The Wounded Platoon

The Platoon Roster

The 2004-05 class of Third Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division ... and where they are as of May 2010, with some additional updates from September 2011. Most have put the war behind them ... but some could not.

ADAM ARMSTRONG Age: 26 / Hometown: Farmdale, Ohio / Current Rank: Staff Sergeant
Armstrong today Armstrong is the only soldier from the original group that landed in Iraq who is still in the Third Platoon. He is about to complete his third overseas tour of duty. Afghanistan, he says, was much tougher than either trip to Iraq, and he says his body feels like that of a man 20 or 30 years older than he is. He plans to leave the Army in 2012, before getting redeployed for a fourth tour, and will probably go to college. Update [09/19/11]: Armstrong is currently a platoon sergeant and expects to be redeployed to Afghansitan around March.
JOSEPH BAGGETT Age: 25 / Hometown: Ramer, Tenn. / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (PTSD)
Baggett today Suffering from PTSD, Baggett was medically discharged from the Army in November 2009. Between his first and second tour in Iraq, he got married and now has two small children. He's planning to start school at a local community college this year, with hopes of pursing a job in the medical profession.
JONATHAN BAILEY Hometown: Onondaga, N.Y. / Current Rank: Staff Sergeant
Bailey is about to return to Fort Carson after a year in Afghanistan. He is still in Charlie Company, but now a radio operator with the First Platoon. With more than one Bailey in the 3rd Platoon, while they were still in Korea he picked up the nickname "Sniper Bailey" after he scored the lowest of anyone on the marksman's test. Among his peers in that platoon, he could never lose that moniker.
ROBERT BAILEY Age: 31 / Hometown: Elyria, Ohio / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Bailey today "College Bailey" got his nickname because he'd already graduated with a degree in criminal justice by the time he joined the Army. After two tours, he returned home and spent a year looking for a job - any job. He finally found one in East Cleveland, and for a while was commuting from his mother's house 35 miles away, while his wife lived 400 miles away in Michigan.
SHAWN BANKER Age: 29 / Hometown: Painesville, Ohio
Banker today Banker joined the Army shortly after 9/11 out of a patriotic duty to fight terrorists, which he did for two tours in Iraq earning three Purple Hearts along the way. But a leg injury in Fort Carson prevented him from joining the remaining few member of the platoon in Afghanistan. Instead, he plans to return to the small Ohio town near Lake Erie where he grew up, and - with his brother - run the small neighborhood bar, which his father owned until his death during Shawn's second tour in Iraq.
JOSE BARCO Age: 24 / Hometown: Miami, Fla. / Last Rank: Staff Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (Burns, TBI, PTSD)
Barco today Jose was the "baby" of the Platoon, still just 18 years old when they landed in Iraq in 2004. After receiving serious burns from the car bomb that killed Sgt. Sean Huey, he managed to recover enough to deploy a second time. But he began getting into trouble with the law even while on home leave in February 2007, when he assaulted a police officer outside a Miami bar. Although he claimed not to be the shooter in the drive-by shooting at a party in Colorado Springs more than a year later, the jury took less than an hour to convict him. He is now serving 52 years on multiple charges at Buena Vista Correctional Complex - the same prison that holds Kenny Eastridge's partner-in-crime, Louis Bressler. Barco will be eligible for parole in 2035, just before he turns 50.
LEE BROOKS Died While In Service: March 20, 2008, Age 26 / Hometown: Rock Hill, S.C. / Last Rank: Staff Sergeant
Brooks' grave marker Lee Brooks came back from Iraq hurting - but that didn't prevent him from falling in love with almost the first woman he saw, the sister of a close Army buddy. He was married five months later. Although Lee wanted to redeploy, he spent the next several months in and out of the hospital as doctors dealt with the after effects to his back of multiple IED explosions. After almost seven years uniform, he was told his Army career was over. Just before his medical discharge, he aggravated his persistent back pain by driving across country to a job in North Carolina his wife's family lined up. Stopping for the night at his wife's relatives in Virginia Beach, he took a number of painkillers and spent time in their hot tub. The next morning he was dead from what the Virginia Medical Examiner said was "acute combined Fentanyl, hydrocodone and Valium poisoning." The death was ruled an accident.
