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American Heroes

On the Homefront
By Oliver North

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American Heroes

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TWO FINGERS TO HOLD


Jesseca and Brian Meyer

The radio in the Combat Operations Center (COC) crackled with a garbled message followed by the nine-line EOD order. The Marine watch officer monitoring the communication traffic shouted through the hole in the primitive mud wall, alerting Staff Sergeant Brian Meyer and members of his Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team. A suspected improvised explosive device, commonly known as an IED, had been discovered by a squad of Marines on routine patrol and now an EOD response team was needed somewhere outside the wire of Patrol Base Almas.

In the sixth month of his seven-month combat deployment to Afghanistan, Brian had made about eighty such trips beyond the confines of PB Almas to dispose of IEDs, the terrorists’ weapon of choice. He didn’t know at the time that this would be his last trip and his longest journey.

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Her radiant smile and stunning features captivate you immediately. Even though she is just five feet one, her father’s Aztec blood and her mother’s Spanish heritage make Jesseca Meyer stand out in any crowd.

They met in August 2008 at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Jesseca, a college junior majoring in sports management, was working at the Pepsi Center as a security supervisor and was assigned to accompany a Marine Corps bomb team tasked with sweeping the third level of the arena for any explosive devices. Four Marines paraded in with their equipment and their egos. Brian, a member of the team, was immediately drawn to her beauty. He sensed she’d spent a lifetime around tough guys, so he decided to turn on the charm rather than the testosterone. His efforts paid off and before the convention ended a friendship was formed as she stayed in Denver and he returned to Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. The relationship progressed as the couple talked by phone daily and texted in between calls.

A few months later, Brian asked Jesseca to come to San Diego for a Halloween celebration at his house. At the time, Brian and three other Marines, Justin Schmalstieg, Bryan Carter, and Mark Wojciechowski, known to his friends as Tony Wojo, all assigned to 1st EOD Company, rented a home outside Camp Pendleton’s back gate. As Jesseca would learn, life in the Marine Corps is fragile. All four roommates would go on to earn Purple Hearts; two would die in combat. Just six months after the party on April 30, 2009, twenty-five-year-old Staff Sergeant Mark Wojciechowski was killed in action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, three months into his second combat deployment.

Brian and Jesseca’s friendship grew into love. The first week of May 2010, they flew to Florida for the annual EOD Memorial Ball, an event honoring members of their brotherhood who made the ultimate sacrifice.

During one of the presentations, a ranking member of the EOD community praised the wives for the extraordinary role they played in supporting their husbands while doing some of the most dangerous work in the military. As thoughts flashed through her mind about what Brian and his men did on each and every assignment, Jesseca knew she wanted to be that support and spend the rest of her life with him.

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Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, where Jesseca and Brian first met in 2008. Chamber of Commerce

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