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Interview with Leroy Arthur Petry [n.d.]

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was the youngest of five, six brothers, actually. They have four a while there and then ended up being the middle and grew up just making roughhousing boys do. Older brothers beating up on me and me trying to defend myself and there was good time working parents, mother and father, not too much home because they are both trying to provide for the whole family. So it was us on our own for a little bit there, just trying to take care of ourselves.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I think it is the laundry. Spinning.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

It has actually gotten quieter.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

My father drove a school bus for the public schools and my mother, she worked at WalMart and my father also worked with my grandfather who had a sign company there in town and in the summers I will go and try to help out even at a young age.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

There was, there was. There was a lot of visits to the hospitals, stitches, this or that. Somebody fell off and active, always getting into trouble, shooting BB guns, riding bikes then it turned into motorcycles. So there is always, on the edge boys, having teenage fun at the time. And that was the setting in New Mexico, it was a little bit of poverty and stuff and then growing up throughout the years I noticed that there is a high development of gangs in the area, so I was determined to stay away from that. And high schools were a little bit rough. We only had one, then it turned into two and so the pressure in having your older brothers, both great above you became the competition of "Oh, he is your little brother, you got to show them that you are a man, you got to beat him at grades," there is always competition throughout growing up.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes. Yes, it was always brothers, my cousins. Everybody was always competitive.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I think some of the best times I had was not caring about money. I mean, we always found something to do. As outdoor activities, we go ride in our bikes, we would ride all over town, and we would find different things for us to do, which was great and I spent most of my summers at the boys and girls club. I had a great time there. It was good.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Joining the military, I knew at a young age. I would say around 7 that that was something I wanted to do, and it was never really talked about in my family, but I had my grandfathers had both served and my uncle had served in Vietnam, but they never really spoke about it. It was more pictures on the wall of them in their uniform amongst different pictures of our family. That was where I saw, and it must have something of a pride to them to have it up on their wall. And I had a cousin, and during school there, when desert storm was going on, they would tell us a little bit. We would watch a little bit on the news in our classroom, which was informative and it gave me perspective of the sacrifice all those men and women were doing to be over there.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Absolutely.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I think it was, I had a lot of respect for my grandfather and that kind of instilled it in me. My grandfather was trying to push me more toward going to college, I did that for a semester, and I said you know I am not ready for more school. My true passion is I wanted to go in to the military so I signed up. My cousin who was in the ranger battalion at that time had been telling me about the rangers and so I said that is what I want to do. And my father, I remember, 1 week he comes home and I am at home and he is like "Didn't your school start last week?" meaning college and I said "Yeah, but I already signed up for the army and I leave next week." And he asked how I can let my mama know. My father said, "hey, I joined the military." My older brother Lloyd, he was serving at Fort Hood at thd time and he was getting ready to get out of his 4-year service. I was not for him, but he served his time, and he said, "Don't do it. Don't do it, I don't like it." And I said, "Well I am joining something I know I am going to love. So I will do it."

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

High school, I was not a great student to begin high school. I had gotten into fights, I still to this day, swear they were self-defense, but I got into fights. I always was not doing so good in my grades. I found myself ditching school, quite a bit and it was until one day I walked, I got home like any kid does beating mother and father to the mailbox, looking at your report card. I remember pulling that paper out of the mailbox and looking at it and almost in disgust because I had all F's. Except to have one D, and it was in bakery. And I just looked at myself and I said, "Is this really who I want to be?" and I said "With this kind of grades, the army is not even going to want me." So that is when I basically turned it around and I said, "I am going to start pushing myself, because if I want my future to be good, I am going to mold it." And I went to a different school. I started doing great and my senior year actually last semester made straight As. The Chamber of Commerce presented me with a, it is kind of ironic, but an award that is called the Bootstrap award. And, I said, what does a Bootstrap award stand for? And, they said, well back in the days, the military used to have straps on their boots and that is what they pull them on with, and they said that is kind of what you done. You went from not doing so well to pulling yourself up and doing great and that was pretty, pretty overwhelming to have that kind of prestigious award. Huge banquet and the family was invited and stuff, and it was good, but then the thoughts of graduating came up, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to go straight into the recruiter's office and sign up for the military. My grandfather, not so same intentions, he said, "Well, give college a try" and I respected him a lot, so said okay. Well, he took me and drove me about an hour away to go see one of the universities, and lo and behold, before I knew it, he had already signed me up for college. It was good. It was interesting. It was something that I needed to do to know that was not what was right for me at the time and, the next semester, I was going back and forth from home, staying at the college and then I come home and my father comes home from work during his lunch hour and he said, "What are you still doing here? Didn't school start last week?" and I said, "Yeah. But, I went to the recruiters last week, and I signed up for the military. I leave in a week." and even my mother, we had to sit down and that is kind of how I told them I joined. They understood. They said, "Well, you made your choice, and you are going stick with it."

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

They were really extremely surprised.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes. My cousin was in the army, in the rangers, and my brother was stationed at Fort Hood, I am not exactly sure. Now he was in some type of map survey, and I do not think it was really what he wanted to do.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

It does. I mean, sometimes when I hang my hand free, it will swell up and become kind of tight in there. Other times, when I am sweating pretty good, it will become loose, and sometimes almost want to slip out. It fact, one of my arms, I was golfing with my son, I took a swing with a club, and luckily the attachments held on to the club pretty well, but the club is up here when I released and the arm is still stuck on it. It is give and take. You got to play with it.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

German.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

My great grandfather had come over during World War II with my grandfather, and they had actually settled down in Durango, Colorado, and my grandfather ended up moving to Santa Fe. It was kind of chide back to when I did get injured. They found out I was injured and I do not know how fast they moved or how they worked it, but my family had gotten in touch with some relatives we still have in Germany. My grandfather's cousin, Bernice, one of the two, and she actually was one of the first people I recognized when I came to after I had been sedated, and she was there visiting me at the hospital in Germany. She brought me bag to Twizzlers. It was neat because I only met her once and then it was like 3 may be 6 years before, but I still remembered her face, and it is good to see a familiar face.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

She is Hispanic.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yeah.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I always joke with people, because I think there is a little bit of Native American blood in there somewhere, but they say, "What are you?" And, I said, I usually check boxes, are they on their right trail mix? I mean what? Like most Americans nowadays, there is so much accommodation. There is just not, so many, just one definition, but for everything I fill out, I usually write Hispanic. I think the blood predominantly is.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

It was really appealing to me that to become a ranger, I mean, obviously, their heritage from World War II, climbing and scaling the cliffs of ____ and it just seemed like they were the toughest in the military. They did not ____. They fought with their hands and it seemed like they gave everything they had, 100% into the military.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

A little bit from my cousin, but then I researched a lot on my own, and while the rest of the military was wearing one-hand gear, the rangers were in the black beret at the time and I said, "Well, there has got to be a reason," sort of like the green berets. There is got to be a reason that he stand out from everybody else, and that is when I found out that it appealed to me that they were great infantry men.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I saw my cousin for a few days during his block leave, and he talked about it with me and it sounded like a great time, and so great life. It was-- I love shooting guns. I remember my first time in basic training, qualifying with our M-16s, and the drill sergeant who happen to be a ranger as well, and they been in Somalia, I am there shooting, and I ran out of ammo qualified and everything, and asked them if there is extra ammunition so I could fire some more rounds. He looks at me and he says, "You have a ranger contract, right?" and I said, "Yes." ____ and then he goes, "Don't worry you are going to shoot more rounds than you ever wanted to." And I am think of myself here, yeah right. But then there are times where we go to the range and it seemed like we are almost building blisters on our fingers how much we shot. And, so it was that, turned into reality.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

