 1 MEF CG’s driver in Fallujah.

RH: When did you deploy to Fallujah?

SD: I left in ’04 and I came back in ’05. I left, I want to say – man, I should know these dates –I left in March. I remember because I was riding my dirt bike with my wife. I left in March of ’04 and came back in January or February of ’05.

RH: So you were there for the big battle, correct?

SD: Yes. I was there for the second push to go in and get the town of Fallujah. It was pretty nasty, man.

RH: What do you remember most about deploying to Iraq when you first got there?

SD: It was the smell. The smell of rotten flesh in the air. And that just loomed in the air. You get the breezes coming and going and the breezes just cover the entire town.

RH: When you arrived in Fallujah, what was the state of the city like?

SD: There were still buildings intact. The streets were pretty much intact. The CG wanted to get driven out to visit his commanders on the battlefield. The buildings were intact but you started to see the signs of disarray and gunfire. It deteriorated really, really fast.

RH: The battle began in November of 2004, correct?

SD: Yes.

RH: What was the lead up to that like?

SD: It was a lot of visits to the commanders on the field and a few visits to the Iraqi troops on Camp Fallujah where we were they were spinning them up and also the Marines and the checkpoints around the city. There was a lot of tension, man. You could tell. There was a lot of tension and you knew what was about to happen. I was driving along and, quote unquote, “sitting duck,” and waiting for the show to start. 

I didn’t really have any expectations. I think that’s one of the biggest things that a lot of Marines – I don’t want to speak for a lot of Marines but – every one of them there, I think, if you walk in that place with expectations, you might get let down. One day it can go this way and the next day it can go that way, man. Every battle is different and every skirmish is different. You knew the firepower that you had, you know they didn’t stand a chance, but you can only hope they got out of the city like they were told to and whoever didn’t get out of the city was considered a combatant.

RH: So once the battle got started, how involved was the general?

SD: He was completely involved. He was one-hundred percent completely involved from the time he got out of bed in the day until the time he went to bed, he was completely involved. We came and went up to three times in and out of Fallujah because we would run to Baghdad, do a convoy, bring some supplies back, do a supply convoy back from Fallujah and Ramadi and we’d take the General out to checkpoints in Fallujah and then drive around Fallujah to visit the sheikhs in Fallujah, and then drive back on base and then go back out to another checkpoint and then come back on base and drop him of and then he’d come back and he would have his meetings with his commanders, he would talk to Baghdad, he would talk to Washington, I mean it was NON-STOP for that guy. I don’t know how he get stamina to keep it going that way but the guy never left his office to go lounge or take a nap or do anything. The guy had fucking stamina, man.

RH: After the battle, how did it change at all after it was over?

SD: It was somber. That’s the way I could describe it. It was somber. A lot of Marines got injured. Some Marines got killed. One that stood out for me was Staff Sergeant [name withheld]. He got brought back to Fallujah and he went to go visit the Marines there and the hospital guys came back in the LAV with the bullet holes in them from behind. It looked like you had a chicken and cut its head off and shook it everywhere inside all the blood was just splattered everywhere. The guy got hit by a sniper round in the neck and he was on the gurney sleeping – well it looked like he was sleeping but he left behind a couple of kids and a wife. His Marines were devastated. They wanted revenge.

That was kind of towards the end when fighting was still pretty heavy. You could see the Abrams tanks going in, driving past you and then you see them driving past you again with a wounded Devil Dog on the top and his leg bleeding out and he was holding his .9 mil. These were the kinds of battles that these guys were fighting in quarters with a .9 mil, you know?

So towards the end it was pretty somber. There were really no celebrations. They went their way and we went ours and whatever was left. There were no celebrations. It was one long marathon.

RH: What were your interactions with the Iraqis like throughout the whole deployment?

SD: The Iraqis are idiots, man. They’re ten thousand years behind the rest of the world. I’m not saying that because I’m American and patriotic, I’m saying that because they really are ten thousand years behind the rest of the world. It’s pretty silly that we would try to implement or introduce them to democracy. Although there were a lot of people over there that want democracy but there are so many tribes. It’s kind of like walking into Downtown LA. How many gangs are you going to find in Downtown LA, man? It’s kind of like getting all these gangs on the same page. It’s not going to happen, you know?

