Stand up and give a warm round of applause for my special guest today. Matt thank you for your service and for sharing your book. Cpl. Matthew Wojtecki of the US Marine Corps,Weapons Company 3/25 wrote a detailed journal titled Every Other Four. His reservist battalion mobilized in January of 2005 to support the fight against terrorism in Operation Iraqi Freedom III. Matt’s book gives us an eye opening look at the every day routine of a combat Marine and the bonding with friends that only combat veterans know.
From the beginning of my deployment, I consistently kept records of my experiences both in training and serving in Al-Anbar Provence the “Sunni Triangle”.
I write often about my fiancée, Angela Seigman, the girl I leave behind during my deployment in Iraq. I sent letters home and spent the long nights writing by military flashlight, the Iraqi moon, and by the light of the stars half way across the world.
That deep seeded feeling in the pit of your stomach, the urge to get home and live happily with loved ones; that never goes away. Love is so powerful; even war cannot separate you from that love. (Angela and I are now married.)
Shortly before July of 2005, I was driving a Humvee with three other Marines: Sgt. David Carr, Cpl. Timothy Gurgol, and LCpl Steven Perry. We hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) just outside a nearby Iraqi train station on a bumpy road they called “Route Uranium”.
A million thoughts rushed through my mind when the explosion hit the right side of the Humvee that morning. My journal contains vivid descriptions of what happened, of my recovery at the Al-Asad Airbase and the phone calls I had to make to my family from the Battalion Aid Station that night.
You can read stories about my friend and team leader, Cpl. Michael Lindemuth, who was killed in a mortar attack near Hit city. Cpl. Lindemuth would always talk about history and always had a way of lightening up the mood with a cheesy joke or a sarcastic comment.
There are more than forty gray scale photographs in Every Other Four. One photo even includes 3/25’s pet dog, Beans. We traded two quarters and some Easter Jelly beans for our mascot from an Iraqi kid no more than ten years old.
Another struggle I had during deployment was when my Dad was placed in intensive care for a terminal illness. I was sent home to see him. My Dad’s words are included in the book’s epilogue.
What does Every Other Four mean? One of my Team Leaders, Cpl. Travis Stocker (“Night Stocker”) told me a story about his grandpa and how he was drafted during the Vietnam War. Stocker said, “They would take the draftees and line them up. They would each count off – 1-2-3-4. The first person would be in the Army, the second Air Force, three Navy and every other fourth person was a Marine. My grandpa shipped off to war that day” said Night Stocker.
The meaning of “every other four” stuck, as most of us were called up unexpectedly and deployed to Iraq. The term takes on new meaning throughout my book: Four Marines assigned to a Humvee, Four steps before looking behind you on patrol, Four Marines received a Purple Heart for being injured during the tour. After reading the book, I hope the term Every Other Four may have a special meaning for you too.