Throughout our history, countless brave men and women have answered the call of duty to serve our country and perpetuate its interests, both in foreign lands and on our own soil. While we do not have the stories of all of them, we had the opportunity to hear the story of one of these men. The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to interview Staff Sergeant (SSG) John Tyler Guy who joined the U.S. Army on October 26, 2007. Guy shared his reasons for joining, why he remains, and why he wants to make his service to our country a career long commitment. His story and experience helps shed some light on the invaluable price of the liberties we hold dear in our country.
Why did you join the Army?
I’ve always been really fascinated with the Army and both of my grandpas were in WWII. I was a freshman in high school when the Twin Towers were hit and from that point on I’ve had anger about what happened. During college, I was undisciplined. I spent most of my time partying and not going to class, but I kept seeing stuff about the war and how dudes my age were fighting for this country and I thought it was about time I did my duty. I love my country very much and sure, it’s not perfect, but this is my home and I’m going to protect it.
How many tours have you been a part of and what positions did you hold during those deployments?
First Deployment: Kirkuk and Mosul, Iraq
- Dates: August 2008 – August 2009
- Position and Unit: Rifleman with Bco 1-67 2nd BCT 4th ID
Second Deployment: Kunar and Nangarhar Provinces of Afghanistan
- Dates: April 2010 to April 2011
- Position and Unit: RTO with BUKA PLT Aco 1-327 1BCT 101st ABN DIV
Third Deployment: Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan
- Dates: November 2012 to July 2013
- Position and Unit: Team Leader with BUKA PLT Aco 1-327 1BCT 101st ABN DIV
Fourth Deployment: Jalalabad and Bagram Afghanistan
- Dates: August 2014 to April 2015
- Position and Unit: Squad Leader with Fco Pathfinders 2-82 CAB AVN 82nd ABN DIV
Fifth Deployment: Djibouti, Africa
- Dates: September 2016 to February 2017
- Position and Unit: Section Leader with Fco Pathfinders 2-82 CAB AVN 82nd ABN DIV
How would you describe your emotions/feelings prior, during, and after each deployment?
I’ll start off by saying that I’m always more excited than nervous, but everyone gets nervous right before they leave. Not too many other emotions are going on before I leave besides saying goodbye to loved ones, which always sucks. I know it’s supposed to be bad luck but I don’t really care, I’ve had the same “Death Letter” written for my mom, dad, and sister since my first deployment to Iraq. It probably needs an update, especially with my fiancée involved too. The only thing I’m kind of superstitious about is I’ve worn the same IR flag from my first deployment on all my other deployments. It’s all beat up and torn and I’ve had to glue it back together a few times.
My feeling on deployment varies day to day, and it depends on where I’m at and what I’m doing. I hate being bored on deployment; it makes time go by so slow if you’re not out doing work. Sure, down time is nice but too much down time leads to stupid things being brought up and stupid things being done. Towards the end of the deployment I can’t wait to be home and I start planning all the stuff that I am going to do when I get home. To me, one of the greatest feelings in life has been every time I have touched down in the States after a deployment.
Through all of the tours and units in which you’ve been a part of, have you seen a shift in the reason why you originally joined to why you continue to serve?
I guess the reason why I have stayed in the Army has kind of changed. Since joining, I have decided to make this a career-long commitment when it is time to sign my next reenlistment. When I first joined all I wanted to do was deploy; I didn’t really think about it in a sense of a career. Honestly, that was mostly because I didn’t think I’d live to make it a career. I’ve done five deployments and I’d gladly go on five more because I love being deployed, but being deployed doesn’t get you promoted. You need to take college courses and get as much education through Army schools as possible to get promoted. The biggest reason why I stay in is for the brotherhood and the comradery with the guys. You can’t really get that anywhere else at any other job except for first responders.
Do you have any stories you feel comfortable sharing? Maybe the most memorable tour? Or the one that taught you the most about yourself, and being in the army?
My second deployment with BUKA plt Aco 1-327 1BCT 101st ABN DIV was the worst and best time of my life. I probably learned the most about myself during that deployment. It completely changed my life and the way I view life and death for that matter. I learned how to push myself further than I thought I could go. It was physically demanding because jumping all those mountains was miserable and fighting in the mountains was miserable too. I learned quickly that your life can change and be taken from you in an instant. On November 14, 2010 my platoon (BUKA) was pulling a traveling overwatch for first platoon about four hundred meters below us in the Watapur Valley, Afghanistan in the Kunar Province. They were clearing huts and houses while we pulled security for then from above. We got in a stagnant position a little too long at one place and it was good because we had already gotten in numerous firefights with the enemy since the morning and we’d finally gotten a chance to rest a little bit.
This was also the third day of the Operation Bulldog Bite. It was about three o’clock in the afternoon when 50-60 Taliban hit us with perfect L-Shaped ambush from the Northeast and the East. I’m not going to get into all the details of my experience of the fight, but we had eight casualties in the first couple of minutes of the ambush and ended up losing four really good men that day: SPC Jesse Snow, SPC Scott Nagorski, SPC Nathan Lillard, and SPC Shane Ahmed. Luckily we were able to get the Apaches flexed to our position to suppress the enemy. Then the Pararescuemen were able to come in and get the wounded. Yeah, my second deployment was my most memorable, we spilled a lot of blood together which, in turn, made us grow really close.
What does it mean to you to serve in the United States Army?
After ten years in I am still very proud of what I do and what I have done. I love being in the Infantry and I love deploying. When I first joined back in ‘07 I just wanted to deploy all the time and make a difference in the war. Now that I’ve been in for a while and I’m making this a career. I focus more on molding soldiers into future leaders and my own career progression such as Army schools and college courses.
A few interview questions will never do justice to SSG Guy’s story and to the commitment and dedication that he offers this country on a daily basis. When he saw that America had been attacked he made it his ambition and goal to be one of our guardians of freedom. SSG Guy truly lives by the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. He has made it a life-long goal to serve and it is the brave men and women, like SSG John Tyler Guy, who are the backbone of our country. Without their dedication we would not have the luxury to carry out our day-to-day lives and the freedoms that come with it. We at the Purple Heart Foundation will forever be grateful for SSG John Guy and all of the men and women who have served, continue to serve and will serve in the future. We are committed to honoring ALL of our heroes, and it is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits that they deserve.