Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jesse Neack, December 14th, 2012

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

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction / childhood and family

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Partial Transcript: If you would give us your name, branch of service, when you served, and then, as an opening statement...

Segment Synopsis: Neack gives a brief introduction of himself. He talks about his childhood and his family members who were in the military.

Keywords: Childhood; Children; Cold Spring (Ky.); Friends; Northern Kentucky; Vietnam veterans

Subjects: United States. Army; Veterans; Wounds and injuries.

GPS: Cold Spring (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 39.02173, -84.43994
00:02:31 - Decision to join the army / being a part of the delayed entry program

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Partial Transcript: And it, it's really a crazy story how uh, I was working at Burger King the summer between...

Segment Synopsis: Neack recounts his decision to join the army and discusses being a part of the delayed entry program during his last year of high school.

Keywords: ASVAB; Accounting; Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery; Army recruiters; Burger King; Calculus; Contracts; Delayed Entry Program; Fathers; MEPS; Math classes; Military Entrance Processing Station; Mothers; PT; Parents; Physical training; Recruiters

Subjects: Columbus (Ohio).; United States. Army; United States. Marine Corps

00:06:57 - Basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia

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Partial Transcript: ...So then, you graduated high school in '98?

Segment Synopsis: Neack describes his basic training at Fort Benning, the expectations that he had before beginning it, and some of its more difficult aspects.

Keywords: AIT; Advanced Infantry Training; Airplanes; Alaska; Basic training; Deployments; Expectations; Food; Peacetime; Physical training; Road marches; Sleep

Subjects: Fort Benning (Ga.); United States. Army.

GPS: Fort Benning (Ga.)
Map Coordinates: 32.35237, -84.96882
00:11:57 - Advanced Individual Training / graduation

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so let's talk about moving into the advanced training at that point. So, what's the transition...

Segment Synopsis: Neack discusses his Advanced Individual Training, as well as his graduation afterwards. His Airborne school training began not long after the graduation ceremony.

Keywords: AIT; Advanced Individual Training; Airborne school; Family; Followers; Graduation; Leaders; Leadership; Ranger school; Road marches; Training

Subjects: Basic training (Military education); United States. Army

GPS: Fort Benning (Ga.)
Map Coordinates: 32.35237, -84.96882
00:16:28 - Airborne school

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Partial Transcript: So you're... let's talk about airborne school. What uh... what's airborne school?

Segment Synopsis: Neack describes his experiences in airborne school, including learning how to jump out of an airplane. He briefly talks about the several weeks of leave that he took after graduating from airborne school.

Keywords: Airborne school; Airplanes; Breaks; Family; Fear; Graduation; Jumps; Parachutes; Parachuting; Paratroopers; Simulations; Training

Subjects: United States. Army.

GPS: Fort Benning (Ga.)
Map Coordinates: 32.35237, -84.96882
00:20:53 - Being assigned to Fort Richardson, Alaska / routine at Fort Richardson

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Partial Transcript: So that's uh, that's, that's uh, a ways away.

Segment Synopsis: Neack tells how he found out that he was being assigned to Fort Richardson, Alaska. He describes his arrival and his daily routine there.

Keywords: Airborne school; Alaska; Clothing; Cold; Facial hair; Hawaii; PT; Physical training; Routines; Sunlight; Winter

Subjects: Fort Richardson (Alaska)

GPS: Fort Richardson (Alaska)
Map Coordinates: 61.25444, -149.68833
00:26:30 - Returning home after the first enlistment / reenlistment with the 101st Airborne Division

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Partial Transcript: How long were you there?

Segment Synopsis: Neack describes what it was like to return home after serving in Alaska for two years, also giving his reasons for reenlisting two years later. He describes his preparations for returning to military service.

Keywords: 101st Airborne Division; ABP; College; Fort Campbell (Ky.); Marriage; Military; Military service; Preparation; Structure

Subjects: Fort Richardson (Alaska); United States. Army

00:30:27 - September 11th, 2001

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Partial Transcript: So... you're in Georgia. It's warm, uh, and sunny...

Segment Synopsis: Neack recounts how he learned about the September 11th terrorist attacks, and describes the general reaction at the fort where he was at that time.

Keywords: 101st Airborne Division (??); Georgia; Lockdowns; Netherlands; Patrols; Range control; Thai rangers

Subjects: Fort Campbell (Ky. and Tenn.); September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.

GPS: Fort Campbell (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.66345, -87.47739
00:34:02 - Preparation when expecting to be deployed / pre-ranger school

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Partial Transcript: So, what's going through peoples' minds at that point...

