Segment Synopsis: Claudio Garcia-Castro was born in Matamoros, Mexico in 1970. Garcia-Castro moved to South Vienna, Ohio in 1981 with his parents who relocated for a new job. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1998 specializing as a mechanic. In his interview Garcia-Castro speaks of how his family came to Ohio, going to The Ohio State University, his reasons for joining the Army, and his basic training at Fort Hood in Texas. He discusses how he kept in contact with his wife, going to Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission, working as a mechanic, and learning about the Ohio National Guard.
Keywords: Bosnia; Columbus (Ohio); Fort Hood (Tex.); Matamoros (Coahuila, Mexico); Mechanics; South Vienna (Ohio)
Subjects: Childhood; Deployment to Bosnia; Family; Joining the Army; School
Map Coordinates: 43.894612,15.4300409
Segment Synopsis: Garcia-Castro goes directly from active duty with the Army to Officer Candidate School and the Ohio National Guard. He talks about his decision to join the Ohio National Guard and attend Officer Candidate School, his memories of 9/11, how he felt about the possibility of being deployed again, how his family felt, and his pre-deployment training. He explains how the different branches of the Armed Forces come together in the field, what his mission was in Iraq, the differences between Iraq and Bosnia, and what it was like during a mortar attack on Balad Air Base. Garcia-Castro discusses what it was like to manage a maintenance operation, how they reinforced unarmored vehicles, how the National Guard has changed, and what it was like coming back to civilian life.
Keywords: Al Asad Airbase (Iraq); Balad Air Base (Iraq); Kuwait; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.
Subjects: 9/11; Deploying to Iraq; Officer Candidate School; Ohio National Guard
Map Coordinates: 33.933333, 44.366667
Segment Synopsis: Garcia-Castro returns home and makes the decision to work with the Guard full-time. He concludes by recounting the decision to work with the National Guard full-time, what it was like being deployed to Al Asad Air Base, working with contractors, and how he feels about his service.
Keywords: Al Asad Airbase (Iraq); OhioHealth
Subjects: Al Asad Airbase; Reflecting on service; Staying with the Guard
Map Coordinates: 33.8, 42.433333
TIP: Today is Wednesday, October 28th, 2015. My name is Ty Pierce. I am herewith Jim Calder and Jess Holler to speak with Claudio Garcia-Castro about his service in the Ohio National Guard. For the record, would you please say and spell your full name?
CGC: Claudio Garcia-Castro, C-L-A-U-D-I-O G-A-R-C-I-A C-A-S-T-R-O.
JC: Thank you. Ready to go? Awesome. Thanks so much for coming today on a grayOhio fall day. I'd like to start and just talk about some background information. I'm just to start, where were you born?
CGC: I was born in Mexico, in the state of Tamaulipas, in the city of Matamoros.Born there, raised for the majority of my life in Ohio. Came to Ohio, the state actually, to the U.S. actually at the age of 10. Most of my adult life has been in the U.S. I still tell my sons right now, I say, when I mess up on a word or two, "Hey, just remember, my first language is not English." That's my excuse. If I don't know how to spell or how to pronounce it correctly, remember, I just learning to speak English when I was 10, so keep that in mind. They don't buy it.
JC: I mess up words all the time and I have no excuse. You said you came to theU.S. when you were 10. What prompted that?
CGC: Work for my father. Self-employed, he reupholsters furniture. He had anopportunity to be a subcontractor, so it would bring the work to him instead of 00:02:00him going out and look for it. That was the biggest thing, just the opportunity for him to come to the U.S., work, and hopefully bring the family along with him at a later time, and everything worked out.
JC: Where did you move to in Ohio?
CGC: Springfield, Ohio, but actually we lived in a little town, South Vienna,Ohio. At the time it was population less than 1,000. I think it was called Village, South Vienna Village. That's where I grew up, and then moved to Columbus when I went to Ohio State, and then just never went back.
JC: What year around was that, Ohio? You moved here when you were 10 and thenOhio State, so that was around ...
CGC: It was in 1981, '82, yeah, in the early '80s.
JC: How was that move to Ohio from Mexico? Was that ...
CGC: I haven't asked that before, and I really don't remember. I think I wasstill just too young to really think much of it other than, "We're moving. We're going North." I don't think I really thought much of it, no stress or anything, just, "Hey, we're moving, going with mom and dad, and okay, we're packing up, let's go." It wasn't until we got to Ohio and experienced our first winter and the snow, then it hit us, "Oh wow, we are way up North."
JC: I can imagine that would be quite an experience. It seems to be one everyyear. So I understand that. Coming from Springfield, you went to Columbus. What did you study in college and what was your reasoning for going into that? 00:04:00
CGC: I was interested in health care. I didn't know what profession, but I knewI wanted to do something in health care. Really what prompted that was my first class in psychology. That's really what got me going, "Hey, this is pretty cool stuff, how the brain ... ," and just started looking into the health care profession. That's really what interested me. I ended up doing an internship in the summer of '94, introduced to me to all the health care, not all of them, but most of the health care professions, through Ohio State, and that's where I narrowed it down to dietetics. I ended up graduating with my B.S. in dietetics. Nutrition really interested me and I was into sports. It just brought it all together for me.
JC: Did you have any inkling about I want to say from reviewing these notes youconsidered going into the service before you were in college.
JC: Do you want to talk about that a little?
CGC: A couple times actually. High school, I went as far as bringing therecruiter home, talking to my parents, went to almost sign on the line, and just decided I wanted to just give work, give that a shot, so I worked full-time for a little bit after high school, ended up getting a scholarship to a local community college, so said, "Hey, this is what I'm going to do." That was the first time.
Then the second time was when I was at Ohio State. I was probably about a coupleyears, year and a half, couple years from graduating, and got the urge again, probably a little more frustration, and it felt like I still had so long to go 00:06:00and the loans were building, were piling up, student loans, like, "I got to go." I went as far as, again, I met with the recruiters, and again, just about to take the next step and sign the line, and I had a good friend of mine that actually worked at the station, the MEP station where they processed you to enlist, and he talked me out of it.
