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tv   Oral Histories Iraq War Veteran Richard Todd  CSPAN  August 8, 2021 4:07pm-5:38pm EDT

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history center's keen on research center. >> i was born in florida my dad was in the navy. he went up work with the faa in south carolina until 1971 we got transferred to the center and hampton and has been here ever since. >> okay. >> the jew go to school worded to go to school? >> so into high school here griffin high school graduate 1976. >> did you enter military service then?
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>> that time it was mandatory for freshman. >> you served as the national guard how is that connection? >> after high school is working construction, a few other things. one of the things i was doing was working part-time at the station. there is a man there named bill we got to know each other through working together he is an older guy, he was older to me then. he would always greet me every day and say when you going to come drive my tanks. and i guess i was 18 and nothing sounded better than driving a tank. he said i am telling you, if you want to do just let me
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know. so he got me, he got me with that, driving tanks sounded great to get love to hunt, i love to shoot. >> shoot the big guns. yes. me and a buddy decided we would join. i was living with him he has passed away now. i was living with him and a trailer and easter griffin. we decided we are going to go in together. you know we discussed you still want to do it? i said i am committed to it now. that's how it wound up. >> telling us about the training experience. >> well, i remember leaving atlanta on february the fifth i believe it was. it was probably 60 degrees and sunny. lanning and fort knox a couple hours later that was a
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historical blizzard. for a guy who never had really been anywhere we landed and i was like man. the snow did not melt until the end of march. it was an experience. >> the first six weeks with the call basic. in the second phase is called advanced individual about six weeks you get especially involved in early it, about six weeks in. >> what was your specifically responsibility gives an m60 tank.
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i did have an advantage when i joined the guard i hipaa drills at our local unit before went to basic break we had an m48. i got to get in there and play around with that get a little familiar with that. this was a new model. so what they do is they initially train you they change every position the driver, the loader, the gunner. and then there's one other person that is the tank manager which obviously you as a young soldier you're not going to get that enslaved in all of the others for quite a while. so you do the driving, you do openings. >> when you return, how long were you on active duty? >> 14 weeks. >> and then came back to the griffin area? >> i did. >> he got a job? >> i picked up where i left off just like i thought they would treated this as another
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job. i was doing the things i mentioned before in the construction. working with the experiment station, got married in 1981. and had our first child in 1982, soon enough everyone is counting the months. that put an additional financial burden on her young family. i wound up getting more jobs. doing what it took to take care of the family. i considered the national guard one of those jobs. >> how long was your initial commitment to the national guard? six years. >> tell us about what it was like to be in that unit at that time relatively young,. >> that the great question. my unit had a significant
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population of vietnam vets. not saying this because of them but the group as a whole was made that way. i was a time to say some these guys might have longer hair had no day you could do that. i member as a privates i put on my dress uniform and showed up they looked at me like where in the world that he
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come from, what is he doing here? i only had one stripe. but anyway they said you are freshly trained you are now the primary trainer. [laughter] to every class when i wasn't on detail what i was on kp or forsake up something we've got the precious training. i will say there are those in there who took the job pretty seriously. but there were also those who looked at it as a getaway. lot for the vietnam veterans it was a lot more of a veterans group opportunity for them they would have each other. >> this was the 80s. this wasn't anything shooting at the time. >> no. i graduated basic in may of
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70h. so that was from 78 into the early 80s. >> did the state use the resources of the national guard for any problems and things like that? >> they did, they did. if there is any sort of potential for a riot a lot of times they would round us up and put us in a location to respond. there, there was still some, i can remember working at a riot the kkk had initiated. later on down the road all the way through 1996. for disasters, floods we're using using the floods in georgia during that time. which was really in the
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'90s. how were you mobilized we were trained for actual events not that many really. i would say if you are immobilized for what you would call a >> disturbance, or a natural disaster those occasions would have been may be every one or two years. >> dear civilian responsibility how my tanks as you have a unit? >> we had to tank platoons and we had two personal carriers. so that was eight tanks. plus one the commander wrote in the tank there were nine tanks. >> where did you train did you
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run around the griffin area? >> those things were not actually here. we had one to train on fort bennett, a lot of that. >> for summers or the weekend? >> for summers and long weekends we would do it where it's a saturday, sunday drill. >> most of the time when you're at home station you were in training as military subjects? >> that's right, that's right individual kind of things. nbc training, just the whole gamut. >> when you first get it inclination the unit was going to be mobilized for the national guard in general would be affected by the conflicts in the middle east? >> the first time was during
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desert shield and desert storm. we weren't what they called a round up unit for the third the 24th division, what that meant was our grade the 48th infantry brigade if the 24th was sent to war were to round up their numbers. we would be in additional brigade to support their initiative. so when saddam hussein invaded kuwait, we decided we were going to get him out of kuwait the 24th ideas of the top of that list they were a heavily mechanized force. he was was assumed as a heavy mechanized force who would be fighting. in august of 92 kuwait. we got mobilized in november. there is a lot of politics behind the scenes between the branches of service.