I don’t think that you can diplomatically – you’ve got Shiites and the Sunnis and that’s really what it comes down to. It’s who’s the bigger group and wo’s going to win? It’s a game of attrition like the Union and the Rebels. Who’s going to win the nation? So you’ve got the Sunnis and the Shiites in the middle of the nation and that’s who you side with. And then once you’ve got the biggest group to win the nation, that’s who you side with and then I think you’ll have a better course as far as changing the hearts and minds of getting on the same page as those guys. But first you’ve got to get somebody who’s big enough – get the biggest bully on the block – to win the battle and then once that big bully on the block wins the battle, you get on that bully’s side and then you convert the bully. You’ve got to let them duke it out, I think.

RH: Are there any Iraqis in particular that stick out?

SD: Are there any Iraqis that stick out? Yes, our translator. Our translator was a great help, man. She was a female. Actually, one of the Marines from the PSD team ended up marrying her. They hit it off. Nice girl. Broken English but she put on a flak jacket and she went through the IEDs with the rest of us. It just shows the kind of determination that there are still Iraqis out there who are not ten thousand years behind the rest of the world. They’re actually pretty stable minded and pretty smart and intelligent about their surroundings. I think those Iraqis are the kind of Iraqis – although it may be a few – but it just takes a few to make a big change, man.

RH: What do you think was the most challenging period of your deployment: the beginning, the middle or the end?

SD: I think the beginning. Just the separation. One part that stands out – that’s a good question and I’m glad you asked it – was when I was leaving Camp Pendleton and my family dropped me off and I was leaving my wife. I got on that white bus and the bus was driving off and I stuck my arm out the window. My sister and my wife were grabbing my hand and it was one last goodbye, man. And then when our hands separated, it was tough. It was a long ride to Fallujah.

But once I got there, I got there like at midnight and everybody was sleeping. Finally I got there and I didn’t really get much sleep but one thing I do remember is my first sunrise in Fallujah. We were driving on the bus and we were headed towards the sunrise. The sunrise came right up and everybody tilted their head towards the center of the aisle and everybody was looking at their first sunrise in Fallujah.

But it was hard, man. I think once I made that first phone call and I got introduced to the rest of the team it felt more like home because Marines take each other in, you know? It was my family away from family and a couple of days later I just started feeling better.

RH: What was the most challenging non-combat aspect of deploying?

SD: Keeping the General safe. Knowing that fell in my hands. And also keeping him happy. As far as non-combat challenges, making sure that I was getting the General everything he needed. I wouldn’t mid going and getting his lunch. I wouldn’t mind taking his trash out. I was his driver, after all. That’s about it, man. Just making sure his mind was where it needed to be. I thought that was my responsibility to him was to make sure that he didn’t have to think about other things that I could take care of so that he could focus on his mission.

I got some good sleep though. I got some good sleep in Fallujah. [RH laughs] I don’t know why. [laughs] We drove a lot. We drove our asses off and I would sometimes fall asleep on the road, even. Thirty seconds with my eyes closed driving down the road. I don’t know how I kept the steering wheel straight but I did. Then I’d wake up down the road like, “holy shit!” I sometimes drove a good two blocks sleeping. [laughs] It was some of the best sleep in Fallujah.

RH: Did you have any transformative or significant events that informed your deployment aside from the ones that you already talked about?

SD: I think the one that stands out – I got this gentleman’s name on my riding vest [name withheld] – was seeing him on the gurney and knowing that he had a wife and kids back in the States, laying there looking like he was sleeping with a big hole in his mouth. It put a lot of things into perspective. I knew I needed to come back and start a life with my wife. That was my defining moment of, “I need to come back and start a life with my wife.”

And I thought I knew life with my wife but I didn’t know shit until I got back and really settled down with my wife and started the American dream and got to know each other and grew together. That’s not to say we didn’t have our fall outs. We had some pretty nasty fall outs after I’d come back but we got through those. I always revert back to that moment whenever we hit really bad turmoil after I got back.

