This story comes from Michael, an Ohio native and Army vet with two Iraq deployments under his belt. He served over nine years in the military.
I felt like I truly saw the world at the age of 20. During my first deployment to Iraq, I served as an MRAP gunner. After a patrol, we were on our way back to get some much needed sleep. The first two vehicles ahead of us had crossed over a small dirt bridge that had brought us into the town, and the vehicle I was in was next in line. I was watching my sector, hands on the weapon, and thinking about my fiancé. Just two weeks before I got to go home. Two more weeks for a little mid-tour break.
The sky was bright, and the blue sky went on forever. The desert ground evaporated into the heat.
But halfway over the bridge, the sky started to eat up the desert floor. The sand disappeared, slowly at first, and then rushed over my eyes like a wave over coastal rocks. The MRAP was in a roll-over, headed into the channel over the side of the bridge.
The MRAP has a high center of gravity. Add to that the sheer weight of the vehicle, and you can see why poorly built roads would collapse under the girth of this monster. When an MRAP rolls over, it’s incredibly dangerous. Especially for the gunner, who would be the first to take a hit. Right now, that was me.
My fiancé was going to kill me if I died here.
I managed to duck down. The driver (who used to be in the Navy. We never stopped giving him crap for driving us into the damn water) and the truck commander both grabbed hold of my legs and held me inside the gunner’s hatch. I managed to hold my torso under the rim.
Everything happened so quickly. The vehicle finally stopped moving, and I remember the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was my fellow platoon member Titus (who couldn’t swim) standing upright inside my gunner’s hatch. Which meant I was now squatting on the INSIDE roof of the MRAP. We’d gotten turned around and tumbled, and yet we all escaped injury or death.
I had gotten a taste of that adrenaline rush. Two weeks later, I was home with my fiancé, recounting the story.
And when my deployment ended and my commitment to the Army was up, I went out in search of a thrill, and applied it to my life. A sort of focus for adventure. Everything from rock climbing to zip lines, I did it. I landed a job at Ohio Adventures, and now I get to challenge myself and others every day to achieve a goal to try something new and exciting. I consider myself a thrill seeker, and my first experience was that moment in the truck in Iraq.
I’ll never forget the moment I realized the world has so much to offer, and you have to take every chance you can before it’s too late.