“Let’s Roll” … a tribute to 9/11

“Let’s Roll” … a tribute to 9/11

By: Gary K. Pino, FMP Yesterday, I attended a monthly International Facility Management Association (IFMA) membership meeting that was like no other meeting that I have ever attended before.  In other words, it was in a class all by itself!  With the date being 9/11, it seemed so appropriate to have the speaker that we had.  It was a tremendous honor and privilege to sit in the audience and listen to (Retired) USMC Sgt. Klay South.  This stoic, mountain of a man and dynamic speaker talked about “Overcoming Obstacles” … and man, did he ever overcome obstacles in the true face of war. Sgt. South told us his story about how much 9/11/2001 affected him and influenced his decision to join the Marines … just so he could honor & defend our country, and “stick it to the terrorists” as they had just done to the USA. With his helmet inscribed with the famous phrase, “LET’S ROLL”, he and his platoon of ‘brothers’entered enemy lines.  After two unsuccessful attempts to kick down the door of an Iraqi house, the third time was a charm (or was it?!).  Much to Sgt. South’s dismay and surprise, the door swung open just way too easy on the next kick.  After entering the house in the pitch black of night, he was blinded by a bright strobe light of continuous flashes and the pungent odor of gunpowder.  Sgt. Klay South literally came face to face with an Iraqi AK47 that started at his face and just continued going up and down his body even as he hit the ground.  Knowing he was obliterated by an old fashioned Iraqi ambush and lying on the ground in shock, his adrenalin, basic instinct and sixth sense enabled him to reach for his M16 issued rifle so as to return fire and end this ambush once and for all … only to realize absolutely no rounds were leaving his bullet riddled chamber.  Since Sgt. South joined the Marines “to blow things up”, he always carried nine potent hand grenades in his backpack for back-up purposes.  Being able to muster up just enough strength to reach in his backpack, he pulled out a hand grenade and hurled it at the AK47 shooter.  While counting to himself, “one-one thousand, two-one thousand” and knowing that the grenade would detonate at the three-one thousand to six-one thousand mark, the grenade rolled back towards his outstretched ground lying body.  All he could do was turn his back to the grenade, sing the Marine death song and one-one thousand later it exploded sending shrapnel into his back side. After passing out and being “saved by a (Marine) angel, Sgt. South was hospitalized and subsequently endured 47 surgeries.  He spent a long recovery process to reconstruct his face and jaw.  Sgt. South has since healed to the point where he has founded VETERANS of VALOR; which assists combat wounded reintegrate into their local communities.  With the help of his mother, Janet, he launched Veterans of Valor on October 4, 2007.  Sgt. South is passionate about his mission of helping combat wounded who serve in the United States military. The moral of Klay’s Overcoming Obstacles story is simple … “When you think you have it bad, there is always somebody else out there who has it 10 times worse than you do.  If you and your neighbors brought your individual problems out to the middle of the street, you would be ecstatic to return to your house with your problems and go on about life ~ after hearing your neighbors problems … God bless the USA.”

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