Francis Jacob Trzaska III Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003 1st Division Veteran
Jake dreamed of being in the Marine Corps ever since he was a young child. At the age of 10, Jake attended a Marine Corps Ball with members of his family. Jake was inspired by all the men in uniform and especially enjoyed hearing stories told by the World War II
veterans. After graduating from high school, Jake’s dreams came true as he enlisted himself in the service. Being as though he was only seventeen at the time, he needed a signature from both his Mother and Father. Jake’s Dad signed the necessary paperwork; however, it took a little more convincing for his Mother to agree. Jake joined the United States Marine Corps in 1999 as a cook. In Jake’s civilian world he was a truck driver – when the Marines got word that Jake could drive a Semi he was shortly pulled from his duty as a cook to become the executive officer’s driver.
When President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq, Jake and his unit were the first to go to battle. On February 6th 2003, Jake boarded Air Hawaii out of California. They landed in Bangor Maine, Ireland and then a small Island outside of Turkey called Cyprus. Being a commercial flight, this was the last stop for all civilian workers/stuartist. The Marines were handed ammunition and were told to get locked and loaded that they will soon be arriving at their destination in Kuwait. Officer’s of Jake’s unit got them so hyped up they didn’t know exactly what to expect. As they landed they hit the ground running, off the tarmac and into tents, soon to find out they were landing in a time of peace. At first Jake questioned the reason for an entire military to invade a country just because they assumed there were nuclear weapons. He felt it shouldn’t take an entire Army just to gather intel. Jake soon learned that Navy Seals had infiltrated some of Saddam Hussein’s ships and recovered Biological/Chemical weapons that were being shipped out on container ships. One of Jake’s only fears while in Iraq was the fear of gas, he made sure his gas mask was by his side at all times.
As the Marines prepared to invade Iraq, all of their equipment had not arrived yet. They leased 500 tractor trailers from Saudi Arabia for the duration of war, but nobody knew how to drive them. Jake along with seven other Marines were tasked with teaching a two week crash course to 500 Marines on how to drive the foreign trucks. During this time, Jake noticed there were only three trucks in which the air conditioning worked, the one that stood out the most was a Yellow Volvo with an orange homemade trailer, this was the truck Jake used to drive into war.
When the United States started marking targets and bombing Iraq, Iraq counter attacked with Scud missiles. During this time, Jake was just getting settled in at his base in Kuwait. All that surrounded him was a twelve mile dirt bunker. Every hour there would be scud attack after scud attack, when the sirens went off Jake had to get into his mock gear, the mock gear consisted of a full chemical suit with gas mask. During the war there was a loud minority who would protest against spending money on patriot missiles. Patriot missiles were used to take scud’s out of the air. These people claimed that the patriot missile would not work. Jake’s commanding officer was hit by a piece of shrapnel from a scud that was taken out by a patriot missile. Jake can contest that the patriot missile was the reason he is alive to tell his story.
During a routine mission Jake was traveling in a convoy that was hauling ammunition. The ammo truck blew a tire and they couldn’t leave it behind. A three man crew was needed to setup a perimeter around the truck while the remaining Marines went ahead to pick up a
wrecker. The Marines drew straws to find out who the third man would be, it was Jake’s buddy Ibanez. Jake ordered Ibanez to go with the others and he would take his place since Ibanez’s girlfriend just had a baby. Ibanez fought this decision; however, Jake was a senior
to him so he had to follow orders. Jake stayed along with the driver and the “A” driver while the others marked them on the GPS and told them they would be back in three hours. To pass time the three Marines listened to a broken cd that would only play one track, Message In a Bottle. It wasn’t until 15 hours later that the wrecker arrived. Somehow they were lost on the GPS. Jake wishes he could remember the names of the two Marines he sat there with because he knows they would have the same story to tell.
As the war went on the Marines were starting to loose trucks, either they were breaking down or blowing up and the men weren’t able to get to the ships fast enough to run back supplies to the front lines. Jake was ordered to steal trucks from Army bases, since the Army’s budget was a lot higher, they had more equipment than the Marines. Jake needed another guy so he asked for his buddy Hector. Hector was a Marine that Jake served with throughout his entire military career. He was on guard duty working 8 hr shifts, 8 on 8 off at a base in Kuwait. Hector was relieved to not have to guard the base however he was shocked when he heard what the mission entailed.
Jake served a total of eight years in the Marine Corps. 1999-2005 active reserve 2005-2007 inactive reserve. One of Jake’s greatest achievements throughout his time serving our country was when he was awarded with the Presidential Unit Citation. The unit Jake served with, 6 Motor Transport, was part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1 MEF) they went further and faster than any Marine has ever went in history. In a normal situation, when Marines hit the beach they break a hole for the Army to take over. (1 MEF) broke a hole all the way to Baghdad.
It has been a privilege getting to know Jake’s story and I am very grateful for his service in keeping our country safe.
Posted on February 23, 2012, in Unitied States Veterans and tagged Francis Jacob Trzaska III, Marine, Opperation Iraqi Freedom 2003 1st Division, Project, Soldier, Veteran, War in Iraq. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.