Nov 29, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) welcomes the second Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) TRACK Program graduate hired at the aviation maintenance facility.
Adam Sardinas, 26, a decorated Marine and Iraq War veteran wounded during his second tour to the Middle East, works as an engine mechanic helper in the J52 Blade Shop at the Crinkley Engine Facility.
“The job is great,” said Sardinas. “There is always room to learn here. That is the best part about it. All these guys are very smart. They are incredible.”
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry machine gunner, but he developed a passion for machinery early on while working on cars with his stepfather.
“I was always building hotrods and motors,” he said. “It came natural to me. I loved the mechanics of it.”
Sardinas enlisted in June 2003 two weeks after graduating from Tampa Bay Technical High School, Tampa, Fla. He said he looked for the branch of service that best represented G.I. Joe, the action figure toy. For him that was the Marine Corps.
The 20-year-old saw plenty of action while deployed for seven months with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment to Fallujah, Iraq in 2005. It was during his second tour a year later when then Lance Cpl. Sardinas and two Marines sustained injuries while their unit, Kilo Company, engaged Sunni insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq, the capital of Anbar province.
“We were on a roof doing ‘over watch’ on a perimeter, when an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) exploded,” he said. “I was knocked unconscious for 30 seconds to a minute. When I finally woke up, they (Marines) were picking me up. They had wrapped up my face and hands. Shrapnel nearly tore off my right thumb, and I had two pieces in my face.”
After a series of surgeries, the first in Ballad and two more at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, N.C., doctors were able to fuse his fractured thumb and insert a metal pin. He still carries the shrapnel in his face as a reminder of that fateful day, April 24, 2006.
In addition, Sardinas suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. His TBI counselor told him about the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) TRACK Program headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. He applied and interviewed at the education center specifically designed for wounded warriors.
While assigned to the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, he received a Purple Heart Medal in October 2006. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2007.
Sardinas relocated to Jacksonville in August 2010 to start the yearlong WWP TRACK Program. He completed a three-month external internship at FRCSE repairing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, welding components in Plant Services, and measuring J52 engine compressor blades in the engines facility. Upon graduation, he applied for his current position working with engines.
He still deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and limited range of motion in his right thumb. Yet, he feels fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue a civilian career.
“One year later, my life has definitely changed for the better,” he said.
Sardinas is the second WWP TRACK graduate employed at FRCSE. The first is Purple Heart recipient Christopher Lynch, a U.S. Army veteran with service-connected disabilities, hired in January 2011. He also works at the FRCSE Crinkley Engine Facility.
FRCSE Public Affairs