My husband, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Breece, is a True American Hero.
In 2008, my husband and I thought it would be best that I separate from the Air Force because of two reasons. One being I was pregnant and two, my husband had orders to Germany for three years with the U.S. Army.
I told my husband that since I was no longer going to retire with the Air Force, that he had to retire and accomplish goals that he had set for himself years before. With this agreement we moved to Germany.
During the summer of 2009, SSG Breece received the Expert Infantry Badge (EIB). To be awarded the EIB, the soldier must complete a number of prerequisites and pass a battery of graded tests on basic infantry skills; usually the testing phase is the culmination of weeks of training.
The EIB test is administered on average once per year with pass rates usually near 10 percent. At this time, SSG Breece had many soldiers and higher-ranking soldiers that looked to him and/or looked up to him. Everybody in the company knew that he make it even in the cold and rain, as it was that day.
Right after receiving his EIB, SSG Breece had an opportunity to complete a dream of his and that was becoming a Sniper.
Prior to going to Sniper school, I remember my husband seeing signs around the post and always commenting on how he will one day be there. At age 32, SSG Breece went to Sniper school with other friends and soldiers that were almost 10 years younger than him.
The school trains soldiers in marksmanship, sniper equipment and tactics, collection of battlefield intelligence, stalking and other sniper-related skills.
The primary mission of the sniper is to deliver long range, precision fire. Their secondary mission is the collecting and reporting of battlefield information.
Soldiers are taught how to blend in with the surrounding environment by wearing a ghillie suit. They must go through a course where they come within 300 meters of spotters in a small tower and take a shot at a target without being noticed. In July of 2009 SSG Breece was one of the few that made it through and graduated.
June of 2010, it was time for deployment. Although it was very hard for all of us to see him leave for a year, we supported him 100%.
Two weeks before SSG Breece was due to come home from Afghanistan, on April 21, 2011, I received a phone call that changed our lives.
As I said “Hello” a lieutenant colonel was on the other line informing me that my husband was in the hospital due to an injury. SSG Breece then got on the phone to tell me that he had stepped on an IED pressure plate and had lost both legs.
At that moment, I broke out in tears and hoped that I was dreaming. While my husband was laying in the hospital in Afghanistan, his exact words to me were, “Baby, its okay. I’m still alive, it’s okay.”
I felt so selfish to be so worried and sad rather than being thankful that he was still alive and here he is in pain and trying to calm me down.
I have heard nothing but praise about SSG Breece when he was in the hospital that day. He hardly stopped to think about him and his pain; he was too worried about the soldier that was with him, worried about his kids, and worried about his family to think about anything else. An article was written by a reporter that just happened to be in the hospital that same day.
Since the injury in April 2011, SSG Breece has had the opportunity to try new things to help boost his morale. In August of last year, SSG Breece received his Scuba diving license and went scuba diving in Florida. In September, SSG Breece went to California and learned how to surf. Last December, SSG Breece and I enjoyed time away in Colorado where he learned how to Mono-Ski.
SSG Breece is walking again!
It has definitely taken a long bumpy road to get where we are today but without his motivation and strong will he is doing anything and everything that he was able to do before. With accomplishing so much, he has shown his kids (10 and 3) that anything can be done when you set your mind to it.
Our 10-year-old had a tough time adapting to the injury but now he sees that everything is okay and wants to be like his dad when he grows up.
Roxann Breece wrote this essay, which recently won the $25,000 Dickies American Hero of the Year award, in honor of her husband, who will medically retire from the Army Oct. 27. The couple lives in Cibolo, Tex., with sons Seth, 3, and Zachary, 10.