JOSH BUTLER Age: 30 / Hometown: Decatur, Ala. / Last Rank: Private First Class / Discharge: Other Than Honorable (Drug Abuse)
Butler today Butler was one of three in the platoon who was kicked out of the Army because of cocaine use. Penniless, in 2006 he drove back home to Alabama, using an overdrawn debit card to buy gas, and soon got into trouble with the law for beating his wife and smashing a friend's car window in a rage. After serving time in jail, he reconnected with David Nash from the 3rd Platoon. Nash got him a job as a welder's helper working on natural gas pipelines in Arizona. From there he moved on to a pipeline job in Louisiana, then Texas. He's now back in Alabama, waiting for the next pipeline job to begin.
PAUL CHO Age: 40 / Hometown: Palisades Park, N.J. / Current Rank: Staff Sergeant
Cho today Cho left the 3rd Platoon after its first tour in Iraq, and joined another unit in Korea, where he stayed for three more years, before returning to the United States to become an Army recruiter. Now based in San Francisco, he plans to stay in the Army another 14 years, get his full pension, and then probably go into teaching.
ANTHONY CRUZ Age: 34 / Hometown: Angleton, Texas / Current Rank: Staff Sergeant
Cruz is currently in Afghanistan. It is his third deployment to a combat zone since joining the Army.
KEITH CUTTER Age: 25 / Hometown: Savannah, Ga. / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (TBI)
Cutter today Growing up in the rough part of Savannah, Cutter escaped to the Army when he was 19 in order to stay out of trouble - and he has. During his second tour in Iraq, an IED exploded under his vehicle, giving him a traumatic brain injury severe enough to both send him home and discharge him from the Army. He says he holds nothing against the Army, but was glad to get out. Now living with his wife - who is still in the Army - and their young son, he's taking electronics courses in college.
PATRICK DUHON Age: 31 / Hometown: Abbeville, La. / Last Rank: Staff Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Duhon today Patrick Duhon quit a not-very-successful college career to serve in the Army for five years. After twice going to Iraq, the second time as a Squad Leader in the 3rd Platoon, he resisted pressure to "re-up," and left the Army in 2005 and restarted his college career at Louisiana State, this time in international studies. A steady girlfriend and full load of classes kept him busy, so he rarely looked back on his Army time. But when he graduated - and lost the girlfriend - in 2009, he returned to the Cajun town of his youth to work in the family-run oil distribution business. That's when he realized his symptoms of PTSD must be dealt with. "I tried for three years to handle it on my own thinking that I can just push it to the back of my mind. The more I tried to do so, the worse it got." He is now seeing a V.A. counselor in Lafayette, where he lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment.
KENNETH EASTRIDGE Age: 26 / Hometown: Ekron, Ky. / Last Rank: Private First Class / Discharge: Other Than Honorable (Drug Abuse)
Eastridge today Eastridge's journey from combat uniform to prison uniform was short and full of Bonnie-and-Clyde-style drama. Following a court martial, he and his Army girlfriend were escorted home by military police. But when their plane landed, they ran from the MPs and for a month lived in a posh Colorado Springs hotel, drinking and looking over their shoulders. When the money ran out, the girl left and Kenny joined up with soldier-outlaws Louis Bressler and Bruce Bastien. After their assault on Erica Ham, Eastridge booked himself into the county jail thanks to an outstanding warrant on a domestic violence charge against another girlfriend. He was bailed out a month later by Bressler, and in two days later Kevin Shields was dead. Eastridge fled to Arkansas, was quickly found and returned to Colorado. Since leaving the Army, he has been behind bars for all but 10 days.
JEREMY EGGERT Age: 26 / Hometown: Flat Rock, N.C. / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (PTSD)
Eggert today Eggert was the first soldier to get into trouble following the platoon's return to the US in 2005. Returning to Fort Carson after his month-long leave and driving very fast while excessively intoxicated, he smashed into a pick up truck on the Interstate highway just north of Colorado Springs, causing serious bodily injury to the occupants of the truck. He fled the scene of the accident, but was soon found several miles down the road and arrested. When he couldn't obey the rules of a half-way house, he was sentenced to prison, but paroled after three years. He is now working at a fast food restaurant in East Moline, Ill., and trying to work things out with his wife, a recovering drug addict.
