ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — September 11, 2001 was a memorable day not only because our country endured an act of terror, but for some, it solidified how they’d spend their future.
Both Scott West and Tim Hocut joined the army and Sergeant Major Lance Nutt reenlisted in the Marines.
All three live in Northwest Arkansas.
“What can I do to change this? What can I do as an American to be able to serve my country and that was joining the armed forces,” West said.
He wasn’t even old enough to join the Army in 2001, so he enlisted as soon as he was eligible, in August 2003. He was actually 17 and celebrated his 18th birthday in boot camp (which he said he doesn’t recommend).
Within two-and-a-half-months of his training, the 19 Delta Recon Scout shipped off to Iraq, where his team provided convoy support.
West said, “if anybody was going to get hit in a vehicle or anything like that in our area of operation we would be down and out there within 15 minutes pulling 360 security for them so they could get back up on the road and keep on going.”
Three days before he was set to come home in February 2007, an explosion ended his military career.
“[The explosion] blew a hole about 9 foot wide, 8 foot deep and the truck about 4 foot in the air,” West continued, “I bled out there in the field for about 55 minutes and died three times and woke up at Walter Reed.”
It wasn’t until six days after the accident when he finally came to.
Excited to see his mother sitting beside his hospital bed he leaned up and, “I didn’t have the weight to be able to lean up and that’s when my legs came up in front of me and I realized I was missing both my legs.”
West realized he was a double amputee. He endured 38 surgeries in his first 60 days back on US soil.
His legs weren’t all he lost during his time overseas. He deployed with a group of 13 and only about four or five came back a live.
West said, “what I had to go through, what I had to see and what I had to do was traumatic.”
This sent West into a deep depression, which led to six years of drinking and drugging and even some jail time for the army vet.
Tim Hocut was in the 7th grade when our country endured the acts of terror on 9/11.
He joined the army’s delayed entry program in 2006 and went to basic training in 2007.
Hocut served in Germany and Italy before he volunteered to go to Iraq in in March 2010.
He said. “I needed to get there, I needed to play my part. I have a role in this country and it’s to be there, it’s to be for the civilians and to be there for everybody.”
“When you go to another country like Iraq and Afghanistan it’s a life-altering moment. These men and women go there to help change lives, not to fight. 99% of them want to make something better,” said Hocut.
While overseas he reenlisted to serve in the army for another eight years.
But, in August 2010, the military policeman got hurt and had to be medically discharged.
Sergeant Major Lance Nutt said his service started the day he was born.
“Based on the fact that my father was a Marine, he was a naval aviator in the Marine Corps for 20 years so I was blessed to grow up in the company of heroes,” Nutt said.
He enlisted when he was 17-years-old and went to basic training once he turned 18 in 1989.
His father was actually who swore him in before his father retired.
About a year and a half after he joined is when the gulf war started and Nutt deployed to the front lines.
He served his time, then came back to Arkansas where he remained in the reserves and attended the University of Arkansas.
Nutt even served as a recruiter in Northwest Arkansas for about five years.
It wasn’t until 2000 that he decided to begin phasing out of his career with the Marines.
That was, until September 11, 2001.
“Based on what I’d spent my life wanting to do, which was serve my country, I knew that in it’s greatest time of need there was no doubt I was going back,” Nutt said.
To Nutt it wasn’t an if, but when.
At the time the Marines weren’t taking former service members, but when the insurgency ramped up in Iraq, his chance to deploy came again.
In 2003 he was deployed to Al Taqaddum, which he described as an area right in the middle of two hot spots in Western Iraq.
The first of what became three deployments to the middle east after 9/11.
After a 30 year career in the Marines, Nutt retired in 2018.
September 11, 2001 not only inspired Nutt, Hocut and West to join the military, but it’s what led to the creation of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.
“There would not have been as great a need for Sheep Dog if it had not been for September 11,” Nutt continued, “we had a whole new generation of combat vets who were traumatized and were killing themselves.”
The Rogers-based non-profit founded by Nutt has become a nationwide organization that serves veterans, law enforcement and first responders.
Nutt said, “9/11 started with firefighters and police officers running into those buildings and dyeing in an effort to save lives and that is what a sheep dog is.”
With a ‘helping is healing’ mindset, Sheep Dog allows men and women who have the desire to serve the ability to do so through Disaster Response Mission and Outdoor Adventures programs.
“What we’re trying to do with our organization is stress with our veteran community that they are the best among us as a society and that if they are not willing to continue serving and giving back, than who?,” said Nutt.
It also connects those who were injured in combat or the line of duty with others who’ve experienced something similar.
For Nutt, Hocut and West, joining the military isn’t all they share in common.
They all work for Sheep Dog where they continue their service.
Nutt serves as Sheep Dog’s CEO, Hocut is the team coordinator and West is the outdoor adventure program director.
West said. “after I joined sheep dog I kind of feel like my life was saved twice. The first time was on that battlefield when I died when god saved my life and I lived through it and my second time was when I found Sheep Dog.”