He said, "You're too close to graduating. If you go ahead and enlist," becauseat the time I was thinking of the Marines, he said, "If you enlist, it's not going to happen, because just remember ... " He told me a story, said, "It was going to take me nearly 20 years just to complete my bachelor's. Because you're less than two years away, just do that, and then if you decide after that, you still can." That was the second time.
JC: What was some of the motivation to be drawn to the military?
CGC: The challenge. I guess it wasn't that I was patriotic or I was notpatriotic. It was nothing like that at all. No one in my family had been in the military, served in the military, but I'd heard so much about it, that, "Oh it's a challenge, basic training." I just heard people talking about it and talking to the recruiters, so just that alone, I was like, "I'll take on that challenge, yeah, why not? Sounds great, I'll do it."
JC: It's really a challenge thing. You had mentioned real quick that you werefrustrated with college and the time it was taking did you feel like it was just, I don't know how I want to say it, the kind of comments when you're in college, you're ready to, "I just want to start my life already you start to feel bad.
CGC: Yeah, I did, because again, the student loans were piling up. I'm like, "Ohman, I still have almost two years left. What if I just do the military and I come back to this so I can pursue it once I get in the military." It was all that, just felt like it was the right time. 00:08:00
JC: You said you had heard it was a challenge and you heard these things aboutit. Where did you hear those types of things?
CGC: School. Other kids that actually had family members that had gone throughthe military, and then of course commercials, "Take on the challenge," and then like I said, a friend of mine was already in the military, so just the media and the news and just that kind of things. I'm pretty competitive, always have been, so for me it was like, "Oh a challenge, oh, I can do that. Yeah, bring it on."
JC: It just seemed like a fit. You said Springfield, right?
CGC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
JC: I'm trying to put that exactly ... that's sort of close to Dayton?
CGC: It is. It's between here, between Columbus and Dayton.
JC: Is that close to the Wright ...
CGC: Yep, Wright-Pat, mm-hmm (affirmative).
JC: Were there a lot of people involved in the military or ... I know somepeople from Beaver Creek and they know a bunch of people in the ... It's an area where that's a lot. Was that your experience, there were a lot of people?
CGC: Oddly enough, it was not. I never had any ... I don't even remember hearingabout Wright-Patterson Air Base until way after, once I got to college and started meeting other people. I don't really remember hearing about Wright-Pat when I was in Springfield. It was there, but just--
JC: Think about that now.
CGC: Oh yeah, I know plenty about it now.
JC: You were following through and you were in college and then you finishedcollege. What happens after that?
CGC: I finished college, working full-time, and that itch came back. It waslike, "Okay, not married, no real commitments. Hey, I have some students loans 00:10:00that I need to pay off. Let's find out what the military can do for me at this point." Then I started finding out, military, the student loan repayment program, that's the bonus for enlisting. That's really what got me started, just the timing. It was all about the timing. I just figured, "Before I get any older and start really getting into my career, let me do that now," and everything worked out.
I scored well enough that I could pick anywhere I wanted to go. I had beendating for quite a while, for almost two years, and I knew that she was the right one, so we had an agreement that, "Okay, I will enlist for the least amount of time as possible, we'll go somewhere warm, and then we will come back to Ohio." It worked out. I ended up going to Fort Hood, Texas for my first enlistment, as a specialist E4, as a mechanic, completely different than my education, which I heard that a lot.
It was something that I only had to serve for three years and get all thebenefits of getting my school loans paid for. I would be in Texas close to family, within half a day's drive from home. There was a lot of benefits. Then three years after that in 2001, came back to Ohio and that's when I started finding out about the National Guard, "What's this National Guard thing all about?"
JC: This is in the notes, but just to have that on camera, when you firstenlisted, what ... Just take me through the process, because I don't totally know. You said you scored on the test. Did you enlist with a specific branch or 00:12:00you just take a test and then you get to pick which ...
CGC: The test at the time, the tests calculate all your scores, but for eachbranch, it was different. They looked at different scores depending on the branch. It was Army, Marine. I scored well enough in the Army. The Army has more options. It just had more job options, with less commitment. That narrowed it down, "Okay, the Army it is. That works for me." Then I had to decide, "Okay, what do I want to do? I'm in health care," because at the time I was working for Ohio Health as a pharmacy tech, so I'd been in health care going through college and blah blah blah. Like, "Yeah, you can be a pharmacy tech, but you have to enlist for six years." Wrong answer. Next. "Or you can do this, but that's four years." "Do you have anything for two years? Two years, going once, going twice."
They said, "How about a mechanic?" "How long is that?" "Three years." I'm like,"Okay, I messed around with cars with my father growing up. Three years as a mechanic, sure, I'll do that." Enlisted three years as a mechanic, this is the loan repayment program, so after every good year completed, they send a check to the bank, whatever agency that you took out your loans. Then once I got through my third year ... Enlisted, picked Fort Hood, Texas, went to Fort Hood, Texas.
When I was there, I got there in October of '98, and right away I found out,"Hey, in the spring we're going to deploy." "Oh. Great." The spring of '99 deployed to Bosnia. From March, I think it was March '99 through September of 00:14:00'99, went to Bosnia. That was my first time ever across the pond, the Atlantic, so that was an experience. I was a little older. I enlisted when I was older. I was 29 at the time. I wasn't as young as some of the other soldiers that I deployed with.
That was interesting in the sense that it wasn't a combat deployment. It wasstill in the peacekeeping mission. It was a little more relaxed, got to go outside the wire in soft cap, versus now you have to gear up. It was still neat, got to work with different groups. For the first time ever, got to meet a special forces team, so that was cool, very unique, different group. I just got to meet them, because they come into our base to work out and then get their supplies and stuff, so made friends with a couple of those guys. It was just a pretty neat experience just seeing those guys, that hey, they're humans just like the rest of us. They're just a tough group.
TP: If I may ask, when you enlisted, you said a couple times that boot campseemed like a challenge and that was part of what drew you. Can you describe the process of you signed the papers and you're getting your orders, can you describe your experience of that?
