Assistant Store Manager Stephanie DeSimone’s husband Neil is someone to whom we owe our deepest gratitude for his service and sacrifice to our country. Neil enlisted in the Marines at 18, just after high school, embarking on nearly a decade long military career. His military service would take him aboard USS Anchorage in Hawaii, as well as Camp Pendleton, CA and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, CA.
From June 2008 to March 2009 he was deployed to Al-Taqaddum, Sinjar, Fallujah and, Baghdad, some of the most dangerous areas in Iraq. Trained as an infantry weapons officer, commonly referred to as a Machine Gunner, Neil oversaw a team that was responsible for the tactical employment of all infantry weapons. Though he says some had it worse, his unit would often be directly in the line of fire, experiencing frequent insurgent attacks and witnessing a suicide bombing. Even with the constant danger and not knowing whether he would come home, Neil doesn’t regret the experience. If anything, he says it gave him a new appreciation for life and how fleeting it can be. “It opened my eyes to how much we have and not to take anything for granted,” he commented.
Since his return, Neil’s wrestled with some of the things he saw and experienced while in Iraq, but through his military support system and his family, he is doing well. He earned his Automotive Diesel Certification and currently works as a Lead Diesel Technician for a major Chicago employer. “Joining the Marine Corps was the best decision I ever made and I would do it all over again,” he said. Stephanie agrees. “I am so proud to be the wife of a veteran. I appreciate the sacrifices that our service men and women make to keep up safe,” she said.
November is Military Family Appreciation Month and we asked you to submit stories about your experience with the military. Thank you to all that shared their stories and for the brave contributions and sacrifices that were made during the time that was served!