Sgt. Manuel Sanchez was deployed overseas a total of four times; twice in Afghanistan, twice in Iraq.
He decided he wanted to join the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003. He joined as a Combat Engineer and was later promoted to Sergeant.
"My job as an engineer going out, you'd have to sweep for mines, sweep for IEDs," Sanchez said. "So you're pretty much on the front lines clearing a path for everyone else."
Sanchez and his men used explosives on a daily basis, and there were many close calls.
"Once you get blown up, you would have to stop - you can't just leave your vehicle there. You have to recover it and either tow it, load it up, haul it," Sanchez explained. "Every once in a while you'd get small arms fire, but you couldn't tell where it's coming from because it's so far away."
The constant casualties led Sanchez and his men to try and make light of the situation. He says it helped them to keep their sanity.
"It got to the point where we just started joking," Sanchez said , "asking who was going to get blown up today."
Sanchez had to secure his own life, in addition to the 13 other men on his squad.
"I had junior Marines that I had to look after to make sure they made it home," he said.
Sanchez finished his four-year duty in 2006. In 2008, Sanchez was already employed at a local oil field.
He received a letter in the mail that asked for his assistance to deploy to Afghanistan. Although it was difficult to leave his wife, Sanchez said he missed the comradery of the military and was happy to support his fellow soldiers.
Conditions were more dramatic his fourth time around, "In 2004, it wasn't as nearly as bad as it was in 2008," Sanchez said.
He says he's thankful that he made it home safely.
"Every branch of the military is coming back with amputees. I thank God I came back the way I did," Sanchez said.
Manuel's brother was not as lucky. His body began to swell after a fire fight overseas.
He was medivaced back home about seven months ago and is still in recovery. He currently lives with Sanchez and his wife. Sanchez has been a huge supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project since his brother came home injured.
Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.