SSG Michael Connors
SSG Michael Connors joined the Army in April of 2006 and attended BCT (Basic Combat Training) and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma to be a Cannon Crewmember. During his career, Staff Sergeant Connors served as a Platoon Sergeant, Section Leader, Squad Leader, Company Administrative NCO (Noncommissioned Officer), State Direct Ship Coordinator, and IET (Initial Entry Training) Liaison. He participated in Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, and Enduring Freedom Spartan Shield. He holds three MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) including 13B30 (Cannon Crewmember), 13M30 (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems – HIMARS), and 13R30 (Field Artillery Fire Finder Radar Operator).
During his first deployment in Iraq in 2010-2011, Staff Sergeant Connors was serving as a convoy security gunner when the convoy was hit by a complex ambush on multiple sides by multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs), small arms fire, and indirect fire (IDF). Michael endured a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the attack and later was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from long term effects. During the deployment, IDF and small arms fire were consistently a daily occurrence. On his second deployment in 2015, Michael was sent to the Jordan/Syria border to provide fire support for special forces in Syria prior to the official entry in the country but an explosion occurred shortly after arrival that caused a second TBI, severe damage to his knee and back, nerve damage in his arm, and loss of hearing in the right ear. He was medically evacuated back to the United States where he was a patient at Walter Reed Military Hospital for 18 months. Staff Sergeant Connors medically retired from the US Army on 17 November 2016, after service for 10 years and 7 months honorably. Retirement wasn’t the end of the medical issues because of his military service unfortunately. In 2020, Michael was diagnosed with Stage 2 Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma cancer caused by burn pit exposure in Iraq. In November of 2020, 40% of his left kidney was removed surgically to prevent cancer spreading.
Since medically retiring from the US Army, Michael created his own business for canine training in 2016, Connors Canine Behavior Academy, and in 2019 became the Executive Director of Bodhi Battalion, a 501c3 non-profit organization serving veterans. Michael’s passion of serving his brothers and sisters whom he served with has launched the success of his abilities in providing custom trained service dogs to veterans free of charge to them. His business donates proceeds to the non-profit every year to help personally fund the service animals in training. In addition to the service animals, Bodhi Battalion provides mental health services to veterans and has helped hundreds of veterans across the state of Colorado and the nation.
SSG Brian Schar
SSG Brian Schar enlisted in the Illinois, Army National Guard at 17 years old April 1, 2000. He spent my summer break between his Junior and Senior years of high school at Ft. Benning Georgia going through Basic training. SSG Schar spent the following year in the Guard until graduating from high school then enlisted in the regular Army as a 12B, Combat Engineer.He graduated from A.I.T at Ft. Leonard Wood in late September of 2001 and reported to FT. Campbell Ky, Home of the Screaming Eagles in October. He was assigned to C. Co, 326th Eng Bn. Combat and was soon after deployed to Afghanistan from January-June of 2002. While deployed to Afghanistan, his detail included destroying enemy weapons caches, small arms, and munitions as well as fighting positions.
After 8-9 months of being back at Ft. Campbell the unit deployed on March 1st, 2003 to Kuwait for the initial invasion of Iraq. After a year deployed, he returned home to the States and Ft. Campbell where he finished his enlistment and left the Army in July 2004. On August 1, 2004, he started his my first day at the Police academy in South East Tennessee. He was graduated from the Academy in late September 2004 on a Friday as a newly qualified Police Officer, but missed the Army and went back to the Army recruiting office that following week.
Schar reported to Schweinfurt, Germany in mid-December 2004 and was assigned to A. Co, 9th Eng Bn, 1st Infantry Division. “The Big Red 1”. After living and training in Germany for a year, he once again deployed to Kuwait then Iraq. I was deployed from September 2006 to September 2007.For about seven months my platoon was conducting Iron Claw missions. The mission to drive through the streets of Baghdad and search for I.E.D’s along the sides of the roads. Schar was injured the first time on February 7, 2007, when an E.F.P exploded next to the truck. He was once again hit by another E.F.P on September 19, 2007. This time Schar had lost both legs, sustained severe damage to his left arm, stomach and various minor shrapnel injuries and burns.
SSG Schar made it to Walter Reed on Sunday September 23rd where he was in and out of the I.C.U and the in-patient ward for nearly 3 months. He eventually learned to walk again with prosthetics and retired from the Army as a Staff Sergeant and left the hospital in February 2010.
He married my wife Michelle on September 19, 2010 and we moved out to Colorado in January 2011. They started our family a few months later and now have 2 sons aged 7 and 9. He enjoys working out, target shooting, boxing and practicing Krav Maga when he can. Michelle, the boys, and I enjoy building with Lego and being outdoors together.