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Veteran Spotlight: Marine Cpl. John Brack

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
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Cpl. John Brack on duty in Afghanistan; below, with his wife. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — John Brack bravely served his country in the Marine Corps from 2009 to 2013. He did his basic training at Parris Island, S.C., and described it as "some parts were fun while others were extremely frustrating." 
 
He was then sent to Camp Johnson in Jacksonville, N.C., for further training, then was assigned to Camp Lejeune. Here Cpl. Brack's duty was that of a mechanic, working on Humvees and other military apparatus. He would be deployed in January 2010 and serve seven months in Afghanistan in the Helman Province of Sistani, the southeastern corner in a major war zone.
 
Brack remembered his first assignment in Afghanistan when his team was on outer patrol.
 
"Terrorists were not in uniforms so you really didn't know what to expect," he said. "That gave them the edge and we had to focus and be on guard all the time. .... I was scared and terrified I wouldn't be able to come back." 
 
He shared some good things regarding his deployment.
 
"Our training was great and the camaraderie outstanding. I was quite proud of our embedded training team teaching the Afghan army how to use our equipment," he said. "I became more appreciative of the United States and the freedoms we have in our country."
 
He also spoke with warmth about the birthday gift his girlfriend (later his wife) sent to him. "She made sure I received a care package every month I was deployed in Afghanistan," he said with
pride.
 
Brack had high praise for the Afghan soldiers he was teaching but conveyed there was one issue he wasn't prepared for. 
 
"When we were out on patrol, they had to stop, kneel down and pray. It happened at a certain time, every day and didn't matter where we were, they had to stop and pray," he said. "It made for a couple of pretty uncomfortable situations when you were on patrol." 
 
Was he ever afraid? "Absolutely, the whole time I was there."
 
When asked about entertainment for the troops, Brack responded with a very quick, "No." 
 
He shared his thoughts on the Afghan people. "Some were friendly, some were hesitant and some wanted nothing to do with us," he said "The Afghan interpreters were extremely important and fantastic ... extremely valuable." 
 
He also talked about Camp Dwyer, a Marine camp located within the Helmand River Valley, southwest of Garmsir in Helmand Province. 
 
"When we arrived at the camp, there was no running water, no hot showers — nothing," Brack said. "Once a month I was able to get online. When we returned to the camp after an assignment/mission, it was completely the opposite."
 
I asked Brack his thoughts on coming home from deployment. "I was ecstatic! To finally know the date I was coming home ... I missed my family terribly" he said. 
 
Cpl. Brack courageously shared what the transition of coming home from war to civilian life was and is. 
 
"I still don't like crowds, people next to me or loud noises," he said. 
 
His thoughts on his service? "For me, it was well worth it," he said. "Unless someone's gone through it, their opinion on what happens in war is a moot point. 
 
"I am extremely proud of my service ... I'm more patriotic now than I was when I served."
 
He currently resides in North Adams with his wife and two children. Cpl. John Brack, thank you for your service to our great country.
 

Veteran Spotlight is a column by Wayne Soares that runs twice a month. Soares is a motivational speaker and comedian who has frequently entertained the troops overseas with the USO. To recommend a veteran for Soares' column, write to waynesoares1@gmail.com

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