Segment Synopsis: Neack talks about the preparation that his unit made for deployment after the events of September 11th, how he was disappointed to be deployed later than he thought he would be, and his going to pre-ranger school. He briefly talks about training at Fort Polk.

Keywords: 3rd Brigade; Deployment; Marriage; Pre-ranger school; Training

Subjects: United States. Army

00:39:55 - Ranger school

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Partial Transcript: About a couple weeks later, um, a slot came open, uh, for Ranger School and I got picked for it...

Segment Synopsis: Neack shares his experiences in Ranger school.

Keywords: Combat operations; Graduation; Land navigation; Leaders; Mountain phase; Patrols; Ranger school; Rangers; Swamp phase

Subjects: Florida; Fort Benning (Ga.); United States. Army

GPS: Fort Benning (Ga.)
Map Coordinates: 32.35237, -84.96882
00:43:13 - Learning about deployment to Iraq / traveling to Kuwait

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Partial Transcript: So, you're now a ranger.

Segment Synopsis: Neack tells how he learned that his unit would be deployed to Iraq. He talks about saying goodbye to his family and traveling to Camp Pendleton, Kuwait.

Keywords: Army rangers; Baggage detail; Camp Pendleton (Kuwait); Death; Deployment; Families; Grandfathers; Leave; Mail

Subjects: Fort Campbell (Ky. and Tenn.); Kuwait.; United States. Army

GPS: Fort Campbell (Ky. and Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 36.66345, -87.47739
00:47:29 - Acclimating to Kuwait / a terrorist attack on Camp Pendleton, Kuwait

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Partial Transcript: Was it difficult, you know, looking back and thinking you've described being in Alaska...

Segment Synopsis: Neack shares how he and the other soldiers acclimated to the weather in Kuwait before they went to Iraq. He also tells a story about a terrorist attack on the camp he was staying at, which one of the engineers there was responsible for.

Keywords: Camp Pendleton (Kuwait); Climate; Clothing; Combat; Drills; Engineers; Grenades; Heat; Hydration; Sandbags; Scud missiles; Terrorist attacks; Training; Water

Subjects: Kuwait.

00:53:01 - The convoy into Iraq / fighting insurgents in Najaf

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Partial Transcript: And so it d--, it delayed our, uh, our convoy a couple days. I think we ended up staying...

Segment Synopsis: Neack describes what it was like to convoy into Iraq, and the delays that kept his unit from doing so earlier. He also talks about his mission in Najaf, and how the American military approached fighting insurgents there.

Keywords: Border crossings; Borders; Convoys; Delays; Insurgents; Sandstorms; Weather

Subjects: Iraq.; Najaf (Iraq); Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Najaf (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 32.00048, 44.33084
00:58:00 - Problems because of the rules of engagement / Iraqi civilians and recognizing insurgents

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Partial Transcript: How do you, you know, you hear a lot when, you know from the civilian world, uh, and, you know, phrases like "rules of engagement"...

Segment Synopsis: Neack describes how he felt that the rules of engagement often created difficulties for the American forces because they made them be reactive, rather than proactive. He talks about Iraqi civilians and how difficult it often was to be able to pick out insurgents.

Keywords: Children; Civilians; Combat; Defense; Electricity; Enemies; First Gulf War; Insurgents; Iraqis; Rules of engagement; Soccer; Terrorists; Water

Subjects: Insurgency.; Najaf (Iraq); Persian Gulf War, 1991; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

01:03:08 - Route reconnaissance

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Partial Transcript: Um, we've just sort of transitioned back into, to, to er, transitioned into talking about your combat experiences...

Segment Synopsis: Neack discusses his route reconnaissance missions and the logistics involved.

Keywords: Ambushes; Combat; Hide sites; Insurgents; Reconnaissance; Rice paddies; Route reconnaissance; Scouting; Scouts; Sniper teams; Snipers; Soldiers; Stealth; Walking

Subjects: Counterinsurgency--Iraq.; Insurgency.

01:07:20 - Hide sites and three person teams / being a sniper

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Partial Transcript: ...So you were in a hide site. Tell me what a hide site is...

Segment Synopsis: Neack shares his experiences in digging hide sites and discusses the role of each person in the three-person team that typically went on such missions. He talks about what it is like to be a sniper, and how it differs from movies.

Keywords: Foxholes; Hide sites; Hiding; M24 Sniper Rifle; M4; M429; Media; Missions; Movies; Sleep; Snipers; Spotters; Stealth; Teams; Waiting

01:11:04 - Combat experiences

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Partial Transcript: So... you indicated that, that in the scout sniper you know, reconnaissance that you were doing that, that...

