Motivational Talk – Overcoming Great Odds – Mary Dague (US Army Vet & Purple Heart Recipient)


Dague: So, my name is Mary.

And I should start off, I want to tell you all I'm not being paid to share my story with you.

This isn't something I do for money, I do it because it seems to help people.

It's not for the attention, to be honest, I'm shaking, I'm so terrified right now.

(Laughs) There's a lot of people here.

(Crowd Laughter) Audience Member: They don't pay us either (laughter) Dague: Um, but I do this because I have watched way too many people just give up and they give up on their dreams, their aspirations, on their own lives and I'm sick of it.

I can help in a very small way so I'm doing what I can.

And I hope that you'll leave here going, “Man, if that armless girl can do it, I got this.

” (Crowd laughs) Um, it's better for me to tell a story.

I learn better that way.

But before I tell you how I, my little process for adapting, overcoming, 'cause sometimes, you know, bad things happen, little bad things, big bad things, utterly crazy things will happen in your life.

Um, and if you're one of those people who don't adapt too well it's gonna be quite a trial for you.

And I mean that, how many of you have heard the phrase, “just deal with it.

” Like it's that easy (laughs) So first, and this is the hardest part for me personally, not for everyone, first you have to not only identify the problem, you have to accept and acknowledge that it's actually a problem.

Um, and, what I mean by that, yeah, this is pretty obvious, but the first couple of weeks I was like, “no, it's not that bad.

I'm fine, it's just my arms.

” (Laughing) But after that, it requires you swallowing your pride and everyone in the military that's pretty tough.

You learn so often in the military, and my experience too, bottle it all up.

You don't want to burden the people you love and you care about with your problems so you keep it inside.

That is a terrible plan.

Um, you have to acknowledge it and often time you have to ask for help and that's ok, seriously, it's ok to ask for help.

Um, and then, after that you have come up with a purpose.

What do you want to do? Why do you want to do it? You'll see it all the time with high school kids, like, “I want to be a veterinarian.

“Like, why do you want to do that? Oh, I love animals.

“You know you're going to have to put that little puppy down right.

“I don't want to do it.

“You have to come up with a purpose why you want to help animals.

You probably will end up going into conservation instead.

A lot of people think that when they have a goal that there is only one way to get there.

That is not the case.

(laughs) So you find your purpose, you can create a plan.

To create the plan, you have to make sure it's not such a rigid plan that you can't move a little, you can't adapt, you have to be able to roll with the punches.

And this stuff is completely applicable to little things, big life changes, um life long goals or just what you are gonna major in.

So, uh, after you formulate your plan, comes most peoples hardest part and that is sticking with it.

Not quitting.

Don't give up.

Don't give up on yourself, don't think you can't do it 'cause you hit an obstacle.

Just keep trying and when you get to that point where you’re like, I can't do this anymore, just ask yourself, “why, why can't you do it?” Find that problem, identify that problem and then address that.

You don't have to quit you don't have to give up on what you want to do.

So now that I've told you the basics of dealing with it, I'm going to tell you how I got here.

'Cause this doesn't, you don't learn how to do this just one day when something goes wrong.

This is not the first, or worst, thing to ever happened to me.

Um, mine started when I was a little girl.

And I know know you're like, “what up Mary, this has nothing to do with your arms.

” No, it really doesn't.

But so many people have a childhood trauma that they tend to fall back on, they tend to make it an excuse.

It's the reason they can't advance.

When I was a little girl, I was probably six or seven, we had a guy in our trailer park, I grew up very poor.

And this guy was an utter dirt bag.

He molested little kids.

My sister and I were two of those little kids, and I didn't know it was wrong at the time, you know, I was a little girl, I didn't understand but when he threatened to kill my sister was when I realized it was bad.

So, I told my parents who told the cops who started an investigation found out he'd done it to every little kid in the trailer court and I was the only one that ever told.

So he tried to kill me.

He ran me over with his truck.

Tried to back over me but a neighbor intervened saved my life.

You know, it went to trial.

He went away for a very long time.

But I still had to deal with that.

You know, as a little kid, it's kinda easier, you bounce.

But I still had to go through therapy.

I went through a phase where I lied about absolutely everything because I thought if people knew anything about me they'd have a weapon they could use against me.

And that's not healthy either.

But these are situations people, all people have, not just military.

These things come up and you have to learn to deal with it.

So my family and I moved to a smaller town in Montana and it's, when I say small, I graduated with twenty kids.

