From the Soldier side: Over the years I’ve been in the Regular Army and the Army National Guard, I have worked with some really great soldiers (and a few civilians). I still remember my squad leaders and platoon sergeants from when I was stationed in West Berlin, Germany long ago. They were all Nam vets and we knew what they trained us was going to work in war. But the people you work with in a peace time Army are one thing, the people you work with in a real war are another thing altogether. Wars are where you find out who can really do the job and who can’t.
During my Iraq deployment, I’ve mentioned before some of the bad leaders we had and some of the good ones. Today I’d like to talk about the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines I worked with who I call “Rock Stars.” Some of them were on active duty, some were reserves and many were in the National Guard. As a matter of fact, half way thorough my deployment in 2005, the news paper reported that 60% of the military forces in Iraq were Reserves and National Guard!!! This is where the term “One Weekend a Month…My Ass!” came from.
M-249 SAW Gunner on M1114 Armored Humvee
The Rock Stars I knew may have not played in a band, I’m sure some of them can’t even sing or play any kind of instrument, but they “Rocked” in my opinion. Some civilians asked me how I went out my first time in the streets of Iraq in a vehicle or on foot…well, let me explain something. It’s not that somebody went out one time or the first time, what makes them Rock Stars is that they did it a second time…and third time and in many cases over a hundred times.
Take Chris, the former college student who was an English Major. When we first got to Baghdad, the folks in charge of the “Mess Kit Repair” reports grabbed him and stuck him in an office to help with the reports being sent in. They figured (correctly) that Chris could re-write any bad reports and make them better. He did this very well for about the first 6 months of our deployment.
Female E-4 Driver whohad over 100 missions in Baghdad
Then, one day while one of our teams was rolling through Baghdad, the lead Hummer got blown up….Killing the driver (Roberto) badly wounding the gunner, and the 2 new replacements who’d just arrived.
When the bosses needed a new team, Chris volunteered…knowing that he’d be leading a team into the streets of Baghdad 5 or 6 days a week for the next 6 months. He was a Rock Star.
The second Humvee in that convoy where Roberto’s vehicle got hit was manned by 3 of the new replacements. The E-4 female driver, a Staff Sergeant and the Sergeant on the gun. It was only their second trip into Baghdad, and they all witnessed the death of Roberto and the other 3 crawl out of the burning humvee. Can you imagine the shock and the stress of that? I’ve seen a lot of shit, but to witness something like that would have been hard. But, they continued to roll out for the next year. And to top that off, the Staff Sergeant volunteered to stay on active duty and went back for a second tour of Iraq!
Rock Stars…. If you find anybody better than that, let me know. This is only a few examples…I’ll have more later.