JAMES FARMER Age: 26 / Hometown: Glen Easton, W.Va. / Last Rank: Private First Class / Discharge: General, Under Honorable Conditions (Drug Abuse)
Farmer today Farmer says the one time he used cocaine was the one time his battalion commander decided to test nearly everyone in Charlie Company for drug use - and that sealed his fate with the Army. He returned to the northern panhandle of West Virginia, got into a relationship with a woman he's known since kindergarten - they now have two small children - and after a number of dead-end jobs, was able to get a job underground, mining coal. "Maybe I'll have PTSD later on," he says. "But right now, I don't even think about it unless people ask, and not many people ask."
NATHAN FEALKO Age: 30 / Hometown: Clay, N.Y. / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Fealko today Everyone - including Fealko - agrees he was the oddest soldier in the platoon. A self-described "over-the-top geek," he joined the Army after getting a college degree in creative writing to prove to himself he could withstand the physical and mental strains that come with being an infantryman. It was a challenge, but he managed to make it through two tours in Iraq before getting out. Rather than spending his money at the bars on Tejon Street in Colorado Springs, he and his wife, Amy, bought a small house there as an investment for later in life. Currently, the two of them are teaching English to kindergarteners in Taiwan - which was Amy's choice for their next "adventure" after the adventures Nathan experienced as a soldier. When asked about his long-term ambitions, he says he doesn't really have any. "Dreams are just opportunities to get disappointed." Update [09/19/11]: Nathan and his wife are still teaching in Taiwan and are now parents to a 7-month-old son.
ALAN GAGNON Age: 32 / Hometown: Springfield, Mass. / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable
Gagnon was one of only two members of the platoon who declined to be interviewed for The Wounded Platoon documentary. He returned to his hometown of Springfield, Mass., upon getting out of the Army after one tour in Iraq, and is reported by other friends in the platoon to be working as a firefighter in Western Massachusetts. He is married and has several children.
MARCO GARIBAY Age: 27 / Hometown: Camden, N.J. / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable
Garibay today Garibay was the first soldier to leave the Third Platoon because of a battle wound, when a piece of shrapnel pierced his neck. It happened less than two months into their first tour, and resulted in months of treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Gradually what he calls his "Darth Vader voice" returned to his own and the wound healed, but not well enough or quickly enough for him to be sent back, despite his pleas. A fleeting romance resulted in a marriage and divorce, and soon Garibay was back in Camden, N.J., pursuing dead-end jobs, and dreaming of opening his own auto mechanic shop one day. Nearly four years after leaving the Army, wondering whether his deadened emotions might be a result of PTSD, he looked into going to some V.A. meetings, but the schedules didn't work out well. He also explored returning to the Army, but discovered he wouldn't make as much as he's making now.
EVAN HARMON Age: 24 / Hometown: Oxnard, Calif. / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Harmon today Each time Evan Harmon came home from Iraq it took a while to get used to not having to worry about whether a guy he saw on a roof might shoot at him, or a pile of trash might blow up. There were times when he'd wake up in the middle of the night and start frantically searching for his night vision goggles until realizing he was back home. Between the two tours, Harmon met and married the sister of J.R. Marcelo, one of his closest buddies in the platoon. When both her husband and brother returned to Iraq, Missy Harmon was left in Colorado Springs with no family or friends, but quickly got involved in a tight group of Charlie Company wives, who provided a strong support system for her - and, by extension, for Evan as well. They now have a 1-year-old son, and Evan works in a warehouse, having had a difficult time finding work after being honorably discharged in 2008.
JAMES A. HART Jr. Age: 31 / Hometown: Cushing, Okla. / Current Rank: Sergeant
Hart joined the Army in 1998 and is still there - now finishing up his fourth overseas tour in the last six years, in Afghanistan. While fighting wars, he's also been taking online college classes, and is working towards a degree in criminal justice. He is married with three children at home.
