Interview with Jonathan Patrick Herst, January 29, 2010

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

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction / enlisting in the army

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Partial Transcript: So basically we just, uh, first start off with, uh, your name, uh, your age, uh, what you're studying at the university.

Segment Synopsis: Jonathan Herst is introduced and gives some background information about himself. He talks about why he decided to enlist in the military and why he chose the army specifically.

Keywords: Colleges; Enlisting; Family; Graduate students; Graduation; Green berets; Marines; Masters degrees; Medical discharges; Selfish; Serving

Subjects: United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Rockville (Md.)
Map Coordinates: 39.083611, -77.148333
00:03:46 - Life from childhood to enlisting

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Partial Transcript: Um, so tell me about your childhood prior to college and then your college experience and then up to enlisting.

Segment Synopsis: Herst describes his life from childhood up to his enlistment in the army including his interest in playing sports.

Keywords: Athletes; Brothers; Childhood; Dislocated shoulders; Division one schools; Division three schools; Fathers; Leadership; Mothers; Parents; Sports

Subjects: Families.

GPS: Rockville (Md.)
Map Coordinates: 39.083611, -77.148333
00:06:48 - Basic training

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Partial Transcript: So, when you enlisted and you said a month later, uh, the 9/11 attacks happened. What was going through your head as the plane hit the building?

Segment Synopsis: Herst discusses how 9/11/2001 changed his outlook on being in the military. He talks about his experiences at boot camp and OSUT.

Keywords: 9/11/2001; AIT; Advanced Individual Training; Airplanes; Basic training; Boot camp; Camaraderie; Fear; Hand to hand combat; OSUT; One Station Unit Training; Pugil sticks; Respect; Weapons

Subjects: September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Fort Benning (Ga.)
Map Coordinates: 32.366111, -84.969167
00:09:33 - Airborne School

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Partial Transcript: So after the basic was over what'd you go do?

Segment Synopsis: Herst discusses his experiences at Airborne School, including his first jump out of a plane. He describes his occupation in the army.

Keywords: Airborne infantryman; Airplanes; Fathers; Graduation; Jumps; Occupations; Parachutes

Subjects: United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Fort Benning (Ga.)
Map Coordinates: 32.366111, -84.969167
00:13:08 - Being stationed in Italy

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Partial Transcript: Well, after Airborne School where were you off to? Where were you stationed?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about being stationed in Vicenza, Italy, including nights out and the training he did there. He talks about the various deployments he was sent on to places like Iraq, Kosovo, and Germany while stationed in Italy.

Keywords: Americans; Classes; Fights; Formations; Friends; Kosovo; Mount Berico (Italy); Obstacle courses; PT; Parties; Physical training; Training

Subjects: Germany.; Iraq.; Italy.; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Vicenza (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 45.55, 11.55
00:16:17 - Deployment to Iraq

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Partial Transcript: So when you all first, uh, got deployed and you found out that you were getting deployed, how did you find out?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about learning he was being deployed to Iraq. He talks about what he did while waiting to board the plane.

Keywords: Ammunition; Brigade formations; Deployment; Fear; Food; Language; Letters; MREs; Machine gun teams; Meals Ready to Eat; Mood; Rucksacks; Waiting

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011.; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Vicenza (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 45.55, 11.55
00:20:38 - Jumping into Iraq

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Partial Transcript: So, what happened from there?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about his experience parachuting into Iraq, including the mood while on the plane and the difficulties he encountered when he jumped out.

Keywords: Airplanes; Ammunition; Boeing C-17 Globemaster III; C-17s; Explosions; F-16s; General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons; Jumps; Landings; Light sequences; Parachutes; Rendezvous points; Waiting; Weapons

Subjects: Germany.; Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Italy; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.333333, 44.433333
00:28:09 - Missions in Iraq

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Partial Transcript: So when you guys rallied, where were you off to?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about his main mission when he first entered Iraq. He talks about an incident that changed his attitude.