Things were starting to get hot between my wife and I with my drinking and me not really focusing on her. Then I would remember that time and then I would kind of reset my life to try to make it right again. It was like, “you idiot. Don’t fuckin’ blow it,” I was telling myself. “You came back out of that. Remember this guy on the gurney who didn’t and left his wife and kids behind and you’re fortunate enough. You have to live for him.” Living for him helped me communicate and have a better life with my wife. I thought it was my responsibility and I owed it to him because he couldn’t be with his.

RH: Can you talk a little bit about your immediate post-deployment experiences?

SD: My immediate post-deployment experiences. I woke up one night, or my wife woke me up, rather. She slapped me in the face. We were sleeping in bed and she fell asleep on my chest and I was having a dream that I was in a firefight, hiding behind the axle of a five-ton troop carrying vehicle. Because we had five-tons – did we have five-tons back then in Fallujah? – I think we had five and seven-tons. That’s when seven-tons started getting phased in.

I was in a firefight hiding behind the wheel and I was gripping my rifle really tight in the firefight. It turns out my rifle was her neck and I was choking her out.

RH: What was the best and worst part about coming home?

SD: The best part about coming home was being able to get drunk and the worst part about coming home was being able to get drunk.

RH: You went back to Pendleton, correct?

SD: I did.

RH: Did the Marines and sailors around you, did they change at all and, if so, how?

SD: Yes. They definitely changed. You saw it, man. Pre-Iraq a lot of junior Marines would never talk back to their NCOs or they would never challenge, or seldomly challenge, orders or things of that sort, you know? Post, it was just nobody gave a fuck, man. It was every man for himself, generally speaking. Not everybody, just generally speaking. And you noticed it with commanders, too, with higher ranks or the brass. What my NCOs taught me growing up in the Marine Corps is they went down with their troops, man. They answered for their troops. When they do good they stand with them and when they fuck up they stand with them as well. You take your lashes with your troops because you’re responsible for them. So you have to support them either way.

And post, it just seemed like it was burn-happy USA, man. Everybody was trying to save their own hide. You didn’t have officers and higher-ranking staff NCOs really looking out for their troops. They would run them up the flagpole and it was just like, “wow. This is not the Marine Corps that I was raised in as a young PFC and Lance Corporal.”

That’s part of the reason why I got out too. The main reason why I got out was to settle down and live a life with my wife because we had gotten married but we really didn’t know each other. We spoke over the phone for a year before we actually met in person.

RH: Oh wow. OK.

SD: Yeah, almost every day for a year. We met and we never really lived together until I got back from Fallujah. That was our first time living together and that’s when shit went south but you work through those things. If you really love that person you strive to get to know them versus trying to make them bend to your ways.

RH: What rank were you in Fallujah and when you got back?

SD: I went as a Sergeant and then I got promoted to Staff Sergeant, I want to say – when did I get promoted? – I think it was either December or January. I got promoted over there as Staff Sergeant.

RH: So you weren’t a Staff Sergeant too long before you got out, right?

SD: No. I got out in May of ’05 so I guess that was about six months.

RH: So let’s talk a little bit about civilian life. How has your military experience shaped your life since you got out?

SD: Just your way of thinking, man. Your mind races to resolve issues. That’s the way your mind is trained: to resolve issues and be a problem solver whereas someone may look at a simple problem and ponder it. That’s one of the things that drives me up a wall. You go to Subway and you’re behind some snot-nosed punk still wet behind the ears and he’s looking at the menu. There’s four things to choose from on the menu and he can’t decide which one he needs to put on his fucking sandwich. You can’t help but wonder, “really, kid? This is the biggest decision of your fucking life?” You have four choices. Put some shit on your sandwich and move along, you know? It’s problem solving, man. Being able to decipher the issue and moving along.

That’s how I actually got a promotion at work. I was a truck driver, I am a truck driver and I’ve been with this company for about ten years now. This is my first truck-driving job, actually my first real job since I’ve gotten out of the Marine Corps, and the boss actually offered me a promotion as a safety guide about a year and a half ago and I’ve been there ever since. It works out. I like organized chaos.

RH: Have you joined any veterans-related organizations?

SD: I was part of the American Legion with Eli [Shultz]. We recently had a fall out with the American Legion. I wouldn’t blame the entire American Legion. I would just probably distance myself from that particular post. We’re starting our new riders group. It’s called the All American Riders. Eli, myself and four other guys are in it. We actually got our non-profit organization off the ground. It got filed with the state of California last Saturday as a matter of fact. We just have to sign the paperwork and send it back but everything’s been filed. We want to bring awareness to veterans’ suicide and offer support to veterans who might be walking down that path.