SEAN P. HUEY Killed In Action, Nov. 11, 2004, Age 28 / Hometown: Fredericktown, Pa. / Last Rank: Staff Sergeant
Huey's grave marker During a total of 27 months in combat in Iraq, the Third Platoon lost only one soldier in battle. Huey was killed on Veterans Day 2004, when a car bomb exploded where he and the squad he was leading were setting up a roadblock. He was buried in the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery just outside Fort Bragg in North Carolina. His young widow, Heather, and his son, Joey live nearby.
ALEXANDER JANSON Age: 40 / Hometown: Moreno Valley, Calif. / Current Rank: Sergeant First Class
Janson today Janson was injured in the November 2004 blast that took Sgt. Huey's life, but he was able to return to Charlie Company before the their first tour in Iraq ended. However, he says his wife and three children put their collective feet down at the prospect of having him return to Iraq a year later, so he left the unit and spent three years in Alaska training other NCOs. Now back in "the lower 48," at desolate Fort Irwin in the California desert, he's hoping to be assigned to a unit that will deploy to Afghanistan. If that happens, his 20 years will be up by the time he gets back, and he'll happily retire with a full pension - and says he's likely to return to Alaska to hunt and fish, and raise his family - probably in that order.
BRANNEN JOHNSON Age: 27 / Hometown: Gainesville, Fla. / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable
Johnson today Brannen Johnson's two year stint in the Army was a brief, but intense, interruption of his college career. Despite some pressure to re-enlist and thoughts of flying Apache helicopters, when he had to make the decision, Johnson chose to return to college and get his engineering degree. By doubling up his course load, he was able to graduate just before the economy tanked, which he thinks made the difference between easily finding a good mechanical engineering job in his home state of Florida, and struggling to enter the work force. With a steady girlfriend, a German Shepherd/Boxer mix that they found in an animal shelter, and plenty of time for fishing, Johnson has few complaints about his life … or his service in the Third Platoon.
RYAN KREBBS Age: 26 / Hometown: Lee's Summit, Mo. / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (PTSD & TBI)
Krebbs today The soldiers of Third Platoon all call him "Doc" - because he was their medic. Today, Phillip Ryan Krebbs just prefers using his middle name, as he tries desperately to leave his six years in the Army behind him. Struggling with severe PTSD, he's juggling being back in college, being a father and husband, and trying to get help from the Veterans Administration - all while usually sedated by the effects of marijuana. There are times when he talks about chucking it all, and going to hang out on the Caribbean beaches of Colombia. So far, the same sense of duty and obligation that made him a first-class medic, has kept him more or less on track in the suburbs of Denver, Colo.
WARREN LEMING Age: 30 / Hometown: Westerville, Ohio / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Leming today No one has changed in appearance between his soldier life and civilian life more than Warren Leming. As with several others in the platoon, the Army was an option to explore when college life wasn't clicking. But after a stint in Korea and a year in Iraq, he had no interest in remaining a soldier, and went back to school. Update [09/19/11]: Lemming completed his associate's degree at Pikes Peak Community College and is currently attending the University of Colorado at Boulder where he is majoring in political science and international relations. After urging from his family and friends, he went to the V.A. where he learned he fractured four vertebrae while in Iraq; he was also diagnosed with PTSD. He attended counseling but found it difficult to get an appointment with the V.A. "I still mostly deal with it on my own," he says.
TONY LOPEZ Age: 41 / Hometown: Bronx, N.Y. / Current Rank: Staff Sergeant
Lopez today Lopez always wanted to be a career soldier - and that dream has come true. Serving first in Bosnia, he left the Army briefly, but re-enlisted after 9/11 and did two tours in Iraq, neither of which appears to have had any serious repercussions on him. Part of his first tour went into training the Iraqi army soldiers, and that - along with his fluency in Spanish - maybe was why the Army moved him out of frontline infantry and into WHINSEC - the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. For a few years he escorted groups of Latin American soldiers training at Fort Benning, Ga. He'd take them for a taste of American life, whether Atlanta Braves games, tours of Coca-Cola's bottling plant or CNN's studios. But that’s behind him now. He's moved on to learn how to become a drill sergeant in Basic Training.