You know, there is a-- that is exactly what it was, it was a big challenge and there are times that you want to quit, there are times that it feels terrible, and as long as you have the will to continue going, it made it simpler to look to your left and right and see that your buddies were there, doing just as bad as you are. Sometimes you could find one that was doing worse than you, and it was good, though, because it helped you to realize those guys are doing worse than you and you try and help them out, and in turn, you would have that bad day, and they would help you out. So, it was that fiercely competitive, but at the same time, it was good. I mean, everyone is competing because they got to slice the numbers, and they could only keep so many.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

It did. It did and I think in the barracks, it is where you build a lot of the camaraderie because we were at the time did not have the nice housing that they do now. I remember the first time I got to arrange a battalion. They put me in a room and I was with four or five other guys, a really small room, but living on the couch, did not have any drawers or anything. I got my duffel bag so, when it was time to get ready for the day, I would have to dig through my duffel bag, and put it all back in because you could not just leave it lying down, because your sergeant comes in and sees a mess in your room is worse than just taking a couple of seconds to stuff it in, and it built a tightness where we knew everything about each other. We knew who the guys were dating. We knew exactly what their habits were, lifestyles were. We knew if the guy had a mole on the back of his thigh because he was running around naked half the time, so we got real close.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Final letter?

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I think, at first, everyone wants to get that rank for the pay, for the responsibility, for the leadership role, and we start out as a riflemen and then you move up to 3 gunner, SAW gunner and you are not realizing the whole time those are your best years because you do not have a lot of responsibility, and you are just a shooter. You do your job and kind of left alone if you are doing good. Well, then, I do not want to say those are the best years because you move up to be a team leader and you get put in charge of others and then you feel your duty is your responsible for them, and the same as a squad leader, platoon sergeant, first sergeant. You are just climbing the ladder and you span the control. It stays around 3, but you are in charge of more people and you feel pride knowing that you are training them and that you are preparing them in the best way you can, and they look at you as their guy. You are basically guiding them along the way so that in the worst case scenario you do get hit and go down. They are trained enough, even if it is not precision, they got a little bit of your knowledge to take your job as you step out.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yeah, that is fine. I like the candid shots anyway. As I was saying, a part of leadership is they tell a lot of people that you are responsible for your younger soldiers and your peers alike and the best thing you can do for them is to train them to be prepared the best you can, and I say, at the end of the day, you want to be able to look, if that day does come, where you have to look at a family member, a mother, daughter, son, parents in their face at a funeral, and you can sit there and tell them that you did the best you could to prepare their child. Nothing is preventative, but as long as you know that you did your best, that is all you can be happy with.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Absolutely. Everyday at work. Lives are on the line. And almost the mentality you got to go with is that there are so many things that can go wrong. You got to be prepared to react to them. As you move up, I guess the rank structure, is you increase your responsibility. You almost have to start to think what will I do next if this happens, all the contingencies, and then as you keep moving, you got to think, "What do I do 2 steps from now if this happens or if this happens?" So, you are always thinking on your feet and the one thing I love about the rangers, that every individual had been especially selected and they were thinkers on their feet. So, it came to the point where I did not have to tell one of my privates go pull security on that corner. If they saw that nobody was pulling security, they would automatically move over that and start it, and it almost became a, well, it exactly became a teamwork thing.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

What? It used to be, scuff him up. Leave him alone. It was great though. I mean, as long as you had a leader that understood, most of us will do the physical activity with him. Tons of push-ups, stuff like that, and what it did was it strengthened them physically, but it was much more responsive than giving them paper, article 15 and taking away their money. They say, a guy can survive without money. You take his time, because we did not have much time off so we were always training and deployed, and you take his time and you give him a little bit of uncomfortable feelings, he will still remember that, and he will improve off of that, so you have to judge when it is appropriate to do the paper trail or start the, just a smack on the wrist kind of thing, you are going to remember this.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I would say I am kind of impartial. What I do with my leadership is I grew up with some great leaders. I have had some leaders that I did not really agree with and had different points of view, and I did not really care for their leadership styles. So, what I did was, I looked at all those aspects, and I kind of molded my own leadership, but I would say I am fair, I mean, performance. If you were not performing, we dealt with it that way, and if your performance is great, I will commend you on it. So, I mean, it goes both ways. I mean, at the end of the day, we would come in to work to do our job. What you do on your off time is up to you. As long as you are not getting into trouble, doing bad things on your off time, that is fine. Whatever you want. When you walked through that door, that is when it was time for work.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Not at all. And it was shortly after 9-11, it was in 2002, and we all were excited because everyone trains for this. Almost the entire generation before us, most of them had gotten out without seeing any combat, so there is little jealousy. Some of the other guys that were in there were like, "Man, I got out right before the war started," and it was like you were going to the game. You train, you train, and you train. You never go, and you are going to be disappointed, you never got tested in battle, while we are going, and I remember having those butterflies.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

____.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

No. No, that is fine.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yeah. We will keep going. Yeah.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

We are still rolling.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Kill the fan?

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I remember that first flight getting on the plane. Everyone has got their camouflage on, they have done up their face, and I remember everyone's thinking that, oh yeah, thinking they are big and we are all excited, the adrenaline is flowing, and I look across the plane and I see these faces, young faces like my own at that time. The adrenaline, you could see it there. But then, knowing that every single one of those rangers across the plane from me had the same feeling as I did, and that was butterflies and knots going around your stomach--"Oh my gosh this is it" and anxiety, I mean, you did not know what was going to happen if your aircraft was going to get shot down going there. So, you got really nervous, all the lights were covered. This is the first time we have really formed blacked out and the plane is doing evasive maneuvers into the combat zone and you are just like, "Wow, what is going to happen when they open that door and let us out?" And it was a good feeling though, to know that I was there with all these other men.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

My youngest son plays video games and his games, I forget what it was, call of duty or something like that. There is World War II and they had the Ranger with the 2 diamond in the back of their helmet and a lot of our stuff, we put the 2 diamond...

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Growing up in New Mexico, you are not a far drive from the Mexican border and so we had gotten down there a few times, both with my family and I got down there a few times with friends and looking at Mexico as a third world country. As soon as you get over the border and seeing the poverty and not a whole lot, the house is built almost like shacks and stuff. And then when we get to Afghanistan, it is a rural area. There is no cities, nothing really big and I thought to myself "What are we doing here? I mean, I think of Mexico as a third world country. Where does that put this place?" And no paved roads, I did not see many schools. The women, we shortly found out about the culture afterwards as we were, some of our guys were digging a water pit and we had our shorts on. It was hot that day. The guys had their shirts off and there was a woman. I remember she was doing the gardening or plantation, whatever they had out there, a little ways in the distance. And I remember that she was looking at them and they spotted her and then they were kind of joking around. One of the guys hiked up his shorts like a thong and then this guy from inside the house saw her, came out with basically a stick and started hitting his wife on the field. After that point, we were brought onto the culture, "Hey don't go out there with your shirts off and shorts and stuff like that and don't touch the women." It was a culture shock to us. We probably might have gotten briefed on it, but it was not one of those things that stuck on our mind at the beginning. But as time went by, we developed more on that. We travel. I do not think we stayed put the entire deployment. We bounced around, building up new fire bases and went up to vast, vast region, I would say mountainous region up in the northeast. ____ high dessert and different areas, I mean, some of these mountains, I thought we were in the dessert and I am looking at some of these mountains up there going, "Wow, those are big." I mean it was like a mountain right here, continuous, for us, which is our biggest mountain here.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I would say 6.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I want to say it was 6 times to Afghanistan. I have been back a couple of times after since then, so 6 and then twice to Iraq.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I was deployed 6 times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