Like, it's itty bitty.

But I still had to have the same thing you have in high school, a high school sweetheart, I'm like, “I'm gonna get engaged and get married.

” It was really dumb.

(laughter) So, I waited, I'm like, “I'll wait a year, ” and then I lost my scholarship and then I'm sitting there, you know, with what I'd planned for life, going down the drain, thinking, “I've gotta give up on my goals, to do this one stupid thing, ” and I almost did it and then one day, I'm chopping vegetables with my soon-to-be mother in-law, and so nonchalant, she goes, “Don't worry, Mary, I'm going to train you to be the perfect housewife.

It's like, “no, no.

” (laughs) I joined the army two weeks later.

I'm not even kidding.

(audience laughing) Uh, you know, I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

But the army gave me options I could choose and I 'd have some time to think about it and I could still make a difference while I was mulling it over.

So they offered me Explosive Ordinance Disposal and for those of you who don't know, uh, it's the military's version of the bomb squad.

And if I had known back then how awesome that job is I would've done it when I was eighteen.

I would have left before I graduated.

But it was, to this day, and I say that fully knowing what happens the best job ever.

But I went through my year of training and I actually got run over again in training.

A taxi like parked on my leg and I tried to rip it out and tore my achilles tendon.

I'm telling you, I'm the luckiest person on the planet (laughing) So I did my training and I got stationed here in Fort Lewis, the 707th.

And it was only a 13 man company and I was the first female and I've had a lot of people like oh that's such an accomplishment, no it's just a fact.

I wasn't the first female EOD, just here.

It's not awesome.

But when I got to my unit I completely assimilated.

Like I became one of the guys.

They called me Steve after two weeks.

I was just one of their brothers.

And I'm cool with that.

Like I loved it because I trained at one standard, you know, I never made excuses, they didn't do stuff for me.

There was none of that crazy chivalry.

We were all brothers.

And it kept us in check.

Everything was a competition.

Like to be better than each other.

And in our job you need that because your lives literally depend on each other.

So within, we spent a year together before the deployment and within that year, I don't know, like I re-learned the meaning of family.

Like you have your blood family but in the military or in EOD was just, it's such a deeper brotherhood.

So we deployed and a lot of people think oh you go to Iraq and that's really scary and I mean yeah a little sometimes.

Not really.

But I'm to a point where people shoot at you and your like why? But war in EOD, I can't speak to the other MOS's but In EOD that's the best part of our job.

Like that's where we absolutely shine.

Like we get to make such a big difference over there.

I was only their for 11 months and 4 days before I got blown up and the rest of my unit was there for 15 months.

In that 11 months and 4 days, just my team alone ran over 167 IED's.

That's not including caches, ordinance, other stuff you probably don't want to hear about.

But it was, you know, that's the point where you look back and you go I made a difference, you know.

And in EOD, bombs don't discriminate.

They don't care who they kill, men, women, children, the elderly, innocence, combatants, it doesn't matter.

They just destroy.

And our job was to stop that.

And you know like a little bit of you see's yourself as this superhero in your head like the cape billowing like yeah I'm awesome.

(laughter) But it was amazing.

And then 11 months and 4 days into it we got a call from the Iraqi army.

They'd found an IED and they were just driving around with it in their truck for some reason and we were like hey take it to this disposal area.

And they were like yeah sure.

No, they brought it to a school, as you do.

(laughter) So we get out there and we're like legally, yeah we could blow it up here, morally, there are kids freaking everywhere.

Like no were not going to do that.

So we take it apart and I throw it up on my shoulder and I bring back to the truck and I laid it down.

When I had thrown it up on my shoulder my weapon was slung and it kind of like flew around me so it's choking me a little bit on my sling.

So I laid the device into the truck and then I relinquished positive control of the device and I fixed my weapon and I looked up and it was rocking.

So I grabbed it and it detonated.

And anything could have happened in the last few seconds before it detonated.

I could have scooted it, I could have pushed it, I could have dropped it, I could have just pissed it off, it's and explosive.

What we think happened after talking to the forensics team was that it was on a lip and before I actually got the chance to catch it, just because of the way my injuries were, it looked like I was still in the process, it fell off the lip and that's what caused it to detonate.

We didn't find out til later that it had a very, very sensitive explosive in it.

So it, when it detonated it threw me about 15 feet into a humvee.

It had sympathetically detonated a bag of explosives that was next to it, which actually saved my life.

