- This watch reminds me of the things I've been through.
As long as it's still ticking, I should still be ticking as well, be pushing forward to better myself in every way I can.
It's a constant reminder of the struggles I've been through, and how I got where I am and where I'm going.
And that's the biggest thing about this watch.
- Hi, I'm Shain Brenden.
As a veteran, I understand how objects we brought back from service can be so meaningful.
They can remind us why we served and what we did, or help us transition back to civilian life.
Today, I talk with a veteran whose object inspired him to keep moving forward.
- My name is Saul Monroy.
I'm a retired Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps.
I was in middle school when 9/11 happened, and it was just a vivid, vivid image in my head.
And I kind of knew that day that I wanted to give back to my country.
I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to be first to fight.
I wanted to be elite.
A Recon recruiter came by, and he was like, hey, he's like, "Do you want to be a part of an elite force?
This is what we do."
A Recon Marine is pretty much the eyes and the ears of the battlefield.
And nobody knows they're there.
We call it secret ninja stuff.
I went to the courses and training to earn my title as a Reconnaissance Communicator.
- What was it about the Recon units that made you want to be a part of it?
- In the Marine Corps and any military service, you have camaraderie.
But when you have a small team that is six to eight guys, that team becomes solely your family.
And that was the biggest thing that got me, was I was like, hey, I want to be a part of this, you know, this elite force, and guys that make things happen.
You know what nobody knows.
I wanted to be a part of that.
- Can you tell me a little bit about the watch?
- These guys would get special gear, and it would be different from anybody else in the Marine Corps.
And so anywhere you went, you would know who a Recon Marine was.
I would notice some of the operators had watches, and I was like, man, that's a cool watch.
When I made my team, I got issued all my gear, and it was just bags and bags of stuff, and the watch is there.
So I carried this watch, and it was kind of like my rite of passage.
- So let's talk about your deployment to Afghanistan.
- I was the platoon sergeant for eight guys that I was in charge of, and we're out in the middle of nowhere, working out of one vehicle.
As soon as the sun came up, it was action nonstop with these Afghan fighters and the Taliban.
We were heading up north to help one of the infantry units, and we were rolling through, and we get to the river.
And I was like, no, man, I don't feel well, like this is just too eerie.
Let's turn it around.
And when we made that left turn, that's when the blast happened.
When I came to, I was still in Afghanistan in their main hospital.
The Explosive Ordnance guy came in.
He was like, I found this watch.
Does it belong to any of you guys?
I recognized it right away.
When I looked at it, it was still ticking.
And it was just like a sense of like getting a piece of you back.
My life had just shattered, you know, I didn't know if I was going to have my legs.
I didn't know if I was going to make it through.
Getting that watch back, it helped me change my whole perspective and outlook on what was coming next.
Once I got to stateside, I went through about a year and a half of surgeries and like repairing this, repairing that.
I couldn't walk on uneven pavement.
It was just dead weight.
I decided I want to cut it off.
The amputation was the best decision I've ever made.
Once I got my ability to walk without pain, I made the decision, hey, from here on out, I'm going to have to be better.
I had my surgery June, and by August I was playing my first softball tournament.
Now I play for the USA Patriots, which is a wounded warrior team.
Everybody has an amputation, missing an arm, missing a leg, and play softball, travel the country, and play able-bodied teams.
We have a kids' camp.
We become mentors to these kids.
I feel like I have found my purpose now.
It's just kind of to let people know, like, I know we all go through struggles, and we all have our battles that we fight, but as long as we don't give up on ourselves, we can keep pushing forward.
And I feel like I can give back to my community.
I can give back to the world.
- Why do you insist on still wearing it, still wearing the watch after all these years?
- The biggest reason that I wear it still is it's telling me that we were both in the blast, and as long as it's still ticking, I can still keep ticking.
And it's allowing me to continue keeping up with time to make sure that I can progress and go forward.