(Editor’s Note: Author Christian Bussler, who lives in the Harveysburg area, was also profiled in a Dec. 28, 2017 News Journal feature story.)
BLANCHESTER — A young man with a remarkable story visited our Blanchester Public Library the evening of Thursday July 17. He was there to tell us about his unique perspective in his three combat deployments and what it was like to be a Mortuary Affairs Marine in the thick of the fighting in Iraq.
GySgt Christian Bussler, a retired Marine and local hero, took his experiences and penned his critically acclaimed and award-winning book, “No Tougher Duty, No Greater Honor.” Through his video and slide show, Christian‘s presentation gave us insight into a three-year odyssey of sacrifice, honor and the harsh realities of modern combat.
Christian began by explaining his family’s patriotism and their willingness to answer the call of service once each of them graduated high school.
When he graduated high school, he felt compelled to give back to the country that had given his family so much. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve unit based in Dayton. However, his primary job as an 0311 Infantry Rifleman wasn’t needed at this unit, so he was given the title of a Mortuary Affairs Specialist — a job that he thought that he would never have to do in war.
Christian’s presentation was so detailed and his story so gripping, that it was easy to place yourself there.
He detailed the build-up phase before the Iraq War started. What it was like to watch the very first bombs being dropped. To be among the very first units to cross over the border into Iraq. And having a front row seat to history being made.
He continued his story with volunteering for a second tour in 2004 and what it was like to be wounded and med-evaced out of the country, only later to find that several of his friends did not survive the fighting in Fallujah,. He told us why he volunteered again, for a third time in 2005 — it was because he wanted to be there for his friends.
His job was to recover the fallen off of the battlefield, process their remains, and send them home to their families. He explained how tough it was to perform the recovery missions and how it wore them down to perform this difficult but necessary task.
But what stood out to me is when his presentation moved onto what him and his Marines did to honor the fallen. He explained that he noticed that all of the American flags that were being placed onto the coffins had creases. He took it upon himself to heavily iron and starch every American flag before they were placed onto each coffin.
He also came up with a new way to place the ironed flags onto the coffins and showed us how they gleamed in the light, and thus it was eventually adopted by all of the armed services.
So if you watch on the news of U.S. service members being returned to the United States, you will see the “Bussler Method” — the fold that he created back in 2005.
The last segment of his speech had to do with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and how he suffered when he came home. He explained that, to deal with his experiences, he started drinking heavily, couldn’t sleep for days, quit his job at the post office, was in psych ward, and was given handfuls of anti-depressants and sleep aids.
But it was a chance conversion with a Vietnam vet that changed his life.
He told him to start writing his story down and when he was done, to burn them, and so he did. Those stories are what make up the pages of this remarkable book.
If you ever get a chance to go hear him, I encourage you to go; it is a story that you will not soon forget. You can find his book on Amazon, Kindle, ITunes and Audib.
Linda Mider is Past President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Marion Unit 179.