Veterans’ Reflections: Friendships Formed in Battle

WASHINGTON — Ser­vice­mem­bers and vet­er­ans savor the friend­ships they make with com­rades dur­ing wartime, said John Teetz, an Army vet­er­an of Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom.

John Teetz, an Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom vet­er­an, dis­cuss­es his time in the mil­i­tary dur­ing an inter­view at the Nation­al Mall in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., July 1, 2010. Teetz served in the Army from 2001–2004, and began basic train­ing on Sept. 1, 2001, just 10 days before Sept. 11.
DOD pho­to by U.S. Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer Sec­ond Class William Sel­by
Click to enlarge

Teetz served in the Army from 2001–2004. Now liv­ing in Philadel­phia, Pa., Teetz said he orig­i­nal­ly looked to the ser­vice for guid­ance. Col­lege was­n’t giv­ing him what he want­ed, and he’d learned the mer­its of ser­vice from his family. 

“I was in col­lege, and I want­ed some­thing to do with my life,” Teetz said. “My father was ‘in,’ my grand­fa­ther was ‘in’ … Navy both of them. I’m not much on boats, and I want­ed to do ground stuff, so I joined the Army.” 

Teetz enlist­ed in August 2001 –- his tenth day of basic com­bat train­ing was Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, he said, the atti­tude at basic train­ing changed dras­ti­cal­ly. For him, it meant a new drive. 

“It made me train hard­er,” Teetz said. “A lot of peo­ple got scared, a lot of peo­ple got more focused –- I guess I was one of the ones that got more focused.” 

In 2003, Teetz deployed to Iraq to per­form ground sur­veil­lance recon­nais­sance duties. It was in that dan­ger­ous, aus­tere envi­ron­ment, he said, that he made some of his clos­est friends. 

“When we final­ly got elec­tric­i­ty up and run­ning, every­body sent off for dif­fer­ent things we want­ed. I sent for an Xbox, my friend sent for a TV, and pret­ty soon we had a ‘Mad­den’ sea­son going.” 

But his tour was­n’t all fun and games. Dur­ing his deploy­ment, one of Teetz’s close friends was hit by an impro­vised explo­sive device. 

“He had just had a kid, and it took a while to find out that he was okay. It was a scary time,” Teetz said. 

After his Iraq deploy­ment end­ed, Teetz was able to vis­it his friend in Germany. 

“He was still limp­ing around on crutch­es, but it was good to see him and ‘catch up,’ ” he said. 

That cama­raderie, Teetz said, is what made going to war worth it for him, not­ing he still keeps in touch with his bat­tle bud­dies from Iraq using online net­works like Face­book. Teetz said his mil­i­tary ser­vice ben­e­fit­ed him in anoth­er way. 

“The mil­i­tary made me the man I am today,” he said. “I’m more on point, more respon­si­ble. It basi­cal­ly changed my life.” 

(Vet­er­ans’ Reflec­tions is a col­lec­tion of sto­ries of men and women who served their coun­try in World War II, the Kore­an War, Viet­nam War, Desert Shield and Desert Storm and present-day con­flicts. They will be post­ed through­out Novem­ber in hon­or of Veteran’s Day.) 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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