Behenna sought a commission in the United States Army after graduating from college. He attended OCS and Infantry Officer Training and was then selected to attend the U. S. Army’s Ranger School. Behenna was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division as the platoon leader for 5th Platoon, Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment and deployed to Iraq in 2007.
During his tour of duty in Iraq, Behenna’s platoon conducted counter-insurgency operations in the Salahuddin province with a focus on the towns of Mezra, Hajaj and Butoma. Behenna made efforts to develop ties with local Iraqis as part of his counter-insurgency mission and, already fluent in Spanish, began to teach himself Arabic. He was known to host cookouts with his platoon for local interpreters, engage with civilians on the street and encouraged his soldiers to learn about Iraqi culture and to eat their food. This desire to interact with locals caused some friction within his platoon with one soldier commenting: “He would talk to random civilians, anyone. He was the type of guy that liked Iraqis. That was the only annoying thing about him. He was always about saving the country.”
On the 21st of April, 2008, Behenna’s platoon was returning to their base with two detainees when their convoy was hit by an IED. One of the platoon’s MRAPs was destroyed and two soldiers, Specialists Adam Kohlhaas and Steven Christofferson, were killed and several others grievously wounded. The loss of his men weighed heavily on Behenna who at one point broke down in tears over the incident during a group therapy session.
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