Keywords: Angry; Behavior; Fights; Gun teams; Insurgents; Kirkuk Airfield (Iraq); Missions; Motivation; Nervous; RPGs; Rain; Rocket Propelled Grenades; Traffic control points; Vehicles

Subjects: Baghdad (Iraq); Iraq War, 2003-2011.; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Kirkuk (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 35.466667, 44.316667
00:32:57 - Rules of engagement

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Partial Transcript: So what's your most, uh, what was your most memorable, uh, mission or situation over, on your first deployment?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about a memorable mission during which he lost people in his unit. He discusses his opinion on rules of engagement. He describes the first time he was shot at.

Keywords: Adrenaline; Aggressive; Ambushes; Control; Death; Fights; Insurgents; Missions; Mood; Purpose; ROE; Returning fire; Revenge; Shooting; Taking fire; Training

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011.; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.333333, 44.433333
00:38:26 - His unit's success

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Partial Transcript: Was your unit successful?

Segment Synopsis: Herst discusses whether he felt his unit was successful. He talks about what success meant for him. He talks about not looking to the future and focusing on the current mission.

Keywords: "Big picture"; Deadly missions; Death; Democracy; Family; Future; Gold bars; Letters; Plans; Safety; Sheiks; Successful

Subjects: Families.; Iraq War, 2003-2011.; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.333333, 44.433333
00:42:44 - Being a college graduate in the army

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, you said you were enlisted. What made you decide, you had a college degree--

Segment Synopsis: Herst discusses why he did not apply to be an officer when he enlisted. He talks about how being a college graduate affected him in the army.

Keywords: Age; College graduates; Enlisted; Independence; Leadership; Officers; Private Fourth Class; Specialists; Units

Subjects: College students; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

00:46:36 - Finishing his tour in Iraq

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back to, um, you finishing up your tour--

Segment Synopsis: Herst discusses coming back to Italy after his tour in Iraq. He talks about how he kept in contact with his parents while he was deployed. He discusses coming back to the United States and how he had changed since his deployment.

Keywords: 172nd Airborne Brigade; 4th of July; Beer; Celebrations; Changes; Deployment; Family; Fireworks; Fourth of July; Friends; Home; Humvee washing duty; Independence Day; Instincts; Letters; Phone calls; R&R; Rest and Recreation; Showers; Squads; Tours; USO; United Service Organizations Inc.

Subjects: Families.; Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Italy; Kuwait.; United States. Army. Airborne Brigade, 173rd

GPS: Italy
Map Coordinates: 41.9, 12.483333
00:54:09 - Second deployment

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Partial Transcript: So from there you got stationed back in Italy.

Segment Synopsis: Herst discusses his second deployment including his new missions. He talks about how his second deployment differed from the first.

Keywords: Bases; Changes; Connexes; Fort Carson (Co.); Fort Lewis (Wa.); Ground invasions; Instructors; Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM); Leadership roles; Marine Corps; Missions; Striker units; Teaching; Training; Transitions

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Italy

GPS: Fallujah (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 33.35, 43.783333
01:00:30 - Fallujah invasion

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the first mission you were on.

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about being part of the invasion of Fallujah and how the people involved did not like to discuss it afterwards. He talks about close calls and being under fire and how he handled the stress.

Keywords: Camp Delta; Close calls; Concertina wires; Consoling; Death; Firefights; Invasions; KIA; Killed In Action; Laughing; Marines; Missions; Radios; Traffic control points; WIA; Wounded In Action

Subjects: Fallujah, Battle of, Fallujah, Iraq, 2004; Iraq War, 2003-2011.

GPS: Fallujah (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 33.35, 43.783333
01:04:24 - Getting hit by an IED

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Partial Transcript: Well, take me through, uh, your incident, uh, with the IED.

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about the mission in which he was injured by an IED. He talks about his injury and the medical care he received.