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the active component did not deceive the national guard come in the did not have confidence in our ability to do what we need to do. they're going to go through with this thing and mobilize you guys. and 19 we are in the mojave desert to train up and be sent over to join the 24th idm sorry in kuwait. so relay training on m ones? >> actually by that time we were a bradley. in 1986 wound up with a pure radley we've which we call
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calvary fighting units. you had three back seaters and then a crew of three. so we were training in bradley's. they gave us, was serial number bradley's there were probably the first handful to roll off the assembly line. they did not have parts, they were broken. so they gave them back to us and said you all go get them. we were thrown into an active-duty system coming from a component system, resupply, or drink parts of things we had to learn. it quite while just get our vehicles up to standards where they can train. we wound up being out that they call a long rotation 60 days. and i cannot room the day the invasion occurred, but in 100
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hours it was over. so they came back and said well we have two options. we can send you on over to complete the process we just sent you back home and see what happens next time and that's what they want doing. but, i think they tried to appease us because there were a lot of disappointed folks. nobody knew the war was going to be over with that quick. so they did their best to try to appease us saying the tactics we are perfecting out there were critical to their success over the country. >> just to remind here a little bit. when the word started filtering down you were all going to deploy, reaction like? i'm sure was varied in the unit.
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was he general tone? >> think it was naturally, for young guys all full of you know what, they were pretty fired up about it. for the older guys even some of the guys who were in from the vietnam experience is like you guys seem to be careful what you are wishing for here. but, as a group the one unique thing is, you develop a loyalty to that unit and a loyalty to that type of military association that you are not going to let your buddies down, you are going to go. to the point of we were finding out things ahead of friends. you can't wear braces and go over the remise will take them off. that is in a sample. guys who had jobs, guys who own their own business you had put that on hold. and don't know if the going to
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have that when they get back. >> what about the community? how did the community react? >> that is consistently with griffin's history of support for those. and then probably i guess since that was the first time something had happened that hit close to home since vietnam think everybody sorted and braced let's show them all the love we can. did the same thing we came back. >> host: so when you came back from fort irwin was at a busted balloon? >> it was for me. because you just felt like you got shorted there. not that i wanted to leave my family, my daughters and everything forever but you train, you train, you train, you train and then you don't get involvement. you go home.
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so we went back to doing what we were doing. >> yes it did stay high. we learned a lot about ourselves out there too. we had to do a lot of adapting. we were not given the greatest support. but we were able to overcome all of that. and just that environment for 60 days in that environment the one who experienced that new. we were fighting there's about four world class uproar out there, our equipment issues were fixed we were consistently defeating that outpour heavily. so around with height regardless. >> so you came back and just fell into the routine again? >> fell back into a routine.
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back in to do our bradley gunnery, doing everything else the national guard unit does. when we came back without getting back, we had bradley's, hidden mortar and all of that. i started out as a tanker. i became full-time in the national guard in 1986 as a training co for the local units. that was 11. i went to school and i got qualified and i was a mortar man until desert storm when the commander asked me too be his gunner on his bradley. the commander does not have to ask a whole lot. so then i went to bradley school got qualified for that. when we came back back to being a mortar man after desert storm. >> little bit about desert
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storm and how you got into that. next you know the around up concept i think they found out it was not going to work. that is the only reason we got involved. i believe we were not the only national guard unit that was mobilize for that but we were one of the first. they were very few of them. do not recall all of them. there is indication people were starting to take the guard more seriously. especially after that long rotation and our performance. i think it benefited the guard as a whole, widows all said and done. >> so, how did the word come down about desert storm? >> each about iraqi freedom? >> yes iraqi freedom. >> wealth, iraqi freedom we
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knew on 911 we were gonna go to the fights. in maine, that was unprecedented. if you were wearing a uniform you are doing something. we knew we were resourced with the right equipment and personnel to get involved in that fight. so, when that happened we immediately locked down the armory. we secured the grounds at the armory 24 hours a day. and waited on the call. waited on the call and trained, and trained, and waited and waited. and then we got probably late 2003 they said yes is going to happen in this coming year. and i believe we got our order
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in september of 2004 we were mobilizing for iraqi freedom. >> host: same reaction from the guys the unit? >> i would say by this time there is a lot of chomping at the bit to get there. >> host: i was trying to member with the news coverage is like at that time. was there any apprehension? >> guest: their time but weapons of mass distraction further talk about chemical weapons. it is the unexpected. but, we also knew looking at history all of that hype and forces during physical storm could be false. we with the training advantage.
