For those not familiar with Gunny (ret.) Nick Popaditch or to get a refresher, here are the links to my posts about The Cigar Marine (that's pronounced Cee-gar):
Retired Marine Gus sends this news about Gunny Popaditch's award with one comment "About GD Time!". Amen, Gus, Amen.
Former Terre Haute resident receives silver star
Retired Marine honored as guest speaker at annual birthday ball
By Peter Ciancone/Tribune-Star
For Nick Popaditch, it's about team.
The 38-year old retired Marine celebrated the birthday of his beloved Marine Corps at its annual birthday ball as its guest speaker. At it, he was awarded the nation's third-highest award for heroism in combat, the Silver Star.
He knew what he wanted to tell the group.
"It's not the time to talk about yourself," he said in a telephone interview while en route from his home in San Diego to Las Vegas, where the ball was staged Wednesday evening. "The Marine Corps birthday is the day to talk about the team."
The former Terre Haute resident got international attention as the subject of a photograph taken in April 2003, when coalition armed forces entered Baghdad.
Perched atop his tank, then-Staff Sgt. Popaditch sported a broad smile, and smoked one of the cigars he bought for his crew to celebrate the victory.
Two days shy of a year later, during fighting in Iraq, a grenade thrown through the hatch of his M1A1 Abrams tank took his right eye, damaged his left eye and permanently impaired his hearing. He left the Corps with a medical retirement.
The 1985 graduate from Terre Haute North Vigo High School is back in school at San Diego City College, working toward a degree in social sciences and a teaching certificate.
"On that sort of subject, you can add a little more of your personality," he said. In a subject like English, he said, a period goes where it goes. In social studies, there's more room for interpretation and discussion.
He still visits the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego, and still feels the same way about the team to which he devoted so much of his life. He said he likes to watch the ranks of new Marines, just entering boot camp.
"These guys went down to the recruiter even though we're at war," Popaditch said. "I've got a great deal of respect for any 18- or 19-year-old who'll do that."...
There's more. Follow the link to find the one regret that Nick Popaditch has about his situation. In this regard, he's not special at all (he'd agree, too, I'll bet). The men I met at Walter Reed said the same thing.