CGC: It was, again, a little different, since I was a little older. I was 28when I enlisted, and knowing that I had some connections at the MEP station, I don't know what the acronym stands for, but it's the enlistment station, I just call it that, or the processing station. They're like, "Well, we trust that you don't have to stay at the hotel the night before and be watched over, because we 00:16:00trust that you're mature enough that if we told you to be here tomorrow at a certain time, then you would be here, so go ahead and go home. Just be here tomorrow and such and such time, get ready to get on the bus, we'll take you to the airport and off you go." I said, "Great, I can do that." Went home one last night, got on the bus the next day, went to the airport, and off we went.
There was a group of I can't remember how many, but there was a group of us thatwent on the same flight, different directions once we got, I think it was Atlanta. I forget what the halfway point was but everyone went different directions. I ended up at Fort Jackson for my basic training. Yeah, I still remember that first, the initial shock, and I share this with my boys all the time, all I remember is everything's so quiet, everyone's so nice [inaudible 00:16:56] to get ready to step off that bus, wow, your life just changes completely. It's nothing but yelling, and not yelling at you, but just being loud to make sure that you hear the instructions so that they're not going to repeat themselves, the drill instructor, they're not going to repeat themselves, it's just not going to happen. They say it loud enough so that everyone can hear them.
That's the first shock "Oh holy cow, I am here, this is for real." Moving offthe bus, you have your stuff with you and you march up to the barracks after you get all your stuff. Then one thing I remember is being in the small, it looked like a small classroom, where all the bunks were, the bay, the sleeping quarters, and for no reason we just started doing physical training right there on the spot. That's welcome to basic training. We're using our duffle bag as a weight. 00:18:00
JC: Were you prompted by someone in charge or just ...
CGC: Yes, the drill instructors, yes. The drill instructors told us to get offthe bus, grab your stuff, get off the bus, and go here, go there, everyone's going a different direction, and it's all just go go go go, 100 miles an hour, don't ask any questions, just follow the person in front of you, go. Yes, then the drill instructors continued to take over and you're like, "Okay." We're on their time and doing physical training. By the time we get done, I forget how long it was, an hour and a half later, there's puddles of sweat everywhere, because it's hot. I think they made it on purpose, they made the rooms hot on purpose. I will always remember that. That was my first introduction to basic training, the initial day.
JC: One thing we talked about just pre-interview is the ... One of the goodthings about having you here to tell your story is because so much of, when I think basic training or something, I think of movies and commercials and things like that. As someone who actually went through it, what was it like compared to maybe what you thought and what you see it being portrayed as?
CGC: I didn't know what to expect. I had some idea just talking to my friendthat worked at the processing station. He gave me some pointers of what to look for, and just things to do, things not to do. I had a little bit of an idea to expect, but not really. I did, but then I didn't. I didn't expect the physical training right off the bus. That I did not expect. I knew we were going to be doing physical training, but I didn't expect it right off the bus. I had some things that I was expecting, some that I was not expecting. It was just, I don't know, an experience.
JC: Did it live up to the challenge you were sort of looking for?00:20:00
CGC: It did. Actually, it did. When it's all said and done, yeah, the deploymentthat I had was about six and a half months in Bosnia, did several training rotations, different places, what's called JROTC down in Louisiana. I went to California for another training rotation that was just over 30-some-odd days. Got to see different states just doing training. It was definitely a challenge, definitely a challenge. I think at one point, and I shared this with Jess, that I don't remember now but at some point I actually counted the number of days that I was away from my wife more than ... In the first three years that we were married, yeah, I was away from her more than with her in those three years. It was a definitely the challenge, yeah.
JC: How was that? This can be, it's different for families, you're separated,things are different. How did that play into your family life? I know she'd been aware of it going into it, but you said she had wanted a short as possible ... Did that stay the same? I guess I'll leave it more open than that, so how did that play in?
CGC: We made it work. When I got deployed, she ended up coming home. She stayedwith her parents. She went back to work and stayed with her parents. When I was gone for more than two weeks, usually when I was gone for more than a month, some of her friends would go down and visit and stay with her, or someone from my family, my sister, would go down and stay with her. We were very fortunate. We always had support there. Her dad was in the military for a very short time, in the National Guard years ago. He had an idea, so we always share that with us. 00:22:00
We're just very fortunate we had the support there, and very strong, very strongwoman that, very lucky that I knew that she was the right one, because now I hear stories, people deploy, come back, they're divorced, and all kind of craziness. No, she's been with me since before basic training, through basic training, through school, through deployments, two boys. She's still there. She's still hanging in there.
JC: This is, what, '98?
CGC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
JC: How was the communication back then? Were you able to communicate with herpretty regularly?
CGC: At the time, '98, then '99, I don't remember having as much access tointernet or phone regularly. I remember, this is back in '99, I remember we had what was called a internet caf. All it was, it was basically just a wooden box with some phones and wires coming in from everywhere. You had a limit, a time limit. I remember that, but as far as internet at that time, no, we were still doing letters. We were still writing letters back in '99 and just the occasional phone call, a few minutes here and there, "I'm here, still fine, doing just great." Now that I think about it, yeah, we still ... I still have letters, as a matter of fact, some letters and pictures and stuff from when I was in Bosnia.
JC: It's something to be read during the History Channel in the future. I wantto return to your experiences starting in Bosnia and then going forward, but 00:24:00this is something we already talked about before the interview, and I think it's really interesting, the communication between home and in the field. Just by what you described, it obviously must've changed a ton. Skipping ahead a little, the next time you were deployed, because we'll go back to that situation, but how did it change? What's the next time you were ...
CGC: 2004, 2005. It overlapped, '04 and '05.
JC: The communication between home and being in the field, that changed a lotsince then.
CGC: Yes. We still had the internet cafes. We still had those. Now certain,depending on where your building was or the job that you had, you may end up with a phone or two in your building, so phone was more accessible. You still had the internet caf. They had a time limit. I think this time it was 15 or 20 minutes. It had gone up tremendously. Internet was available in the internet caf, and also depending on the building that you were in, they may have some offices with actual computers and internet, so it was more accessible. That was different. I was like, "Oh wow, so now I can actually call home more often and I can send emails instead of writing letters." I don't remember writing too many letters, matter of fact, in '04 and '05. I think I still did, to my boys, my boys then. I think I still did that, cards here and there. Yeah, big change from '99 to-
JC: You guys were able to have a stronger communication with the new technology,or was it just different?