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in the big picture. same old concerns for the soldier what's my family going to do. you end up getting an order within a couple of months the said you are on active duty for three hitters 65 days unless sooner or later it really. so you need 365 days in sooner is not going to be very likely. so you get that order and the patriots in the national guard start making arrangements with their family. when i say patriots because these folks are putting their lives on hold. they are going off doing it honorable thing for there's a lot of chomping at the bit. we were ticked off. we stay rule took off about
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911. >> host: when did you actually move? >> we went back to the desert we went back to the mohave and march of 2005. we went to fort stewart in december, november we went to fort stewart. and in january we did some training fort bennett as well. in january for some units were going to different bases in country. and then in late february into march flew out to the mtc for they had constructed of mock villages. they had role players they knew kind of with the fight was supposed to be like to train us it's basically called stabilization and security mission operations other than war or here's a line of these
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are the guys these are the good guys should go out it was a big learning curve going on about how to do the different tribes and everybody else we're going to be dealing with depending on where you're going. >> that is what they had to developed at the mtc. so every unit went there before you went next mtc ntc's national training center? >> how long were you there? >> we were there for i believe it was maybe five or six weeks. no more than that. came back to fort stewart started getting ourselves ready. >> the left from savannah? >> to iraq, we did. >> what about afghanistan? >> afghanistan left for mississippi.
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>> okay. i know. don't try to make sense of it. [laughter] you went over on shifts? >> no we flew. our big stuff it already been shipped. it takes weeks, months to get that stuff on the ground. we had in advance party go over there, all that stuff is going into kuwait before is pushed up into iraq. we had folks who went over there a month early to get organized and prepared for us. we flew out of army airfield in savannah. in early may. of oh five. and then we flew to a stopover in germany. it is an adventure so far, right?
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then you land in kuwait. and that is when i knew this was going to be completely something else. >> was your first reaction was a most memorable thing when you got there? >> heat and dust. they put us on this abbas in the middle of the night, pulled all the shades, when an armed escort taking us to a base in kuwait. they're playing that arabic music i member sitting on the bus going colleague,. >> were mi and. >> this is a whole lot less fun than it was a little while ago. anyway it got daylight at 4:30 in the morning. and by 8:00 a.m. in the morning, it's 120 degrees. it is crazy. >> host: hydration was a mission?
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>> guest: yes it was and you couldn't touch anything. it was so hot you would get a cheek weld from your weapon. it would burn your face. as to the point you got to laugh about it. this is ridiculous. it is so ridiculous it's funny what are you going to do you are there. >> would you have any exposure to any of the allies? >> is all kind of different countries with nato over there. did not interact with them much just saw them. they might be in the part of the base you might be on. or people will congreve this is a big staging area for
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everybody to push up into iraq. but for the most part, you were just trying to stay hydrated come get your stuff ready to go. he went to a lot of briefs about what to expect, and kept in the dark all whole lot about where you're going. >> did you meet with their equipment there? >> we did. we went when we functioning as a unit? >> guest: within three days. >> host: pretty quick. >> host: twelve operational what happened next? >> we had the mission one platoon was given a mission of s40 global hr's with equipment on it to baghdad. they would be the ground
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convoy. i was in first spittoon. the rest of us were going to fly into baghdad and link up with them. those guys were like sucks to be you all. we'll see will make it there. he was doing or told right? you have got guys and bradley on top of a lowboy and it is loaded up. over than ied's you are not probably going to get attacked by anybody who expected to be successful. we flew in that's a funny thing we flew in twice the
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first time a printer they didn't coordinate with the big operation that was going on. we wound up in the middle of fast movers that were engaging targets around baghdad. the point the pilot got nervous. i've turned us around, flew back to kuwait. so we got to try that again we weren't supposed to be there during that period finally landed in baghdad my first combat landing >> to avoid rockets and such. the biggest roller coaster you've ever been on. and we linked up with our guys it probably took three or four days for everyone to get settled we were at camp striker we still did not know exactly what our mission was. we knew was wendy somewhere around baghdad.
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rex so i guess when did you officially find out what your mission was and how did that go? >> will my first mission was at new york national guard unit was a calvary troupe they were leaving they within a couple weeks of leaving. our commander met with their commander said hey we want to do some right left right it's an outgoing unit would bring in an incoming unit and would let you ride passenger to see their tactics. and at the end they switch places and the guy said yes i think you got it. they ago about their way and pick up a mission. so we were there probably just a few days and the commander came and told me is the first platoon sergeant said you are first up.
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leo out with the new york cab troop okay, and i mean we were not on that mission and hour before we were in a firefight with troops that we don't normally work with. he was with another platoon. i was with the commander of that troop in his vehicle. we round up getting in a firefight in southwest baghdad. so i remember i was chewing tobacco and i went through a whole package of tobacco i did not spit at all that day. i came back and said while 20 long you're right here. so were going block on he
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looked at me like yes how about this undulate we made it back from that paris told the commander those guys i big common tendency as you get close to going home you get a little more lackadaisical about your tactic. i'm not saying that's the case under sink with it when a fine up that was the case with our guys. i believe that was the last time we did that. >> host: what was your primary mission? once the other guys were gone? >> operations in the triangle of death as we talked about. it's called the triangle of death area south and a little bit west of baghdad. the reason they call it that
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it's because it's evenly mixed with suny and shiite who are constantly at odds and they settle their scores you know in the most dramatic fashion. and the only thing they could agree on was trying to kill us when they were not trying to kill each other. we were attached to the third infantry division déjà vu which is the 24th. they sent us to what they called the triangle of death. we thought that was a nice name. >> host: who named at the u.s. forces? >> the iraq is actually named it the triangle of death. consider going to go down there replace another unit. they sent us to a fob. >> host: tells what bob is. >> guest: a forward operating
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base. you have your big faces which are big logistical hubs where you can get resupplied and usually there's a good medical facility close or built in there. one is just an outline small base place for soldiers to eat and sleep. so they sent us down there and we thought we're going to stay together as a troop but they sent one of our platoons to part of the triangle. so we ended up with one platoon over there with another company, us, we were called task force rough writer we were nearly a battalion size element. but we were also spread out to couple fobs. mama deal was the hub of the other two fobs. this other two fobs even more primitive.