It did. It did. You never develop a numbness to it, but it became less anxiety and stuff. As you go being around it more, you get a little more used to it. And I remember when I was a Sargent in charge of some guys, we had a new medic, we have been in the service for 2 years, but it was all a training and he went out of this first mission with us and we were in this open field and we heard a couple of pop shots and they were a distance away and we knew exactly where it come from and it was a checkpoint up there, and he turned to my side and he was almost on the ground trying to burrow in this landscape. I looked at him and asked, "What are you doing?" He said "They are shooting at us." I was like "That's so far off. We're good. They're not even shooting at us." So, I mean, it was a little sense of development that you get comfortable.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

9-11. It became the real significant dates that are ____ "Where were you at, what were you doing?" 9-11 for me. I was in pre-Ranger and getting ready to go to Ranger school on Georgia and I remember that exact moment because they were telling us, we had a TV and we are on the field, training and they were telling us ____ what was going on. And I remember the class sitting there and saying, "Hey, we wanna come and watch and find out what's going on ourselves" on television and our cadre looked at us and said, "You guys need to get out there and keep training cause you might be going to war soon." And that was little did he know how right he was, but it was, I want to say, almost a year before I got to actually see the video of what everyone else was watching on TV.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

You know, I responded I was ready to go in any moment's notice. But the support of the nation was probably the biggest joy to see. I looked at that as they attacked us on our own soil and then I saw the support of the nation supporting the military. And it put in to perspective for me about you read about World War II all the time, but if this would bring into reality of this is how the nation must have supported its military during the World War II when Pearl Harbor was hit. It was both a sad time and a joyous time to know that they were that supportive of us and that we had suffered such a loss.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Oh, wow. When I saw the footage of 9-11, it is really emotional still because it was an attack on innocent civilians at work, just going with their everyday life and it could have happened anywhere in the United States. I look at Seattle as, "What if it had happened here? What if my family was there?" And all those people that did not even find their family and it made it almost unbearable to know that we would not find the person or you could not bring justice to the people that had done it because they themselves had perished in the flames knowing that we are going after the group that had supported it was the biggest factor for me that I said "This is the great mission that I want to support."

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

I did. I did. It was not only, there was not a feeling of revenge. It was more of a feeling of "Let's go out there and stop this so this doesn't happen again on our own soil." I said "If they wanted to shoot at us while we were over there, that's fine. Don't let it happen to anybody else back home."

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes. Memorial Day that year.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes.

Unknown interviewer:

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Leroy Arthur Petry:

It was one of those days where we have been in country for about 2 months and everyday it seems like we had only had 2 days really down. Everyday, we are constantly going out on a mission, if not multiple missions and the night before we had gotten Intel, saying that there was a high-value target in the area somewhere. They did not know exactly where, but they were putting their fielders out for them and they basically told us all to stand down and they are waiting to see which region he next showed up in. And they said "We'll action ____ that is in the area." Well, Al is always an early riser and I have been up and basically he had gotten a call that he was in our area of operations. I remember thinking to myself, "Oh this is it" and Commanders and First Sergeant saying "Go wake everybody up, get everyone going, get your kicks on. Get ready. We're going to start planning." Then, I went to go to tell my guys, wake them up and we began planning. Well, shortly thereafter, we were getting ready to head out. And I remember from missions prior to that, we got stuck out a lot longer than we anticipated. And so I was going to go run to the chow tent and grab a few snacks to give to my guys in case we got stuck out so to keep them going. And I walk into this tent and I looked around and this thing is decorated like the Fourth of July and I am like, you lose track of time just ____ we had and how busy you are and I am thinking to myself "Why is it decorated so much flags and stuff?" Well, I throw snacks and I know I am short on time and as I get down at the end of the table, there was a sheet cake and I looked at the sheet cake and it says Happy Memorial Day. I was like "Wow, we have been here that long and it's flown by." Well, I go back and I get my guys ready make sure that they know what is going on in the mission and for us, for the Rangers, it is rare to do a daylight raid. But knowing the, I guess, high value target and what it means to us to capture this guy or kill him, that it was urgent. And as we loaded up on this aircraft, I was sitting there and looking at all my guys, where I have done all my checks making sure that they have everything and they understand fully what is going to happen and at the same time I am thinking in the back of my mind we, in our history, we have had daylight raids and it turns out that sometimes we always have somebody injured or killed. It is because we almost even the battlefield a little more. But that feeling started to go into the back of my mind as we started approaching to the target and immediately upon touching down on the ground, the helicopter touched down, we started running out. We were taking fire. Bullets were flying towards us. I am running with my platoon leader. We take out an enemy and as we are up there clearing the dead enemy, we hear on the radio one of our other squad leaders who had entered into a building, which was not the intended target, so I looked at him and I am like, "Hey, I'm going to go with those guys." He looks at me and he says, "Go ahead. Take off with them." I made a, I would say, 70-meter dash to catch up to them. At this time, they were entering the building or the compound. It is about a 9-foot wall, surrounding this compound. It was in a rural area. Most of these compounds and homes are made of like a clay dirt, adobe-type building, which I am very familiar with because in Mexico, there are a lot of adobe buildings there, you know mud and clay. So, there was a break in the wall and they entered through there. I ended up being the last man in. They darted across and started entering the building and clearing. As they are entering and clearing, I am standing at the doorway because I know we have to clear the courtyard and I am yelling at them "Hey, give me a guy, give me a guy. Give me a clearance courtyard" and I am pulling rear security making sure no one is coming up behind us as well. The next thing I know, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It is PFC Robinson. He says, "Hey, you got one" and so I was like "Hey, we're going to clear this courtyard." As we started to back clear, we broke a corner immediately to my left, I noticed in my peripheral vision two guys shooting with their AK's from almost from the hip, sprayed, and at the same time, I caught him in the corner of my eye and I felt a gunshot wound into my thigh and it felt almost like someone had taken a sledge hammer and just pounded into your leg. It was a sharp pain that was quick and blunt. And I immediately forgot about it and kept running to get behind cover, which you are trained to do, return fire and get behind cover. We were taking such a high volume of fire that I had to get behind cover to return fire and PFC Robinson was right behind me. I remember him getting shot just below his left armpit around where the midsection ribcage is, I do not know how bad it was, but he followed me behind this little small building and it was, ____ in a chicken coup. It was not really a chicken coop, it was a small structure. As we get behind the building, bullets were just flying. I mean, high volume fire. I am calling it up on the radio and telling him to pull security on that corner because my biggest fear was that they were going to converge on us around the corners and finish us off. So, I called it up on the radio that we are on heavy contact and we got two casualties and I ____ threw my grenade and I threw it over the building towards the enemy. It goes off. Right about the time it went off, Sergeant Higgins had made it over to our position. Immediately I tell him, "Hey, start taking care of PFC Robinson. Watch that corner. I'm trying to watch my corner." At that time, my legs are starting to hurt, so I sit down and I am keeping the Commander informed what our situation is, telling him what is going on so it paints a picture for them because they are in another building with another element and right about that time, we hear a grenade blast. It goes off and PFC Robinson and Sargent Higgins kind of in shock. They started to look at me and they were like "What the heck was that?" And I said "The enemy is throwing grenades so keep your heads down. Keep calling security on that corner and then again, call it up on the radio tell them that we are pinned down and we need support and medics." And then the next thing I know, I am pulling security to the left with my gun, my left with my back against the wall and as I turn around to check on my guys, they were within arm's reach and we were not more than 6, it is more probably about 3 or 4 feet of space between us and right there in the middle about 3 feet away with an arm's reach, was a hand grenade. It was not there before. I immediately recognized it because it was a pineapple grenade like they used in Vietnam. It was not one like we use today. So, I saw that, I saw my guys, I saw that it was a threat to them and I reached over and picked it up and I attempted to throw it away from them and right as I opened my hand to release it, it exploded and I threw it with all my force and since I was sitting down, I had my head down, a helmet and I have protected glassware that protected mostly by body from shrapnel and again shrapnel all over my legs and in my arm. But I remember the biggest thing was sitting up and grabbing my wrist and when I grabbed my wrist, I held it up to my face, the hand was completely gone. Right at the wrist, it was like somebody had taken a circular saw and just ripped it clean off. And I held it up, looked at it and I remember vividly, the blood was oozing, you could smell the burns from the grenade, you could see parts of dirt, parts of the metal stuck in there, and smell of the flesh burning. And looking around, it looked like it just opened up because there was a little bit of a meat skirt hanging around the edges and it was almost unreal. The part of my thought process was "How come this thing isn't spraying into the wind like in Hollywood? Why is it just oozing a little bit? When immediately, I got back focused and so okay, I know what to do, put a tourniquet on it, which we keep tourniquets in our kit and I was able to tighten out on the tourniquet, stopped the blood from bleeding and got back on the radio. That was the next ____ I checked on my guys, "How you guys doing?" Got on the radio, called it up to the command, "Hey, we're still here. We're still pinned down. We're taking heavy fire" and ____ suicidal at the time. I said, "Hey Sargent ____, this is what we got blah-blah-blah" and I said, "Oh and my hand is gone" and I let go of the receiver. And I thought to myself what a strange way to end a conversation. I mean if I was on the other side of the radio, "What do you mean your hand is gone?" The only reply I got from them is, "Hey, I'm on my way. I'm on my way" and I knew immediately that "Hey, we're going to get reinforced here."