Keywords: Amputations; Bladders; Colons; Crying; Explosions; ICU; IEDs; Injuries; Intensive Care Units; Legs; Medical discharge; Missions; OR; Operating Rooms; Parents; Surgeries; Tourniquets; Volunteers; WRAMC; Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Wounded

Subjects: Germany.; Improvised explosive devices; Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Medical care

GPS: Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.333333, 44.433333
01:11:13 - Transition after amputation

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Partial Transcript: What went through your mind when you woke up that morning? When you saw your leg bandaged up?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about how he felt after his amputation and the support system that gave him a more positive attitude than other amputees. He talks about how he met his girlfriend who later became his wife.

Keywords: Abilities; Attitude; Fear; First dates; Fort Lewis (Wa.); Girlfriends; Prosthetics; Rehabilitation; Stereotypes; Support; WRAMC; Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Wounded Warrior Program

Subjects: Amputees; Medical care

GPS: Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Washington, D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.975, -77.03
01:15:07 - Support for veterans

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Partial Transcript: So talk to me about the, um, the rehabilitation, and the help that you got, and what, what made you choose to get into the VA and help other veterans via social work...

Segment Synopsis: Herst discusses how he became involved with social work and the Peer Amputee Counselling program. He talks about the difference between being a veteran of the Vietnam War and being a veteran today.

Keywords: Differences; Healthcare; Milkshakes; Peer Amputee Counsellors; Rehabilitation; Social work; Social workers; Society; VA; Veterans Administration; Vietnam veterans; WRAMC

Subjects: Amputees; Medical care; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Veterans.

GPS: Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Washington, D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.975, -77.03
01:21:23 - Being an amputee

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Partial Transcript: Now that you have one working leg, what's different?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about how his life is different after his amputation. He talks about how he feels when he is in public and people notice his prosthetic leg.

Keywords: Anger; Confidence; Differences; Home; Injuries; Jogging; Judgment; Legs; Parents; Prosthetics; Reactions; Respect; Sacrifices; Self-esteem; Service; Sports; Staring; Voids; Wars; Wives

Subjects: Amputees; Disabled veterans; Iraq War, 2003-2011--Veterans.

01:29:26 - Career after accident

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Partial Transcript: When looking back on your service, what stands out? What do you remember most about your service?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about the camaraderie in the military. He discusses whether he wanted to stay in the military after his accident and why he decided to return to school.

Keywords: Camaraderie; Careers; Contact; Friendship; Infantrymen; Jobs; Medical retirement; Mental health; Reenlisting; Schools; Social work; Social workers; UK; VA; Veterans Administration

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011--Veterans.; University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:34:08 - Being a student veteran

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Partial Transcript: Why be an advisor, er, uh, uh, uh, a counsellor, or a, uh, advocate?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about why he decided to become a counsellor. He discusses whether being a veteran affects him in the classroom. He talks about the support offered by veterans organizations.

Keywords: ACA; Amputee Coalition of America; Anxiety; Assistance; Challenges; Classrooms; Counselling; Counselors; Empathy; Future; Hyper vigilant; Life experience; Peer Amputee Counselors; Perspective; Students; Support; Transitions; UK; UKMVA; Understanding; Veterans organizations; Wounded

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011--Veterans.; University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
01:40:00 - Goals for the future

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, share with me, um, your goals. Your immediate and long-term goals in life.

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about his goals for the future including obtaining his masters degree and continuing to work with veterans. He discusses how he will explain his amputation to his future children and whether he would accept them joining the military.

Keywords: Children; Combat veterans; LCSW; Licensed Clinical Social Workers; Masters degrees; Mental health issues; Normal; Pride; Respect; Service; Support; VA; Veterans Administration

Subjects: Amputees; Veterans; Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

01:43:04 - PTSD

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Partial Transcript: At this point in your life do you deal with any stress?

Segment Synopsis: Herst talks about what triggers his flashbacks and how he copes with them. He discusses having PTSD. He talks about how his daily life is different now that he is not in the military. He talks about how he feels about the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Adrenaline; Coping; Flashbacks; Home; Leadership; Memories; Nightmares; Normal; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Stresses; Traumatic brain injury; Triggers; Troops; Wars

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011--Veterans.