Segment Synopsis: Neack talks about his combat experiences in general, especially in Najaf. He discusses the fear that he and other soldiers felt in combat and how it motivated them.

Keywords: Combat; Death; Fear; Motivation; Shooting; Soldiers; Training; Weapons

Subjects: Insurgency.; Najaf (Iraq)

GPS: Najaf (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 32.00048, 44.33084
01:14:59 - An accidental shooting in Hillah / brief engagements in Mosul / the Barrett M82 sniper rifle

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Partial Transcript: So, what are some of the more memorable sort of engagements? You know, you have that initial one...

Segment Synopsis: Neack recounts some of the potentially dangerous situations he was in in Iraq, including an accidental shooting that injured several soldiers, and some of the brief engagements he had in Mosul. He also describes the capabilities of the Barrett M82 sniper rifle.

Keywords: Accidental shootings; Ammunition; Barrett M82; Bunkers; Combat; Gates; Military installations; Sniper rifles; Warehouses; Warning shots; Weapons

Subjects: Hillah (Iraq); Mosul (Iraq)

GPS: Mosul (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 36.34000, 43.13000
01:21:20 - Lack of casualties in Neack's unit / injuries resulting from a mission in Mosul

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Partial Transcript: You talked about the incident, the accidental incident...

Segment Synopsis: Neack states that there were no casualties in his unit, something that is very unusual. He discusses a mission he was sent on in Mosul and how he fell 45 feet from the helicopter he was in during that mission, sustaining multiple injuries.

Keywords: "Browned out"; Abandoned airfields; Air pockets; Airfields; Casualties; Caves; Deserts; Falls; Helicopters; Medevac; Missions; Parachuting; Patrols; Searches; Thunderstorms; Unconsciousness

Subjects: Mosul (Iraq); Wounds and Injuries.

GPS: Mosul (Iraq)
Map Coordinates: 36.34000, 43.13000
01:29:31 - Spending time in the hospital / returning home

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Partial Transcript: So what are your first memories after the ten minutes before you...

Segment Synopsis: Neack discusses the aftermath of his injuries from falling from a helicopter. He discusses the different hospitals he went to, the surgeries he had, and his return to the United States at that time.

Keywords: Airplanes; Family; Germany; Hospitals; Memories; Pain; Physical therapy; Shaving; Surgeries; Urethra; Walking; Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, Md.); Wheelchairs

Subjects: Wounds and Injuries.

GPS: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, Md.)
Map Coordinates: 39.0009, -77.08917
01:35:05 - Leaving the military / starting college and working

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Partial Transcript: And at that point, I mean you're, you're walking?

Segment Synopsis: Neack discusses his reasons for leaving the military. He talks about attending college, the job that he had during college, and his employment history since then.

Keywords: Accounting; College; Employment ads; Friends; Gap, Inc.; Job experience; Leave; Western Southern Life Insurance Company

Subjects: Wounds and injuries.

01:39:30 - Transition to being a college student

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Partial Transcript: Go back though, because at some point you tr--, you, you decided to... go to college.

Segment Synopsis: Neack shares what it is like to be a college student after having served in the military. He talks about NKU Vets, a student organization he helped to found.

Keywords: Civilians; Classes; College; Maria Reverman; Mentors; NKU Vets; Nontraditional students; Student veterans; Transitions; Veterans' services

Subjects: Northern Kentucky University.; Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS: Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 39.03149, -84.46408
01:41:57 - Interactions with professors / support network for veterans

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Partial Transcript: That's really, you know, I mean I think... earlier you talked about, you know, the trans-- the difference in the transformation....

Segment Synopsis: Neack describes his interactions with professors when he was a student, and describes some of the support that is available for veterans.

Keywords: Leaders; Leadership; NKU Vets; Professors; Soldiers; Students; Transitions; Veterans; Wounded Warrior Project

Subjects: Disabled veterans.; Northern Kentucky University.; Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.; Wounds and injuries.

GPS: Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 39.03149, -84.46408
01:46:17 - Thoughts on the end of the Iraq War

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Partial Transcript: I think uh, you know, as we sort of approach the end, I kind of wanna talk a little bit about...

Segment Synopsis: Neack shares his views on the end of the Iraq War, and what it means to him as a veteran of that war. He briefly shares of his overall thoughts on serving in the military. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Death; NKU Vets; Officers; Pride; Soldiers; Thankfulness; Veterans

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Iraq.; Wounds and injuries.