The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

September 6, 2013

BUJALSKI: Marine Corps experience is one-of-a-kind

--
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — There are many things I remember vividly about my time in the Marine Corps. Some are funny, some are sad and some are down right scary. Some things my father reminds me of because I had forgotten but he holds tightly in his mind. There are things that I try and forget but every now and then they creep back into my thoughts. I thought I might share some of them with you. Hopefully to give you a better perspective of what it’s like to experience some of these things.

Al Taqqadum, Iraq 2004. I was assigned as my Company Commander’s driver in a fully armored Chevy Suburban. We had gone out to inspect some blown up Iraqi Air Force jets to potentially use as training aides when the base began receiving indirect fire. Indirect fire in this case meant 122 millimeter rockets fired from a fixed ground position. We couldn’t see the impacts but could hear them. As we keyed up on the radio to get a situation report the rockets began raining down on our position. Everyone ran for cover. I found myself under a fire fighting truck called a P-19. P-19s leak water like crazy and I found myself face down in the mud. In the middle of all the chaos reigning around me I looked to the person next to me and it was my Company Commander. We looked at each other with our faces covered in mud and laughed. What was a P-19 going to protect us from? We would have been better off in the armored Suburban! Not 30 feet away was an old Iraqi air bunker. We couldn’t help but laugh at the predicament we put ourselves in.

At the end of that deployment to Iraq, I found myself playing golf on Camp Pendleton with a good friend. I don’t remember what hole it was or how badly I was playing. But I do remember the scenery. There were mountains slightly to our right about two or three miles away, warm and sunny. As we were heading down the fairway in our cart I heard three distinct explosions. Boom. Boom. Boom. I yell “Incoming!” and roll right out of a moving golf cart. Now I’m face down in the fairway with my hands covering my head and eating beautiful California grass. My friend came driving back up to me asking me what the heck did I do that for. Instinct. After being rocketed or mortared four days a week for seven months I knew what incoming sounded like. Turns out, artillery was doing an exercise that day and those beautiful mountains were the target. We laughed so hard I don’t remember finishing that round of golf.

In 2007 while serving at the recruiting station in Batavia, I had the distinct honor of being in the color guard for Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Jason Dunham’s memorial dedication in Buffalo. It sticks out in my mind because so many people showed up to honor a man most will only know through history. This man selflessly gave his life to save another, and as long as there are men like him this Country will never fall.

My time here in Afghanistan is drawing to a close, and this will be my last column from here. I want to thank the Medina Journal-Register for allowing me this opportunity. I’d like to thank Mr. Balaban for keeping me on task and for providing guidance. I’d like to also thank all of you that have asked me questions or commented on this column. If you catch me in the streets feel free to ask me questions, I am always happy to answer.

See you soon America!

Sgt. Joshua Bujalski is a 2002 Roy-Hart graduate. He has been periodically corresponding with the Journal-Register during his current tour of duty in Afghanistan. He can be reached at jjbujalski@yahoo.com.