By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On the first of February, 2006, not very far from my camp in Iraq, a brave soldier by the name of Specialist Lee Strobino was shot 13 times in the process of apprehending an HVT (high value target) insurgent near the town of Rushdi Mulla. Lee was hit in the femur, his lung, and one bullet was a through-and-through wound to his neck. Strobino was part of the 101st Airborne Assault Division attached to 4th Infantry Division, and his unit was successful in “finishing it.”
When Spc. Strobino was wounded, it looked like he was “finished,” but he wasn’t. Instead, he was in the hospital and then rehab for over a year. During that time, he had to focus on all that was good, and the gifts in his life. About that tough time Lee says simply, “There’s no way when I can, you know, be down on myself on a situation like that when I have my limbs. I have my life.”
Becoming mobile again wasn’t the only thing Lee wanted to do. Another thing he had to “finish” was his education, and just a few days ago, he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Biology. It almost didn’t happen, however, because of some forms that were apparently filled out incorrectly and an office on campus that he couldn’t find. I imagine that as frustrating as that was, it paled in comparison to being sure that your life was over. In that Iraqi desert, Strobino said to himself, “This is it,” as life was literally oozing out of him. But it was not his time, and he knows it. After he walked the MTSU stage, he told Fox 17 in Nashville, “It’s like a dream, I mean, it’s not real. It doesn’t feel real, it doesn’t seem real in my body, in my mind.”
There was one more thing that needed to be “finished,” and that was Spc. Strobino being appropriately recognized by his Commander in Chief for his valor and heroism. And so, President Trump had the following to commend to Spc. Strobino:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Specialist Jay Christopher Strobino, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious achievement and exemplary service as a Team Leader in 3d Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 502d Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), attached to the 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, on a mission on 1 February 2006 in Rushdi Mulla, Iraq. Specialist Strobino’s exceptional dedication to mission accomplishment, tactical and technical competence, and unparalleled ability to perform under fire and while injured, contributed immeasurably to the success of his unit in Rushdi Mulla, Iraq, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the United States Army.
So, with life, limbs, a Silver Star, a degree, and the thanks of a grateful nation, we send Lee Strobino on his way, and may his story inspire and warm you in the cold of winter.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner