Marine staff sergeant Mark Graunke recalls being embraced by Pearl Harbor veteran Houston James in Dallas
There’s an unwritten rule in the Marines that if you get caught in the media, you have to buy everyone a case of beer. So when this photograph went viral, my first thought was: “Uh-oh, I owe a lot of people a lot of drinks.”
As a staff sergeant, I was part of the initial effort in Iraq, entering from Kuwait in March 2003. My first job was to keep routes open, making sure there were no explosive hazards near the roads. Then I worked in explosive ordnance disposal, the military version of the bomb squad. Our job was to prevent things blowing up, or explode them in a controlled environment. I handled everything from bombs to grenades and mines.