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>> host: would you say was the average distance between fobs? >> 15 clicks. 12 miles meeting. ten or 12 miles. >> host: you weren't that close. we to know, it was a hairy distance between the fobs we traveled frequently between all of them peering. >> work fobs covered by the artillery? >> guest: we actually had an artillery battery which could reach to the limits those other fobs. but not a whole lot in our area we were constantly keeping it registered, keeping it to where they could respond if they needed to. rarely was there any call for artillery and our little
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area. >> host: what was a typical day like at the fob? >> guest: depending it's almost like shiftwork. we start out missions in the day we end up fishing missions in the knights. basically prepare for your mission. get your rest go on your mission, come back, get your rest, prepare for your mission it is groundhog day day after day after day after day. >> host: what the typical mission? >> guest: it would depend. we ended up doing was conducting a lot of searches. a lot of going out to find a certain person and bringing them back if we could. some humanitarian on occasion if we know of a school that is being harassed, maybe go try
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to figure out what we can do to help there. but mostly it was looking for bad guys. that is what sort of morphed into, looking for bad guys, looking for guys china blows up with ied's. >> is a driving down the road and waiting for somebody? >> guest: a lot of it was. >> host: fate? >> guest: yes. yes is like this is crazy. but, present patrols with elekta coat, supposed to discourage. except for that guy who can do it from a distance, my platoon in particular, we spent probably the majority of that's our time we figured out
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these cats go to bed at night. we would actually get with some other units in the area who have had some intelligence and would share intelligence. >> host: did you have interactions the locals? >> guest: to your face they loved you. give me some money, give me something give me, give me, give me. i'm giving you my time right now, because right now collateral damage would occur in our way of saying i'm sorry.
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catch the guys a couple days later trying to kill you. the consistent thing is, kids. the kids you could trust the kids and that was about it. you could not trust anyone else with anything of any value. your talk about men who had families, pharmacists a farm area this is an agricultural area, a lot of canals between the tigris and euphrates rivers. the water system is unbelievable. and the whately channel it to grow their stuff. they would just try to raise their family and mind their own business.
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insurgents or whatever you want to call so we planted a bomb under farmer going to need you to blow up an american the first chance you get. and if you don't going to kill your family. and so put yourself in that predicament for just a second period so there was no trust. we did have an interpreter he wanted to be armed. i mean even if he was trustworthy he was such a clutches going to shoot someone before it was over present in adequate interpreter. member writing by seeing some new graffiti on the wall of a compound we spent a lot of time might be a warning or something.
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i asked what it says this is i don't know it's in arabic. what was your impression of middle eastern forces the guys in green suits. >> the three stooges. i've got to be honest. part of her mention was to find those guys. and it was comical at times. but one thing i would admire is when we had a mission and we were going out in our armored humvee to do a particular mission they will be on the back of an open flatbed truck. and we were way better protected than they were. i admired that about them but
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i did not know it was because they were brave or they weren't real bright. i spent a lot of time training those guys and a lot of time there wasn't a whole lot of good. there were exceptions there are so many tribal allegiances in that region. the last person you and to show sort of loyalty to his in american that will get you dead in a hurry. screw it on the roads you have any ied incidents? >> we did. >> any bad ones? >> we got hit, i told you going out with new york. got to mama dia my very first mission out from the second
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lieutenant in our platoon leader they are always pretty solid, right? he decided were going out is about 120 degrees. he said because his research indicated that resurgence don't attack us when it is that hot. we got blown up that day. escaped serious injury had some vehicle damage. and then the very next day we're doing a mission or our other two and was buried we got blown up on that mission coming back for it was a daily occurrence with our unit. i would say for weeks, ab not by pushing him every time but between the other platoons in our area net triangle it was routine. even when you weren't on
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mission that's who is out there. >> host: how long would it normally take to recover a vehicle? i'm sure you are some distance. what was the situation like i wait for summer come pick up the pieces? >> if you could get your casualties evacuated pretty quickly into the green zone. but dust storms being pretty frequent, a lot of times you do not have air support. you'd have to be a ground even. and a ground >> depends if you got security or equipment. one ied, they would totally destroy the vehicle. rarely would you drive away a vehicle after an ied.