Because when it detonated it threw me before the frag could really shred me.

I mean, it got my face a bit, it perforated my eardrums, I lost my arms, but it gave my team time to get to me, put turnicates on before I could bleed out.

Which only takes about 7 seconds.

So they did that.

My team leader ran up, asked me if I was ok.

And I was like hey are you ok? Where's Mick? Cause Mick was in the truck, he was married, had a kid, freaked me out.

I thought he was dead.

He was like no, no, no he's right here.

Turns out he's the one that flew out after me and saved my life.

But after that, once they told me every body was ok, like, I was good, I was calm.

I just laid there and talked to people, trying not to go into shock.

Like, they covered my eyes so I couldn't see everything but as soon as they took my flack vest off, like, I knew.

I didn't admit it, I was like, no, just rung my bell.

I was just really close, I'm fine.

And then you know the flack vest comes off and I was like, Oh my god.


So I stayed awake all through the med evac.

They got me to the cache.

And the med-evac, I mean anybody whose served knows, it got there in 14 minutes.

That's unheard of.

Almost before I was ready to get loaded.

So they get me to the cache, the doctor tells me, ok we've got you, your going to be ok.

And I'm like alright.

And I go to sleep.

And I woke up in Germany and the very first thing I did was like lifted my arm and I was like, oh that ones gone.

Agh, it's even shorter, crap.

Like really? So you know, boo, sad, got back to center my now ex-husband was able to fly back with me.

He's that half face in the chair there.

That's me on the med-evac actually, I was pretty.

(Laughter) So I got home, and I started doing my therapy and it took ten days for it to break me.

For me to actually realize that this was a real problem.

And I'll tell you how it broke me and it's, this is like the most embarrassing story of my life.

I was 23 years old, hooked up to all sorts of machines and IV's and god knows how many drugs and I finally had to go to the bathroom and then I realized, how am I going to do this.

And I broke.

I cried for a half an hour just sitting on my little porcelain throne of shame.

Like, really? I had to ask my husband to help me.

And talk about swallowing your pride.

You know, don't get me wrong, everyone thinks you know, when I'm 80, 90 I'll be in an old folks home like come wipe my ass.

(laughter) You know? At 23? Well like.

So my, basically, my entire life changed in the time it takes for a bomb to detonate.

And my husband became my caretaker which was such a switch in a dynamic that he eventually cheated on my and I don't even blame him.

We had such a nurse/ patient dynamic like it wasn't only I that was effected by this.

You know, this kind of thing effects everyone around you for a long time.

I became a burden on the people I cared about the most.

And that was probably the hardest part to get past.

I had to admit that I was a problem and that I had to learn to overcome it.

So I did my therapy and I started to notice that I was helping the other soldiers.

And you know there are guys with missing legs, burned, you know, forearm down.

You know, they got issues with their hands and they're like oh how do you do it? And we start comparing notes and like at first I was like oh I'm not that bad off.

You know, I walk in and there's a guy, not kidding, Matt, he's still a friend to this day.

He has no legs, and only his left arm.

And I walk in and he's in a wheel chair and he wheels back and looks at me and he goes, oh glad I'm not you.

I'm like dude, you have one arm.

(laughter) I'll never forget, he looks at me and goes, yeah but I can still touch my dick.

And I'm like man.

(Laughter) Really.

Like, then it dawns on me, NO! (laughter) But you know, I learned there that you can be in a really, really bad situation and it inspires other people to do more with there lives.

And pretty soon I'm talking to other veterans who lost their eyesight and they're like how do I get out of this? And first your going to have to break down, get it out, admit that this sucks, and then embrace the suck and make a plan after that.

And that kind of became my purpose.

You know, all of a sudden I wasn't the one that needed help anymore.

I was the one that was helping people.

That gave me a drive.

So my husband and I at the time moved back up here to Washington, cause my unit was still here.

They're still my brothers.

This was were I felt at home.

And I decided I wanted to go back to college.

And then my husband cheated on my for the fourth time and I was like alright, how long am I going to take this? And you know for a while it was like why does he keep doing this, blah blah blah, you know, what's wrong with these, was it the arms? No, it wasn't that, it was me.

It was my self esteem.

I was letting that happen.

Yeah he's the cheater, whatever.

I'm the one that's just taking it.

You know.

And I realized it was because I had such a poor self image.

I legitimately thought whose ever going to love the scarred armless girl.

