Marine reserve veteran Brian Hall, 37, of Volens considers himself fortunate.
During a tour in Iraq, he prayed every day that he wouldn’t have to do certain things, and he didn’t.
He was part of the Bravo Company 4th Battalion who went to Iraq from February 2005 to September 2005 that lost approximately 48 soldiers, but his specific platoon only lost one.
While acknowledging that losing anyone is one too many, Hall said they were very blessed.
He first joined the Marine Corps Reserve in May 2000 following in the footsteps of his older brother.
“I wanted to serve my country, and my older brother was a Marine and made me want to be one as well,” said Hall, who was sent to boot camp at Paris Island before starting school at VMI.
At VMI, he studied business before transferring his major to history.
His summers were spent in training — first MOS (military occupational specialties) training for being a combat engineer at Camp Lejeune — and then the following summer, he had to do Marine combat Training.
He graduated from VMI in 2004, and then on his birthday, Sept. 13, 2004, he received the call he had been expecting.
He had to go to Iraq.
“They had been telling us to stand by for years after 9/11. We just didn’t know when,” said Hall.
Just under 100 men headed to Iraq, and they were split into two platoons, and his platoon was then split amongst infantry.
He was part of a fire team that was in charge of getting rid of landmines and IEDs or improvised explosive devices.
They also were in charge of going door to door to clear houses.
“We were fortunate in many situations. God was definitely watching us. There were several situations where we could’ve lost a lot of people, and we didn’t. God had his hand all over it,” said Hall.
One situation in particular, a ruptured water line, saved their lives.
When going into the city, Hall said a tank ruptured a water line, and he kept insisting he go out there and fix it. But, no one ever got around to it.
A couple days later, a vehicle packed full of explosives was headed towards their base, but he got stuck in mud near the line and blew himself up.
The vehicle got stuck about 100 yards away from where the men were staying, according to Hall, and he said he thought only one guy got hurt in that incident.
“I guess there’s more to that story about why he got stuck in the mud,” said Hall. “You look back on those things, and a lot of guys whether they’re Christian or not, they admit there’s something out there. When you go through something like that, you see a lot of stuff and don’t have an explanation for it.”
Whether they were entering houses or disposing of landmines, Hall said those weren’t the times when he and his men would get nervous.
It was when they were riding around in vehicles wondering if something would explode or back on base during downtime when their mind had time to think.
But he did his best to stay busy by doing things like driving heavy equipment to keep his mind occupied, and he had his fellow Marines to bond with.
“We were really close. We don’t stay in touch like we should, but when we do see each other, it’s like we’re brothers, like we were never apart,” said Hall.
His battalion returned to Roanoke in September 2005 where family greeted him.
He now resides in Volens where he farms Black Angus cattle and soybeans with his wife, Ashley, and they have two children, Emory and Conrad.
As he grows older, he understands the importance of recognizing veterans for their service such as with events like the Veterans Day Parade set for Saturday in South Boston.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. followed by a celebration in Constitution Square featuring veteran speakers, food, live music featuring Matt Boswell and more.
Hall said attending the parade is a way to “honor those who have fallen and honor those who have served.
“They’re doing what needs to be done to make America what it is and protect this free country. You always hear freedom isn’t free. It isn’t remotely free unfortunately,” Hall concluded.