Soldiers reflect on experiences in Iraq

Soldiers reflect on experiences in Iraq

Randy Georges

Soldiers reflect on experiences in Iraq

Anxiety, nervousness, sadness and excitement were what Missouri Southern students said they felt while fighting in Iraq.

Southern troops returned home and gave personal accounts about their experiences in war and their lives after.

Former employee of Veterans Service, Rick Banks, said when students have to drop classes to go on duty there are things that must take place before their departure to ensure they are in good standing with their professors.

“The students have to get paper work from their unit to free them of their classes,” Banks said.

Banks said there are several students who come from the criminal justice department who get deployed in the middle of the semester.

“It seems to me that this is really frustrating for them because they have a change of plans,” he said. “They go from school to fighting, sometimes in a matter of days.”

Banks said the school does a good job helping the veterans get what they need before they get leave.

“The professors here are awesome,” he said.

After 9-11, Matt Collier, junior health promotion and wellness major, said he knew there was something he had to do to defend his country.

Shortly after the attacks on the United States, Collier enlisted in the Army.

“When I found out that I was being deployed to Iraq, I thought, ‘damn this sucks because now I have to drop all of my classes,’ but I knew this was what I wanted to do,” he said.

Collier found out he was going to Iraq on Feb. 14, 2003, and that he would return in 15 months.

When Collier told his family he was leaving, he said they became sad and scared for his safety.

“I knew that everything would be fine,” Collier said.

“I was there to do a job and that is what I did I will admit that there came a time when I thought, ‘what the hell have I got myself into.'”

He said there were times he would be driving through town thinking something

bad was going to happen.

“Bad sh*t happened, but I never had a chance to think about life or death, I just did what I was told,” Collier said.

Like Collier, other students from Southern experienced some of the same feelings.

Tyler Christensen, freshman law enforcement major, said he felt extremely nervous leaving because there were so many questions with few answers.

“We didn’t know where we were going to be, exactly what we were going to be doing or when we would be returning home,” Christensen said.

Christensen was deployed in April 2003 but was told he would be leaving months before that.

“When I arrived in Iraq, I was told that I would only be there for six months, just in time for Thanksgiving,” he said. “But that never happened.”

Christensen told his parents he would be home in time for the holidays but he said that did not happen.

“After a while, I just stopped telling them when I was coming because it became depressing,” he said.

Brian Dinwiddie, sophomore undecided major, is another soldier that has returned home after fighting for 14 months.

“Times in Iraq got real bad on top of the extremely hot temperatures,” Dinwiddie said.

“I never had a problem going over there; it’s when I got back that I began to realize that the United States was in a disarray,” he said.

Dinwiddie said the thing that upset him was the fact they were going after Saddam Hussein but not people like him living in the United States.

“I often wondered why we were over there, but I guess history will determine whether or not we did the right thing,” he said.

Dinwiddie said his experience in Iraq was one worth talking about. He said he is proud of what he did.

The soldiers said on their down time, when they got it, they would do things that would take their minds off the problems going on in Iraq.

“We watched television, played cards, football and X-Box,” Dinwiddie said.

“In my down time, I lifted a lot of weights, played cards and listened to music,” said Christensen.

“For fun we played football and basketball,” Collier said.

The soldiers express their happiness of being home and say if called to duty again they would go back.

“I didn’t realize that I was home until my plane landed and I touched U.S. ground,” Christensen said.

“More than anything, this war was harder on my wife than it was on me,” Dinwiddie said. “I wanted her life to be as normal as possible without me there.”

Dinwiddie said his wife was strong for holding on and having faith.

He said he knew he would make it back alive because of his faith in God.

“I am glad to be home to enjoy the freedom our country offers,” Dinwiddie said. “I was just bowling the other day and said to myself, ‘this is great, a year ago I didn’t have this freedom,'” he said.

Dinwiddie, Collier and Christensen said they would definitely go back but would not volunteer.

Christensen said he might be called back to war at the end of 2005 or the beginning of 2006 if necessary.