Brian Dix left his hometown of Grapevine, Texas when he was 17 years old to join the United States Marine Corps.
Dix’s father, grandfather, and several uncles had served in the Marine Corps. The young Dix didn’t have any plans to go to college, and he couldn’t afford it. He had always felt a sense of duty toward the nation, and that feeling only solidified after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Dix and his brother enlisted in the Marine Corps. Dix finished high school early, and was able to finish boot camp before his fellow students finished high school. He wanted to be an infantryman, and had an ardent desire to serve in combat.
“I just knew there was a war about to kick off, and I wanted to join in the infantry. That’s all I knew,” Dix told The Epoch Times.
But Dix would have to wait to be deployed.
He and the other Marines had been screened during boot camp for clean records, and he received security clearance to serve at Camp David.
From 2003 until 2007, Dix served as a rifleman and force commander on the president’s protective detail at Camp David. Initially, Dix felt like he was sitting on the sidelines while the Iraq War was getting hot.
“It was kind of frustrating at first though, because my friends that I had gone to infantry school with, they were in the battle of Fallujah in 2004, Phantom Fury, and that was a really rough bloody battle,” Dix explained.
However, Dix would have a valuable experience serving at Camp David. He and his colleagues were responsible for providing security and helping the Secret Service protect the president.
He and his team were also responsible for responding if something bad were to happen at the installation.
Though Dix yearned to be deployed, he had memorable experience serving at Camp David. Dix had the opportunity to meet high level cabinet officials, and forged lifelong friendships with those he served with.
After Dix left Camp David, he began working in Marine Corps intelligence. He was then deployed for the first time to Iraq in March 2008.
Dix was responsible for finding out where the enemy was, where their weapons were, and collecting intelligence to combat the insurgency in Iraq. His role helped him drive the mission.
“It was nice being in the intelligence field because you got more of a bigger picture,” Dix said.
Dix worked directly with infantry battalions, and would go out on patrols with them. He also helped train Iraqi security forces. Dix had three words to describe his first deployment: Optimistic, frustrated, and fatalistic.
Dix and his Marines always tried to do the right thing and accomplish their mission. However, he became irritated when he felt that he cared more about the security of the country than the police he was working with at the time.
Good and Evil
The deployment was understandably dangerous. Improvised explosive devices were commonplace, and there was an expectation that the road could blow up at any time.
Dix also experienced his fare share of trauma.
In one instance, Dix arrived on scene where a woman had been lit on fire by her husband and his mother. The woman eventually succumbed to her wounds, and Dix struggled to comprehend how a person could be capable of something so evil.
It was also not uncommon to hear about a woman surviving a rape only to be stoned to death in an honor killing.
“This was the world we were trying to bring normalcy to,” Dix explained.
However, one of the positive aspects of the deployment was interacting with the children and helping the locals. On one patrol, Dix and the Marines visited a girl’s school and gave them school supplies.
“You could see this genuine happiness on their faces. It was just sad knowing that just a few years later ISIS is going to come cruising through there,” Dix said.
In another instance, Dix was on a patrol in a remote village to provide dental care to the residents.
Dix took a lot away from his first deployment. The experience had give him a sense of humility, introspection, and he learned a lot about the good and evil that people are capable of.
“I’ve seen some the best things that people can do both on the American side and on the Iraqi side. I saw some phenomenal things, but I saw also the real evil people that people can do as well, and that was something that was pretty eye opening,” Dix said.
Dix’s second deployment was from February 2009 to September 2009, and it would prove to be a trying experience.
At the time, the U.S. military was beginning to pull back and hand over security to Iraqi forces. Dix believed that he and his fellow service members handled the transition the best they could with the tools they had.
“We were restricted on a lot of things we could do, but we were still going out everyday,” Dix said.
Furthermore, Dix had to contend with fellow Marines getting killed in action.
An improvised explosive device detonated and killed three Americans and five Iraqis during a patrol. One of the Americans was a close friend of Dix’s.
This second deployment gave him an appreciation for the scale of his mission and the larger strategic picture of the policy shift of the war.
Dix left active duty in May 2011 when his wife became pregnant, but remains in the Marine Corps Reserve. He also continues to help veterans by volunteering and giving to charities such as Honoring Our Fallen and Team Rubicon.
“I feel like you can always do more. I feel like I haven’t done enough,” Dix said.