Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Andrew B. Napier, January 28, 2010

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction / childhood / enlisting in the National Guard

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Partial Transcript: Um, if you just want to start off, uh, and tell us, uh, who you are, how old you are, uh, what branch of service you're in, and, um, just a little bit about yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Andrew Napier is introduced. He talks about his childhood growing up in Pulaski County, Kentucky. He talks about deciding to enlist in the National Guard and how his parents and friends reacted.

Keywords: 9/11/2001; Alienation; Basic training; Biology; Boot camp; Childhood; Colleges; Enemies; Enlisting; Fathers; Fatigues; Friends; High schools; JROTC; Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps; Military bases; Mothers; Negative press; Rationalization; Recruiters; Richmond (Ky.); University of Kentucky

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Pulaski County (Ky.); September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001; United States--National Guard

GPS: Pulaski County (Ky.);
Map Coordinates: 37.083056, -84.609444
00:09:00 - Boot camp / mobilization / mission

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, what was your boot camp like?

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about his experiences in boot camp. He discusses whether he planned to stay in the service as a career and when he changed his mind. He talks about his training and whether he felt adequately prepared. He talks about what his main mission was while in Afghanistan.

Keywords: Basic training; Blending in; Boot camp; Deployment; Fort Benning (Ga.); Fort Sam (Houston, Tx.); House clearing; Humvees; IEDs; Kentucky National Guard Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center; Medic training; Medical field; Medics; Missions; Mobilization; RCP; Retirement; Route Clearance Packages; Scared; TSP; Thrift Savings Plan; Training

Subjects: Improvised explosive devices; United States--National Guard

GPS: Fort McCoy (Wis.)
Map Coordinates: 44.009855, -90.683212
00:15:45 - Local people in Afghanistan

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Partial Transcript: What about culturally?

Segment Synopsis: Napier discusses his feelings about the local people. He tells a story about a bomb threat on a forward operating base and how it affected his feelings towards the people in Afghanistan.

Keywords: Bomb threats; Call to prayer; Cultures; FOBs; Forward Operating Bases; Guilt; IEDs; Languages; Locals; Radios; Security breaches

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Afghanistan.; Improvised explosive devices

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
00:20:48 - Missions

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, you know, when they--I spoke to you earlier but explain to me, you know, they gave you a certain task when you went over there.

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about how his mission changed while in Afghanistan. He tells a story about an ambush that occurred during his first week of deployment.

Keywords: Ambushes; Enemy contact; FOBs; Fear; Forward Operating Bases; Gear; Heat; IEDs; Mortars; RCP; RPGs; Roads; Rocket-propelled grenades; Route Clearance Packages; Tasks; Transporting; Vehicles

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Improvised explosive devices

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
00:26:43 - Dark humor

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Partial Transcript: --cleared the ambush area and we get ove--somebody gets over the radio and they're like, "Doc, there's, there's blood in the turret! There's blood in the turret!"

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about what happened after the ambush. He talks about laughing at situations others may see as dark.

Keywords: Blood; Funny; Humorous; Injuries; Laughter; Local people; Locals

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Medical care

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
00:29:13 - One of his worst experiences as a medic

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Partial Transcript: We came back from that mission, and, uh, it was actually a, a FOB called Tillman after, you know, the, uh, Pat Tillman.

Segment Synopsis: Napier tells the story of his fourth day of deployment when he was working in an aid station and dealt with casualties and a burned soldier.

Keywords: Aid stations; Burned; Casualties; Clothes; Death; Death rooms; Hands; Hero Birds; ICU; IEDs; Intensive Care Units; Legs; Medics; Pennsylvania Unit; Procedure; Smells; Walking wounded

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Improvised explosive devices; Medical care; United States--National Guard

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
00:38:25 - Coping mechanisms / triggers

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Partial Transcript: Could you--how'd you cope?

Segment Synopsis: Napier discusses various coping mechanisms used by soldiers. He talks about being put on prescription medications for sleeping and anxiety. He talks about the things that could trigger memories for him and the things he avoids now that he is home.

Keywords: Dreams; Medics; Memories; Movies; Nightmares; Popular culture; Prescription medications; Reactions; Sights; Smells; Smoking; Sounds; Substance abuse; Violence

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Medical care

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
00:44:28 - Another ambush

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Partial Transcript: How long was your deployment?

Segment Synopsis: Napier discusses an ambush he was involved in in which he was injured and how he reacted to the situation. He talks about how the incident continued to affect him.

Keywords: Adrenaline rushes; Ambushes; Attacks; Fighting positions; Injuries; Kill zones; Laughing; Legs; MEDEVAC; MWR; Medical evacuations; Missions; Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Panic attacks; Platoon sergeants; RPGs; Rocket-propelled grenades; Routes; Shrapnel

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Medical care

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
00:54:40 - Reactions to casualties

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Partial Transcript: Is that how you, you know, as it happened more and more, is that how you dealt with it? Just--

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about how he began coping with difficult situations. He tells the story of a time he had to deal with the casualty of someone in his unit and how he reacted to the situation.

Keywords: Aid stations; Ambushes; Blood; CLSB; Casualties; Cleaning; Compassion fatigue; Complacency; Coping; Death; KIE; Reactions; Shutting down; Shutting off; Solitude

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Medical care

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
01:06:42 - Extra duties as a medic / more about dealing with casualties

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Partial Transcript: Did you have, uh, did you have friends there? Did you have, uh, you know, other soldiers that looked up to you or that, that, that you could turn to?