I am so much baggage.

Like, no one wants to get involved with that.

Which is wrong, but that's what I thought.

So finally I was, you know, I sat down and I was like what will I lose if I lose him, am I even happy? Like, no.

And so we got a divorce and I was happy.

Like even being alone and terrified, I was happier.

And then it turns out if your a chick in EOD, and you hug a bomb to save your team, the guys think your hotter.

So I got a date.

(laughter) So yeah, it actually wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be.

So I started dating an EOD tech and it got pretty serious and he gave me a lot of confidence.

And I was like yeah I'm going to go back to school and I started college and I was like this will be awesome, I remember school.

And then, you know, I was the one in class like every five seconds like, what, no, I had an experience that doesn't go with that.

Or five million questions.

And then you've got the 16 year olds like, well soldiers really do in war.



And your like.



(Laughter) So it was a culture shock for me.

But you know, it was going good and I was in my third semester and my boyfriend deployed with my unit.

Which was rough because it was my brothers and my boyfriend all going at the same time.

And at the time, and EOD it's not about if you lose somebody, it's whose it going to be.

And that's just the reality of our job.

So it became kind of stressful at first and then in one weekend, two days, five of my friends were killed.

And if anybodies lost one friend, it's, man it's rough.

But five? I don't care how strong you are, you will break.

I closed my self off, I stayed inside, I was like I'm not doing anything.

Every time my boyfriend called, like hey you fine? Yeah I'm fine.

Listen I gotta go, I'm playing Dragon Age.

Like I didn't deal with it well.

So finally he, you know, I quit college, I was like I'm going to take this next semester off, I'm going to take a break, this is too much for me.

I'll go back when James, my boyfriend, comes back.

So we get through that deployment, he comes back, two weeks later I'm filling out the paperwork, start my new semester.

I go in for an annual exam, they find a lump.

I get diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.

And I'm like just sitting there.

And talk about bad things accumulative.

And it's a two sided coin.

The more it happens, the worse it gets.

Because you start to ask yourself, what the hell did I do? Like, what did I do to deserve this? But on the other side, the more bad things that happen, the better equipped you are to deal with bad things.

You just have to learn from each bad thing rather than letting it destroy you.

Which is hard.

It's not just like you, oh, this is the lesson.


It takes years.

So I went through chemo and we, we, you know, we formulated a plan.

You know, what are we going to do? You know, what's the ultimate goal.

Am I going to go back to college after this because you know stage one cancer isn't that bad.

But anybody tells you, oh hey you have cancer.

I don't care what stage it is, it feels like getting punched in the stomach.

Like really, why? So when I was, you know, going through chemo, I was posting all over Facebook, like hey, this is updates, but I'm not like that person who's like my cancer is awful guys, pity me.

I'm like holy crap I hate chemo Mondays.

Like you know, it's light hearted, still kind of real but light hearted and it was helping people.

It was helping them deal with it.

Cause there's this armless girl going through chemo.

You know, just got divorced and like how do you do it without losing your mind? I'm like, well, you know, beer and video games.

(laughter) And then all of a sudden, you know, I started getting calls from people that I didn't even know.

Just asking me for help.

You know, how are you going through this? What would you do in this situation? And that kind of became my day to day, was helping other people.

So I changed my major from forensic psychology from forensics to just psychology so I could help more people.

You know, I have the experience, you know, but now I need the knowledge.

So I started doing that.

I started writing a book.

Which I don't know if anyone's ever written a book about themselves but it's really freaking weird.

Like, there’s, I mean, there's times, like everyone makes mistakes in life, and we think about it and we're like oh that was dumb.

But when you write it down your like so dumb.

Like, what was I thinking? And then you drink more.

So it kind of became my thing.

I started speaking.

And I'm not, like, I'm an introvert.

Like after this I'm going to sit in my man cave and play video games and just ignore the world because I get peopled out.

I get scared of this kind of stuff.

But it, again, it's a purpose.

It's what's given me a drive, it keeps me going out.

And every veteran needs that.

Especially, I've talked to three of you now.

You get out, and you lose your purpose and then it's so easy to fall into that whole to trap yourself in a box, where no one else can touch you, you've already done what you've wanted to do in life.

And you lose yourself.

You know, I don't have to tell you the suicide epidemic.

It's a freaking plague on the military.

And it's exactly that.

And people lose their purpose and they all go about it in different ways.

I can't stress finding a purpose more enough in life.

