Another Summit soldier weighs in
It seems like yesterday that those two airplanes crashed into the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001. I remember that I flipped the switch to CNN to watch the morning news after my college class. There was a surreal image on the screen. It took me several minutes to realize that I was not looking at some billion dollar blockbuster preview, but an actual attack on our country. Being American and a veteran of the Armed Forces, I knew that I could not just sit around and take this abuse from someone 8,000 miles away. Currently, I am on my fifth month here in Iraq. In approximately a year, I will be resigning my commission in the U.S. Army and returning to Summit County to live the rest of my days in peace. Randomly, I went to the Summit Daily News website and I saw the column from a Summit Soldier. The other Summit Soldier has hit the mark. Personally, I feel great pride in serving my country and I believe that we are doing some really great things here. I am also here to answer any questions to the best of my ability. Currently, I am deployed with Operation Iraqi Freedom in hot and sunny Iraq. I am a 1st Lieutenant and I am a platoon leader for about 38 of America’s bravest young men. I am a graduate of State University of New York Potsdam with a Liberal Arts B.A. in History and a former U.S. Army ROTC cadet. Since being deployed out of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., I have grown attached to my men. I could not express to you or their parents about how these guys make me so proud on a daily basis -about how much they have gave meaning to my life. My men have made powerful commitments. Being deployed has been both challenging and rewarding. Yes, it has been scary at times, but I try not to show this fear to my men. One night on a patrol, I was sitting on a burm overlooking a dangerous area just outside of my area of operation. One of my sergeants and I had lost some mission focus and we were discussing our wives back home, when an explosion went off about 800 meters from our location. The explosion leaped about a 500 meters into the air. It looked like a baby nuclear explosion. My reaction was to call for a compass, so I could calculate its location to report to my higher-ups. As I was screaming for a compass, I looked back off the burm and I came to a realization. Half my guys had jumped off the burm and taken cover in our armored HUMVEEs. The HUMVEEs were armed to teeth with M240Bs and a .50 Caliber Machine gun. My realization is that I was at war and everyone wants to get back to their loved ones back home. I know that I want to get back to my beautiful wife, Jade.When one of my platoon’s HUMVEEs was shrewed by an I.E.D. (Improvised Explosive Device), the patrol leader, Dave, and I took it to heart. “It was F****** luck that nobody got killed,” said Dave, who is another 1st Lieutenant. Vehicle Improvised Explosive Devices, I.E.D.’s and in-coming mortar rounds are common in a combat zone. The Anti-Iraqi Forces – or insurgents – lurk in the shadows, and they do not attempt to engage American forces face-to-face. They do not follow the same “Rules of Engagement” that the U.S. and the rest of the Multi-National Forces are bound to uphold. Perhaps, the most rewarding of the submissions is the civil affairs operations. Currently, I am responsible for approximately $800,000 for projects throughout this area of operation. For the most part, we are concerned with S.W.E.A.T., which is an acronym standing for sewage, water, electricity, academics and transportation. For the majority of the local nations, they agree that academics are “Iraq’s future.” Kudar Al Janbai, translated by my interpreter, commented that “we desperately need a school in the area because it is too dangerous for them to walk” the 5 kilometers to the closest school. To date, my patrol has been involved in over 50 missions to hand out clothes, medicine and academic supplies to the children of the area. The patrols have centered on building relationships with the local nations within our area of operation. Moreover, the patrols have gotten the message out that the U.S. and coalition forces are here to assist in Iraq’s movement toward democracy.
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