J. R. MARCELO Age: 27 / Hometown: Riverside, Calif. / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Marcelo today After two tours in Iraq, Marcelo thought he would have no trouble finding someone in the greater Los Angeles area who would hire a returning soldier - into a police force, a security guard position, even a cook at a fast food restaurant. But after looking for over a year, he just gave up. He's now going to school, on the new GI Bill, learning to become an X-ray technician. "It's an easy job," he says, and there is a lot of demand. He says whatever PTSD issues he has - and he expects there are some - he deals with by ignoring them, if he can, or laughing at them, if he can't. Although he's single, his sister, Missy, is married to Evan Harmon, his closest friend in the Third Platoon.
MARCUS MIFFLIN Age: 26 / Hometown: Plantation, Fla. / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (PTSD)
Mifflin today Marcus Mifflin joined the Army as a way to escape the drug-ridden gang way of life he sensed he was slipping into during high school. But his Army experience gave him a new set of problems to deal with - flashbacks and hallucinations; a war bride he realized he neither loved nor respected; the death of their infant daughter, which he blames, in part, on poor Army medical care; and a variety of medications - prescribed and/or abused - to help him cope with the stress of life, which usually didn't work. After breaking up with his wife, he drifted for a couple of years before landing back at his mother's house in Southern Florida - "the last place a I though I'd ever end up." After another idle year, he took advantage of the new GI bill, and began taking classes at a local community college.
FERDINAND MORRIS Age: 37 / Hometown: Bethany, Colo. / Current Rank: Sergeant First Class
Morris today Morris, a Filipino-American who grew up in Oklahoma, had been in the Navy for four years and the Army for another six before he saw a soldier die. Sgt. Sean Huey’s death elevated Morris to the position of squad leader, but also gave him a classic case of PTSD. He lived with the PTSD and its effects - excessive alcohol consumption, being short tempered with his wife, yelling at his children, not caring about his work - for almost a year and a half after leaving Iraq. Then, reassigned to Germany, he finally relented to the urgings of his Italian-born wife and saw the Battalion chaplain. "I thought PTSD was for other people," he said upon being diagnosed and counseled. Now, beginning a new assignment in Fort Benning, Ga., he tells young soldiers who are about to become officers how much Huey’s death impacted him, in hopes that they might not be afraid to seek help in a similar situation.
DAVID NASH Age: 25 / Hometown: Vallejo, Calif. / Last Rank: Private First Class / Discharge: Other Than Honorable
Nash today Nash says his life began after he left the Army. In the fours years since he first saw the words "Other Than Honorable" on his discharge papers just before he drove out of the gates of Fort Carson for the final time, Nash has brooded over that characterization of his three years in the Army - and tried to put it behind him. Traveling thousands of miles in his old beat-up Toyota and, more recently, a souped-up Honda motorcycle, with a copy of Homer's Odyssey in his backpack, Nash has been on an a journey of his own to find what he calls "the long way home." Now living in Albuquerque under the watchful eye of an aunt who got him through his turbulent high school years, he'll probably return soon to itinerant work building natural gas pipelines, with dreams of an extended trip through Europe - if he can manage not to lose his earnings at poker tables along the way. Update [09/20/11]: After the original broadcast, the V.A. called David to tell him his access to medical benefits would be reinstated. He has since received treatment.
CHISTOPHER NIEVES Age: 26 / Hometown: Orlando, Fla. / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (Blast injuries to left arm)
Nieves today Nieves' left arm was ripped apart by the IED blast that killed Sgt. Huey in November 2004. It took until May 2007 for the Army to deem him healed enough that they would let him go with a medical discharge. During that time, while he has no complaints about his medical treatment, his efforts to get some help for PTSD were less than satisfactory - group therapy sessions he found more annoying than helpful, followed by one-on-one meetings with a psychologist whose case load was so large he could barely remember Nieves' name. After leaving the Army, his GI benefits helped him buy a house south of Houston, where he was quickly able to find a job making chemicals. On the side, he’s taking classes at a community college hoping to eventually earn a Physician Assistant’s degree - a profession he discovered and grew to admire during his months of medical recovery and rehabilitation.
