Would you die for your country? Or your neighbor?
The men you’re about to meet answer yes without blinking.
They’ve sworn not once, but twice to serve and protect.
War abroad and service at home.
They’re willing to give all.
Army Reservist Captain Sanjiv Neal.
Army National Guard Master Sergeant Tom Farrington.
Sgt. Jason Garner - Air Force Reserve.
"I think the three of us signed up for a short period of time and realized this is who we are and what we were meant to be," said Garner.
Pride and love of country put them on the battlefields of Iraq, each deployed multiple times, all witnesses to the cost of war.
Neal said, "2011, one of the helicopters was shot down and 31 troops was killed. Helicopter blew up. Everybody burned up. So we had to send out soldiers to clean up the remains of those fallen troops. It was a really dark day."
"Hardest day for us wouldn’t been a massive IED blast in Iraq," said Garner.
"I think by the time it was over we had transported 63 people."
They’ve lost friends, missed home – yet they’ve chosen a second life of sacrifice and a different uniform.
Farrington said, "There’s not a single day I wake up and say ‘I don’t want to go to the firehouse.’"
They all suit up for the Indianapolis Fire Department.
From firefights to fighting fires.
"We were on a grain elevator fire and it was just super hot," Farrington said.
"I overheated myself fighting the fire and I just kept thinking this could be it."
Garner said, "I would say hardest day, I went through a floor on a fire and ended up in the basement. "
For them to live, is to serve, knowing some don’t survive.
Farrington said, "I’ve looked back and realized I’ve served with some guys that have since passed from suicide or combat and you know, cancer on the fire department. And it does hurt. It leaves a little black spot. But I’ve been very fortunate to have not lost the guy next to me."
When you ask them how and why they do it, they point to their comrades in camo and their buddies in turnout gear.
Garner said, "The day that he leaves the military is the hardest day of his life and it’s hard. I’ve seen guys with 6, 7 deployments retire and cry uncontrollably because that sense of purpose that drive for the man next to you that raw pride for what you do."
"It’s not a tangible thing. But it’s more family. The firehouse, I have 8, 9 guys at my firehouse and they’re family," said Farrington.
"They care about you and they care about your family and what’s going on in your life. And you can’t put a dollar figure on that."