By Amy TolsonNovember 20, 2018
There are heroes in our midst - but for retired Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Mackey, he was just doing what he needed to do to get home to his wife and children.
Regardless of the motivation, Mackey was inducted into the Madison County Hall of Heroes Nov. 9.
"It's an honor, to be recognized with people who are true heroes, but at the same time there's heroes out there every day," Mackey said. "I'm just fortunate or unfortunate enough to have been given some medals. Nothing I really did was heroic. You do what you do to try to stay alive."
On Aug. 5, 2004, Mackey was traveling in the 12th truck of a convoy on the outskirts of Najaf, Iraq, when he heard a call go over the radio for everyone to be ready. No more than 10 seconds later, an explosion rang out. His convoy was ambushed. Mackey took some shrapnel, but helped get his fellow Soldiers to safety and medical help. He, along with two others, were medevac'd back to the States. One Soldier was killed.
It was Mackey's first deployment to Iraq - his third overall, having served in Bosnia and Somalia. For his actions and injuries that day he received the Army Commendation Medal with "V" (Valor) and a Purple Heart. He went on to deploy to Iraq two more times, subsequent deployments that provided him closure.
"As a leader, I left my troops on the battlefield," Mackey said. "I dealt with a lot of guilt. If you look at it as a sane person you probably think, 'You're lucky to be alive.' But as a leader, I wanted to go back. I felt like I left my troops, even though I didn't leave them. It wasn't my choice to leave. But by going back, I was able to leave on my own terms."
Mackey retired in 2012 after serving for 20 years, one month and 10 days in the Army, time that "made me who I am today," he said. Time in uniform allowed him to see the world and help pay for his education, both of which were motivating factors in the Arkansas native's decision to join the Army. He continues to serve his country, working for the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, Industry Engagements & Co-Production Programs, Excess Defense Articles (EDA), G-3 Mission Support.
His family joined him for the Veterans Week festivities, as he was one of six to be inducted into the Hall of Heroes this year.
"For me it's more for my kids, leaving a legacy," Mackey said. "And it's a way to make my dad proud of me. But it's a legacy that needs to be carried on, because we have the World War II veterans who are passing on, the Vietnam veterans are getting older, and because of an unfortunate set of circumstances, we're at war, and we need a new generation to carry on this tradition."