Barracks Stories
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Candid conversations with veterans about their funny and memorable stories from the military. Welcome to Barracks Stories, hosted by US Navy Veteran Alan Murphy (@MrAlanMurphy). We've all heard military veterans share their story in some bar or at a gathering with friends and family. On this monthly podcast you will find candid conversations with military veterans about their funny, memorable and hilarious moments from the barracks, training and deployment. More information and content from the podcast can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@BarracksStories).

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    Peep Holes, Brain Injury, and Breaking the Sound Barrier - Amanda Burrill

    Amanda, daughter of a vet and an immigrant, joined the military “mostly” because her father told her he wasn’t paying for college. She shares a funny story about pissing him off before heading to college, not necessarily disclosing she’d rescinded her Academy appointment in lieu of NROTC. In college, as a midshipman, she had way more fun than anyone in the actual fleet ever will, especially playing “Goose” in the backseat of F-14 Tomcats for a summer cruise.

    She was commissioned in May of 2002 aboard the USS Constitution in Boston by her aunt and, after schools in Newport, RI, moved to San Diego to officially join the fleet. She shares a few stories from being a Combat Systems and Ammo Officer, going to rescue swimmer school and being a SAR Officer. Amanda was also mistakenly detailed to a position way above her paygrade at EOD GROUP ONE, as the communications department head, but it all worked out in the end.

    Often the only lady on board during her ship days, there were some hurdles and struggles to overcome, some of them as silly as wearing double sports bras to deemphasize her chest. But nothing was as frustrating as insisting there was a problem and and not being heard, so things got a bit personal when she talked about brain injury changing the trajectory of her life, medical side effects of which she still deals with on a daily basis.

    Listen until the end if you want to know how she began to overcome her struggles after being left for dead – by the VA hospital - and how she successfully fought the battle of being misdiagnosed for years: It will make you think twice before giving up.

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    Pearl Harbor, Atomic Bomb Testing and Hurricane Hunting - Fred Lynch (WW2 Veteran)

    In this week’s episode, we have Fred Lynch – 95 year old U.S. Navy veteran. He served for seven years as a radioman and was present during some historic moments in our history – Pearl Harbor bombings, testing atomic bombs, and hurricane hunting.

    Fred Lynch enlisted in Feb 1941 and went to Bootcamp in September at Newport, Rhode Island by train. He thrived in the 6-week Boot Camp and went to Aviation Radio School in Jacksonville, Florida. His experience there was the same as his Boot Camp where everything was routine.

    He shared his experience in Jacksonville when Pearl Harbor bombings occurred. It’s interesting because despite the bombings, everything stayed the same in Jacksonville except they started standing fire watches. He also shared his experience being stationed in Bermuda for a year. He couldn’t do much because during liberty, he needed to be back in base at 8:00 PM. However, there was one moment where HIS sea plane ran out of gas 15 miles off Bermuda and was towed back to the base.

    The most memorable moment for Fred was his hurricane hunting missions where he would fly to the eye of a hurricane to gather necessary data and was also involved with testing atomic bombs.

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    Barracks Stories Podcast Trailer

    Hey, I’m Alan Murphy and I’m a former US Navy Aircrewman and rescue swimmer that served from 2005-2010. I started this podcast because I wanted to hear stories that nobody gets to hear. My transition was and still is a challenge every single day. I thought about ending my life (and occasionally still do) but what has helped is listening and talking to other veterans about their experiences in the military.

    Here is just a sample of some of those stories.

    Veterans all have funny and memorable stories that need to be shared and my hope is that you will join me in this journey of self discovery, story telling and conversations with veterans about their time serving this country.

    Oh and you might ask, why its called Barracks Stories....in the military a barracks story is usually a drunken or ridiculous story from very dumb enlisted military members.

    So be sure to subscribe on whatever podcast platform you listen to and join me in these Barracks Stories.