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I remember turning to my left full security and as I turned back to my right to check on my guys, I noticed a pineapple grenade sitting there within arms reach in-between me and my guys. And immediately recognizing it as a threat because it was a pineapple grenade, like they used in Vietnam, not like ours. And I reached over. I grabbed it and attempted to throw it away.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I was throwing it, trying to get it over the wall on the side of us or back toward the enemy. And so I picked it up and I threw with all my force and I had my head down so when I let it go, it exploded right as I opened my hand and the next thing I know, I sat up and I grabbed my wrist and that was what all I had left, was a wrist. I looked at it and I saw oozing blood. I remember vividly where it was a smoke powder burns from the grenade. There were chunks of metal, chunks of dirt and it was like it had been wearing a skirt of meat, just hanging free with dead skin. I could see the radius and the ulna poking up about a quarter of an inch outside the blood. It was dripping and the next thing that went into my mind was "Why isn't the blood spraying off into the sunset like in Hollywood?" But then reality hit and I grabbed the tourniquet and I knew immediately what to do from my training. I placed a tourniquet in my forearm, tightened it down and continued to radio up to my command what was going on. At this time, I am checking on my younger guys. I could only imagine what is going through their head. They just turned around after being peppered a little bit by the shrapnel and seeing me holding a bloody stump and looking at them and asking them if they are okay. And so, it is kind of, it is easy to laugh about it now because I know that it was the right thing to do that day, but there was a point where Sargent Roberts who was another squad leader there and Specialist Gathercole, had come out of the adjacent building to help us and as they were approaching us, the were encountered by another enemy combatant in the courtyard and Specialist Gathercole was shot just below his helmet and I did not see this happen. It was not until a little bit later I found out about it, but it is something that stuck with me and he is a great guy. I mean, everyone called him Gator for short and I always remember he had a big smile on his face and it was hard to see or hear about it. Anyways, back to the story. We were sitting there. I have tourniqueted my arm and I had called it up on the radio. The next thing I know was we had one of our first Sargents. He was running up to my position from this direction in front of me and he comes up, he grabs me by my shoulder kit and attempts to pull me up. He says, "Come on brother, we need to get you out of here" and I kind of pushed his hand down away as to let go and I said, "You're not taking me anywhere until you kill those SOBs that are behind this building and he said, "Alright. They're right behind this building?" I said "Yeah" and he says, "We'll be back for you." Well recognizing that I had the state of mind that I was doing fine. I had already self-____ and stuff, he knew that he could leave me there and go and fight the enemy because there is nothing more that you are going to do by dragging another injured person in front of gun firing. The best aid you can give that person is to stop the gunfire and so, I mean that is something we learned in basic training. The best aid you can do for that guy, that is down is kill the guy that is shooting at him and so, he disappears. The next thing I know was Sargent ____ have come over and at that point, there was a little bit of lull in fire from the enemy. And so, I ended up grabbing onto Sargent Higgins and Sargent ____ and we started making our way to our casualty collection point where the medics are. As we were moving over there, I am able let my gun and my rifle slung in my left arm now, which the right hand is not there, but I am ready to fire if I have to. And that was something that I did not realize until then how important it was as we trained to shoot off-hand and it was for the event of shooting around walls or shooting around vehicles, different environments, and we used to complain and I was like, "I rarely step out 2 feet and shoot with my right hand and get a good shot." Well that day, they came to play where I am happy I shot left-handed because now I know how. Well, we get to the casualty collection point and that is where I started to realize just how many guys are hit. The medics were getting bodies over here and we have first responders. Basically, they are EMT qualified with their rigs and they were working on other bodies and next going around and trying to help everybody and I walked in with Sargent Higgins and PFC Robinson who we did not know at that time, I thought he was shot in his ribcage. We had site on the plates that protected him and it got about a quarter of an inch away from going over and straight into his heart and so he was more bruised than anything right there, but I just remember looking around and seeing guys laying around just getting worked on by medics and the fight is still going on. The medic comes right out to me. He was a medic and we always gave them a hard time too and then one second, ah nobody likes it. Well, he comes right on to me, a specialist. He goes, "Hey sharp we need to start working on you," and I was like, "No I'm fine because I already got a tourniquet here. Just go work on those guys. Get those-- Make sure those guys are okay," and he looks at me and he was like, "We got to look at your legs." At this point, I completely forgot about the gunshots to the legs. I mean, it was the part where it impacted and then when I was running, I was like Forest Gump. Something bit me and he just took off running. Well, I looked down after he tells me he needs to look at my legs and my pants are just soaked in blood, both legs.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I did not know I had gone straight through both thighs, but it entered my left thigh, bore a nice little hole out in the inner thigh, entered the right thigh, and at this point I think it was tumbling. This is the whole and obviously the exit wound out the right thigh is a lot bigger. Now, it almost lines up to where it is one bullet and that was the question I was asking multiple times. Was this just one bullet or was it two bullets, I said. I did not stop to ask. This is just one of those things so I did not even know I was shot in the right leg until I get to there. When I saw my legs covered in blood, I realized the mind, my mind I wanted to keep going and doing all that I could. I said even if that is controlling guys on the radio and staying behind the line, that is what I want to do, but the body had lost a lot of blood at that time and I said I am no good to anybody if I am not helping them or I go down even worse. So at that point I said, "Okay, check out my legs." They ended up cutting off my pants and my boots and that is when I realized just how bad the wounds were. They packaged me in a stretcher as well as the other casualties and they were calling in for medic to come in and get us out and it is amazing how I remembered all these and it is unreal it seems to say that I did not have any pain. Besides the initial gunshot wound, I did not feel any pain. I guess it is the adrenaline, the shock, and because we are going up towards the HLZ. The helicopter landing zone for the helicopter to come and get us. I remember looking up on the rooftops. The guys were up there with their machine guns pointed outward to get still in the fight and one of the guys say, "Hey, what happened," and I was like, "It's gone." I hold up my arm with my hand ____, get those guys and so he was like all right and the other guys are running up to the stretcher. "Okay, you are going to be all right, you all right." I am pushing the weight of my left hand. I can tell. I am just, get away go pull security because that is my worst fear is that if you are running over here just to say hi or bye or whatever and no ones pulling security because there are still bullets firing. I said I do not want one of those bullets to enter me. While I am on a stretcher and I cannot defend myself. Well, we get on the helicopter and we lift off. Sargent Higgins runs up to me on the ramp and I remember him saying, "You saved us, you saved us," multiple times and we got lifted off to an airfield runway, dirt runway not too far away and the helicopter drops us off. I immediately recognized the two doctors that are there. There are two PAs from my unit and they start working on all the casualties there in the line and I overhear them saying fix the wounds out 30 minutes, which mean the plane to come and get us is going to be about 30 minutes and I am thinking of myself, "Thirty 30 minutes, why don't you just leave me out there to die." It is going to be-- That is a long time when you are sitting here just in the dirt and it was, it was-- I was ____ the whole time until they got, that plane came in. They got me in the airplane and I was joking with some of the crew and stuff and I was too heavily sedated, I passed out.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I guess briefly like a split second I was thinking about death, but I have been on multiple deployments and I have always told my wife. There was always that fear of dying out there for a while, I mean, since I was while a teenage year, I have always had dreams that I was going to die by getting a shot and now, I joined the army, but anyway the mentality, though was I could not sit there and think about dying because I still had guys living around me that I was responsible for and as long as I can do whatever I could to support them then I was going to do it to my last breath and they have Sargent Higgins come up on the ramp and lean above me and say, "You saved us. You saved us." To me, I was disappointed that I was leaving the fight, leaving all those other guys that are on the ground and I just wanted there and I was like, "All right, get away from me," but that was the thing, is that people ask do you regret anything about what you did and I joked and I said, "I probably would have grabbed you with my left hand," because I had to relearn everything with the left hand, but the only thing-- I do not have any regrets, I guess and I am a little disappointment that I had to leave the fight and leave all those guys there to finish it without me, but that is one of the things in the military that we learn, is that you can never do this for your entire life. Eventually, you got to move up and the younger guys got to take care and move as a leader and so that is part of where I have moved into this newer job that I am doing with the wounded soldiers.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

