Nick Friloux served in the U.S. Marine Corps and loved it.
“Just being in the military was great,” Friloux said. “But it was stay with the love of my life (his wife) or the Corps. I had to choose.”
He’d enlisted in the Marine Corps, completed boot camp in 2007 at Paris Island, S.C., and served eight months in Iraq when he had to make his choice.
“We were high school sweethearts and got married a month before I went to boot camp,” he said.
Friloux served with the Combat Logistic Co. in Merimar, Calif., but deployed with the Combat Logistics Batallian 7 out of Paulas, Calif. He then went to Ala Sad, Iraq, from February to September of 2009. He provided security for the civilian truckers who brought supplies to U.S. military bases, which brought him all over the country.
“I always wanted to serve my country and I had family in the military,” he said. “My grandfather was in World War II and my godfather in Vietnam.”
Friloux said he enjoyed being deployed, particularly since nothing major happened to them in Iraq.
“It was some of the best years of my life,” he said. “I miss it very dearly and if the Corps would ever call me back I’d do in a heartbeat.”
In his many travels through Iraq, he saw bases in the middle of nowhere with little to no security.
“We’d literally sleep in our trucks at some of these bases because they basically didn’t have any security at all,” Friloux said. “At some of these towns, you’d see some of them near the base at any time – it was scary. That’s actually when I started having trouble sleeping at night, and sometimes I still do at times.”
They didn’t engaged in a fire fight, but he recalled going through so many cities that Friloux often worried about hitting an IED or being ambushed.
“It was always there, but with our training we were ready for anything,” Friloux said. “But it was still scary.”They had been told not to shoot back unless they were in an actual fire fight or an ambush.
“We were told to keep pushing don’t stop,” he said. “That was the rule back when I was there at the time. That’s when they were changing the strategy and took certain weapons off the trucks.”
As security, the soldiers didn’t have much opportunity to talk to Iraqis. They were constantly on the move on missions that had them driving for days non-stop delivering food, mail and water to the bases, and providing security to ordnance disposal.
Some trips were so arduous and long that they relied on singing songs and playing games with movie trivia to stay awake. Friloux recalled hearing about soldiers chewing on freeze dried coffee from their MREs. His squad “dipped” tobacco.
He drove through Iraq’s deserts and even its sandstorms.When you’re driving, sometimes they would sneak up on you and sometimes from a base you could see them coming,”
Friloux said. “Things would turn a dull orange and sometimes you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. We have to keep driving through that.”
But he also recalled places that looked an oasis with plush growth and saw a huge dam that held water for as far as a person could see.
Friloux’s experiences in Iraq are among his most cherished.
“I love my nation,” he said. “I love the country. I love the Corps.”
When he left the military in 2010 at his wife’s insistence, Friloux returned to Luling, as well to being a fireman. He got training as one at the Paradis Fire Department in 2002 at the age of 14 as a junior fireman. Now, he’s a fireman at Nine Mile Point in Jefferson Parish.
But, as he celebrates his tenth wedding anniversary and three children later, it becomes evident which one of his loves he chose.
“I would have still made the same choice,” Friloux said. “But if our country would ever get into a conflict and the Corps would ask me to go back, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”