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it is secure that vehicle, get your casualties out of their, if there was air it was a great feeling. you knew somebody got hit, you are guy was going to get treatment real quick. and so, if there was nowhere, i remember we were working with the platoon and ended up evacuating some of their casualties in a dust storm. that process took a couple hours. and you're going right over the same routes you may end up getting blown up again. you mentioned dust storms in the news coverage of the a while he mentioned dust storms. visibility was almost nonexistent. did you use mass customer goggles?
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i can't think of thermals night? well, not thermals. you really, any daytime was just a dust storm. the worst i've seen a dust storm is where you could see maybe 50 feet in front of you. that is the worst i have seen. for course lot less than that were ground aircraft. never seen where this wall of dust is coming just sort of happened that way it's just sort of bear. the good thing about a dust storm is, nobody's fighting in a dust storm. you are just waiting on the dust to lift. >> host: did you ever have any situations where, i don't know
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what to call or whoever they were paid. >> this is pre-isis. we had names for them. i guess you could just call them insurgents. we do ever have experiences or they tried to take a fob? we have experiences, yes. i would say a feeble attempt to take a fob. those who were ready to go all up. they make an effort. most of the time they would throw mortar into the back of pickup truck, drive around, find a good place to hide and start lobbing mortars. sometimes rockets. different id there all improvised stuff. they were always trying to do something like it.
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>> host: so how long were you doing this? the whole tour? >> we were in the first part of our tour we were there finger there june through october. in november we had a change of mission a hundred first airborne is coming in to relieve us. and then our unit was attached to a different battalion in the south. to give you a visual, if you are familiar with georgia it's the easiest visual for me. i wracked ms. very similar to georgia. even the climate, north to south, hills and the north, flatland in the south. an distance wise was accurate.
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if you call and say baghdad was around, we got transferred down you would call that may be that's probably geographically close. we were relieving a texas national guard unit those escorting feelers all the way up to, sometimes albeit a few -- if you are sorting feelers was heard service road or dirt? >> guest: and you still had issues? do they had local nationals driving print you don't know what their intentions are. they don't move with the same necessary urgency that we move with. you don't know if they're trying to set you up.
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you are always second-guessing who you were escorting, where, and sometimes would have issues with some of them, they would not go with us. but we did that for a week or so. they had been getting hit. they had taken some casualties they needed a platoon. so they chose my platoon and sent us up there. we were not there very long before time for us to go back up to where it's a lot more active. it is pretty quiet. >> host: how long was your tour? >> guest: it was a year. that was a year we left in may of 2005 got back in may of
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2006. >> host: to juvenile opportunity during that year to have what was known earlier r&r? >> yes every soldier got leave. every soldier got a two-week leave. my particular one was in january of 2006. you know it is a catch-22. they promise you you're going to get your leave, if you are alive when you schedule your leave you get to schedule your leave. now you get to go home you get a turn all that off and degrade your ability to survive in that environment. it is a catch-22. i know for me and several of my friends all we could do is have got to get back.
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you want to get to the end. you don't really want to stop because a lot of times coming back after that leave isn't bad things would happen. >> host: people lose their focus. >> guest: it's great to have that to look forward too. and it was great coming home. and for a couple days you're eating good food, senior friends and family and all of that. it's not but a couple days worth i've got to get back that's all you do as a platoon sergeant. i'd pretty much been on every single mission. and now they're going to go on missions without me and it just tore me up. nobody was significantly injured. now they get back and say
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golly, i'm gotta make it to the next break. there's a lot of validity to sake go to war, come home when it's all done. and not hang a timetable on it. new start putting dates on it, human nature is you want to start looking at that date. it is a distraction. not that he would have said, i'm not taking my leave. i'm going to take my leave. but maybe in that situation and easier to do that way. i don't know maybe still sorting that kind of stuff out. i think in hindsight i think if you want to send a bunch of soldiers off to get a job then tell to come home when it's done, that's when you get your leave. maybe some of the stuff might not drag out as long as it does. >> was your unit conducting missions until the time they left? >> guest: yes they were.
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>> host: did you have to stand down to get every thing ready to come back? >> guest: probably for over a weeks. different elements would stand down as their equipment was being transferred over to the incoming unit. and then you start transitioning to move it back to kuwait to wait on a flight back to the states. >> host: did you serve in afghanistan also? >> guest: i did. >> host: i don't spend all the time on iraq. you came back and then how long were you back? >> guest: we came back in may of 2006. there was stuff going on in afghanistan. sort of like when you're sent to iraq are you going to ship to iraq or afghanistan? so we figured their other national guard units in the country. starting to show a pattern
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certain units : followed by other units but we got back it didn't take us long to figure out were getting ready to go back, we going to afghanistan? : : : >> we left griffin to start training to go to afghanistan. >> it is difficult for an active duty unit to reset because i mean, because of the time it takes and the workups and everything, but they are doing
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it all the time. >> uh-huh. >> i mean, how was it with the -- your unit? >> yeah, well, i mean, that's a very valid point. it takes us longer. it takes us longer because we don't have the luxury of having personnel there every day.