JEREMY RHODES Age: 35 / Hometown: Sacramento, Calif. / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Rhodes today Sacramento, Calif., is a magnet for Jeremy Rhodes. After being a cook in the Marines for four years, he went back there. After serving in the 1-506th in Korea and Iraq, as soon as he could, he went back. And last year, after doing one more tour with an Army Reserve unit in Iraq, once again he found himself in Sacramento surrounded by his many, many cousins, some of whom are gang members; others, honors students at Stanford University. For years, Jeremy has dreamed of fitting out a catering truck and using his KP skills from the Marines to make sandwiches for construction workers. He says that plan is "still a work in progress."
STEVE ROBERTSON Age: 31 / Hometown: Bronson, Mich. / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable
Robertson today Four months after returning from his one tour in Iraq, Steve Robertson got drunk for the last time. Until then he had allowed Sgt. Huey's death and the alcohol he consumed to deaden his rage, to take over his life. But he knew if he continued to drink, everything about his life would just spiral down into a dark hole. Instead, without alcohol, six weeks after being honorably discharged he was back in college; he fast-tracked his way to an engineering degree; his rock-solid girlfriend, who stayed with him through some very dark times, became his wife; they moved to Lexington, Ky., where she went to graduate school and he easily found a good engineering job. They now own a small house and buy goat cheese at farmer's markets on the weekends. "I've become a yuppy," he says with the dry sense of humor that was his trademark in the Third Platoon.
HECTOR RODRIGUEZ Age: 46 / Hometown: Bronx, N.Y. / Current Rank: Sergeant First Class
Rodriguez today "Sergeant Rod," as everyone in the platoon called him, was the undisputed father of the platoon - due to his age, the wisdom he acquired from serving nearly two decades in the Army, and growing up on the streets of the Bronx. He was ready to retire at the end of the Platoon's first tour to Iraq, but got promoted and sent back into battle. Now he's serving out his last few months in the Army at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, in Maryland, an hour-and-a-half ride on his big motorcycle from his home in Lebanon, Pa. That is where he plans to spend most of his time after he takes off his uniform for the last time - with his wife, also in the Army, and their three children.
RANDY ROVILLOS Hometown: Aurora, Colo. / Last Rank: Private First Class
Rovillos lives in Aurora, Colo., and didn't want to talk with FRONTLINE.
PATRICK SCOTT Age: 30 / Hometown: Cleveland, Ala. / Last Rank: Staff Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions
Scott today Thought of by his fellow soldiers as a "good ol' boy" from Alabama, Patrick Scott found love and solace in the deep freeze of Fairbanks, Ala. He met and married his wife there in his first Army posting, but wound up in Iraq in 2004-05. For two years after leaving the Army, he drank his way through a rather severe case of PTSD, compounded by a mild traumatic brain injury. Uncontrollable anger resulted in several destroyed cell phones and a bent steering wheel. He quickly found he wasn't cut out to work in his father-in-law's real estate business, and contemplated suicide at one point. When his wife almost left him, he turned things around. Beer consumption fell to a trickle, he started seeing a psychiatrist, and got a civilian job with the Army. He still does 200-mile rides with his buddies on snow machines in the deep winter, but today with a much healthier outlook than in the past.
ZACK SIEBENECK Age: 25 / Hometown: Sandy, Utah / Last Rank: Specialist / Discharge: Honorable
Siebeneck today Siebeneck, raised a Catholic in heavily Mormon Utah, is the textbook case of someone who joined the Army out of high school, had no intention of making a career of it, did two tours - which "knocked me around enough" to get a mild case of traumatic brain injury - didn't get in trouble when he got home, was honorably discharged and moved on with his life. Now a biochemistry major at the University of Utah, he still gets annoyed when fellow students start criticizing the war, but generally thrives on being a student. And it's tuition free, thanks to the Purple Heart he earned and the new GI bill. After college he wants to work on vaccine research. He's even picked out a job site: There's a DNA lab just up the mountain from his parents' house on the edge of Salt Lake City swhere he lives. Might he someday leave Utah? Why should he, he asks, "Look around! It's gorgeous here."