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about the extra time he had to put in as a medic and how the lack of sleep and seeing disturbing things affected him.

Keywords: Aid stations; Anger; Bodies; Death; FOBs; Forward Operating Bases; Friends; Isolation; Medics; Polish soldiers; RCP; Relating; Route Clearance Packages

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Medical care

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
01:09:46 - Hearing loss

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Partial Transcript: So, you're, you're, you're making it, you made it through the summer, um, and everything in between. You've mentioned that you were knocked out a few times and, and, went unconscious, and had some hearing, memory loss, and--

Segment Synopsis: Napier discusses a time that he suffered concussions and hearing loss from an explosion.

Keywords: C-4; Concussions; Controlled detonation munitions; EOD; Explosive Ordnance Disposal units; Hearing loss; IEDs; Unconsciousness

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Improvised explosive devices

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
01:12:29 - Desire for retaliation

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about, um, a time where you discharged your weapon.

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about whether he ever discharged his weapon and how he felt about it. He talks about how soldiers' experiences in Afghanistan were often very different.

Keywords: 101st unit; Anger; Bagram (Afghanistan); Discharging weapons; Experiences; FOBs; Forward Operating Bases; Medics; Preconceptions; Retaliation; Units

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
01:16:53 - Stories

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Partial Transcript: Anyways, these scouts--awesome. They had medics that were, that were there with them and, uh, we were able to trade a lot of stories.

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about swapping stories with other medics and whether he told anyone his stories about the things he had seen at the aid stations.

Keywords: 1+ trauma centers; Aid stations; Conversations; Death; Dislocated shoulders; Funny; Humorous; One-plus trauma centers

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Medical care

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333
01:21:41 - Contact with family while overseas / coming home

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Partial Transcript: Well, while you were over there did you talk to your parents? Did you call your mom?

Segment Synopsis: Napier discusses how he kept in contact with his parents during his deployment. He talks about what it was like to come back home and how the people he knew reacted.

Keywords: Alone; Communication; Contact; Fathers; Hiding; Home; Impersonal; Isolation; Mothers; Outcasts; Parents; Parties; Tmid; Transitioning; UK

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001- --Veterans.; Families.; University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)

01:27:13 - The oral history project

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Partial Transcript: What do you think about the cameras and the fact that UK and the people, researchers and professors, people across the country, really care. They want to hear about your story

Segment Synopsis: Napier reflects on the importance of the oral history project.

Keywords: Transition; classroom; professors; students

01:28:21 - Coming back to school

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Partial Transcript: You know, um, what was, what was the classroom experience like?

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about what it was like to come back to school after returning from Afghanistan. He discusses his thrill-seeking behavior and what he does to control it.

Keywords: Adrenaline; Classrooms; Drinking; GI Bill; Impulsive; Maturity; Motorcycles; Peers; Responsibilities; Thrill-seeking; UK; VA; Veterans Administration; Young people

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001- --Veterans.; University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:33:13 - Feelings about his service

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Partial Transcript: Are you, at this point in your life, are you proud of your service?

Segment Synopsis: Napier discusses whether he is proud of his service.

Keywords: Destruction; Impact; Pride; Proud

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001- --Veterans.

01:36:14 - Challenges of being in college

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Partial Transcript: What specific challenges did you find when you started college?

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about the things that were difficult for him about going back to school. He talks about how he differs from a typical college student.

Keywords: Angry; Colleges; Difficulties; Disrespect; Diversity; Helping; Peers; Pride; Proud; Self-serving; Students; Studying; UK

Subjects: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:40:31 - Memory loss / sleepwalking

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Partial Transcript: So you feel that your experiences made you a better student?

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about his short term memory loss and sleepwalking and how they affect his life.

Keywords: Dreams; Forgetting; Lowered capacity; Short term memory; Sleepwalking; VA; Veterans Administration; Wives

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001- --Veterans.; Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:44:46 - Resources for veterans at UK / stress, nightmares, and triggers

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Partial Transcript: What do you think, um, the university has done to make your experience better than the guy that came four, f--you know four, five years before you that didn't have--

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about how the resources available for veterans at UK differ from a university he attended previously. He talks about how he deals with stress, nightmares, and triggers.

Keywords: Coping mechanisms; Helping others; Nightmares; Presence; Resources; Stress; Triggers; UK

Subjects: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:50:30 - Goals

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Partial Transcript: So, what now that you're in school. You're a biology major. What are your goals?

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about his goals for the future including graduation and attending medical school. He discusses what advice he would give a soldier who just returned from deployment. He speculates on what it was like for soldiers returning to the University of Kentucky from World War II.

Keywords: Advice; Coping mechanisms; Due diligence; Graduation; Guilt; Helping others; Hostile environments; Medical school; Public health; Stress; WWII veterans; World War 2 veterans; World War II veterans; World War Two veterans

Subjects: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:57:00 - Politics

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Partial Transcript: Um, well, tell me about, uh, your opinion of the surge in Ira--or surge in Afghanistan...

Segment Synopsis: Napier talks about his interest in politics and the war when he returned from deployment. He talks about how the war in Afghanistan changed over the years. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Afcandyland"; Barack Obama; Death; Landscape; Lives lost; Peaceful; Timetables; Triggers; Troop surge; Villages

Subjects: Afghan War, 2001-; Afghanistan.; Health care issues, costs, and access; Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Politics and government

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.533333, 69.133333