Veterans’ Reflections: The Best Friendships are Formed in Battle

John Teetz, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, discusses his time in service during an interview at the National Mall on July 1, 2010. Teetz served in the Army from 2001-2004, and started basic training on Sept. 1, just 10 days before the September 11th attacks. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class William Selby.

By Ian Graham

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.

There are a lot of things that are bad about war, but a good thing that comes out of war is you become really close with the people you work with.  John Teetz, who served in the U.S. Army from 2001-2004, certainly thinks so.

Teetz, now living in Philadelphia, Pa., originally looked to the service for guidance.  College wasn’t giving him what he wanted, and he had learned the merits of service from his family.

“I was in college, and I wanted something to do with my life,” he 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. On that day, the attitude at basic training changed drastically.  For him, it meant a new drive.

“It made me train harder,” he 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 went to Iraq to do ground surveillance reconnaissance.  It was there that he made some of his closest friends.

“The first two months, we didn’t have electricity or anything like that … We became big UNO players,” he said. “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 IED.

“He and a couple of other guys got medevaced to Germany,” he said. “He had just had a kid, and it took awhile to find out that he was okay.  It was a scary time.”

Though he was able to find out his friend survived the attack, it was stressful to know a friend of his had been hit, but not know whether or not he had survived the attack.  After his deployment was over, 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, he said, is what made going to war worth it for him.  He still keeps in touch with his friends from Iraq using online networks like Facebook.  But joining the service has had a bigger effect on Teetz’s life than giving him some new buddies.

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

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