In a barren office, Army Sgt. First Class Robert Meola Jr. pulls out two photo albums filled with memories.
“I love showing these pictures off to people,” he said. “I love seeing their reactions.”
Reactions to what he calls his “Army story” which is told through the two photo albums on his desk.
He’s been through three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s amazing to think that I was able to in those temperatures run around in all that gear.”
It’s something he never thought he’d need to accomplish back when he joined the army in 2001.
His goal was to stick around long enough to pay for college. That changed 13 days later on 9/11.
“That kinda threw a wrench into everything of what am I going to expect on my adventure in the military now that this just happened.”
He was so consumed with combat training, he never saw the iconic images representing 9/11 until a year later.
“It still brought tears to my eyes,” he said. “I think it made me more responsible. It made me grow up a little quicker.”
It made him realize the Army is his chosen career path.
He just celebrated his 14th year of service which he’s spending as an Army recruiter telling high school students why 9/11 means so much to his “Army story.”
“It just makes what I do every day more real and more important to myself.”