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The WAR ROOM

A Word About the WAR ROOM

The War Room was a random idea that came to me as I was updating the lighting in our new basement with interrogation style pendent lights, ones you would see in a tucked away low-profile room that you rarely get out of. After that, I just realized I have so many military items I have accumulated during my career in the Marine Corps but also the relics that my family left behind. Several uncles of mine serving in Vietnam, my Dad in the Air Force and Grandpa in the Navy and older Brother in the Army.

As I would visit my Mom’s house I would find some of my older uniforms, old photos and legendary relics that told stories, that’s where the idea of the War Room came to light. To display and remember all that my family went through in the military, pay tribute, and then lastly (once we get some furniture in there) a place salty vets can hang out and tell lofty stories of war and glory.

The Sign

I thought it only fitting to create a sign to once and for all memorialize the War Room. The sign was made from a piece of wood purchased from Home Depot and then severely (purposely) damaged with nails, kabar slashes, rust paint, hammer strikes, etc. a final coat of rust paint was added and then the words WAR ROOM spray painted in Marine Corps Olive Drab along with a few 7.62 rounds glued. The chain was the final touch, an old chandelier chain found in the basement was spray painted rust and attached to the sign.

A uniform hanger was the next edition, in keeping with the war torn style decor of the room I decided to use old pieces of pipes to construct a hanger for uniforms. The hanger was fastened between two studs.

The Wall of Heroes

The photos created by my Dad displaying photos of all family members in the military. Some of the photos I don’t even remember who they are or if I even met them, but nevertheless its a great tribute to the Wojtecki family in the military. I know maybe one day I can hear more stories of their time in foreign lands and their adventures.

The Bomb

An old ash tray that my grandpa constructed from an old bomb is now in The War Room. I was honored to smoke a cigar and ash in it, in the company of some fine Combat Veterans, TIm Gurgol (USMC Ret. Wpns Co. 3/25) and Aaron Zehr (Lima Co. 3/25). I believe those were Comochos, not a bad cigar, even better stories and company. Cpl. Gurgol arrived late and we had him thinking we bought him cigarillos, when Zehr handed him the Comocho the smoking lamp was officially lit.

INSPECTION!!

Rest assured that continuous inspections are being called in The War Room, particularly uniform inspections. I have no idea how I accumulated all these uniforms, I think the Marine Corps kept giving them to me so I just kept accepting them. You never know when you could use a pair of salty lance corporal woodlands to sit around and bitch up a storm in. And, if I ever get hungry down there, I still have a Chicken Cavatelli MRE from 10 years ago I can eat, of course throw away the Charms and don’t eat the peanut butter, it’ll back you up for months!

When taking inventory of my boots I have one pair of those big winter black boots, a pair of black Vietnam jungle boots with the green canvas on the sides, 1 pair of summer Vietnam style boots, then the new boots came out, desert style, made by Gortex so they were decent. I still think new Marine Corps recruits would have nothing to do at boot camp, that’s all I remember doing is ironing uniforms and polishing boots. Guess you’ll have to get out to the drill field nasty!

The Future of The WAR ROOM

You are probably asking yourself, what’s in store for The War Room going forward? What are future plans for this glorious basement man-cave that eternally commemorates true heroes? Well I’m glad you asked. I have already begun kind of filling in the missing pieces that I didn’t’ quite have, my Uncle had an old Vietnam Helmet liner so recently I got the helmet to add to that from a local antique shop, The Bomb Shelter in Akron, OH. I was thinking of tracking down a very old pack of lucky strikes or Marlboros from the 70’s to really get the effect of the helmet from that era.

Of course, I am planning on some more shelving, the only thing I have in there now is a small two shelf unit which is just not going to cut it. I’d like to have some sharp looking eliminated glass shelving units and also a coin holder, since I have unit coins lying around everywhere. And for the Coup De Grace, I would purchase or try to construct a table made solely out of military parts, preferably plane parts. For chairs, either ones ripped out of a B-52 or something equivalent. I’ve checked prices at places like Restoration Hardware, they are insane. One of our ideas was to look around aviation scrap yards to find what we need, and e-bay has some decent stuff now and then, things others just want to get out of their basements and I want to add to The WAR ROOM.