KRISTOPHER SILVA Age: 27 / Hometown: San Antonio, Texas / Last Rank: Sergeant / Discharge: Honorable
Silva today It was only after getting out of the Army in April 2008, following two tours of duty in Iraq, that Kris Silva realized he had a serious case of PTSD and needed help. When he returned from Iraq both times, he now admits he lied on his post-deployment mental health assessments, saying he was fine because he didn't want to deal with the issues he was having. Now, he's dealing with them at weekly sessions with a V.A. therapist, which he says is very helpful. During the second tour in Iraq, he came home on leave and in three days decided to marry a woman he'd met on MySpace. In retrospect, he's not surprised it didn't work out and is being a bit more deliberative in forging a new relationship. After designing signs for an understanding graphic designer, who encouraged him to take as much time off as he needed for therapy, he's now attending college, hoping to become a nurse.
TIM STRICKLIN Age: 39 / Hometown: Tonkawa, Okla. / Last Rank: Sergeant First Class / Discharge: Honorable Under Medical Conditions (Blast injuries to back, leg & jaw)
Stricklin today Stricklin has the unfortunate distinction of being the only member of the platoon who was wounded seriously enough in both tours to Iraq to be sent back home twice. Although the last blast, occurring in December 2006, was enough to eventually discharge him from the Army, he still works on an Army post - as a civilian in charge of the live fire range at Fort Sill. If he moves on to police work - his current objective - his wife Terra will certainly be as much a part of that work as she was when he was the platoon sergeant in Iraq. Through regular e-mails and phone calls, Terra knew the ups and downs over every member of the platoon, and worked closely with other wives and girlfriends, trying to keep morale up and to help prepare families to adjust to life when their soldiers came home - sometimes OK, sometimes not. Update [09/19/11]: Stricklin is still at Fort Sill. He told us he enjoys what he does, "helping young soldiers get trained up to go out into the Army and do great things."
WILLIAM STURGEON Age: 40 / Hometown: Huntsville, Texas / Current Rank: Sergeant First Class
Sturgeon today Sturgeon took over as platoon sergeant when Tim Stricklin was injured by the blast that killed Sean Huey. He inherited a group of young, fairly inexperienced soldiers who were shaken by Huey's death and new to war. After an isolated tour in Korea and a difficult year in Iraq, Sturgeon wasn't surprised so many members of his platoon went off the rails upon arriving at Fort Carson, where alcohol, women and firearms were in abundant supply. His own stay in Fort Carson was short, as he was transferred to Germany, and then could have have retired with 20 years of service. But the Army offered him another platoon based in Hawaii and he stayed, returning to Iraq this summer. He says he hasn't noticed any signs of PTSD. Update [09/19/11]: Sturgeon retired from active duty and is currently working in Afghanistan as a contractor, teaching counter-IED tactics to soldiers "to help prevent more casualties of war."
GORDON WADE Age: 30 / Hometown: Andover, Mass. / Current Rank: Staff Sergeant
Wade today Gordon Wade - his nickname in the 3rd Platoon was "Flash" - is a soldier's soldier. Officers and senior enlisted men all say he was a no-nonsense, vigilant stand-up guy during his two tours in Iraq. He followed orders well, and even though he would have liked to stay in the infantry, when the order came for him to become an Army recruiter, he put his all into that as well - stationed in Phoenix, Ariz., where he could be near his two sisters. With his wife - who he met and married between tours to Iraq - and baby, he's more than halfway through his three-year recruiting assignment, and hopes to move on to Ranger school or some other more physically challenging Army work as soon as he can.
JOHNATHON WEDEMEYER Age: 27 / Hometown: Denver, Colo. / Current Rank: Staff Sergeant
On his first tour to Iraq, Wedemeyer went out on patrols along with everyone else. The second tour, he trained Iraqi soldiers. He was back in the infantry in Afganistan, still with the Third Platoon, until he broke his foot in a firefight last August. That sent him back home where he had a permanent screw put in and six months later he was back in the warzone, but no longer with the platoon. If he can get into the elite Special Forces school, he will stay in the Army. Otherwise, he'll be discharged in August and immediately start college at Colorado State University.


In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

posted may 18, 2010; updated november 17, 2010; updated september 19, 2011; updated september 20, 2011

the wounded platoon · FRONTLINE series home · privacy policy · journalistic guidelines

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation