American Freedom Fighters Stories | In the Army
American Freedom Fighters
In the Army, Story of US Army SGT Steven Gallucci
American Freedom Fighters aka the United States military is broken up into different branches, each distinguished by specific uniforms, training and physical demands. However every one of those American Freedom Fighters are equal when it comes to their courage and willingness to sacrifice their life for America. Whether you are in the Army or the Marines, the Navy or the Air Force, you are a member of the American Freedom Fighters. Those who sign their lives over to protect mine, while I can be honest, I would not sign my name to protect yours. Do I appreciate what the members of our military do? Absolutely. My brother is a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps and my friend Lisa served within the United States Air Force for years. What I am saying is that I could not sacrifice what they did; my freedom.
Over the last few years I have been struggling to get something going that would enable the public to finally understand that there is a price to the freedom we enjoy here in America. Even a Mastercard commercial cannot display what our American Freedom Fighters pay. Every person who signs their names trades a piece of themselves, they never come back from warfare the same, whether it be physically or mentally, they all sacrifice.
To me American Freedom Fighters are all of the soldiers or individuals who have sacrificed a portion of their lives so I can live mine. I posted a question on my Facebook recently in hopes of getting responses to show what the price of freedom really is. How do you begin to tell the story of the American Freedom Fighters when you have not fought yourself? Who are these young men and women that give up everything so we can enjoy our holidays, boat outings, ski vacations, family trips, and daily indulgences? Well I decided to try and tell their stories and label them as American Freedom Fighters because that is exactly what they are.
My first American Freedom Fighters story comes from a good friend who served the United States Army after we parted ways in college. United States Army SGT Steve Gallucci, responded to my questions first and foremost. Here is his story from his time in the Army.
BQB’s Holly Robin: Why did you join the military?
SGT Gallucci: This question always gets me thinking, because I had no real tangible reason to join our military. I had already graduated college; I didn’t have a family that needed care; I actually disagreed with the invasion of Iraq; only 3 other people I know in my family served at anytime in the military since we arrived in the USA in 1913.
The line of logic that I can come up with for my decision to volunteer in the middle of two wars and drop all current career and life prospects was simple but yet very complicated. I wanted to understand and experience the military and warfare. Even as a child I remember wanting to be in the military; I even looked into going to one of the Academies (West Point or Annapolis). These feelings persisted after High School where I visited both the Marine and Army recruiters but being young and indecisive decided to put it off for later. I entered college like it was expected of me growing up where I did. Growing up on the North Shore of Suffolk County, Long Island going into the military is socially branding yourself as an unintelligent failure in life. Though in school you could have been the valedictorian of your school, a 4-year Varsity Letterman and hope one day you become a Joint Chief of Staff. That did not matter; the area was so vehemently against the military that they only allowed recruiters to step on school grounds on career day and made sure to place them in an unseen area. Teachers and Administrators in our schools spoke openly about the negatives of being in the military and tried to make sure no students of theirs joined up. So it was ingrained against my own thoughts that the military was a bad decision and that I should just go to college.
I remember when I decided it was time for me to join up. It was the summer of 2006 (Junior year in college) and I simply came to realization after taking a class on historical battles and tactics for my History/Political Science BA that joining was something I not only wanted but needed to do. I harbored no ill will towards any person, region, nationality, ethnicity, or sect of religion; it just happened to be the two wars my country were involved in were taking place in countries with a predominantly Muslim population. To me, this was our generations Vietnam, as a student of Political Science and History I knew that the face of our political culture would change in drastic ways and that I needed to be a part of it. If I could go, I would have a better perspective on what and why things happened and eventually help make a change towards political stability and peace.
So I went back to the Marine and Army recruiters because I wished to volunteer for the front lines of the wars. I went to the USMC recruiter and took the ASVAB and scored high enough to obtain any job in the Corps. They told me I could go to OCS or enlist. The recruiter being an Enlisted man told me to enlist, of course. The Marines offered me nothing other than giving me the chance of becoming a Marine and that was only thing the Corps will ever give me, all else was earned. I liked that but I am also intelligent enough to see through the lines and figure out that that means they have a low budget and an extreme vertical hierarchy organizational structure. I did not rule them out but like an experienced critical thinker I went to get all view points. I ventured to the local US Army recruiter. I took the ASVAB again and again scored high enough to earn any position in the US Army. They also offered me an OCS slot to become an officer but had the same feelings about being an Enlisted man as the Marine recruiter had shown me. I asked them a bunch of pre-thought out questions and liked their responses. If I enlisted they were willing to offer me a large bonus and money to pay back undergrad loans. So I choose the Army over the Marines because I was still going to be in the front but at least being given a better deal. I also choose to go Enlisted. My reasoning for this was that I felt that no person, man or woman, should ever lead soldiers into battle without first being led themselves. An officer acquires soldiers to command straight out of training, though these commanded soldiers may have a decade of military experience under their belts. This did not sit well with me, so I wanted to enlist and then afterwards decided to go into OCS or not. It followed my motto on leadership which I still explain to young service members and officers to this day.
“Never ask someone [soldier/marine/airmen/seamen] to do something, you yourself have not done or are not willing to do or learn.” – SGT Gallucci
These simple words will guide any leader to success with their subordinates because it forces the leader to experience the task first hand and not command from afar. It will show your subordinates to you are right there with them and will not let them down.
BQB’s Holly Robin: What is one thing you wish civilians could understand about life as a soldier?
SGT Gallucci: Life as a soldier is very difficult. You will be away from your family a lot, you will work in harsh conditions, you will get paid very little to do so much; and in the end almost all people will not understand who you are, where you have been, or what you have had to do. Most people only know what the media tells them and that usually leaves us Service Members branded as dysfunctional unintelligent PTSD riddled shells of people. We could be no further from that media brand. We are family orientated, selfless people, who have endured more hardship in our short years of service than most will in an entire life. The fact that you wave a flag or shake our hands at the airport, which is much appreciated, does not give you an understanding of our lives or the lives of our families. It would serve you much better and the country if you put down the remote and simply asked us what it is really like over there and over here as a soldier; and please do not ask us “how many people we have killed?” that question is offensive and disgraces both the soldier/marine and everyone those deaths have affected both friend and foe. Our job is not to kill but to protect, secure, defend, and promote the freedoms of the Constitution of the United States. What do you miss most from civilian life?
The freedoms that come with civilian life are not all offered to those who dawn a uniform. We must obey laws and standards the normal citizen does not have to, which makes life more difficult and imprisoning.
Holly Robin: What is your most memorable experience?
SGT Gallucci: Stepping onto ground for the first time in the Middle East (Kuwait), I had only read, studied, and watched about the region. When I got off the plane the temperature was near the 120’s or higher and the air was thick and heavy, making it very difficult to breath. Every gasp of air just consumed your whole body with heat, like being stuffed inside a convection oven. We were unloading our equipment off the plane as well which didn’t help because the noise of jet engines combined with the heat and air made the place surreal. That is when I knew this was for real, I was at war.
My friend SGT Gallucci is just one of the many American Freedom Fighters out there. By telling his story he hopes to accomplish the same as I do. A better society for our military service members to return home too. If you are one of the American Freedom Fighters out there who has a story, feel free to comment below or email me at Hclark1027@gmail.com.
Thank you for your service as always.