10 Years Later…

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Then…

In 2003, America began its first initial push into Iraq. I remember I was still in college at the time, taking courses at Kent State University for business. Shortly before September 11, 2001, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. Since I was still 17, my parents had to sign an underage waver giving me permission. I remember getting ready for boot camp at the recruiting center in Ravenna, Ohio. I was lucky enough to have a little more than a year to get ready and prior to June 2001 I left right after high school ended and while others were walking across the graduation deck, I was in Paris Island South Carolina getting screamed at by muscular drill instructors who taught me how to survive in combat, breaking me down and then building me back up the Marine Corps. way. The things that stuck out for me at recruit training were the swim qual and of course the Crucible. A lot of people ask me if boot camp was physically demanding, I would say yes but not as much as it is mentally demanding. Imagine 3 drill instructors waking you up at 3am and telling you to carry all of your shit and your bunks and remake them outside in the sand pit, or being told to throw the contents of your footlocker into the middle of the room and mix them up with everyone else and then go find all of your shit before the DI counts to zero. The crucible was three days of no sleep and obstacles along with a 25 mile hike with full gear. I graduated from boot camp and was assigned to 3rd Btn. 25th Marines as an 0341 (Mortarman).

When 9/11 happened, it was just a matter of time before our unit got its orders to be deployed to Iraq. I was trying to finish up college and got until my last semester when we got the call. Prior to that, I was waiting on the edge of my seat for almost 4 long years until they called me, it was very nerve-wracking to say the least. Some days I wished they would just freaking call me up already. So in January 2005, 3/25 was activated and order to go to Iraq. We spent 3 months at 29 Palms in California and then left in March 2005. After my tour in Iraq, in 2006 I wrote and published a journal style memoir about my time in Iraq called Every Other Four and recorded the events that 3/25 Marines experienced day-to-day.

Some Americans wonder whether going to Iraq was worth it and if we are safer since prior to going to Iraq. In my opinion, I think we are safer from a strategic standpoint in that Iraq harbored terrorists including al-Qaeda and mainly the Mujahideen (Arabic: مجاهد‎ muǧāhid, nominative plural مجاهدون muǧāhidūn, oblique plural مجاهدين muǧāhidīn “strugglers” or “people doing jihad”) network joined by mostly disgruntled Bath party members and other radical Muslims. A recent poll was conducted and found that 58% of Americans think that America is now safer having gone into Iraq in 2003 10 years later. Personally, I feel that our units efforts had made a significant difference to our lives and to life in the Middle East. Most significantly, 3/25:

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Map of Iraq

•3/25 secured Syrian Border

• Confirmed Enemy Kills: 125

• Detained and Captured: 39+

• Seized numerous weapons caches containing, IEDs, machine guns, rockets, mortars and various other explosive devices

•Trained Iraqi Army to secure democracy in the region

•Promoted peace and stability in civilian areas

46 Marines and 2 Navy were killed

Now…

It’s been about eight years since our unit got back from Iraq. I have been hearing stories about vets having trouble adjusting to life after their tours like Marine Corps Corporal Jason King (10 Years Later – Marine Corps Corporal Jason King) and Marine Seargent Litz. Cpl. King came back from Iraq, lost his job, house, wife, kid, and basically everything he had before the war. I also had some trouble adjusting and I am currently attending bi-weekly support group meetings called Warriors Journey Home and a Wednesday group at the VA in Akron, Ohio. Some of the problems I had were not being able to stop thinking of what happened while we were there and still even eight years later there are still little things that I notice, like being on guard, black and white thinking, being too passive and blindly following orders. Still, things are better than when I first returned in 2005, I remember driving without my headlines, snapping at people for no reason, irritability, trying to sleep more than 4 hours at a time, feeling numb and isolated. Not that I don’t feel some of this now, but I can say things are getting better just because I have learned how to cope with them. I am grateful to all who still remember our sacrifices in Iraq, to my family and wife Angela Wojtecki and for my Vet brothers for helping me through.

If you are feeling some of these things and are having some trouble adjusting you are not alone. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is common among many combat vets. In fact, one in five Veterans that came back from Iraq have it.  It’s been on my back for several years now, just keep moving forward and remember to take things one day at a time, do rely too much on self (there are people who want to help you), and talk about things with people you care about, they will understand.

-Cpl. Wojo

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