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the tension was -- you know, i don't think i saw a big change before and in between. obviously there were those who came back and said that's it now, and nobody could blame them. hey man, appreciate it. and then there were those that they just said well, okay, you know, let's do the next thing, and i know when i got back from iraq, i became eligible to retire active duty. and so me and my wife were talking about that, and then we got the word that we were going to afghanistan, and we had another talk, and i said i got to go, you know, because i was the first sergeant of the unit at that time, and i wasn't going
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to stay here but yeah. >> so when did you deploy again? >> we deployed in may of 09. >> okay. same situation, a year, whatever, or did you pick up a year over there? >> we were actually back here by early april, the entire brigade. they had changed the rotations over there to where there were nine months in a combat zone. >> okay. >> so by the time we got all our equipment, and it's harder to move resources in and out of afghanistan than it is iraq, you know. it is not like you can just put everything on a boat to go to afghanistan. it's got to be airlifted. so your rotation there is pretty much nine months in theater so
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to speak, between travel, train-up, travel, and everything, it is still a year of active duty, but probably nine to ten months in country is all. >> so did you go back up to ntc again? >> no, this time we went to camp shelby. in mississippi. it was a -- it had become a combat training center, during that period, and so we did most of our training we did -- we actually started out at fort gordan, georgia and then fort stewart, georgia, and then we went to -- went to camp shelby for the remainder of the time because they had the same situation. they had the same role players out there, and this time it was
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based on afghanistan scenario. and then once we got into afghanistan, our brigade was split up everywhere, and our primary mission there was to mentor and train the afghan army, the afghan military, and the border patrol, so we would embed our personnel with their personnel, and help them train, and you know where that goes. you see where that's led. >> did you have any serious blue-on-blue incidents? where the friendlies and -- >> we did. we did. not in my unit, but we did within our brigade. i'm going to show you the map. i did find a map of afghanistan. i don't know how easy it is to see. >> if you hold up one corner, i will get the other.
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>> so when you go into afghanistan, normally, you're going to fly in to bagram or kabul, and there you see kabul. that's where we flew into. that's where they split us up. they sent my unit up here to masri. we had units over here. we had units over here. basically our battalion owned this part of afghanistan, along with coalition forces. and then the rest of the brigade was down here and over here. again, you go in, and you don't really know exactly where you are going to go until they put you on the bird and says this is where this one is going to land, and that's where you are going to stay. so you train for a lot of different scenarios.
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>> what was your mission in afghanistan? did it differ much from -- >> completely different for me personally. number one, i was the first sergeant of the headquarters company. we wound up on [inaudible]. mike span was the first cia officer killed in afghanistan, and he was killed in that area. so you're talking about blue-on-blue, before we got there, a couple weeks before we got there, there was a young navy soldier -- navy soldier -- there was a young seaman and there was a female with him, and they were doing pt, and one of the guards came out of the tower and shot them both dead while they were doing pt. so, i mean it happened right there before we got there. so because of that, obviously we
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went in with a little bit of a stricter control over it. we had about 600 people on that, and it was a hub for the north to push out. the commander, my commander and i were -- what you call the [inaudible]. we owned the city that that was, all the decisions that were made there were on us, so we had navy personnel. we had air force personnel. we had croations. we had germans. we had norwegians. i don't even know who was all on it. i just know there was 600 folks. >> how difficult was it to deal with that? >> it was very difficult because they all bring their own unique challenges, and they all want a little bit of special consideration, and then you wind up having to be the one that says yes or no, so you're trying, you know, can't make
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everybody happy. at the same time, you're kind of like, you know, i really don't care about none of you all. i've got my unit over here, and that's the only ones i'm really concerned about so, you know, so my commander was the diplomatic one, normally. >> what kind of missions were the troops on? >> they were embedded trainers. we were actually sharing the spot with an afghan military unit. >> did they ever -- were they not escorts or anything anymore? it was just -- training in what? i mean, were there afghan calvary units? >> no, no, pretty much if you're a third world country and we're training you, you're going to train to be a grunt, you know. >> okay. >> so if it's police, obviously the national guard brings a lot to the fight in these situations. we have got police officers.
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we've got firefighters. we've got medical people. we've got the gamut. we're uniquely suited to these missions, to where they can embed anywhere and relate, so we had guys who were in the guard who were civilian policemen and soldiers training the afghan police. and then, you know, obviously the straight military roles, our guys would train the afghan military, and then you had border patrol again that was more of a law enforcement, and i would say most of the focus was law enforcement-related stuff, but again, the same situation in iraq, travel issues that don't ever seem to be sorted out and you're always -- you find out real quick that you can't trust this guy, that guy, so -- >> was the attitude of the indigenous people the same as it
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was in iraq? you know, whatever grievances they had among themselves, the tribes, they were all focused on the invader? >> yeah, you know, in afghanistan, they looked at you with a good bit of hate in their eyes, because they had been fending off foreigners for a long time; right? well here's another one. so at least you knew where they were coming from. they would just assume kill you as look at you. and convincing them you were going to make their situation any better was something that was going to be pretty difficult to do. >> did the afghans have any idea what 9/11 was and what the american reaction to that was? >> you know, i would say so. i would say yeah, yeah. i would say that -- >> it didn't matter that you were still on their turf? >> that's right. that's right.
