On September 11th we honorably and solemnly pause to remember those who perished on that day in 2001; the first responders; the brave men and women who stepped into combat; and those who never returned.
Two of our members who served in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) celebrate birthdays on this day: PVA Southwest Chapter member Derrick McMillon, and PVA Central Florida Chapter member Redzuan Razak.
On October 4, 2001, McMillon was an Army Ranger serving in Afghanistan when an IED explosion shattered his C5-C7 vertebrae. Still, he says “If I had to do it over, I would without a second thought.”
Razak enlisted in the Marines in January, 2002 when he was 19, wanting to serve, in part, because of the attacks. After two tours of duty as a Rifleman, he was getting ready to deploy again when he was involved in a car accident, resulting in a T11/T12 complete spinal-cord injury.
Florida Gulf Coast Chapter member Dan Formento also shares that dedication to duty. He served in the Army from 2005-2013 and went to Iraq twice. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and were it not for that, he’d still be on active duty. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he says.
McMillon, Razak and Formento are three of the over 1.9 million US military personnel who have been deployed as part of OEF and OIF. Together these conflicts make up the longest sustained US military operation since the Vietnam War, and they are the first extended conflicts to depend on an all-volunteer military that is smaller in number. This has placed unique strains on soldiers and their families, because deployments can be longer, older service members are called up for duty, and soldiers are frequently called up more than once.
It’s been eighteen years since that dark day, but the impact continues. PVA takes this opportunity to thank all of our veterans and members for their service and sacrifice. We will not forget.