CGC: No, it was better. It was definitely much better. Really I saw the biggerimprovement or the biggest change in my third time, which was in, I'm drawing a 00:26:00blank, '08-'09, overlap, '08-'09. Then it was, here's a funny story, it got to the point where it was almost, "Ugh, he's calling again." It got to the point it was just like that, because I could call so often, because I actually had a phone at my desk, I had a computer at my desk, so I could be emailing every day, two, three, 500 times a day if I wanted to. I could be calling in the morning, in the evening, any time. That was the big joke that, "Don't you have work to do over there? Why are you calling me again?" It was a big difference going from writing letters to an occasional phone call to fast-forward, what, I don't know, nine, 10 years later, it's right there at your fingertips. You can call, email, as many times as you want.
JC: Was there anything difficult about that, being ... Of course it was nice totalk to people more, but being in this other environment and still having that daily connection to home, again, did that present any challenges is what I want to ask.
CGC: No challenges. If anything, it helped. I felt like I was more involved withwhat was going on at home, not that I had really any input on the decision making. I was more of the sounding board, listening to the issues that were going on and, "Okay, okay, just do what you need to do. Write a check if you have to, and take care of it, because I'm a few thousand miles away." If nothing else, I think it did help. I think it helped my boys too that it felt like I was part of ... I was away, but I was still there. Again, just that constant communication and always asking how they were doing. I think that helped them 00:28:00mentally, whereas the second time, in '04-'05, I didn't have that.
When I came back in '05, I remember, there was probably about a year, a goodyear before they would go somewhere with me, because they had been so used to not having me around, not hearing from me that often. I was actually gone a full 12 months, so it took nearly a year for them to get comfortable and feel safe, I guess, to, "Hey, let's go store." "Is mom going?" "No." "Then I don't want to go." "What? Come on, we're just ... I'm your dad. Let's go." That took some getting used to. Again, in '08-'09, that wasn't the issue because I'd been calling them so often, every chance I had, "Oh, I want to call home. I'm going to send them an email, see how they're doing." It just felt like I never left, so it was easier time coming back, easier for me to step back into the dad role. It was much better.
JC: That's actually just what I was going to ask. It made it easier totransition from home.
CGC: Yeah, definitely.
JC: That's really interesting.
CGC: Technology, funny things.
JC: Crazy things, you just never know the implications of these things. I thinkthat's really interesting, especially seeing so much change in such a short time. If that comes up again, we can talk more about it. I should probably backtrack and get a story [inaudible 00:29:37]. Let's go back to Bosnia. You said that was a peacekeeping mission. I'm starting to remember some of these things. You said being able to go outside the wire. I think I understand what that means, but that's probably something you could explain better what that 00:30:00exactly means.
CGC: Going outside the wire just basically means going outside of your base,which now, I would say in the last 10 years, the last thing you want to do is go outside the wire, but whereas in a peacekeeping mission, it was a reward if you got a chance to go outside the wire, because more than likely we'd get to see other bases, go to other bases, work with the other soliers, other armed forces from different countries. During that time, made friends with a sergeant first-class who was also into fitness, so we got along great and worked out together, always hung out.
I got approved to go ahead and go on this mission and we actually had a chanceto go to the Norwegian camp, so that was cool, got to see their base, completely different than what we were used to. Their PX, their post exchange was, I still remember this, their coolers were filled with alcoholic beverages. Of course the first thing that we were told before we got, as we were getting close to the Norwegian camp, "You will not purchase any." "What does that mean?" "That means that we will see some." Of course we get there, again, it's different military, they have different rules and regulations. That was interesting, like, "Wow, they're stocked with alcohol, but okay, whatever."
JC: What were they drinking? Anything good?
CGC: Anything really. The cooler was full. It was full. Like, "Wow, okay." Wewere not allowed. That was different. Their mess area, their cafeteria, it was just full layout, just whatever we wanted, it was all there, just plenty of food to eat. That was neat. Just the whole experience, going outside the wire, 00:32:00completely different in peacekeeping. It's safer. You just have to carry your weapon and all, that's still the same, but the environment's a little different. You're surrounded with more friendly forces than enemy forces. That was different, that experience meeting different military personnel from different countries.
JC: It seems, just to sum up what you're saying, it was like you wanted to takeon this challenge and it seems like you're going on this cool adventure, you're meeting people, seeing different things. Is that how it felt to you?
CGC: It did. Any time I had the opportunity to do something like that, I was theperson, "Yeah, I'll do that. Yeah, yeah, I'll do that," because I never thought I would get the chance to be overseas. Little did I know that I would be back twice, twice more. At the time it was like, "Yeah yeah, I'll go there, I'll go do this, I'll go do that." It was all about the challenge, "Yeah, let's see what's out there. What else besides Springfield, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio?"
TP: There's been a lot of people now I don't think realize what our militarypresence was in Bosnia, both pre-peacekeeping, and then also our role in peacekeeping. I've been interested to ask, what was your understanding of the overall mission and what was your place in that? How did your MOS fit in? What was your daily routine like to fulfill that mission?
CGC: I was a mechanic, so my mission was pretty simple: if it's broke, fix it.Anything that had wheels, generators, anything that had a motor basically, anything that had a motor, whether it had wheels or it had track, like the tanks 00:34:00that you see on TV and stuff, basically anything that had an engine, that had a motor, that's what we were there for, to fix. That was pretty easy. That's about all I knew. I didn't really start learning more about that until later years.
As I got older and I spent more time in uniform, then I started understandingwhat the whole peacekeeping mission was about. It took me a while. Initially it was just, "Hey, I'm here to be a mechanic. I was told to do this, then I'm just going to do it, no question asked. That's fine by me." At the time it was just peacekeeping mission, you're going to go work on equipment that soldiers need to do their missions and there you have it. "Okay, sounds good."
