Michael Jozwiak, Iraq War Veteran, Park Ridge

Near the city of Mosul in Iraq, Michael Jozwiak and his team were hit while riding in a Stryker, one of the military’s safest armored vehicles.

Of his seven team members, two were killed and four were injured. Michael, who was driving the Stryker, walked away without a scratch.

He says the most frightening part of the incident was the silence that followed the attack. “I was truly afraid,” he says. He earned a Bronze Star.

Like thousands of men and women across the country, Michael joined the military to serve and protect the U.S.

“When you boil it all down, it really is, ‘What can we do to keep this fighting out of our country?’ ” The 28-year-old from Park Ridge fought in the Iraq War, serving two tours with the U.S. Army’s Infantry Division from 2002 to 2009.

Michael has wanted to join the military since he was a child. His father is a Vietnam War veteran, and both of his grandfathers served their country, too.

During his years of service, Michael had the unique opportunity to see the country of Iraq rebuild. When he first got there, he says the Iraqi people hated Americans, but by the time he headed home, the Iraqis he encountered had a positive view of America.

“We got to see the country do a 180,” he says. “It really gave us a sense of pride.”

Michael married his wife Genevieve in 2010 and now works for O’Hare International Airport as a cargo systems mechanic. The oldest of six children, Michael and his wife live just a few blocks away from his immediate family. They’ve all been supportive throughout his service, he says, and he has no regrets.

“It turned me into who I am today,” he says.

To learn more about how to support our troops and veterans, visit uso.org

You may also enjoy these profiles of local veterans:

John Nash

Morey Coleman

Charlie Austin

Ken Kells

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