When I got injured, Special Operations command has a, General Brown started it, it is called the Care Coalition and they have liaisons, it started off small only one here and there and they have expanded throughout the years. Liaison, now it was a military personnel doing it. Now, it is a mixture of contractors and military personnel. The contractors well all prior to military and what it is, is it is a person that is there to help you and your family while you are at the hospital because there is a mass confusion of what happens when you get injured. One keeps communication between the doctors and the family, explaining what they are talking about. Two, it has the people to take care of your family's transportation to make sure they got somewhere to stay. It will build companionship, get you linked with guys that have similar injuries that are at different stages along their recovery and it is just that, I mean, it makes sense of all the people that come at you. All the different benevolence, all the different societies that try to come into your room and that liaison stands as a filter and he says, "This is what you got. This is what you don't got." You do not want to be disturbed because especially the first few days you want that for family. The funny thing is when I was in recovery my eldest daughter was graduating high school right about the next few weeks and my wife, she could not believe it, but I was like, "I need to get out of the hospital because I don't want to miss the graduation." She is like, "Oh, no just stay here and take care of yourself." My wife came back for the graduation for a day and then went back down to San Antonio to see me, but the job I saw that she ____ first class, Craig ____. How well he took care of my family and myself included most many others was just amazing and when I said I have that choice to get out of the service or continue serving and I said I might not be able to go back to the front lines, but this is the job that supports those coming back from it that I would like to do and it's kind of ironic that one of the first patients that I had, I was learning about ____ on job. He had gunshot wounds. It was through the bulk of his thighs, the same as mine. Of course, I was more fortunate that mine did not hit the bone, as it hit one of his femur. I want to say Kansas or Kentucky his family had driven all the way up to see him and he was in the emergency room and they were heading back doing x-rays and the family came in and mom and dad were hysterical. Why can't we see him? Why can't we see him? Oh, this is ridiculous. We were waiting over an hour. And then after sitting there and talking with them and explaining to them and they were seeing my arm and talking about the process and told them about my legs and they go, "okay." I cannot put them at ease because they knew that their child was back here, although injured. It's going to be a period of time until he recovers and that he would do fine.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I do.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

You know, a lot of people like the things what I do with the wounded soldiers that I think I get ____ around it. I mean it's great to see a lot of these guys have lost both legs. When they start to learn to walk again. It is like watching one of my children to learn to walk again and they become just like one of my children. They are part of my family.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

It was hot. It was warm. It was normal. We were sleeping in the cold tents or some type of structure during the day because we operate at night. We were at the gym stuff and I remember it was hot. It felt almost humid. A lot of anxiety because there was not a lot of preparation time because we have to act fast.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Very, very rare for us rangers to go out on day because we own the night for the most part and history has shown us that, normally, we will take a casualty or two or possibly a ____ and so there is a high anxiety on going out in the day that, you know, your odds or it's good. You know, we got to get the job done, you know, against all odds so you go with it.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Okay.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I was the senior U6, the weapon squad leader, staff's arm and I was in charge of three gun teams, machine gun teams, made up of 240 and ____ trying to remember the name, but basically a machine gun team and three of those as well as antitank team with the ____ 83 mm we call this riffle as well as sometimes the snipers. The snipers were senior guys and they take care of themselves, but I was in charge of making sure that my gun teams are in place and then my second role was, I was basically the number 2 platoon charge assisting the platoon charge in any activities as well as controlling target building internally and it turned out that we started spreading because we always plan, but the plan always goes, not always, but most of the time goes nothing like you planned it when you hit the ground. Nothing, no corners, looked the same, no buildings. I mean, you anticipate for the best. Hope for the best, but make for the worst and that is what we do in the ground. We basically broke off and split and things change and what we do is just we just adapt to it, so my role was, basically, I was floating at that point. When I broke off with the other squad leader and the squad as my gun teams were already in place and positions with other team members.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Ah, small row of hills.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Okay. The target buildings where we're headed that day were in an area that was in small row hills and sparsely wide vegetated, a little shrubs and stuff. Each of the villagers on the outskirts have these little fields with ____ go up and it was hot, a lot of mud, mud walls. I remember there was a small stream that we had to cross. No water then, but--