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now, they look at it as job opportunities. we're creating jobs when we do this. we vet them as best we can. we escort them. but it's a boon to somebody who is able to work with an american, and, you know, it's icing on the cake if you can keep that secret from everybody but his family. we would employ them in the fobs. >> did you ever have instances where an employee, an afghan employee was discovered, you know, was there retribution against them? >> yes. i've heard of a few instances in rao where that was obvious. >> it sounds like a no end situation? >> it does, doesn't it? >> so was that pretty much the
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tone of the whole tour? i mean, it was just training all the time? >> yeah, it was training. i had a scout platoon. they would run missions. they were working with a local police department. they would work with them. they had a good working relationship with them. you know, you do the best you can to train them, and i will say that those folks proved to be better fighters than the ones in iraq. but there's always the element of what can you do for me? you know, we need a well. you guys going to put us in a well? because if you don't, you know, the taliban, man, they're making me a job offer, so again there's
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kids. my favorite part of that was about the kids. you got away from everything that disgusted you for just a minute, to look at a kid, to interact with a kid, it was great. we had our scout platoon going out on the missions. for me, it was a completely different experience. elements of our brigade were elsewhere. a good friend of mine that was my lead scout in iraq was shot, and he wasn't with us, so that was tough. we go to iraq. we get back from iraq. we get split up in afghanistan, and then he gets shot. it drives you crazy that you weren't there. he's still alive, but he's
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confined to a wheelchair. he's got a young family. you know, it is just real sad that those kind of things happen, and it gets lost in the fact that, you know, we're over there trying to help, and that's how this family is paying for that offer of help, you know. i don't know if that makes any sense. >> no i understand. how did that affect morale? >> well, for the guys that knew him -- >> no, i mean in general, just the philosophy you were talking about, we're here to help, and we're not getting -- >> it turns you into a pretty cynical person. it turns you into less likely to make good decisions in the field kind of person. there's the i want revenge immediately factor that can't be
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denied. and it's all about timing. when we were in iraq, i know that we had a couple friends killed one day in an ied attack, and we responded, got them evacuated. they were actually airlifted to the green zone. i was in contact on the radio. my guys were asking me to hold tight. how are they doing? they told me all the way back, they got them. they're stable. it looks like they're going to make it. we're pretty dog-gone -- we're coming right through an area where if we had known different, then the actions of the locals might have been interpreted a little bit different. >> uh-huh. >> so we get back, and they said no, they were dead, but i wasn't going to tell you all while you were all out there. i mean, that's reality. >> what kind of armormen does
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bradley have? >> bradley actually has aluminium armor. i can't tell you the specifications. i can tell you i was never in a bradley in a combat zone. i was in a humvee. in afghanistan, we had the heavy vehicles. i can't remember their nomenclature right now, but they were improved for defeating ieds and such, thicker armor, higher up off the road. >> successful? >> yeah. the difference in afghanistan is the terrain. pretty easy to roll them over too and roll them down a hill and into a river where everybody drowns. >> yeah. >> you know, in iraq we were in humvees. in afghanistan we were in humvees. the acronym escapes me right now, but it is the big -- >> it wasn't a striker vehicle, was it? >> no. >> i know what you are talking about. i can see it, but -- >> i was just talking about them
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yesterday. that's the way it is; right? [laughter] so, you know, we have a lot of protection, but some of those ieds were just -- they're just powerful things. >> do you know where they were getting the explosives from? the components from? was it -- >> there was always rumors that they were coming from different countries. you know, when we were in iraq, iran supposedly was supplying a lot of that stuff. but it's pretty much home made stuff. i mean, in all those countries, wars have been going on for so long, that there are stockpiles of ammunition that can be modified to do just about anything you want to do. and i think that's probably where a majority of it comes from. >> so when did you come back? >> i came back in april of 2010.
