Veterans honored at Levy Fair

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By Jim Clark

For a man in his early 20s, Cpl. Sean Henry has already seen a lot of action as a U.S. Marine. Now he's going around the country telling people about it as part of the military's "Why We Serve" program.

Henry was the speaker at the Veterans Day ceremony held at the Levy County Fair in Williston on Monday.

As a small crowd under the performance tent, and the Bronson High School Band, listened, he described some of the events he has gone through in two tours in Iraq.

Henry was in high school on Sept. 11, 2001, in the borough of Queens in New York City. He had just transferred to a school about 30 minutes away from Ground Zero from a school just five minutes away from the World Trade Center.

"September 11 really hit home," he told the Levy County crowd, bolstered by some veterans who had come out on this special day. "It's the main reason why I serve, why I put on this uniform."

He was asked why he chose to be a Marine, and couldn't really give an answer except, "You really know when you want to be a Marine."

He described a time during one deployment when he was in a remote retransmission post. "It was kind of out there in the boondocks," he commented. A sandstorm came up and he said it would be a good time to be attacked. "Just as I finished saying that, I felt something go past my ear."

Sure enough, the group was under attack, and had to sprint to get to their mortar sites. "It was the fastest I ran in my life," he said.

In another deployment, he went to an area where reconnaissance had told the Marines that it was heavily populated. "When I got there, I couldn't see anyone. It was deserted. I thought it was just bad recon."

But that wasn't the problem. "When we went into a house, we found about 15 people there. People were told not to go out. The kids couldn't go to school." He said that if someone got sick, the mothers had to fend for themselves. They couldn't go for help. It was too dangerous.

After six months, when the troops were ready to leave, "We looked back and could see kids playing soccer. There were vehicles in the streets. There were women walking in the streets.

"The kids were waving good-bye to us. It brought a tear to my eye."

Answering a question about his proudest moment, he also spoke of deployment in another town, where he saw a girl named Amna, who had been hit "by a big blast, and she was crying."

He said they put her on Medivac to get care, "my mom sent a teddy bear," and we came back to see her and she was "doing awesome."

He added, "Without us patrolling every day I don't think she would have made it."

He was also asked about what he liked best about care packages, and he laughed and said, "stuffed Oreos," but added that things like Doritos and dips were welcome.

Henry was asked if had seen any of the entertainers who were coming to Iraq to cheer up the troops. "We lived among the people. I wasn't able to hang out with the rock stars."

A young person in the audience asked whether there were cars such as Porsches over there. He laughed and said, "Just old Datsuns, pickup trucks and mules. They walk everywhere."

What will the future hold? "That's a big decision I'll have to make in about four months, indicating that's when his tour is over. "I might need a new lifestyle."

He paid special tribute to the veterans in the audience. "When I first came in (to the Marines) you vets were my motivation. Thank you to all the vets from the bottom of my heart."