JC: Did you have any times where they're interacting with ... You said you wouldgo off base more with the Bosnian public, which I know by definition of that conflict, there's a fraction of them, but just time sort of out seeing the people live there. I should also ask where was the base you were located on?
CGC: I don't remember the name. I think if I remember, it was McGovern, CampMcGovern. I think it was Camp McGovern. Where it was, I had no idea. It was one of those things that you just get dropped off there and, "There you go. You're here now. This is your home the next six and a half months. There's your bed and there's the DFAC [dining facility], the cafeteria, and there's your maintenance bay, and go to work." "Okay." I think that's what it was, Camp McGovern.
Really the only interaction that I had was when we went to the Norwegian camp.00:36:00Really most of the time we had contractors that came into the base from the local community, from the local cities that came in. Most of my experience was pleasant. I never kept in contact with anyone, but you do build a relationship in the sense that you just know them, they know you, and they're either washing your clothes or bringing food in or making deliveries, but I don't know, it just becomes the norm. They're there to take care of their mission and provide for their families, and just like we do. We never really talked about anything more than that. I think that's just how the military, and I think probably when you take on any job like that, that's part of the discussions that you have. You don't talk politics. Just know that you're there to do a job and then that's the end of it.
JC: Yeah absolutely. Is there anything else about the first deployment you wantto talk about or anything we haven't covered that really stands out?
CGC: From any of them or ...
JC: I think just the first one.
CGC: The first one?
JC: I want to go back to after that, but I want to make sure I get everything. Iguess I can ask a more direct question. Something you brought up a couple times are some of the people you've met, both in training and in your deployment. Maybe I'd rather ask, did you make connections with the people around you, the other people in the military or people in your ... I don't know all the nomenclature. I feel likeI should say company or something. 00:38:00
CGC: The thing for me, it was a little different experience for me. Again, I wasa little older than most, so I had already lived a little, been out in what I call the real world for a little bit, so different experience, different perspective on things. For me it was more, I knew what the end result was going to be, I knew that it was just temporary. I knew there was the three-year commitment. For me it was, I didn't really let things get to me, like I saw others, because for others, that was their career. They wanted to be in the military for the rest of their lives. That was their thing.
That was neat seeing different, meeting different people with differentbackgrounds. That gave me a different perspective on things and how to look at things a little differently. I found myself a lot of times being the big brother, "Hey, no big deal, don't worry about it. It can't hurt you. It's no big deal. Who cares? It's not going to hurt you. Let it go." From that perspective, it was just, yeah, it was just meeting people with different ideas, different goals, different expectations.
For me, like I said, it was a short-term thing, "No big deal, I'll do whateverthey tell me to do, and I know that in less than two years I'll be going home." For some, that was their career. For them it was a bigger deal. They would get frustrated with things going on in the company, they're mad at each other, and just craziness like that. That was all just experiences, experience that I don't think you gain without being in the military or without being exposed to 00:40:00different cultures, a different environment, different people.
JH: I wanted to ask you about your experience working as a mechanic during yourfirst deployment in Bosnia. You mentioned you'd been trained as a dietitian and you chose this path because it worked out the best for your life for a lot of reasons. This is also quite different. What was it like doing this work in general? How did you like it? Was the type of mechanic work you were doing in Bosnia significantly different than what you had trained for in Fort Hood in the short time before deployment?
CGC: It was actually the same. I tell people all the time. In those six months,I probably learned the most about my job than I did going through basic training, going through school. After the deployment, those six months, I probably learned the most about maintenance than I ever did in my whole three years, because we did it every day, we didn't have any other distractions, no other training events. It was, "Hey, you go to work every day. If there's equipment to fix, then you fix it. If there isn't, there's other things that you need to do." There was always something. For the most part, we had a maintenance job to do. I enjoyed it. I remembered messing around with cars with my dad growing up, so for me it was no big deal of getting my hands dirty and crawling underneath the vehicles.
To me it was just cool, going back to the challenge, "The book says we can getit done in four hours. Hey, how about if we shoot for three hours? Let's see if we can get it done in three hours. Come on, we can do this." There was always just something to keep us going and keep us motivated, and at the same time, working on that challenge, "There's got to be more to this. Six hours? We can knock it out in four. Let's get it done so we can go back to the rooms and just hang out."
JC: Was that a big difference to, let's say, college, the learning experience in00:42:00college that you were frustrated with?
CGC: It was hands-on, so yeah, it was definitely different, because we'd gothrough school, what's called AIT, the advanced individual training. That's where you get to learn your craft as a mechanic or whatever it may be. The institutional part was similar to college, "Here's a lot of information, retain as much as you can, and then you move on." You move on to the next experience. The hands-on was definitely the biggest difference, and probably the most rewarding. Okay, I've seen it in books and we saw videos, now we're actually getting to see a differential, an engine, this and that. I didn't mind doing that. I liked it. I did like it. I liked it. Again, I think the biggest part of it was because I knew it wasn't going to be something long-term. For me it was like, "I can tolerate this, no big deal."
JC: It was a chance to push yourself, see the world, see what you could see,which is I think really cool. You got the work done?
CGC: Yeah. The biggest thing was called the Hercules. It's a tow truck fortanks. It's the same size of a tank but with a big tow bar that comes out of it. That was cool. We got to pull what was called the pack, that was what they called the engine, so we got to pull the actual pack, this huge, huge, almost like a, I don't know, it's huge, almost the size of, I don't know what, a closet, I don't know, twice the size of a regular closet. It was just a huge, huge engine. That was neat. I got to get under there and pull it and then you 00:44:00have to use another wrecker to pull that big engine.
That was probably the coolest that we got to see that and got to be part ofthat. "We're going to pull a pack. What is that? Oh. Check it out. It's this big thing, this big block-looking thing." Then we got it. The exciting part is always when they turn the key and it runs, like, "Yes, we did it." That's probably one of the biggest, most memorable experiences, getting to work on that big tank, the tow truck.
JC: You can really hear that when they turn the key too.