It uh, it keeps you going.

And that's important.

So it started, it helped me live again.

And I don't mean survive, just existing, doing my thing.

No, it helped me live again.

You know, I drive, I cook, I play video games, like some would call it an addiction.

But whatever.


But I've become me again.

I've become whole.

I'm not just this sad dependant husk of a human that has to ask for help with everything.

Yeah I still have to ask for stuff but I'm independent.

People ask me for help too.

I've become a productive member of society to a point.

And it's something that because I decided long ago that my bad, my bad experiences, my bad situations would not define me.

I wouldn't let them break me.

Yeah I would learn from them.

And you have to keep them with you otherwise you'll do it again.

But I wouldn't let it change me.

And so I'll quit with this.

The father of analytical psychology, Karl Young, once said, I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.

And so, I put it to you to choose what you are going to become.

And go after it.

That's all, I'm done.

(applause) Kuljam: We have Q&A's.

And anybody? I asked Mary, you know, if certain questions are off limits and she says no, they're not.

Dague: Fire away.

Kuljam: Fire away.

Any questions? Audience Member: I know that as someone’s who's, like people that are at that point in their lives where their considering suicide, and they call you, you through your training, is there any specific places you've gone for training like that or? Dague: There's a couple sites that you can go to that they offer free, I think it's an 80 hour course, on suicide prevention for people who want to work on hotlines and stuff.

If you give me your email after this, I don't know it off the top of my head, but I can get it for you.

And it's, it just gives you training on how to talk people down.

Cause it, especially in the military people tend to be like suck it up.

But you can't do that, don't do that.

But yeah, there's websites, there's classes.

There's actually, you know, little local satellite places that you can get the training at.

Other than that, I would, just college.

Audience Member: Are you one of the (inaudible) Dague: Um, I mean, to a point.

I don't.



I mean, you don't necessarily need a degree to help people.

With me it's different because I've got a lot of life experience.

And especially veterans, they tend to value that more than a degree.

You know, because somebody with a doctorate, you know they'll be like, here's what you need to do.

And you'll be like, doc what have you done.

When have you ever been through it.

Audience Member: It's your humor.

And last week I read an article (inaudible) and they didn't appreciate your dark humor and I know that, I've known a tough spot, a tough situations and that's always the thing that I've noticed is that you do not lack in, and your not belittling or anything like that and its always that humor that breaks their train, their own spiraling down if you make them laugh.

And you've got change.

Dague: Yeah humor is so important in survival.

Like, in anything.

If you go through a bad situation and you can be that person who laughs about it in five years or you just keep crying about it for the rest of your life.

Personally I prefer to laugh.

You know.

This isn't like new.

I've always been like dark humored.

But now I've got more terrible arm puns that I can use.

(laughter) Audience Member: Thank you so much.

Dague: Go ahead.

Audience Member: As you know there's been a lot of bad headlines about the VA many months ago, how has your experience with the VA? Dague: My experience has been phenomenal but, in all honesty, it's not like if I walk up they're gonna be like ah you're faking it.


(laughter) I hate to say if they send the armless girl away that's really bad PR.

But I have had friends who have had just a terrible experience.

Partially due to them not going to their appointments, not being honest with their docs, and partially due to just falling through the cracks.

But my, personally, mine has been phenomenal.

Audience Member: Do you go through an anger, rage phase and would you, if you did, care to discuss that at all on how you got through that? Dague: Yeah, probably, I only spent two weeks in the hospital, I'm a real quick healer.

But about the first week after the hospital I had like that big breakdown.

That wasn't just sad because I couldn’t do one thing.

Like, it was full on rage.

And it, like, you cry, you scream.

You hate the whole world.

Cause why you and not them? But that's something that you have to go through.

You have to.

If you bottle that up, when you finally blow, you might not survive it.

And now, like you know, especially in therapy, I would try something five, ten, a hundred freaking times and it would just keep failing.

And, you know, I'd keep telling myself, like, one more try and then you hit that wall and I'm not kidding you.

I would go into a room, shut the door.

And I would scream and stomp my feet like flash dance.

And then I'd be like, whoo, alright, lets try this again.

And then go back out there and submit myself to more torture, you know, until I finally got it.

But man, rage happens.

I prefer to rage on my own because then people can't be like, man you are crazy.

Like, but, yeah.

