Streaming Media


Oral history interview of Jose Belen. Interview conducted by John Grande at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL on July 18, 2017.


0:01 Introduction; 0:30 Biographical information, parents' occupation, childhood; 2:20 Education before the military, family in the military; 3:10 Memories of 9/11; 4:25 Influences to join the Army and recruitment process; 6:02 Basic training; 7:18 Drill sergeants; 10:02 Graduation from basic training; 11:13 Advanced Individual Training; 12:35 Stationed in Germany; 14:09 Assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd field artillery; 15:00 Lead up to deployment to Iraq; 16:25 Arrival in Iraq, encounter with Iraqi children; 17:24 How he and fellow soldiers felt about Iraq; 18:28 Consecutive combat for 14 months, R & R passed up to other soldiers; 20:30 21st and 22nd birthdays in Iraq; 21:05 Routine day in Iraq; 22:50 Good memories from Iraq; 24:07 The death of his best friend; 25:20 Frequency of combat in Iraq, volunteering for anything; 26:44 First experience with combat; 27:35 How his unit dealt with combat casualties; 29:55 Describing friends and peers; 30:25 Staying in contact with family; 31:44 Entertainment and Christmas in Iraq; 33:10 Decision to turn down SF position and leave the Army; 35:10 Returning home, feeling nothing; 36:30 Work with other branches of the military; 37:45 Promotion to Specialist and discharge from the Army, medals awarded; 40:00 Plans after leaving the Army, feeling out of place in civilian life; 41:40 Annual reunion for friend that died in Iraq; 42:55 Struggles with PTSD and raising awareness; 45:38 Quitting corporate career to speak and raise awareness for PTSD.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Manhattan (N.Y.)




White - Hispanic

Home State

New York

War or Conflict

Operation Iraqi Freedom



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Army

Unit of Service

1st Armored Division &Old Ironsides; 1ST Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion 3rd Field Artillery Regiment &Gunners

Location of Service

Baghdad (Iraq); Najaf (Iraq)

Highest Rank

Specialist; E-4

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury





Army Commendation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Presidential Unit Citation; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Combat Action Badge; Marksmanship Badge; Driver and Mechanic Badge; Active Duty Army Minute Man Lapel Pin; Order of the Spur


See video for details.


Combat service-related injury- Severe PTSD. Awarded Army Commendation Medal three times. Awarded Presidential Unit Citation twice. Awarded Combat Spur with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Wear combat Patches (1st Armored division, 2nd Cavalry Regiment) and combat stripes.

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Grande, John

Interview Date

Summer 7-18-2017

Location of Interview

Orlando, FL.


Belen, Jose; Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Personal Narratives; Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, 2001-present -- Personal Narratives; United States. Army

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.



Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES; University of Central Florida


Grande, John

Length of Interview

50 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida


Video; MovingImage


All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576.


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type