Combat Veterans Share Stories of Returning Home on 'To War and Back'

By Connecting Vets

By Jacquie Cadorette

Combat veterans Kirstie Ennis, Scott Huesing, and Boone Cutler are sharing their traumatic war experiences that shape these vets in the first episode of RADIO.COM’s “To War and Back” podcast.

The episode begins by telling the story of Ennis, a helicopter door gunner in the Marines. When asked how she came to be in the coveted position, she revealed, "I wanted something that's so foreign to me, something that's going to challenge me." She continued, "I fought tooth and nail to wear those shiny gold wings on my chest."

The veterans recounted their stories to journalist and Navy veteran Phil Briggs.

The podcast is a RADIO.COM Original, created in partnership with Connecting Vets.

But her moments of glory came to an end in a traumatic accident. In June 2012, the helicopter she was in crashed to the ground. “In the moment right before the helicopter crashed, people ask me all the time, ‘What did you do? Did you pray? What was going through your brain?’” she revealed.

“But it was weird. I almost went right back into, ‘I’m a door gunner, I’m in Marine mode,’ and I counted down just as I normally would if the helicopter were landing safely. So, five, four, three, to, one, and then we hit the ground.”

Ennis didn’t realize how hurt she was until sergeants began to cry. “I didn’t think I was going to lose my leg, or that my arms were both ripped from their sockets, or my back was broken.”

Ear ringing sounds punctuate the story and leads into the dark, pulsating sounds beneath the voice of Army veteran Boone Cutler. He describes in detail a memory of an insurgent he spotted while on patrol in Sadr City, Iraq. “He was the lookout of the trigger man and that island we had to go around was laden with IEDs … they were waiting for us to turn, to come in front of that island so they could set it off and kill us.”

Briggs then turned to Marine Corps veteran Scott Huesing’s description of a day in the life of his time in Ramadi, Iraq. “The rules of engagement were so permissive that if they were driving a car, shoot ‘em. If they have cell phone in their hand, shoot ‘em. If they have a shovel, and they’re digging a hole or thinking about digging a hole, shoot ‘em,” he says. “It was that intense.”

“We were just slinging lead and rockets, tanks, tracers lighting up the sky everywhere you went. Explosions – you just didn’t know where they were coming from and the boys were going at it and just crushing anyone that came within arm’s reach,” explained Huesing.

The episode’s end begs the question – what will happen next for these three vets?

“To War and Back” can be found on the RADIO.COM app and everywhere you get podcasts.

Follow Phil Briggs @philbriggsVet