Is that? Do you want? Audience Member: I actually did have a follow up in regards to, you know, they talked about forgiveness and, you know, that helps with addictions and sometimes our addictions are, you know, running from something and that addictions are– or forgiveness is what sets us free, and in one of your cases I could see where, like– what do you– how do you forgive that, what I mean– you just got burnt? Or you know, like say okay I'm not mad at you anymore dude.

Dague: No, no, to me the only ones that should ever bear the blame for what happened to me were the bomb makers.

You know, the terrorists themselves, and I've had to forgive people for– my medic, my teammate, my team leader, they all blame themselves.

Survivors guilt is real, you know, and they went into a dark, dark place because of it and I had to spend years with my teammate, because he's a bigger dude, you know, and so we were working on the device and I grabbed and threw it up on my shoulder and our security team was kind of like, you know, making jokes because we had all worked together for about a year, and they know I didn't need help, they were like oh you're gonna let that little girl carry that big ass bomb? And he's like oh she's got it, and then you know, I lose my arms.

So he– you know, to him he was like I should've taken it.

And that was never his fault, it was my job, you know, it's something that I accepted, I always knew that I could die as an E.



tech, I was always willing to give my life for my brothers, why wouldn't I be willing to give my arms for them.

Audience: I actually have to leave to go teach, but I wanted to just say that listening to your story was– it was just so inspirational, I really really do love the perspective that you can sort of get hit with something and then suddenly just kind of having that be a downward path, you can just simply sort of see it as almost like a strength building exercise, so I really wanted to say that it was inspirational, so thank you.

Dague: Thank you, I appreciate that.

Now I'm gonna smile all day.

Kuljam: Hey Mary, Before you should go, is there a higher being that you pray to or keep– Dague: No, I'm not particularly religious, although I will say that it's important to find your center.

I do get overwhelmed by stuff, but when that happens I just– because I'm an introvert, you know, a lot of people if they have God, if they have, you know, what religion they have, they have their friends, that's what brings them back to center.

For me, it's just being alone, reading some comic books, playing a video game, doing something that's kind of always been comfortable to me that just kind of makes me feel back in my bubble and I'm good.

Yeah, I've never– like even– you know, everybody says there's no Atheists in a fox hole, I didn't even pray on the med-evac, like just didn't occur to me I guess.


Is that weird? Sorry.

Like it got really quiet, but I'm like I'm not an Atheist.

Kuljam: Not at all.

Would you do it again? Dague: Oh yeah, oh are you kidding me? If they gave me bionic arms I would be signing that line tomorrow.

Well I mean, they've got to be like Luke Skywalker arms but– Anyone else? Kuljam: So is E.



a different animal than as opposed to– Dague: We walk around with our hands in our pockets, I've– I chewed out a Colonel on site once because he was– this idiot, we get up to this– I know right? I'm gonna tell you this story, so this guy, we roll up to an I.



that we had been called out to for, 45 minutes it took us to get out there because our security just takes a while.

We get up there and it's like from me to that little black thing away.

And there's a guy just pointing at it, just standing there, and there's another guy next to him.

We park pretty far away, and so I like grab our P.


system and we're like is that the device? And the guy goes– And I go get the away from the device.

And he's like what? And I went oh this mother and so I kick my door open and I'm like check, and I get out and I run up to him and as I get up there I realize he's shiny and he's got this little E2 next to him holding security, and it is 2 in the afternoon in Iraq, and the I.



is in a giant hole.

We don't need him to point at anything.

It's right there dude, we got it.

And he was like well you need to know where it is.

And I knife handed him, I'm like screaming at his face, I'm like I don't care if you kill yourself but if he gets killed because he doesn't know what's going on, like do you know when this is gonna go off? Do you even know it's a bomb? Do you? Like– This– Yeah, it's– like you don't get to do that in other MOS's.

But you know, you get on site with a bomb and you're like, I am the subject matter expert, bow.

I'm just kidding, we're not that big headed, just a little bit.

Audience: So what do you want to do as far as like, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Dague: The next five years, well we're moving to Florida because my husband got a teaching gig at E.



school, oh yeah.

The boyfriend, he proposed.

It was sweet.

Audience: Does it come with a ring? Dague: I know right? I don't wear it in public.

Kuljam: He's a marine, so– Dague: Awesome, I promise I'm not offended.

But yeah, we're gonna be doing that, I'm helping start up a– like a satellite charity, it's not a new charity, it's one that raises funds and gives to other charities, because there's plenty of charities you know, I've got nothing new to offer to that.

