Peter Freundschuh was a child in 2001 when the Sept.11 attacks changed his life and the lives of millions of Americans. The events that unfolded convinced Peter to serve his country one day. On his 17th birthday, Peter and his parents signed delayed enlistment paperwork for the United States Marine Corps. Two days after his high school graduation in 2006, Peter arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, to begin boot camp.
The Freundschuh family has a strong history with the Marine Corps.
“My great-grandfather served in World War II as a Marine, so I looked up to him growing up,” Peter says. “And my uncle did 24 years in the Marine Corps. As a kid we saw him at weddings and funerals, so he was always wearing his dress blues. He was a hero for me and my brothers.”
Brothers in life, brothers in arms
At one point, three Freundschuh brothers were all serving with the 3rd Battalion 25th Marines I Company out of Buffalo, New York. Older brother Tim served from 2004 to 2010. Sergeant Tim Freundschuh was deployed to Iraq in 2005 to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Peter enlisted in 2006 while Tim was in Iraq, and presently serves in the Marine Corps Reserve. Younger brother Micheal served 2008 to 2013. In 2010, Staff Sergeant Peter and Corporal Micheal were activated to Marjah, Afghanistan, to conduct security and combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Our job was to stop the Taliban from coming out of the villages and placing IEDs,” Peter says. “Our area of operations was Route Red, which stretched from Camp Dwyer up to Marjah. We would be general security for any convoys moving through and escort resupplies up into Marjah.”
Sacrifices overseas and at home
The sacrifices made during the seven-month deployment were not just made by the troops in country. During his deployment, Peter’s wife gave birth to their third child – his first daughter. Upon his military homecoming, Peter was able to hold his daughter for the first time when she was five months old.
Despite the sacrifices, Peter is grateful for what he has gained from his service.
“As horrible as it was at times, you’ll never experience a bond with anyone like you will while in combat with your brothers in arms,” he says.
The Freundschuh brothers continue to serve together in civilian life at the family-owned Bobcat of Buffalo dealership started by their father, John. The family’s history with the Bobcat dealership nearly equals that of the family’s military service.
It’s hardly surprising that Peter’s experience with Bobcat equipment was called upon during his military deployment.
“We were doing a fuel resupply at Camp Dwyer,” Peter says. “A contractor on base parked at the first fuel station and was blocking the other pumps, and we couldn’t get around them. I hopped in the Bobcat [loader] and drove it forward so we could refuel.”
The contractor didn’t appreciate the assistance, but Peter reassured him that he was well-qualified to operate the compact equipment.
“I was like, ‘Trust me. I’ve driven these things for years. My family owns a Bobcat dealership,’” he says.
Pride and honor
As a veteran-owned-and-operated business, the Bobcat of Buffalo dealership – now owned by Tim – employs eight military veterans. Peter says the leadership, discipline and work ethic instilled through military training translates to success in civilian careers as well.
“We’ve found by hiring veterans that their quality of work and their work ethic is much better than your average person coming in off the street,” he says. “There is a huge rate of veteran unemployment so anytime we can give someone an opportunity to succeed, we do.”
The Bobcat of Buffalo dealership proudly promotes its veteran-owned-and-operated status as a means for attracting other veterans, but Peter says he doesn’t seek recognition for his service in the Marine Corps.
“I never liked being very public about my service,” he says. “Most veterans didn’t serve because they want to be thanked. They did it because they personally felt the need to serve our country.”
Peter does honor those who served before him.
“Anytime I see a Vietnam vet, I immediately thank them for their service and say, ‘welcome home’ because they didn’t get that.”
And he does what he can to raise awareness for all veterans, on Veterans Day and every day.
Read more about Bobcat sales specialists who are answering the call of duty.