CGC: Oh yeah. Big engine like that, oh yeah. It just purrs.
JC: That's great. After Bosnia, you come back to the U.S. You go back to Ohio atthat point, correct?
CGC: We got back in '99. No, I still had two more years in Texas, yeah, becauseI got to Fort Hood in October '98, so yeah, just got there. I stayed in Texas, went back to Fort Hood the next two years, off and on, going out to the field and back, and just same things, just doing maintenance. We were supporting a field artillery unit that went out to the field. They were constantly doing training, training, training, training. Since we were there maintenance support element, we went out with them a lot to make sure that their systems were always up and running. That was pretty much the whole time that I was there, Fort Hood.
I did attempt at going back to school for my master's. I say attempt because Irealized that it just wasn't going to work, just taking the night classes after being at work. At the time, I was just like, "No, let me just focus on ... " I 00:46:00ended up taking, I think I went one semester and then I realized, "Eh, this can wait. Let's just focus on getting this done and then go back to Ohio and then we'll see what happens then." That was it for Texas.
JC: Just for clarification, when you say you're supporting an infantry unit,it's like your unit is coupled with a specific infantry unit that you support. Were you being deployed with them or you were just ...
CGC: That's what we deployed with when we went to Bosnia, right. Each company isattached to a battalion, what we call a maneuver battalion, so it was an infantry battalion, an air defense artillery battalion or a cavalry squadron, a reconnaissance type of unit. They have elements that are attached to them, and we were the maintenance portion of that. If they went somewhere, then we'd go with them. If they went training, then we went with them, because they needed their equipment fixed, so we had to be there to get them back, get them back to the fight.
That was pretty much the next two years that I was there in Fort Hood, was justdoing a lot of that. Pretty much every other month, "Okay, we're going out to the field. Okay, here we go." Sometimes there was a lot of work to do, sometimes there wasn't that much work to do, but we still had to go, because they were out there. I liked to say "playing Army," and we had to go play with them.
JC: After Fort Hood, you go back to Ohio, and at this point your gig's up withthe military, so what happens at this point?
CGC: Before I left Fort Hood, I started finding out, I forget how it allhappened, but I got introduced to an NCO, a non-commissioned officer, that was in charge of out-processing, and she put me in contact with someone from Ohio. 00:48:00That's how I started learning about the National Guard, so found out, okay, what does that mean? Long story shot, I found out, hey, you can go into the National Guard, oh, and by the way, bonus. I'm like, "What is that?" "Since you didn't take the GI Bill the first time around, you still qualify for the GI Bill." I'm like, "Oh. Really? Yeah."
Bonus there, got some more college money. Signed up for that, signed up forOfficer Candidate School, OCS, as part of my enlistment into the National Guard. I said, "I will enlist, but I want to go into OCS to get my commission to become an officer." That's what I did. I went right from active duty. Actually there was no lapse in time. I came out of active duty in April. That May, so within 30 days, I was already at school going through OCS. I went from active duty right into National Guard, OCS, started pursuing my commission as an officer.
JC: Did you have other work you were doing at this time as well or this was afull-time gig?
CGC: No, this was just the one week in a month, two weeks a year. I was working.I tried going back to the hospital, to Ohio Health, and they didn't have any openings, said, "But we see something coming up in the fall." Like, "Well I need a job, I can't wait until the fall." I started working as a nutrition service supervisor at a retirement facility, so back to the healthcare and the nutrition side. I did that for a while, actually until ... Started there back in May, around June, from June, and in December a job opened up with Ohio Health, and then went back to Ohio Health in the nutrition department. This whole time while 00:50:00I was going through my OCS program one weekend a month, two weeks a year, yeah, that was my full-time. Full-time, Monday through Friday in nutrition, and then on the weekend I would go play Army. I would tell people, "Yeah, I go play Army on the weekends."
JC: You had mentioned before several times that you always thought, "This isjust three years so I can get through anything." Did that start to change at all? Was your thinking, "Maybe I want to be in this a little longer."
CGC: I didn't think much farther than a couple years. That's how it's been thewhole time, just take it a couple years at a time, a few years at a time, try not to think too far ahead, too long-term, until just recently. At the time it was just like, "Okay, I'll go through OCS, get my commission. I have additional money for school, so I can go back and pursue my master's like I started to." Everything just falling into place, not really thinking that I would make it a career, because again, I already had a full-time job Monday through Friday working in nutrition. I didn't think much farther than, "Hey, let's do this and see what happens."
JC: The timing of this, this is 2001, correct?
CGC: 2001, mm-hmm (affirmative).
JC: It's a pretty crazy year for this sort of stuff.
JC: I thought you might have a question Ty. Do you want to get into that before we
TP: I think we're kind of-- I'm glad you picked that up because we're in thatmode of in between. Before you start with Ohio Health, so you're probably six months into OCS, working for the Ohio National Guard, and September 11th happens.
TP: We've been asking everybody, can you ...
CGC: I remember that day.
TP: ... your experience of September 11th? Where were you? What was going on?
CGC: I was at home getting ready for work, because since I was supervisor, Iwent in a little later to overlap for dinner, to make sure that the residents 00:52:00had their dinner. I was still at home getting ready. This was around 8:00 in the morning. I remember my boss called me. The phone rings. I'm like, "That's crazy. Why is the phone ringing?" It was my boss. The first question, "Are you okay?" I'm like, "Yeah, I'm fine." "What's going to happen? Are you going to have to go?"
That was the first thing that she thought, "What does that mean?" because sheknows the National Guard. Her brother, he retired a captain, so she was familiar with the military, she knew what it all meant to be an officer and the commissioning process and all that. That was her first question, "Are you okay? Are you going to have to go? What does this mean for you?" Like, "I don't know. I have no idea what this means right now, but I got to finish getting ready for work. I'll see you in a little bit." I'll always remember that. That's exactly how it happened. It was just we're watching on TV, the phone rings, it's my boss asking, "What's going on? What does that mean for you?" Then that was it. Then everything changed. It changed the world as we know it now. That was the beginning of a new experience.
JC: How so?
