Veteran Salute: Faith saved a soldier

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The film ‘Citizen Soldier’ is based on a deployment from his brigade.

Sgt. First Class Marty Byrne was a Platoon Leader, who continues to lean on his faith to heal.

Byrne was such a successful Army recruiter, he was never deployed.

He said he sent so many men and women overseas.

“Some of them were coming back injured, couple would be killed in action, or some would lose the battle within, here at home, so I hadn’t deployed, since I joined back in 1997,” Byrne said.

That all changed when Byrne decided it was his turn to go to war.

“War is not good,” Marty Byrne said.

Byrne said those he served with will always mean to most to him.

“We are a band of brothers,” Byrne said.

He said the man you see in an old photo from a military ball is different than the man you see a picture captured, following his fourth deployment.

“It was the one that beat me down, mind, body, and spirit,” Byrne said. “It was the most complex of the four deployments.”

He said he wanted desperately to deploy, so he moved to the Oklahoma National Guard to ensure he would, over and over again.

“I told those guys, that I went to Iraq with, if they were going to deploy I would go again,” Byrne said.

He said the soldiers knew their assignment to Afghanistan would be like no other, but they had no idea.

“We just didn’t know how hostile it was,” Byrne said.

He said as a Platoon Sergeant his job was to train them and bring them all home.

“The sense of responsibility when it is life or death, it’s a really hard thing to shake,” Bryne said.

He said he’ll never forget the request of one soldier, who asked if they could gather to pray.

“I said yea, huddle up, so we prayed, that was the first platoon I ever prayed in,” Bryne said.

He said they had to rely on all the weapons in the arsenal.

“We would get into these attacks sometimes, or these fire fights, you know these, I called them corn ninjas, they’d be moving around in the corn,” Bryne said.

He said he owes the choppers, that were covering from above, for saving his life.

“They popped up on the scene one time when I was in a pinch, and they took out some guys for me, that was 25 meters out,” Bryne said.

He said they couldn’t trust anyone in the desert not even women and children.

“Those people could walk us straight into an ambush,” Bryne said.

He said war comes at a high cost.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring them all home,” Byrne said.

He said after losing one of his own, his comrades wanted revenge, so he went into a hostile area as bait.

“This is when I took shrapnel to the left side of my face,” Byrne said.

His prescription sunglasses saved his sight, but he said the real fight to save himself hadn’t even started.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to come out of that darkness,” Byrne said.

He said many soldiers never actually leave the war zone.

“Some of us have one foot on this ground, and one foot on that ground,” Byrne said.

He sid all of his military medals, including a Purple Heart and Bronzes Star, belong in the old chapter of his life.

Byrne said at one time he borrowed a gun from a friend, and came up with what he called his exit strategy.

“I was in a really dark place,” Byrne said. “Somebody stole the gun the day I was going to shoot myself.”

He said he then heard from a stranger, a lawyer in town, who convinced him taking his own life was the not the way out.

He said his long term military service no longer defines him.

Byrne said although his fourth deployment is the one that truly broke him down, it was also the one that lifted him up.

“Realizing all the gifts from the struggles,” Byrne said.

He said at one time he was on a path of self destruction, but he traded the nearly 30 medications he was on, for the Bible.

“That’s my main medicine, and prayer,” Byrne said.

He said he went on a pilgrimage, to Israel with other wounded warriors.

“We are all suffering from the same thing, spiritual and moral wounds,” Byrne said.

That’s why the once successful Army recruiter is on a whole new mission.

“I needed to get suited up for Jesus and recruit for him,” Byrne said. “I needed to be in his Army.”

In order to deal with the trauma he faced, Byrne said he underwent extensive electronic stimulation, or brain therapy, for about eight months.

He’s also underwent many other experimental treatments, all in an effort to cope with all he endured, while serving this country.

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