RH: Real quick, what kind of bike do you ride?

SD: A Road Glide, man. A 2012 Road Glide. I’ll never ride anything else, man. That’s a bitching bike. It’s like the Batmobile on two wheels.

RH: How have civilians reacted to you and your experiences?

SD: Supportive. For the most part everybody’s been very supportive. If anything it’s helped me to exercise patience which I didn’t have. I didn’t have patience. But everybody’s been very supportive, especially the company I work at. We have about a hundred drivers, eighty-four trucks and it’s about building that relationship and that rapport with everybody. I think your attitude and your demeanor should speak for itself and if it speaks for itself then you don’t have to say anything. I think for the most part everybody’s been very supportive.

RH: Do you still communicate with anyone that you were in Iraq with?

SD: Yes I do. I communicate with my Gunny. We had a PSD. There was fourteen of us. I communicate with Gunny. I communicate with Dennis, he’s a state trooper out there in Chicago. All these guys are reservists in Chicago. I communicate with just those two.

Sergeant Major Kent. He later went on to be the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. I personally don’t communicate with him but through Gunny, Gunny communicates with him and sees him from time to time. I say, “hey. If you see Sergeant Major Kent tell him what’s up and give him big love for me.” That kind of stuff.

I would really like to communicate with General Sattler but I did some research on him and he’s a motivational speaker now and he travels and does a whole lot of other things but I’d really like to reach out to him one day.

RH: We’re going to shift a little bit and ask about Iraq’s current state. How do you feel about the rise of ISIS and the current direction that Iraq is taking?

SD: Well, I’ve seen it coming all along, man. The writing was on the wall. It’s like anything else. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. And it just flows after that. I think that particular place you either have to occupy it or not occupy it. And that’s what happened. We either have to stay there and occupy it or – I tell everybody, man, it should have been the fifty-first state. [laughs] I’m not surprised at all, though.

RH: Are there any lessons that you learned while you were over there that are relevant to the current situation?

SD: Lessons? Yes. The lesson is to occupy it. You see, here’s the thing. The Marine Corps, the Army, everybody’s got their own mission. The Army can play the police role and they’re good at that. But the Marine Corps, all I know as far as the military goes, more so with the Marine Corps, is the Marine Corps is a fighting force, man. They go in to obliterate everything. Look at Normandy, look at World War Two, look at Iwo Jima. You go in there to conquer, you don’t go in there to win the hearts and minds. It’s good that the Marine Corps is evolving, it has to evolve in that aspect, but I think when you train the unit to go in and obliterate and kill and conquer, you can’t ask them to be the policeman, too.

RH: I have a couple of spiritual questions now. Has deploying changed your perception of life and death and, if so, how?

SD: Yes. I appreciate it a lot more. I used to be reckless, man. I was a reckless motherfucker, dude. Reckless in the sense of getting drunk and wanting to fight. Wanting to fight – that was my mentality, man. Wanting to fight but only if a fight needed to occur. I didn’t hate people. Actually, I don’t hate people. I like getting to know people, especially when you’ve got a hundred drivers under you. You get to know all of them. I know every single driver in my company. I know their personal life, I know their professional lives. Not to go too far in-depth with their personal life – that’s their personal business – but I do know what goes on in their lives and it’s helped me to develop my communication skills.

RH: Has deploying affected you spiritually and, if so, how?

SD: Spiritually? I’ve always followed, kind of, my own faith. I was raised Catholic. I’m still Catholic. I’m not a practicing Catholic – I don’t go to church – but I still believe in the Trinity and divine inspiration and divine intervention. Spiritually I think what’s helped me get through it all is just having your heart in the right place. If you heart’s in the right place, good things happen to you. You’ve got to surround yourself with good people.

RH: So we’re going to lighten it up a little bit. What’s the happiest memory of the entire time you served?

SD: The happiest memory of the entire time I served is knowing all the guys I served with came back alive. Some other units perished but the guys that I got close to, they came back either maimed or harmed but none of them went six feet under so that was really happy for me. I didn’t have to go to any of their funerals.