And then I've got to finish up this book which means I have to write this book, but yeah, I don't know, this public speaking thing has been kind of really kicking up lately.

But it's– I mean it's good though, because it breaks me out of my shell, and it's– that's important in life.

Try new things.

Even if it makes you uncomfortable, actually especially if it makes you uncomfortable.

But not that uncomfortable.

Yeah, that's it, like my biggest thing in life is just helping people and mostly I try to be open for that.


Oh we got two, back to back.

Cool, in the back first.

Audience: Were you a candidate for prosthetics? Dague: Oh yeah, I have one that I use for driving.

But the thing is like I don't have elbows and that– to use an elbow you need a whole set of muscles for it, so that takes away from the functionality of the wrist and claw, whatever.

So I use the one for driving and it just comes off right here and it's just a hook, body powered, I didn't want anything that could fail in traffic.

But I– you know, I did like the bionic one, the myoelectric one for a while and it's just not my jam.

Go ahead, sir.

Audience: By the way, terrific presentation, you're a terrific speaker and I think that's a great career choice for you going forward and I'm just wondering if you've had a chance to speak to kids at all about your life experiences.

Dague: Only at my high school, well and the elementary school too, that one's harder for me because I swear a lot.

Audience: I'd be happy to be a proof reader before.

But you have a compelling story to tell and I think kids would really benefit from hearing your message.

Audience: I agree, especially today's time and kids.

Dague: Go ahead.

Audience: I also think you could moonlight as a standup comedian.

Dague: Go ahead.

Audience: I have to ask, because I saw– I see the shirt you're wearing and I saw a couple of the pictures, and I'm thinking there's a viable business opportunity.

How many T-Rex T-shirts do you have? Dague: Like a dozen? Audience: So when you go on the speaking tour I think, you know, you set up the concession (inaudible) Audience: Thank you, anymore questions? Kuljam: I have one more question and then we'll sign off.

When you– A lot of Vietnam vets will go back to Vietnam to basically forgive and forget everything.

Would you want to go back to Iraq and just see, and just– Dague: I feel like it's simple with me, I don't blame the Iraqis or the people, I blame the insurgents, the terrorists and– man this is being recorded, but whatever.

I'm sorry, like, Iraq was a shit hole.

Like there was trash that lined the road that's taller than me for days and just– it smelled awful, the dust storms are terrible, I'm cool.

Kuljam: So anymore questions anybody? Audience: So you mentioned, you know, that you have a significant other, but I'm really curious because parents are– how are your parents or your sister or your immediate family how are you connected and are they doing– They're pretty good, my mom got a little crazy for a while and was like oh, you know the Pentagon has this pixie dust that they keep in a secret lab that will grow your arms back, and like– No ma, that doesn't exist.

But you know, and she fainted when she first saw me but that was– I gather, that's pretty– a natural reaction, I don't know if kids or anything would, but I think I would probably faint too.

But I think it helped them just seeing me be like happy and spunky and the same as I was before.

It like– at first you know, they were– actually all my friends, my family were like really kind of you know, take a step back, like hey Mary, you okay? Like I'm not gonna bite your head off, I'm good.

But after, you know, after that they're fine.

Actually my dad every now and then he'll be doing something and he'll still toss something to me and I'll just like let it hit me in the chest like really dad? Yeah.

Kuljam: If there's no more questions I'd like to present Mary with a T-Rex.

Because she's peacing to Florida right? Florida.

We just want her to remember UW Tacoma, so here's a T-Rex you know.

And also, a UW scarf, I don't– like she really needs it in Florida right? But anyway, then also we also want you to remember Tacoma so we– I bought you a T-Shirt that says paramount Tacoma.

It's a small but it should fit.

Dague: Don't worry, I wash everything on hot, it'll get smaller.

Kuljam: Okay so then also, it is grit city here, so we got the brass knuckles, yeah.

Dague: That's awesome.

Kuljam: And as you guys probably know, she– Mary likes to drink coffee, so we bought– got her two cups, two mugs for– UW Tacoma coffee mug, okay.

Then you know, I went to the– our advancement people and they started giving me swag, and I go– and they gave me a pen, and I go really? A pen? What the hell is she gonna do with a pen? But it has a stylus on it so I mean– but anyway, hey Mary, thank you.

What a true American, I mean I appreciate you and you always have a family here.

Dague: Thank you.

I'm gonna name my T-Rex Fingers.