One of the many reasons why I love my job is that I get to meet incredible people. A couple weeks ago, I was making the latest content calendar for #CCUSocialMedia when I noticed that Aug. 7 was Purple Heart Day. I immediately knew that I wanted our Coastal Carolina University social media accounts to honor a CCU-related Purple Heart recipient when the first Wednesday of August came around.
I worked with our Office of Veteran Services to identify a Chanticleer who was awarded the Purple Heart. They connected me with Chris Trinemeyer, a 2017 CCU alumnus and United Stated Marine who served from 2005 to 2013. Other than his name, I didn’t know much about him until he arrived for his photoshoot last week. With our talented director of photography, Judy Johns, snapping the photos, the two of us quickly became acquainted with Chris’ friendly personality.
We shot first in the studio. When we concluded there, we went out in front of Atheneum Hall. From there we went to where his vehicle was parked and took some photos in front of his Purple Heart-designated license plate. Throughout most of the shoot we just discussed his military service and experience at Coastal. However, with the shoot coming to an end, I nervously asked him how he was injured.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t a minor accident or non-serious flesh wound.
In May 2006, Chris was part of a convoy in Ramadi, Iraq, when two IEDs detonated underneath the vehicle he was driving in. The blasts knocked him unconscious and sent shrapnel up and down his right side. When he awoke, he was still in his destroyed vehicle as chaos reigned around him. Mentioning that blood was everywhere, the violent scene was muted for Chris because the explosion temporarily left him deaf.
Thanks to his will power and his fellow marines, Chris would survive. He still has shrapnel embedded in his side and is reminded of it every time he tries to go through a metal detector. As he told me the story, I was in awe that I was standing next to someone who survived such a horrific attack in one of the most hostile war zones of this century. I thanked him for his service and he graciously followed up after the shoot with an email describing more in depth what happened to him that day in 2006.
We need to be appreciative of our Purple Heart recipients. Many return to civilian life with more than physical wounds. Being hurt on the battlefield can carry with it PTSD and other trauma that can last a lifetime. I would be remiss if I didn’t take this post to also recognize my Uncle Danny, a Purple Heart recipient himself from his service in Vietnam.
Do you know someone who has received the Purple Heart? Make sure to call or text them tonight and say thank you. Don’t Blink.