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes and amazing they know how hard it is to build structures, so majority of the time, you will run into these buildings and, when you think it is one building, there is a second building. They use the same wall. With one structure, they build the fourth wall and the next one, so a lot of them are joined. They have had tunnels, cross bases, elevated. One of the buildings that we entered in fact looked like a walled structured, four dimensions and had a roof. When we got the area inside, it was an open courtyard inside a bigger courtyard and, that's one thing is that we always have tall guys, all 360 ____ because you never know whether that window is going to be. Where the shooting holes are going to be, so we need to keep an eye what's changing and what to direct might be.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Once again at the top of ____ so we started to move toward a smaller building, which I call the chicken coupe and I was building the house animals and, as we started to advance toward it, I noticed that two enemies convened off to my left and they were beginning spraying with AK 47 at the hip and I remember the intense feeling of one of the bullets coming in hitting my thigh on the left side and, it was not until later that I found that it felt like a sledgehammer, hitting you in the left thigh that it was until later and I found out that it entered my left thigh and right around mid thigh, came in the bullet the inside my thigh entered the right thigh and then exited at the right thigh and it was a miracle that it didn't hit any bone or arteries because I had only thought I was shot on the left side. As soon as that hit, it was almost like, you know, Forrest Gump where something bit me and then you immediately knew what to do was get behind covered and return fire. Well, PFC Robinson was right behind me. He got shot below his left armpit, right one was in the ribcage, and I did not know it until a little bit later, but his sideplate, his body armor had saved him from being killed because that would have been a shot that killed him. When we get down behind this chicken coop, and I immediately prepped a thermo-barrack grenade, threw it over the building toward the enemy it goes off.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

It is more concussion. It is designed for more anterior to, what it does is it makes this huge thing that basically sucks all the oxygen out of the room so to speak and it is a bigger bang so it is not really lethal for the most part, but it was what I had easily accessible and I threw it and I figured it is something just to keep their heads down. If I am lucky get a hit on one of them and right about when that went off, it must have caused enough low and fire when Sergeant Higgins came running over to our position from the same area we just come from, and I immediately pushed him over to PFC Robinson. At this point, I sat down because my legs were hurting, and we were getting some backup the building. PFC Robinson and Sergeant Higgins were to my right about 3 feet away, and I am trying to do self-aid and keep pulling security. My biggest fear was they would have come around the corners and finish us off. The next thing we know we hear a blast. To me it sounded like it was on the roof, it must have been a lot closer because it knocked Higgins and Robinson to the ground, and I immediately checked on them. Sergeant Higgins I remember looking at me and saying what the heck was that, and I said they were throwing hand grenades, keep your heads down, keep pulling security, and I went to go pull security on my left side with my rifle and as I turned back to my right, that was when I noticed about 3 feet away, arms-reach distance, a hand grenade in between me and my guys. I immediately reached over, saw it as a threat and as I was attempting to throw it away and as I lunged forward with my waist, I opened by hand and as soon as my hand opened, the grenade exploded completing taking my hand. I sat up and I could show you with this prosthetic. When I sat up, the wrist looked exactly like that. It is completely gone and I saw the blood, the ooze coming out. I can smell the burns of flesh, I see parts of metal, parts of dirt, fragment that were in there, and like a skirt of meat hanging around just draped, torn flesh and the thought that went into my mind was why is not this thing bleeding more, and I could see the radius and the ulna poking up about a quarter-of-an-inch. I wonder why is it just oozing and not spraying and then we all got hit and I, the training that we have gotten throughout the years I said I got to put a tourniquet on it. I grabbed the tourniquet off my kit, tightened it down with my teeth. I was able to get it on there to stop the bleeding. I immediately checked on my guys, got back up on the radio and gave an update to my leaders and just kept continuing to take control of the situation. The younger guys at that point are looking at me like, I can only imagine what was going through their mind, they just saw me blow my hand off, and I am looking at them asking them if they were okay. Well, a little bit of time goes by and one of our first runners comes running up to me. He grabs me by my left shoulder and attempt to pull me up and he was like come on, we are going to get you out of here and I said, I kind of pushed his arm down as I sat back and I said you are not taking me anywhere until you kill those SOBs and he was like where are they at and I said right behind this building. He saw that I was in a good state, and I was still mentally there and had already done self-aid and he went to go. He said we are going to come back for you and that is the best thing he could have done was leave me and go take out the threat, that is the best aid he could provide for us at the time. A little bit more time goes by and our platoon sergeant, Sergeant _____ comes over. He ends up getting there as a long fire. I get up, with the assistance I get up, grabbed on Sergeant Higgins and Sergeant ____ and got my weapon slung on my left side ready to fire, and we started making our way to the casualty collection point towards the medics. As we get there, I started recognizing more the soldiers that have been injured and--

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I did not. I had seen a body lying over there, which I assume was him, getting treated. It was not until I got to the airfield later on that lying there, the PAs are kind of talking off, when they thought I could not hear, when I heard them say that they had lost vitals on one of the guys. In my mind, I did not know who the causality was. I am thinking it was Higgins or Robinson and I was just like "Oh." A little bit later down the road I find out about the specialist giving code exactly where he was and they were coming to assist us. Another fighter that no one had seen was buried under some branches in the ____ in the courtyard popped up and I had shot him.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]:

Leroy Arthur Petry:

A lot of the, many, many soldiers wear black bracelets with friends and service members who had made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in combat. And one of my things was when I thought of that and I was looking at my arm and there were many designs you could put on there. They ask you if you want a tattoo sleeve or if you had some tattoo on there that you wanted before to take, make it a real skin this and that and they have a real skin cover. It looks real nice, but it is kind of grossing me out because I know it is not real so I went with the carbon fiber. I loved it, but then I thought about, I do not really wear a watch, I do not wear anything on my left hand because it has become more use, and I wanted to wear a bracelet and then I said well I got this right arm, and I got all this real estate of empty arm and so that is where I looked at it and I said what a better way to remember my fellow comrades. And instead of just one bracelet I put all of them on there and so it has become a living memorial for me. I see it every morning when I put it on every afternoon when I take it off and I never lose sight that they were the ones that paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]:

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Mark it. Thank you.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]:

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Well, I get 10 guys from the global war and terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan. These were all guys from my unit, 2nd and 75th ranger regimen and then I figured I have enough real estate to go back not only to war and terrorism, but also Operation Just Cause, and Operation Urgent Fury in 1989 in Panama and 1983 in Grenada and put those who gave their lives there as well because it is not only about our generation, it is the generations before us and every time I run into a veteran, I tell them thank you for their service and they say no thank you for yours and I say no I was born into a free country, and I was given the opportunity to serve because men and women like you stood up before me and I was like, I am happy that I can carry the flag for the time I got.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]:

Leroy Arthur Petry:

The Specialist Gathercole. He is a great guy. I mean, missed dearly. We think about him all the time, great family. We keep in contact every so often and his grandmother. I think he was raised mostly by his grandmother who I did not meet until we got into the White House, fantastic woman, she blended in great with the Rangers, they loved her and it's a-- It wasn't directly under me, but I knew I'm working with ____ and just a great kid with a great smile, great attitude, came to work everyday, giving 100%, and that was probably one of the first losses I've had that ____ and we've lost guys in our unit, but it has been from another company or I wasn't there during that portion. This is kind of one that was more meaningful and the last one I've lost are just within the past year and one was a great friend. Each of them, I mean every lost is felt tremendously and as my guys are on another rotation, I okayed them and it's hard to watch them leave. I mean, when people come up to me and tell me thank you for my service and after hearing, oh you've been on 8 deployments or whatever, I look at them and say, no, it was great, but you know there's people out there, buddies of mine. If I had stayed in track, I'd be out there with them and they're on their 15th time overseas and in between that time overseas, they're going to different schools, they're training, and so there's not really downtime. A lot of these guys get 4 weeks of downtime a year. Two weeks of leave during 1 time and 2 weeks at another time, and they don't even get to choose when that time is, that's dictated to them. And so, there's huge sacrifices made by so many men and women, and honoring the ones that pay the ultimate sacrifices, a huge tribute.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I completely forgot.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I had been airlifted out. Right about the time I got into the plane is when I lost my consciousness, I've been heavily sedated. I had about a good 10 minutes there and I was talking to the crew and stuff. Next thing I know, I woke up the next morning and I don't know if I spent a night in ____ Afghanistan or not. I know I stopped there definitely, but the next time I woke up, I was in Germany and one of my grandfather's nieces or cousins had come to visit me in the hospital and I was surprised that she was there. She took pictures and brought me Twizzlers and--

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I think so, some of them do, but the Petry name has been changed so many times, Petry, Peetrie, Petri, so it's all different, but after that visitation, they moved me out the next morning and they flew me to Andrews Air Force Base and from there, we stopped off and dropped a few soldiers off and this whole plane was designated for injured soldiers. So, I'm getting on this plane, the first I've ever been in one, and that they have racks, almost like bunk beds, not much space between each, but they're not built for comfort, they are built for transportation and I looked it over and there is a guy on defibrillator - I think it's called. It's a breathing device where it kind of has like a steam or smoke steam that it sets off and I haven't seen one in my life. I'm looking over it and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, they put me on a plane with all the people I guess they are expecting to die." So, I didn't really think much of it and I did get my first call from my wife in Germany. I got to call her. I remember her saying how bad it was to have them come ____. She still talks about it being the worst day of her life when they came to the door.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes. Our unit has a thing where if you're a local and you're husband is injured or worst case scenario, killed. They will come to your door and let you know and they say that they'll come in this uniform if it's a casualty where it's a deceased, but they will come in our other uniform where it's just a duty uniform if it's casualty and she said she looked through that people and she did not see what uniform they were wearing. Her heart just kind of sank right there and my mother-in-law who was in town at that time she said was a little hysterical, but she said, we were ready for that knocking the door. We were barely getting up and neither of us had put on a bra. She's like, oh my gosh, we came in and sat down. I mean, sometimes I'll mess with her because I have a good attitude about it. I won't have my prosthetic on and I'll have just my knob, as my son calls it knobby, and my wife will tell somebody, that was the worst day of my life. I'll look at her and I'll say it wasn't my best day either honey, as I hold up my heart. That's the way I thought about it. It's not-- I don't dwell on the bad things because you're not going to change it. I'm not going to grow back a new man. When she called me, when we talked in Germany, that was the one of the first things I told her was, "Hey honey, the bad new is I lost my right hand, and I got shot in both of my legs, and so what the good news is, my junk is still there" and that was kind of my way of breaking the ice to her, letting her that I was doing okay and I was in good spirits. And the same thing with my mother, the first time that she was coming to visit me at the hospital. My wife said, now take it easy on her. You know, my mom's really sensitive and don't show her your arm when you're awake because it was still purple and bloody and hopefully, but-- She said take it easy and my mom walked through the door and the first thing I did was waved to her with my knob and "Hi, mom" and my wife looked at me and she goes--. But that was the thing is, I wanted to people know I was doing well and not to worry about me and shoot-- The first day or second day when I got to San Antonio, which is where I ended up after I flew to Andrews, spent the night there, and then first or second day, the first thing I was concerned about was can somebody get me a razor and shaving cream. They were like, what? I said, I was going to walk through the door, if one my superiors walks through that door, a commander, and why does this ranger have a beard, so I was there, shaving, learning to shave myself in the left arm and there was a lot of times where people would ask me to help me and I wanted to be independent again, and so I said no, no, I could get it. And it took time to do some of things, learning how to tie your shoes with one hand, learning how to button buttons. Even after the Medal of Honor, my wife and Deb were traveling along with me and so I had somebody to help me out and it wasn't until a few trips that nobody was there to help me. I'll be in a hotel room and I'd walk out into the hallway and I'd see a cleaning lady, I was like, can you come and button this for me real quick. I eventually got the hang of it. I was probably sick because I was like that. I hate being reliant on others to help, but yeah, it's been an interesting recovery.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes. There was a facility down there called the Center for Intrepid.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

In San Antonio--

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Well, when I arrived in San Antonio, I had started off in the emergency room. They were checking out doing another wound wash and I remembered being in the hospital and one of the people that came to visit me in the hospital was a young female and she was from Fort Louis, same place I was. She was EOD and she had been injured and she walks in my room to visit me and I was just in awe because here is this female, younger girl, mid-20s maybe, and she had lost both her ams above her elbow up high and she had had reconstructive surgery on her face and, Mary ____, and I looked at her I was like, "wow." I can only imagine all the stuff I struggled with one arm and be a female who have both arms missing, but the one thing she had was a smile on her face and her personality was--

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

The one thing she did have was a big smile on her face and great personality. I saw her a few days, a little bit later at the Center for ____, which is there in San Antonio by the hospital and this building is designed for all, by public donations, is designed for burned patients and amputees and specializes in. She is there in one of the activity rooms and playing ping-pong. She had taken ping-pong paddles and had them and taped them to her knobs so that she could sit there, swing her arms and play. I mean the attitude there was just great. I mean the competitiveness of all these soldiers missing legs, arms, it is just amazing and they pushed each other. One of the events I got to go on was a hunting trip. First time I had seen one of these severe injury this bad, but it was a young 23-year-old soldier who had lost all four limbs, both legs and both arms and ____ hunting. He had one prosthetic arm and they had put him in this kind like of ____ sheet that move and we have gone through this field and I was all excited and come out the other end of the field with a couple of pheasant and here he comes toward the end of the field. He has got several in his arm and I was like "man." Maybe he felt bad about my shooting," but then it made him feel great because he had this smile ear to ear and that is the moments that you hold on. They are those positive moments where you know guys were doing all right, even though days are not always the best.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

That I was being recommended?

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes, I was aware of that. I ended re-deployed probably late August or early August maybe. I cannot remember exactly when, but I remember what had happened was the unit when they got to Germany on their way home, my first sergeant and my company commander had broken off from the unit and flown directly to San Antonio and their wives had flown in to be with my wife and they came down to visit me. They had been a little while so my recovery had been going good and I remember showing up at a hotel with my wife and just got rid of the Cam and walking at this point and they come in big smile and they are looking at me and they couldn't believe I was walking already and they are like, "What's going on." And I was like, "Yeah. I bet you did not thought you would see me in a wheelchair didn't you? And they were good times, but then we sat down and we talked over stuff a while and that is when I know that they had recommended me for the Medal of Honor and ironic as it is, while I was in the hospital, my wife had gone to the store unknowingly and she bought the Medal of Honor book for me to read while I was in the hospital. I must have watched that DVD a hundred of times.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yeah.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Everybody that came to visit me and tell me, "Oh, we've got to see this. This is great." And it was odd for me and it shocked me when I did hear it from my company commander ____ having. I wanna say one of the recipients I cannot remember who it was, but in their interview they said that knowing that the man beside you thought you are worthy enough to receive it was enough. That kind of stuck.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

That was just a great time. I mean I had a great time. It was nice that so many of the rangers that were there with me that day. I wished there had been room for our pilots and everybody involved. I mean, I did not realize how small the White House was until I got there and then I realized, oh that's why they can't let everybody come, but it was--that was probably the best part of it, was having all those other soldiers, rangers with me, my family with me and a lot of veterans and people I respect in the crowd there with me. What I said during the ceremony, I kind of leaned over and whisper into the President's ear and I become the talk afterwards. What did you tell him? He kind of smiled and he has the look when smiled. The thing I told him was it is a heavy honor to accept, but it definitely made it a little bit easier except you are not there that day knowing that so many of my friends, my family, my fellow rangers, and a lot of my heroes were either in the crowd, watching on TV and that it wasn't only mine.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