RH: What, if anything, do you miss about the military?

SD: The camaraderie, man. The camaraderie, the structure and having each other’s back. But luckily I found it with these guys. I ride with five other Marines and they come from the same cloth, man.

One thing I think that helps us cope and I think helps us communicate and all that is laughter. You have to have laughter. You have to be able to laugh and bust each other’s balls and that’s what we have, the five of us. We have laughter. We laugh our asses off. Anytime we get all of us together we just laugh and laughter is therapy.

RH: So now maybe the toughest question I’ve got of the whole interview: what was the best MRE?

SD: Spaghetti and meatballs, man! I can eat three of those in one sitting. [RH laughs]

RH: Alright. Good to go. What was the best chow hall in Iraq, the best chow hall stateside and, since you’ve been to a couple of different places, the best chow hall in the entire Marine Corps?

SD: The best chow hall in Iraq was probably the embassy. The embassy had some good chow, man. I don’t know if I’d call that a true chow hall. We had a good chow hall at Fallujah, man. They took care of us there. I would have to say Fallujah. And the best chow hall where else?

RH: Stateside, in the US.

SD: Pendleton, I guess.

RH: What’s the funniest story you have?

SD: The funniest story I have. Man, there’s so many.

RH: Maybe funny stories. It doesn’t have to be just one.

SD: I’m just gonna spill it out. We had this guy. We called him Speakeasy and he was from New Yawk. This guy – I think he was like twenty-four, twenty-five – but this guy looked like he was in his mid-thirties, late-thirties, you know? You look at this guy and it looked like he came out of an old gangster movie. He had the big green eyes, the big nose, the big jaw. And he had the hunchback and he talked with his hands and he was very animated, this guy.

So this guy got thrown into PSD. I don’t know how this guy got thrown into PSD but he did, because he was a reservist, too. And he was getting used to the night vision goggles, driving with the NVGs on, and when he was coming back to Camp Fallujah coming in through the back gate, you’ve got the barriers there but they’re kind of staggered and you have to drive around them and whatnot. This guy miscalculated and he went head on into one of the barriers. [laughs] It rocked his world pretty good, man. We were laughing about that pretty good. It was like, you go out to Fallujah, you dodge all these IEDs and all this gunfire and then you fuck yourself up running into this barricade.

RH: [laughs] That’s a good one. Any other stories?

SD: There’s a lot of drunk barracks stories but that was a little more in my reckless days. That one stands out pretty good, man. I still laugh about that one.

RH: If you could communicate something to young Marines who will be fighting the wars of the future, what would it be?

SD: Keep an open mind and an open heart. Don’t let rank get the best of you. Get to know your Marines. I think one problem I had was when I got promoted because I was a hard charger. From Corporal up, I was a hard charger. I was a very by-the-book type individual but I don’t think I needed to be all that. I need to tone it down a couple of notches and get to know them on a little more personal level.

And trust your commanders, too. That’s a big one. Trust your commanders, trust the decisions they make, put your lives in their hands and have faith in their abilities.

RH: Is there anything I left out that you would like to address?

SD: No man. That pretty much sums things up. They were all really good questions. I’ve never been asked all these questions and it was pretty cool. I think I had some pretty quick answers for those because they were good questions. I didn’t have to think about them too much.

RH: What specific accomplishment are you most proud of during your entire time in?

SD: Marine Security Guard duty. To this day I tell my wife, I tell every Marine I come across, Marine Security Guard duty is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, graduating the school and being a Marine Security Guard. It’s easy being a Marine Security Guard but it’s hard keeping that up. That school was hard. It was three months long. We had a hundred question test every Friday. Our days consisted of waking up – reveille was zero-three and lights out were pretty much midnight – so you got from three to four hours of sleep a night and you went balls to the wall. A lot of classroom time, a lot of practical app. We started with approximately a hundred and twenty Marines, I think, and we graduated about fifty. The attrition rate was pretty high for one reason or another. You couldn’t get a background, or you flunked a test, or a physical, you know. Something. But to this day, man, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life. Probably that.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Anything else before we wrap it up?

SD: I’m proud to be an American!

RH: Outstanding! Good to go. Well, thank you very much!

SD: All right brother, any time.