CGC: I finished OCS, got my commission, got commissioned in 2002, August 2002,and then a year later, I'd get deployed, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We had already started hearing rumors prior to that. As a matter of fact, I would have deployed sooner, but the only thing that kept me from deploying was the fact that I had not completed my school yet. Even though I had been commissioned as an officer, I still had to go off and complete my institutional requirement for school. I missed it that time, but then I think within the next 00:54:00year, because that was in 2002, yeah, it was in the next year, that's when, "Hey, we're going to Iraq." I'm like, "Okay. Here we go." It was from that phone call, watching TV, the news, and then that phone call from my boss, and just a year later, off to Iraq I go.
JH: I was going to say, when you spoke with your contact and decided totransition from active Army to the Ohio National Guard, this is before 9/11, what are you expecting that your service will look like? Was deployment again even on your radar at that point?
CGC: No, not really. It was just pretty much the one weekend a month, two weeksa year. That's what I really, as far as I thought, and not much more was really shared, because we didn't know at the time. It was just one of those things, "Oh yeah it's one weekend a month, two weeks a year, you get some additional school money. You can go back to school if you want to and go work somewhere else Monday through Friday. Oh, sounds good. Sign me up."
JC: What about your wife? Because I'm interested to know what her thoughtprocess was, because originally you guys had a negotiation about you enlisting at all, were there discussions as you transitioned from active duty to Ohio National Guard, and then also extending that question into your deployment orders post-9/11.
CGC: Again, she's great, Tracy, she's great. Not once did she ever say, "Youneed to get out." I've never heard her say that. Never has she ever said that. We're on the same page, I guess, when it comes to commitment. You make a 00:56:00commitment, good or bad, you make a commitment, that's it, you got to go with it. You can't just, if it's uncomfortable, say, "Okay, I quit." There's none of that. In the Garcia family, there's no quitting. If you commit, then you commit, that's it. Once that's commitment's over, then you can rethink it. You don't have to commit again. If you made that commitment, that initial commitment, then you stick with it, that's it. I don't recall any changes in how we approached things, military or anything within our life changed, just, "Well let's see what happens," and just took it one day at a time.
JC: When it happened, like you said, you didn't know what this was going tomean. I think that's such a common experience. I know I felt the same way. You said you heard rumors. Did it slowly start becoming apparent that the Guard as usual at that point was going to change and it was going to be ... How did that unfold?
CGC: We don't really know if it's going to change or not. Just talking to othermilitary members, there's always that, it would be like saying, "Okay, I'm going to be a doctor, I'm going to be a surgeon, but I'm never going to get a chance to operate." It's one of those things, it's hard to explain, that you go through all this training, training and training and training, and then you don't get to apply what you've learned. I think in my subconscious somewhere deep down in there, there was this, "Oh wow, so we could get to deploy possibly. That would 00:58:00be cool."
I didn't share that with my wife. I did. She knew that I was like, "Yeah, thepossibility is there," because you are in uniform [inaudible 00:58:09] at the time the Reserves are starting to get involved, it's growing, the contingency was growing, but didn't really think much of it. The possibility's there. It's certainly looking like it could definitely happen, but let's just wait and see what happens until you actually get that letter, get those orders, "Hey, you're mobilizing, here's where you're going, here's when you're going." I think my wife's pretty much the one that mellows me out. It was just, "Let's wait and see. Let's not start planning. Let's just wait and see what happens first, because things could change and will change."
JC: You're saying you found this as another challenge?
CGC: Yeah, yeah, it is, it is. Like I said, you go through all this training,you do all these things, you go through all these schools, and do what with it? Giving you a chance to apply some of the training that you're going through and getting to actually put it to application, it would be ideal, the ideal thing to do.
JC: Did you get the feeling that ... What about other people you were around inthe Guard, did you feel like they were feeling the same thing or people just didn't talk about it or ...
CGC: I think there was mixed emotions, but just from what I can recall, mostwere positive, and I think this just has to do with the environment, because we're talking about mostly type A personalities, probably in the military for 01:00:00the same reasons, or similar reasons. You do have some outsiders that may think otherwise or think differently, but for the most part, we're all in it for similar reasons, and hey, we volunteered, no one forced us, so if it means you got to go somewhere else, then you just go.
JC: The effect of 9/11 is so crazy and intense, and it brought this whole newview of what was happening in the world and how things connected. Did you feel any change from going to Bosnia and from seeing the world, this is adventure, did you feel any changes in our patriotic or political motivation after that happened, or was it just a personal commitment you were just following through or ...
CGC: I think it was a combination. Definitely the commitment piece was a bigpart of it. I consider myself a patriot, always have, always will. I think it stems from the fact that I wasn't born here. I came to the U.S. at a very young age, so I'm very appreciative of the things that I have, as a result of my father coming here, taking on this opportunity, and not knowing what the end result was going to be. I think for me it's personally a little different. Again, I consider myself a patriot in that sense that, "Hey, not only did I make a commitment, but hey, it's for my country, a country that has given so much back to me and to my family that, hey, if I got to go, then I got to go." 01:02:00
JC: Well it's an odd topic to talk about you know. Things are changing, you hearthese rumors, and then you get the paper. How does that come? Is it a letter in the mail that says you're deployed.
CGC: You pretty much know, you know in advance that, hey, you're going to bepart of this deployment list, this manning roster, for people they're going to deploy. Really what made it easy is that it was my entire unit, I was with the 211th Maintenance Company at the time, I was a platoon leader, so it made it even easier that, hey, your unit is going to deploy, so there was no question as to, "Whoa, does that mean me? I'm in the unit, the unit's deploying, so okay, I'm going to go with the unit." We knew that before we even saw the actual, the order that says, "Hey, you will deploy. Here's when you're going, here's where you're going, the amount of days that you're going to go." We know in advance that hey, your unit is going, since you're in the unit, chances are you're going to go with them.
