Friday, July 18, 2008

Bronze Star Medalist Talks About Support

SSgt. Stephen M. Gouak, USMC earned a Bronze Star Medal in Iraq serving as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team Leader. In July 2007, Gouak responded to intense firefight to assist a fellow team member, and led his team in the recovery of more than 110 IED's and various suicide belts still on the bodies of several insurgents. He recently talked about his experience during an ASY Live interview.

“We get call after call and you just have to go out there and do your job,” he said. “Another Army patrol had been out the night before and stumbled upon a bunch of insurgents wearing suicide vests. We loaded about 400 pounds of explosives," he said.

Talking about his experience over there in the field, Gouak mentioned how much he appreciated the support he received from back home. “There’s some people that will throw a yellow ribbon on a car and say that they support the troops, but there are some people out there that actually take the time and talk to us and send packages…we really appreciate it, it means a lot," explained SSgt. Gouak.

When asked what the greatest challenge was for him that was met by a support group - Gouak explained that some of his fellow IED techs were killed while he was over there. He explained what a challenging time this was for him, and how the gift of communication - talking to his parents and family was the best thing for him. He remembers the support groups who stood at the airport and gave out cell phones and calling cards so that he could keep in touch with home.

The rest of SSgt. Gouak's interview can be listened to at