Nate Ingebritson was standing in the Humvee when the explosion occurred.
The Fremont man was in Iraq as part of a U.S. Army Reserves company making its way through the country. He and two other soldiers were in the armored vehicle, which was leading a convoy.
That day in 2005, Ingebritson was in the gun turret. The driver asked Ingebritson to wave at the trucks behind them to get them to come closer. So he did.
“About the time I sat down, all three of us got rocked,” he said.
Years later, Ingebritson — known as “Iggy” — talked about his military service and the blast that led to his receiving a Purple Heart. He also shared his experiences with the local Disabled American Veterans group.
Ingebritson was 19 years old when he joined the U.S. Army Reserves to get money to attend college. He’d drive forklifts in a warehouse.
A year later, he joined the active duty Army and became a petroleum supply specialist.
In that job, he drove tanker trucks, carrying 2,500 gallons of fuel, and provide gas for vehicles on military bases and out in the field.
Ingebritson became a well-traveled soldier, first stationed in South Korea and then at Fort Riley, Kansas. He re-enlisted and went to Germany as a Specialist E4.
In 1996, he was deployed to war-ravaged Bosnia, where genocide and other crimes had taken place.
“The closest I ever got to the action was hearing bombs explode,” he said.
He was redeployed there the next year, then got out of the Army in 1998 and joined the reserves.
He’d see more deployments.
Ingebritson was in the 1012th Quartermaster Company in Fremont, which after the 9-11 terrorist attacks was sent to Germany.
He returned home. By then, he was married and shortly after his first child was born, Ingebritson’s name was put on a list for deployment to Iraq.
He was deployed with the 179th Transportation Company based in Belton, Missouri.
In 2005, he was on a three-man crew in an armored Humvee. His job varied from driver to gunner to vehicle commander.
Days passed in a blur.
One day, he and the crew were returning from a mission. They were about an hour away from the base when Ingebritson was asked to wave and get trucks following them to come closer.
He’d just sat down when the explosion occurred.
Ingebritson believes an insurgent detonated a buried Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
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After the blast, he looked down and thought his finger was broken. The Humvee stopped. The driver grabbed a medical kit and Ingebritson crawled out of the vehicle.
“The next thing I know they’re cutting off my sleeve,” he said. “They ended up wrapping me from shoulder to fingertip.”
Ingebritson would learn the blast had taken a chunk out of the back of his right arm and he had two lacerations on his forearm. His ring and index fingers had shrapnel in them and he had a small facial laceration.
He was taken to an aid station, which he describes as a military version of Urgent Care. He’d need surgery to remove the shrapnel from his fingers.
Ingebritson spent the rest of his time in Iraq in an office, manning a radio and recording when other military personnel and vehicles passed checkpoints.
He came home in December 2005 and got out of the service three years later. He lived in Norfolk and divorced before relocating in Fremont.
Today, Ingebritson works at Magnus Inc., in Fremont. He is a junior vice commander with the Disabled American Veterans Joseph C. H. Bales Chapter 18. He’s also part of the men’s ministry at Fremont Nazarene Church, which hosts a yearly car show and more recently began awarding a Veteran’s Choice Trophy.
“I try to get the DAV involved in a lot of stuff they normally haven’t done,” he said.
DAV Commander R.J. Riggs commends Ingebritson.
“He’s a very standup guy,” Riggs said. “He’s a good leader.”
Riggs believes it’s important for younger veterans to become involved in local organizations.
It’s hard for many veterans’ organizations to get younger people, who are busy raising families, involved in the groups.
But Riggs said it’s a good idea to have older veterans mentor younger ones — who in turn — can help other veterans in the future.
“The older guys are always there to help with their benefit protection and we kind of show them the way,” Riggs said. “Hopefully, they can pick up our mission of the DAV.”
Now 47 years old, Ingebritson said if given the choice all over again, he’d serve his country in the military.
He learned various skills in the service, such as how to put an IV in a person in a combat situation.
Ingebritson appreciates lessons in learning how to get along with others.
“Don’t upset anybody, because that might be the person who’s going to save your life,” he said. “That taught me that I’m just going to be nice to everybody.”
He’s made good friends.
“I’d say that 80 percent of the people on my Facebook are guys I deployed with,” he said.