As we near the 10-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, Yahoo News asked U.S. servicemen and women who served to share their perspectives and discuss how it changed them. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | I was 21 when I was deployed to Forward Operating Base Warrior in northern Iraq in 2009 as a member of the North Dakota Air Guard Security Forces squadron.
Before we went, we were given a two-week spin-up training on everything from house-clearing to local customs. The training was way, way out of date and unit integrity was perched to the high heavens. Of course, as soon as we touched down in Kirkuk, we found how inadequate or training had been.
We were scattered among the sectors (Alpha, Bravo, Garter, and Police Forces) and I ended up in what I was told was the worst sector, Garter. We were in charge of the entrance and exit to the base, this included hand-searching of people and doing full-body scans of locals who worked on the base. It was basically TSA: Iraq.
On my third day in country, I was put on a post that I had no idea how to work and was told, "Oh, you see that point, if a car passes that point, shoot it, and that building right there? That's number two on places that Al-Qaeda wants to blow up. Good luck."
Other than some scary sink-or-swim moments, my first command under fire in which I had to order a subordinate to fall back in a mortar attack, almost shooting the police commissioner of Iraq, and driving outside the wire to escort a truck, my deployment was one of boredom. It was all open gate, close gate, frisk guy, look at guy naked with scanner and sit in tower behind 240B and do nothing. I read a whole library's worth of books, and listened to the contents of my iPod over and over. I served with great guys and girls from units from Minnesota, Oregon, and Idaho. I was changed for the better having known them.
On my return home, I felt on edge as every vet does. I hid under my cart at Wal-Mart one day when I heard the tornado siren test. Two years on, I don't like loud noises or crowds, but I seem to be mostly back in the swing of things.
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