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>> okay. good reaction again from the community? >> yeah, yeah, again, griffin -- i've seen several communities. i've had units in other communities, and one thing that is consistent across georgia is the patriotism of the community. and the other thing that is consistent to me is how much more and i guess obviously i'm biased it seems to be emphasized here in griffin. i'm sure that's because of my perspective, but at the same time, most folks who have come here who live in other places come to this unit and train, leave with the same wow, that griffin is a great place. supporting our military. >> the people who came back, there's a lot of talk in the media and in i guess in general in the country about ptsd, and how about the kids who came
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back? how are they faring? >> yeah, there's -- ptsd is real. that is from somebody who was skeptical at first to, you know, being able to look back at some of the events and the people that i've known through these things, ptsd is real, and it's, you know, it's just how do you deal with it. i have friends with ptsd. i have acquaintances who claim to have ptsd. who am i to judge? you know, people ask my wife -- >> is he normal? >> she said he was a jerk before he left. he was a jerk when he got back. [laughter] >> apparently there's no change here, so i'm good. >> you brought some things with
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you. one of the things is a map you showed us. are there some other things that you would like to have included the record? >> well, you know, in preparing for this, i got to looking around trying to jog my memory because it's been a while. it's been 11 years since iraq and seven since afghanistan, so i found this the other day my wife had created. you know, it is just some pictures of -- this was during iraq, and it shows there's your orders. i mean i forgot she had done this. us getting ready, you know. one of the things is we were wearing -- before we went to iraq, we went to acus. we were the first unit to go to acus. we took a lot of pride in that. the locals started calling us shadow soldiers because supposedly they couldn't see us at dusk, whatever. but, you know, family stuff.
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there's stuff in there about the unit. i thought it was pretty interesting, i thought when i had time, i was going to go back and read all this stuff. you know, one common thing in here is the griffin daily news has got coverage just like griffin is, you know, and seeing a lot of these folks, you remember a lot of these guys. some of these are pictures from some of our missions. i know it is kind of hard to see, but she's even got some e-mails in here that i had sent her, and apparently it wasn't too bad because i was joking a lot with her. i didn't want her to worry too much, you know? >> yeah. let me ask you a question, were you able to talk to your family? did you have the opportunity? >> you know, just about everywhere you went, there was an internet cafe. >> okay. >> but, you know, connectivity
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was iffy. and then if somebody -- if there was something significant happening, they would shut it down for three days. so families at home knew, we haven't heard from him in three days, something's happened. because soldiers are going to, you know, you want to make sure that the right things are done when something bad happens. so yeah, pretty much. i could at times shoot an e-mail in iraq every other day, every three days, something like that, check in on them. we're getting care packages all the time. in afghanistan, i did the majority of my work behind a computer, with a very good connection. so i watched -- i lived vicariously through the internet watching my grandson -- my first grandchild being born, two weeks before i came home from afghanistan.
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>> how did your kids handle when you were gone? there was enough in the news i think to cause concern? >> you know, i can't believe i've talked this long and i haven't said anything, everything couldn't have been possible to be successful in all aspects if it wasn't for my family. you know, my wife, she got a little taste of it during desert storm of okay, i got to take care of business while he's gone, to the point where a couple things kind of went haywire and she realized it's got to go haywire, so she took it all away from me when i came back. she goes you're going to stay in. i'm going to be in charge. that was good to me. so, i mean, she just amazing holding the family together, not letting anybody -- she wouldn't send me any kind of bad news.
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and she wouldn't tell the girls anything to get them concerned. she did ask me -- she said i want to know the truth, and i want to know -- i don't want you to sugar coat it, and i want to know as soon as you can get it to me. so, the first few days in iraq, she said okay, that's enough. i changed my mind. i don't want to know. so, you know, again, sort of like the leave situation, e-mail, being able to talk to your family, it's great for some things, but i think there's a lot of busted families because of that as well because it is hard. i think the advantage that we had is we were mature. i turned 47 years old in iraq. i turned 51 years old in afghanistan. and i think it was -- that was an advantage to have had enough life experience to know what to
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appreciate and how to put things in perspective a little bit better. >> did the families of the younger folks hold up okay? >> some of them did. a lot of them didn't. a lot of them didn't. >> didn't understand? >> didn't understand. you know, it's all raw, raw, raw, get on the bus, god bless you, god bless america, and then the bills can't get paid, and then the babies get sick, and then, you know, human nature being human nature, things start to fall apart. they start not to trust each other. so i think that was a huge advantage, but i can't emphasize how much that none of my ability to cope with any of this would have been possible without my family. >> that's great. well, we're kind of coming to the end of time here. i mentioned to you that the
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final phase of this is giving you the opportunity to speak your mind, editorially or any other way you'd like. just your thoughts on whatever you want to think about, whatever you want to say. >> you know, i think the main thing i would say is how proud i am to be a part of the national guard. national guard's got a bad wrap for so long -- has now excelled in these situations. to me there's not a more patriotic person in the world who can say i will do that -- i will do that on the side, and then if something significant happens, count on me, but until then, i'm going to be doing this. i'm going to be teaching. i'm going to be whatever it may be. i'm going to do that. i'm going to raise my family. i'm going to be a football coach, a softball coach. i'm going to go to ballet, but
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when it's time to go, you can count on me. and to me, that's the one thing that i would hope is never lost on anybody. i'm just proud of the legacy of the national guard, the citizen soldier. that's not a slight to any other service. >> no. >> it's just, you know, it's been a very satisfying organization to be associated with all these years. >> great. well, thank you for telling your story. it's a good interview. thank you for your service. >> i
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