9/11: An American Tragedy

A wounded warrior reflects

CREATED Sep. 9, 2011

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  • Jay Olstad reports Video by tmj4.com

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MILWAUKEE - Jeremy Stengel had no idea where his future was heading ten years ago. He was going along in life much like any other teenager, when his course took a turn he never expected.

"I was in my 3rd period world history class. I was a sophomore at Waterford Union High School. And that's when I saw the towers fall," said Stengel.

It was September 11th, 2001. And what he did next, even surprised his own family.

"I physically had to get out of my chair and call the recruiter and tell him, I want to join. It was that powerful," he said.

It was a defining moment at 16-years old. And a few years later, a day after his high school graduation, he went off to boot camp in the Marine Corps.

His first tour was in Afghanistan, his second in Iraq. That's where this story takes another, more violent turn.

"I was pretty much knocked unconscious," he said.

While patrolling the area for roadside bombs, one exploded right next to him.

"The I-E-D had blown me 35 yards away from the Humvee. And blown off all my protective gear," he said.

When Stengel woke up in the hospital, his first thoughts were for his fellow Marines. That's when his parents told him two of his good friends were killed.

"And that just hit me really hard," he said with his lip quivering.

But his friends were not the only thing he lost, the explosion took one of his legs.

"The first year was extremely challenging," he said.

He had to learn how to walk all over again, this time with a prosthetic leg.

It's still a painful challenge he faces now as a college student. He started this week at Marquette University, a wounded warrior who ten years ago, changed his course after terrorists changed America's.

"I don't have any regrets. I'd do it all over again if I'd had too," he said.