Happy Military Appreciation Month! In honor of the month, I have been writing a tribute to people in my life associated with the military. Today, I would like to honor Sean Hammett. Sean was a member of 11 Bravo- which is infantry. We were discussing how veterans describe their jobs- “They all say, I was like the Infantry- Everyone wants to be like us. Face it- there is CIB (Combat Infantry Badge) and there is everyone else.”

Sean joined the Army right after high school. He is a veteran of the Army, having served from 2004-2008. He deployed twice to Iraq with the 2ndInfantry Division: once in 2004-05 with the 1/503rd INF; and again in 2006-07 with the 1/9th INF.

He turned 19 in Iraq during his first tour.  Sean served two tours in Ramadi, Iraq. His first was to the wild west streets of eastern Ramadi when the funding had not yet caught up to needs of the war.  MRS and rationed water- those were the early and hard days of the war.  His second tour was tough but not as primitive. It was easier to tolerate until he found out his unit was extended 3 months as he prepared for his mid tour leave. But the despite the stop loss that extended his service obligation, the heat, the rustic showers, and time away from loved ones, his second tour was significantly easier than    More importantly- unlike his hard fought first tour during his second tour, his unit had no KIAs.  Talking with Sean about his time in theater leads you down a winding path of slow smiles and obvious affection for his fellow infantrymen. It also paints a vivid picture of the early days of the Iraq war when our troops were poorly equipped, working long hours in horrible conditions for from those they love and despite all of the shit burning, sand gritty MRE eating reality that the soldier does it proudly.   THAT is why Sean will categorize Army units as CIB and all others.

Sean returned to Ft. Carson after his second tour and separated from the service. He returned to Illinois, married and began studying Criminal Justice at MCC.

Sean earned his associates degree and began working as a Peer specialist for the Lake McHenry Veteran Family Service Center in McHenry.  Working with Veterans has helped Sean to process his experiences and help his fellow Veterans.  Sean Lives in Marengo and is a great dad to his three children I am thankful to Sean for his willingness to share his experience. .   I am thankful to Sean for his service. I am deeply thankful to Sean for his willingness to spend nearly 2.5 years in a desert to defend my freedoms.  And still having that slow smile.