Celebrating a Veteran

We recently met Patrick Graham during a tour of the Timbuk2 factory. He is a Marine Corps veteran who participated in two tours in Iraq. While we very rarely produce one-off Timbuk2 Messengers from fabrics that are sent to us, we made an exception for Patrick as he stood out as someone who more than deserved it. He requested we make a Custom Messenger from his United States Marine Corps fatigues and we were more than happy to do so. Patrick currently resides in Davis working for Outdoor Davis, a sports retailer that carries Timbuk2.Below is his story, one we can all be thankful for on this fourth of July.

“There seems to be no way to begin without it seeming very cliché, so I’ll embrace it. I was born and raised in Butler, Pennsylvania where I attended Butler High School until my graduation in 2001. A graduation I ultimately skipped so that I could leave for Marine Corps boot camp early. So I left that June on a plane for the first time. I went for a variety of reasons. Partly because of a strong family tradition in the Armed Services, to experience parts of the world other than the tri-state area and because my underwhelming academic endeavors didn’t leave me very many options.

Boot camp in a South Carolina swamp during the summer was hot, followed by a warm fall in North Carolina for Infantry School. So of course, after all that, I get assigned to Iceland for my first year. There are no great stories to tell because, well, the Icelandic Jihad isn’t exactly what one would call a legitimate threat to freedom. When my year in Keflavik was up, I was reassigned and sent to join up with the Marine Corps’ most decorated battalion, 2nd Battalion/5th Marine Regiment, already in Kuwait preparing for the invasion of Iraq.

I was assigned to Weapons Company as part of a two-man Javelin anti-armor team. After a few months or so of waiting, we invaded the deserts of Iraq nearly 10 hours before the war began (in woodland camouflage chemical suits no less). Much like Iceland there are no real glorious war stories to tell. I spent most of the invasion in the back of an armored vehicle trying to keep my butt from going numb from sitting so long. Although one sees some horrific things, mostly brought on by air strikes and tanks, for me, and many others, the invasion was more a battle of endurance. Enduring hunger, heat, filth and sickness. As nothing more than a kid, you learn to endure all these by leaning on those around you. You’re all in the same crappy situation, so you make the best out of it and build a bond like no other before or after. And that is what we did until we returned to California in August of 2003. All of that and, as an Infantryman invading a nation, having not fired even a dozen rounds.

After a year’s worth of training exercises, attending the Advanced Infantry Company, and being introduced to Jack in the Box and 5-lane highways, we went back to a much different Iraq. This time it was to Ramadi, the hostile capital of the Al-Anbar Province. Unlike the Iraqi army, the insurgents came to fight, and we obliged with constant patrol and raids. They replied with ambushes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It wasn’t an experience easily put into words, and perhaps shouldn’t be, so I won’t. As the saying goes: “It wasn’t hell, but you could see it from there”.


I did my four years, called it a day and went back home to PA. Ultimately I moved out to California for a girl. So 5 years later here I am, engaged to that girl, I have three adorable dogs, have met and work with many amazing people, and negated my underwhelming high school career by graduating from UC Davis in 2011 with degrees in Middle East/South Asia Studies and Political Science. To me, stories are often those things greatly exaggerated and told by attention-seekers at bars late at night. Experiences are those things that are recalled between us grunts, often drunk, amongst ourselves because the truth often makes people uncomfortable or they can’t grasp it. And I’ll keep it like that. The most important thing to a grunt is to remember those that didn’t return with us, not what we as individuals did, because what you did was your job. So I’d like to thank Jamie Martin and the Timbuk2 team for bringing this bag to life for me. They are truly an amazing team, but I’d like to ask them for one more favor by helping me remember those 10 Marines of WPNS 2/5 if they can. Thank you all for letting me ramble.”

Patrick Graham
SGT/USMC

Jason T Poindexter. 12 Sep 2004
Gergory C Howman. 16 Sep 2004
Timothy S Folmar. 24 Sep 2004
Andrew Halverson. 9 Oct 2004
Paul M Felsberg. 13 Oct 2004
Victor A Gonzales. 13 Oct 2004
Douglas E Bascom. 20 Oct 2004
Matthew D Lynch. 31 Oct 2004
Jeremiah A Baro. 4 Nov 2004
Jared P Hubbard. 4 Nov 2004
Sean Langley. 7 Nov 2004
Patrick M Rapicault. 15 Nov 2004
Marc T Ryan. 15 Nov 2004
Lance M Thompson. 15 Nov 2004
Richard C Clifton. 3 Feb 2005

Comments

  1. Jennifer Fawcett says:

    Semper fi!

  2. Shem says:

    Respect!
    Semper Fi!

    Not an American, nor a Marine, but inspired by what the Marines are and always will be. They are “Semper Fi”!

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