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Interview With A War Hero: 13 Years Ago Joey Paulk Traded His Hands For Our Independence

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

A man in Army gear
Joey in Afghanistan ~2005

ODDS YOU ARE READING THIS ON YOUR PHONE RIGHT NOW. According to google analytics, roughly 70% of you are. What's that like? Using your hands, I mean. That's probably what Joey Paulk is thinking when he wakes up every morning. You see, Joey won't ever know, and that isn't a matter of guilt, it's reality. Amazingly though, the thought doesn't appear to bother him nearly as much as it bothers me. His resolve, resilience, and positive attitude are matched only by his sacrifice.

A man in a hospital gown with severe burns
Joey has undergone over 60 reconstructive surgeries to repair burn damage.

As we move closer toward Independence Day, or 4th of July weekend as it is typically unemotionally referred to, the media noise is in full-effect. Whether it's the morning news, Twitter, or the office water cooler, the conversation that continues to dominate this weekend is #Covid19. We can't ignore the gravity of the situation. That's for certain. For those of us safe at home though, boredom leads to apathy.

But, as we creep into a weekend designed to celebrate the anniversary of our secession from the monarch of Britain, it's easy to forget about the past and look to revel in the moment, which happens to be one of the only ways to escape the monotony that has defined 2020. It's actually this sentiment that led me to do this interview. What's lost in all of the comotion is the simple recognition of the spirit of the holiday. I understand that it's important for people to celebrate. I understand what's being asked of us is inconvenient. I understand the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of human beings depends on human interaction and physical exercise and outdoor activities. There is no substitute for Vitamin D therapy. For many of us fortunate Americans, anyway we decide (or are forced) to celebrate Independence day will be pretty comfortable. Is your porch as exciting as the beach? No. By most world standards though, if you are reading this, you are in pretty good shape. The fact is you will not be spending Sunday on your back suffering third degree burns. You will not be sitting in a cot overseas praying for enough internet coverage to video chat with the children you haven't met yet. Look I am not trying to turn this post into a dissertation on the atrocities of war.

If wearing a mask inside Starbucks today was the most uncomfortable thing you endured this week, it's time to get real. Sorry, not sorry.

That's the type of perspective I am asking for. Not all weekend. Not for an entire day, even. Hell, just five minutes would be fantastic. Or, compromise and take 20 minutes to watch this interview. If you do that and you still want to complain about your favorite beach being closed, well then I suppose Joey Paulk and Sgt. Thomas McGee (deceased) afforded you the freedom to do so.


Watch the interview below or view it on Facebook.


Thank you for supporting craft beer and local business Joey!

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