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    Valium, Monkeys and Benghazi Attack - Kirsten Battocchio

    Kristen Battocchio is a Marine Corps veteran who served 1 and a half years in Japan before transferring to embassy duty in Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Barbados. She graduated high school in 2008, but chose to go to college for a year in Manhatanville. She did great but came to a point where she could no longer afford to continue and was bored. She decided to look into state colleges and eventually decided to go to University of Connecticut. She already arranged everything down to the down payment but ended up not moving forward which was a last-minute decision.

    That’s when she started looking into the military and reviewing all the branches. She jokingly said that she liked the Marine Corps because they were playing hard-to-get with her and that a couple of recruiters who she talked to had discouraged her into joining. This made her even more eager to join and she ended up joining which was best decision she’s ever made.

    In this episode she went into details on why she joined the military and her experiences in boot camp. She also talked about the difficulties and frustrations she had being a female in the Marine Corps. However, in between these frustrations, she also belonged to a unit that made her feel secure and welcomed. There’s been a lot of fun memories in between her active duties and she generously narrated those stories in the episode.

    Moving on with the civilian life, she’s realized how the Marine Corps is a business and how some people looked at Marines who choose to get out as a waste of investment.

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    Guantanamo Bay, Recruiting and Pork MREs - John Andre

    In this week’s episode of our 2-part series, we have John Andre. John recently retired from the military after 23 years of service of which 10 years are of active duty and 13 years reserved status.

    John was born and raised in Cuba and they migrated to the United States. He’s the first one in the family to join the military and was inspired by a Marine stationed in the American consulate in the Swiss embassy when his parents were processing their papers. He said to himself “When I make it to America, I want to be that guy”. At 17, he wanted to join the Navy but later chose to join the Army instead. He signed his contract on March 1995 and started his Bootcamp in Infantry school at Fort Benning in Georgia. He went to be National Guard after taking his AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and after 9 months, he volunteered for active duty cross-training with the 1st Cav at Fort Hood, Texas for 1 year.

    Before 9/11, he was working as a consultant in project management and was currently in the process of going through transition to be on active duty when the attack on World Trade Center happened. He was mobilized to be a part of the cleanup after the attack for 6 months. He received a second warning orders in 2003 and was expecting do be deployed in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Instead, he was deployed to Guantanamo Bay – the place where high level terrorists are detained. He went to a plethora of moves and trainings after his deployment and Guantanamo Bay and eventually settled as a Recruitment Officer.

    He shared a lot of experiences starting from his training in Infantry school and how the Drill Sergeants welcomed them in “Candy land”. He also shared the craziest things they did during his AIT where 3rd and 4th platoon transformed the barracks into a casino-type environment when their Drill Sergeants were away – or so they thought.

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    Meth, Welcome Home Cake and Modeling Jeans - Damien Bertolo

    Our guest for this week is Damien B., a Senior Consulting Analyst at Accenture, a Marine veteran, and a friend of mine. Damien was a commissioned and enlisted officer in the US Marine Corps from April 2003 to November 2012. He is currently a volunteer at The FourBlock Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that equips veterans to advance their careers. FourBlocks semester-long, university-accredited career readiness program provides professional development, career exploration, and networking in various locations nationwide.

    Damien had a colorful early life before and during his time in the military. In high school, he ended up living with his then girlfriend’s family. His girlfriend’s father was a Vietnam era Marine veteran who showed him his guns, and taught him how to shoot and drink cheap bourbon. His girlfriend's family didn't want Damien to join the Marine Corps because of their experiences, but Damien ran out and joined the Corps.

    After bootcamp, Damien went to various trainings: MCT (Marine Combat Training) for non-infantry – a 3 week training school, and Communications school which was a total of 16-weeks of training.

    In this episode, Damien shares his experience at Camp Pendleton where his Corporal was responsible for bringing large amounts of meth into camp. He also discusses his first deployment in Iraq, the process of coming home from deployment and the challenges of reintegrating back to civilian life, life in Camp Pendleton, his brief stint with modeling, going back to school via MECEP, and how the FourBlock Foundation helped him land a job after the military.

