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"No matter what the future holds, I don’t think anything [will] be more difficult [than] that Sunday in October 2006, when I said goodbye to my parents and my sister." (Audio interview, 18:49)

   Paul Franklin Mercer
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War: Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, 2001-present
Branch: Army
Unit: 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Service Location: Fort Hood, Texas; Camp Liberty, Iraq
Rank: Sergeant
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Entering the Virginia Military Institute two weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Army Sergeant Paul Franklin Mercer (known as Trey to his friends and family) had envisioned his future as a soldier--and his eventual deployment--for years before he enlisted in the Army. Deploying in 2006, and stationed at Camp Liberty, his time in Iraq was cut short when he was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) during an attack on his platoon convoy. Reflecting on his injuries, his time on the service, and his status as a veteran, he says, "I’m still very glad that I had the opportunity to raise my right hand to go and to serve in uniform."

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (11 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (99 min.)
»Transcript
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»Current Conflicts: Afghanistan and Iraq
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (11 items)
Training at Fort Knox; being a bit older than many others in basic training. (01:49) Difficulty in saying goodbye to his family; enlisting in the Army with the knowledge that he would eventually deploy. (03:31) Main responsibilities in Iraq; duties of his platoon. (02:23)
Emotions experienced while on patrol; worrying about letting down his guard and causing harm to someone else. (02:45) Difficulty of seeing his comrades get hurt or killed. (01:58) Incident in which his vehicle was hit by an IED; injuries sustained. (07:04)
Other injuries sustained by his platoon during the explosion; realizing that he was still alive. (03:00) Waiting for the Medevac helicopter to arrive; being taken to the hospital; letting his family know he was alive. (04:15) Transition to civilian life; frustration with the process of applying for jobs. (05:15)
Thinking about his participation in the military on a daily basis; reminders of his service (01:08) Impact of service on his life; pride in being a veteran. (01:14) 
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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