The Medal of Honor I would say what it represents to me is it represents all the military. I know each branch has their own medal, but each individual medal represents every service member, every veteran, every active duty, their families who the backside don't ever get any of the qualification, but are just as much as serving as much as we are and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those that are still fighting today. It represents all of that. It is one of those things that--it was given to me, I will hold on to it and I understand that it is not only mine. I guess the best way to explain this is that each of service member owns a piece of it and through their duty, their selfless service, their courage, all those things. It is all the army leadership, all the army--

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

All the army values every soldier that ____ that the Marines, the Air Force, the Navy, and until recently, not DOD and the Coast Guard too. No, but that is, all joking aside, that is a big part. There are all these services that we are first competitive in our own. I went to the Air Force Academy and they have on their wall "beat Army, sink Navy" and I loved it and it looks great, but I said we don't really care for the air force, but we don't tell because they always give us rice when we go overseas and they defend us in the air. I mean when it comes down to give each other a hard time in service that's because were competitive, but when it comes down to the fight, we all pull together as one team and it is the greatest force in the world.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Absolutely, it's something that like they said is 1% of the country and so many people have given so much of their lives and to me part of it when the people call me a hero, I look at the eyes and I almost, back in my mind I'm thinking I had my own heroes. So those must be the super heroes and it's not always, I mean. Do not get me wrong, I have met some great people along the way and a lot of celebrities who poured their heart out to it, but my heroes are always gonna to be those ones who are the generals, the colonels, the star majors who has devoted 35+ years of their life in the military. It is such a big portion and so much their entire youth and it is for the better of the nation and so those are my heroes, the men and women, the ones who laid down their lives for this country and there is no bigger of sacrifice.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

In my mind, whatsoever, I looked at that grenade and I looked at the guys behind it and those were my guys, the guys I am always responsible for. I looked at them no different than I looked at my children and all my brothers and said if that grenade came between my kids and me, my brothers, my family, my wife, or anybody, I said I'll pick that grenade up and throw it in a second.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Absolutely, I think the reason I live in the town I do is because it's so populated with both retirees, active duty, and they have a sense of bettering in their community both continuing to do the best they can and it not only benefits you when you help others. It's a benefit for all.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I enjoyed meeting President Obama. It was quite a day. A lot happened and a lot of people, some I didn't know. Most I didn't know, and later on down the road I'd seen him again and ____ ceremony it was like a lot of ____ were I remember two of the escorts for the family were saying taste the thing afterwards taste two of everything because it is that good. I remember I didn't get to taste one of anything, but I took most of my time afterwards and taking pictures with family, fellow rangers, friends, because it was a rare opportunity. It was, one, to even be at the White House and, two, for me still I am a Medal of Honor recipient, not realizing. I kind of still realizing that this was that. I don't think people realize what they got that day and for me the Medal of Honor Society had their, I went to the first convention last year and we're sitting there and we're doing a book signing or card signing or kind of thing. There were all of the recipients I think there was 55 in attendance and I'm sitting there signing these things. Half an hour later, we're doing an interview and they asked me, "Wouldn't you think about signing your name ____ for all these people." I said, "You know I wanted nothing more than to jump over that table and get all their signatures for myself because they are the stories I grew up on. I mean they're still my heroes and it's hard to even think that I'm part of the society, but back to the White House, it was quick and I remember we're just walking around in that hall looking at everything. We get up to the oval office with my family and I am almost jaw dropping. I was just looking around just and the next thing I know I guess I had lost myself just in awe and I feel his hand on my shoulder. All right, ____ let's keep going. It is the President. I am like oh man. He did take us up there and we started to go and my son kept saying I'm hungry and he says we'll get you something to eat. He is just a great guy and I realized that I've read a few books and just how hard that job is and to make time for ceremonies like this and it was very emotional to me, for a lot of the family, and people there. Great! I wish the First Lady who wasn't there at that time. I think she was at a funeral for one of the prior first ladies. I had mentioned that on our phone call when I talked to the President was to make sure to thank the First Lady for all she does with the military and their families because I know that's one of her big priorities and we just have a great time.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Yes. Well. The funny thing is on my prior re-enlistment, there is one more with my wife getting to want to be reenlisted and I had come home on my birthday and opened the door and she's like hey happy birthday, a big smile, and then all of the sudden I told her, guess what I'm reenlisted today for several years I think that was like 4 or 6 and the smile kind of turn into a half smile, but then she found out in the long run it was a little bit later she was like happy with it. She said you made the right decision. I'm glad you are in charge in your life I guess and do what makes you happy. Reenlisting this last time was the decision I made even before the medal was approved. It was something more I'd found that job where I enjoyed doing it and I realized if I got out, I couldn't get back in. There are so many service members they don't realize what they got until it's gone. I hear a lot of retired service members saying I miss it. I really miss it and so that was for me. I said I still have this golden opportunity to serve the military. I wanna continue it. I said maybe now is not the right time, maybe 10 years down the road might be the right time, I don't know, and I'm gonna continue doing it as long as I can.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

I'm a military liaison for the SOCOM, special operations command care coalition, which is basically special operations taking care of their own wounded and ill.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

On a day-to-day basis, I basically ____ the soldiers' MedEvac ____ a soldier or his family members in a terrible car accident. Basically, when they may go to a hospital for injuries, then I provide them with liaison support, making sure that their financial as well as medical benefits are taken cared of and that eases stress on both the shoulder and the family to known that they have somebody there that is fighting all their battles for them so to speak, making sure that they are getting everything that they are entitled to in the best care that they can and it works out great because we have a number of persons out down in Tampa that we call them gurus, experts in different fields, VA claims ____ and we follow them. I follow them for the acute care and then as they transition back to service or out of the military, then they have advocates that track them for the rest of their life and so it is a pretty powerful process that I am proud to be a part of and I am glad we have in place for our soldiers.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

Oh, you know it was just a little overwhelming at first and I cannot get into all...you have to say yes to everything and it was kind of like a tornado hitting. I remember the speaking in front of people was a big one. One of the earlier speaking engagements I had was at the VFW Convention in San Antonio and talk about an overwhelming crowd. I walked out on stage. I think that Rodney was there not too long before me talking on that stage and so I walked out and 6,000 veterans and I was looking at them. I was just happy to be there. I did not want to be on the stage. I wanted to be out in the crowd and it is hard to be in front of your what I called peers and military family and ____ instead of just down there hanging out with them, but what made me feel great was that I think some of the speakers that have gone there and a couple of weeks later I ran into this younger and he said like, "Hey, my grandfather said he saw you at the VFW Convention. He said you were the best speaker there." And I was like, "Oh, yes."

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

Leroy Arthur Petry:

But the best part is I love going to these events and share the story of other soldiers and their actions and their triumphs because there are so many good things out there. I mean, so many times you hear the military getting reported on TV or a former soldier does this negative action in society and it is good to hear that there are positive things out there and not every, we had one here in Fort Lewis not too long ago that was a pretty big impact in the military negative and I was talking to somebody and said, you know, Fort Lewis, I saw it on TV ____ broken base, joint base ____. I was traveling and I was at home at the time and I was like, "man, it is like kicking your team while they are pushing their hardest," and I came back and I said there is a lot of great soldiers, a lot of great civilians, a lot of great leaders, and so does members that work on that base and I said it was hard to see them on television, broken base, because it was a great base. Just because you have two rotten apples or whatever in the orchard, you do not burn the whole orchard. It is good to see the positive sides.

Unknown interviewer:

[question not transcribed]

 
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  October 26, 2011
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