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    Dysentery and the Red Light District in Germany - James Fitzgerald

    Our guest for this week is James Fitzgerald, a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant veteran. James has an interesting back story. He joined the military at the age of 19 to gain connection in the world and said that the quickest way to gain connection to the world is thru service.

    He started his 16-week bootcamp at Fort Ben from basic training to AIT. During his AIT days, it was a relentless barrage of trainings and drills. It even came to a point where he even dream about those drills at night. After the bootcamp, he wants to get away as far as possible from Tennessee and luckily his first duty station was in Fort Louis in Washington State. He was eventually transferred to Germany for 3 years with a 15 month tour to Iraq and Afghanistan afterwards in 2010. He medically retired in 2014 due to sustained injuries.

    We talked about his memorable experiences during his 16-week bootcamp, his time at Washington State where he got culturally shocked, his eventual transfer to Germany and crazy drunk stories while he was there and got in “trouble” with the German police. He shared how he appreciates the German soldiers, why Germans love Americans and if he’s still friend with the soldiers he worked with.

    James also shared his experience when transferred to Fort Campbell in Kentucky and how it changed his life, the story of his deployment in Afghanistan and why it's way different from Iraq, his back injury and how it happened, and many more.

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    Dedicated to the 2004 West Point Class - Frank Aburto

    Our guest for this week is my friend Frank Aburto - a Senior Manager focusing on Financial Planning and Analysis for Audible, the world's largest provider of audio-books.

    Frank grew up with a family who served in the military. He joined in 2000 when he went to West Point and took East Asian Studies & Mandarin Chinese. He chose to go the officer route instead of ROTC or enlisting during high school because he wanted to have something else in case he wanted to get out of the military.

    After graduating in 2004, he was commissioned as an armor and cavalry officer and spent a year in South Korea as his first duty station. He eventually moved to 2nd Stryker Brigade in Hawaii and completed a 15-month deployment in Camp Taji, Northern Baghdad.

    We talked about his journey of applying to West Point and memorable moments during his 4-year stay there. He also shared his experience at Fort Knox when taking up Officer Basic Course, how was he able to choose South Korea and Hawaii as his first and second duty stations, and how his 15-month deployment in Camp Taji changed him personally along with the lessons he learned.

    He also shared some untold stories from his deployment, what made him decide to get out of the military, his fallen comrades from his class, and the struggles of keeping in touch with other members of his West Point class as a civilian.

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    Sexual Misconduct and Spiderman - Tom Smoot

    Tom Smoot – Chief Executive Officer of Lift and Shift Foundation, a foundation dedicated to providing veterans with science and technology activities deployed as an alternative therapy setting, geared towards building confidence and developing problem solving skills.

    Tom served in the military for 12 years as a staff sergeant mostly in civil affairs, and briefly as a chemical reconnaissance soldier. He’s been deployed in various countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.

    He moved away from his family to have personal space in Ocean City Maryland at an early age of 17, worked a few jobs, and realized that he wanted to be someone better, hence joining the military.

    We talk a lot about memorable moments from his first drill sergeants, life during and after various deployments, his struggles from having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during reintegration, and his Lift and Shift Foundation – it’s inception and it’s mission of redirecting wounded veterans to a new purpose.

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    How to Part a Protesting Crowd in Bahrain - Raphael Harry

    On this episode of Barracks Stories, I talk to a Navy veteran buddy of mine. He immigrated from Nigeria in late 2007 at the age of 25, unsure about what to do for work or school once he was in the States. At the encouragement of his cousin who was in the Navy, he started looking into joining the Army because he didn’t know how to swim. His mother objected to this idea strongly, not wanting to send her youngest son off to the Middle East, so he decided to follow his cousin’s lead and join the Navy, where his mother assumed he would always be safe on a ship.

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