Barracks Stories

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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    Naval Special Warfare, 9/11, and becoming a Seabee - Jose Roman

    Jose Roman joined the active duty on September 11, 1991. He eventually transitioned to the Naval Reserve in 1995 working with Naval Special Warfare. After the 9/11 attack, he went back in active duty after 10 years to support the global war on terror.

    Things got a bit emotional when he shared that he lost his parents at such a young age. He was still in his junior year when his dad died. Soon after, his mother passed away before his senior year.

    Jose mentioned that he decided to join the military because he knew that he’s not going anywhere after high school. He didn’t take any SAT and admittedly said that he was a bad kid who did some bad stuff back in the day. Consequently, the bad stuff that he did led him to do some community hours at the Navy recruiting station.

    He also mentioned that there’s no one in the family who previously served in the military. However, the appeal of joining the military to him is really just driving tanks, blowing stuff up, and running stuff over…

    In this episode, Jose shared a couple of stories from when he was still in the boot camp, narrated how things went during his first deployment, and openly shared how his years of service went by.

    Listen in until the end to know how 9/11 affected him and how he knew that he was ready to go on active duty the moment it happened. Speaking of which, you will get to have a glimpse of how a true patriot spent his years serving the country.

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    Barracks Parties, West Point and Being an Orphan - Wesley Wilson

    Wesley Wilson served in the United States Army as a Military Police officer in South Korea and the United States Military Academy from 2012-2017. He is now a senior at Fordham studying organizational leadership and serves as the President of the Fordham Veterans Association.

    Military heritage runs through his family. His uncles were Vietnam veterans and his dad was a Desert Storm veteran as well. He admittedly shared that this played a role on why he decided to join the military.

    He shared a couple of stories of how hard life has been when he was sent to South Korea while sharing some fun stories in between issues like sexual assault being rampant during his stay there. Life hasn’t been easy for him in South Korea and he even got to the point where thought everybody hated him. Wesley was eventually deployed to West Point after spending a year in South Korea. He admittedly said that he’s surprised how different the culture is in West Point and how welcoming the platoon is.

    Things got a bit emotional when Wesley shared how his platoon accompanied him in Arlington so he could pay his dad a visit for the first time. This is when he realized what the army is really about. It’s about having a family with you in the absence of your actual family.

    Listen in until the end as he shared the story about the incident that led him to make up his mind into actually joining the military and why he fought so hard just so he could graduate college.

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    Scorpion Fights, Highway of Death, & Panama Invasion - Mark Otto

    Mark Otto is a two-time combat veteran. During his four years in the Marine Corps, he played a key role serving on a five-man intelligence gathering team under the second surveillance reconnaissance and intelligence group. He deployed to the Panama Invasion, Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and joint task force six.

    In this episode, he shared how he always wanted to join the military ever since he was a kid. Being the fifth in his family who not only served in the military but was also deployed in war. Mark shared numerous fun stories from when he was still in the boot camp where he realized that boot camp is the same for everyone and the only difference between them was the year they entered. He also mentioned that boot camp wasn’t a challenge for him physically. Moreover, he noted that the most important thing that he’s learned from boot camp is discipline.

    He also shared a couple of fun stories from the boot camp. One of which is when he poured a milk all over a guy’s food in chow hall which resulted to this guy chasing him for over a mile!

    Listen in until the end to get to know more about his experiences while he was deployed. From pet tarantulas, fighting scorpions, huge snakes, to almost getting killed by a lithium battery. Behind these fun stories, Mark also shared a heart wrenching one for when close friend died of a PTSD related suicide.

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    Headstrong Project, Bronze Star and Swimming in Poop - Dustin Shryock

    Dustin is from a military family, a family whose service in the military goes all the way back to the revolutionary. While his dad doesn’t really want him to join the military because there was a heated war going on back then, he always knew that he wanted to join the military even if he’s unsure as to why exactly.

    One conversation with a general definitely stuck to him when the general said that joining the military is going to be both the greatest and the hardest thing that he could ever do. In 2003, he dropped out of college to join the military and serve. He also shared how the events on 9/11 affected his family and the way he sees the world

    In this episode, Dustin also talked about his experiences in the bootcamp and shared what he believed gave him strength to continue. He also willingly narrated some funny stories that he had from his deployments. One of which is when a comrade ended up swimming in a pool of poop.

    Listen until the end if you want to know what life was like for him after the military and how he made the decision to go back to school and finish what he started instead of staying in the military. Dustin also mentioned how big of a help Headstrong was for him and how it kind of pull him out of the war path of self-destruction.

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    Friendly Fire, Strippers, and Accidental Discharge - Michael Carrasquillo

    Michael was born in New York by a poor teenage single mom. Growing up, he remembered bouncing around the neighborhood a lot from Manhattan, to Bronx, to Queens, but mostly Manhattan. Growing up in the said neighborhood, he admitted that he was a troubled kid, a very bad child to put it simply. He admitted to being a selfish little *hole, he was always very hyper and he is definitely the kind of kid to always start a trouble. A lot of people didn’t think he could even finish school.

    In his senior year in high school, he didn’t really know what to do with his life. He remembered his aspiration in life that time was to be a professional wrestler. It was in this year too when 9/11 happened and that became his tipping point that made him want to join the military. In his mind that time, joining the military wasn’t just about being the nation’s pride, it’s about getting something back from the people who struck his home. More than that, he admitted that his selfish reason in joining that military is so that he could travel and see the world. You’ll know in this episode that he actually made the most out of his free time to make this dream come to life.

    Michael also admitted that it was hard for him to feel the sense of belonging in his unit and he went into details as to why he felt that way. He also said that while the climb to the top was very hard for him, it was so worth it and the view is beautiful when you finally made it to the top. Once you finally have that bond and that brotherhood, you will never want to leave and lose it.

    Listen until then end if you want to know how a troubled kid made his way up into the military after being denied to join the Air Force, having to go through a lot of beating and smoking from superiors, and having a sense of leadership along the way.

    In this story you will also get to know all the things in between the combats and the missions. He even shared a funny story on how he burned his paycheck in just a week! You’ll also get to know how Michael faced his deployments and missions head on, how he didn’t have second thoughts in helping someone from his unit who got shot which in the end led him sustain major injuries that he took years to recover from.

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    Seal Team Six, Veterans and Fist Fighting to Leadership - Mike Dolce

    Mike Dolce is a navy vet who joined prior to 9/11. He was a Seabee who built things all over the world before ending up at Seal Team Six in support capacity.

    When asked what made him want to join the military, he stated that want is such a strong word and straight up said that he did not want to join the military, initially. Mike shared that he was a troubled teenager, he smoked a lot of pot and have disrespected his parents a lot. In an effort to straighten his ways up, his dad sat him down and told him that he’s not sending him to college. He could either work or go to the military; he chose the latter in a split second.

    In this episode, Mike shared his life experiences. The struggles he has faced and the troubles he’s been into while deployed. He also shared that he wasn’t accepted right away when he applied for the military and that he even got denied when he volunteered to the Special Forces Community. On a lighter note, he also shared some funny stories like the one time where he got pissed on while trying to board a plane going to Alaska.

    Mike admitted that it was hard to share stories because there’s a fine line between things that he can share and things that he can’t share. Despite this, he still tried to share everything that he could. Listen until the end if you want to find out if he’s ever got any regrets in joining the military and to know Mike’s unusual journey from being a troubled teenager and having issues with his weight to being a Seabee, then eventually making it to Seal Team Six. And now, a respected veteran.

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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 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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