Then it just comes in a memo-type format. It's electronically, of course. Nowwe're in the technology. It's literally just a two-page memo, hey, your name and where you're going, when you're going, and here it is. Like, "Oh." That's what makes it official, because you get alerted, you get an alert memo, your unit, but nothing really seals the deal until you have your actual order, "Oh wow, this is for real." That's when you know, "Okay, so all the pre-planning we've been doing was great, but now we really need to make sure that we have 01:04:00everything locked tight, because I'm really going for real."
JC: How-- I guess tell us the details. When were you supposed to leave? How longwere you supposed to go for?
CGC: 12 months. The first year, or my second deployment, but the first time Iwent to Iraq, it was a full 12 months, got there in December, because we went through Kuwait, so all together from December of 2004, came back Stateside in December of 2005, it was a full 12 months. Some of us did have the option to come back home halfway, but I chose not to, simply because I knew that my boys were having a hard time adjusting to me being gone, and I felt that it would be harder for me to be home for a week, 10 days, and then daddy's gone again, so I figured, "Well, I think the best thing," and we both agreed, my wife and I both agreed, "Hey, can you stick it out?" Like, "Yep, I'll be fine. I'll just stay here and I'll just wait until I come home for real." That was a full 12 months. 12 months between Kuwait and then Iraq and then back to Kuwait and then back home, so yeah, a full 12 months. Boots on the ground 12 months.
JC: So yeah, I should have asked about this, You had had children in between.
JC: When did that happen, just to fill out the whole thing?
CGC: Let's see. At the time, 2003, 2004, when I finally deployed, 2004, 2005, Ihad a four-year-old, just turned four, and my one-year-old, nope, two, just turned two. I had a two-year-old and a four-year-old. My two-year-old was still 01:06:00young, too young to really know what's going on. My four-year-old, even though he was four, he was well aware of what's going on, well aware of what's going on. He was the one that had the challenge with me when I came home that he wasn't going to go anywhere unless mom was going. They were around for the first one, first time to Iraq, not when I went to Bosnia, we didn't have kids, which made it very easy, because you just came home and that was that.
A two-year-old and a four-year-old. The four-year-old really struggled with it,which that, it did affect me a little bit, so it took a little bit time to get used to the fact that, hey, don't take it personally, he's just getting used to having daddy back home, but we got through it. The second time I deployed, of course much older, and we were able to communicate and talk on the phone and email, just much easier, much easier.
JH: About the four-year-old in particular, what strategies did you and your wifeuse to explain the second deployment? What did you tell him?
CGC: I don't know, actually. I don't know. I really don't. It was just one ofthose things that he knew that I wasn't around but he wasn't really old enough to understand. He just knew that I wasn't around. He knew there was a void there, but he didn't really understand. He missed daddy, of course, and of course I missed him, so it was one of those things that, "Wow, I got to get home. I got to get home."
They're both just, they're great, smart kids. I think that my four-year-old, hewas the one that was talking, actually he hadn't even turned one, or about to 01:08:00turn one, and he was already talking. I knew we were in trouble then. When he was four, he was well aware what's going on, but at the same time didn't know what was going on, but he thought he knew what was going on. I don't know how we got him through that, just sending pictures. I remember they would draw pictures and they would draw pictures and send them to me and I'd hang them up on the walls and take pictures, just so they would see that, "Hey, I got your stuff and I have it up on the wall," so just a lot of that, just sharing photos. It was definitely challenging to them, with me being gone. I don't know.
JC: Family stuff. I guess one thing you talked about I remember from the notes,and you talked about this earlier, is that your family had, it seemed like a big, larger family support structure. Do you think that helped a lot?
CGC: Definitely. I say that because now as I moved up in the ranks and get towork with more people in different backgrounds and different situations at home and single families and larger families, smaller families, just different dynamics, yeah, I think it made a big difference, so much that we actually moved next to my in-laws. Some just like, "What? You live next to your in-laws?" Like, "Yeah, my in-laws are great though." They've been there through it all with us. Since basic training, they've been around. I think that's what helped us get 01:10:00through a lot of it, that all you had to do is look out the front door and there's our family right there. I think it's been a big part of it, helping us get through the multiple deployments and anything that the military has thrown at us.
JH: For your deployment in 2004, about how long did it take from first gettingthe general wind that you guys were going to be deployed to actually getting over there into Kuwait? Did you have to do pre-mobilization in the states first?
CGC: Yes. All together, it probably took, the first time, probably about 18months. We started training, we left in December. Probably early spring or summer of '04 we started training, so all together probably a year and a half, which at the time was a little different. We did all of our internal training. Our own NCOs, non-commissioned officers, they were the ones that were doing the training, conducting the training, making sure that we were ready to go. Now it's done a little differently. Now you actually have external groups that come in and actually grade you on all the training events that you have to complete to make sure that before you get to Kuwait and then do some more training in Kuwait and then move on.
JC: Where do the external groups come from?
CGC: Most of them are retired military. Most of them, I would say for the mostpart are retired military.
JC: Is it a private contractor then?
CGC: Mm-hmm (affirmative). The Army will contract trainers, again, retired, sothey know, most of them have the experience, the combat experience, so they bring that to the table.
JH: Where did you guys train this time around?
CGC: The first time we trained in Camp Atterbury in Indiana, so we went through01:12:00Indiana, that was a mobilization site, we went through there, and then went to Kuwait from there, did some more training there, and really it was all just to get us acclimated, because it's a big difference going from Ohio weather to 100+ degrees. Even in December, I think it was in the 80s, 70s or 80s in Kuwait, so it was still pretty warm. We spent a few weeks there in Kuwait, letting our bodies adjust and just continued to do more training, and then we'd go over to before you can cross over into Iraq for the rest of the mission. Then on the way back we just do it backwards. We go through Kuwait, decompress a little bit, and back to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, decompress some more, and then, "Okay, now you can go home."
JC: What was Kuwait like? How long does it take to get there?
CGC: Oh wow. It was probably a good 18 hours all together, 18, 15, 18 hours,something like that. With the time change, it's less than that, but you just hit the timer, it's over 12 hours on the plane. It's a long flight. It's a long flight.
JC: You get in Kuwait, and did they make you do calisthenics right after?
CGC: No, no, actually no, it's very mellow, because you've been on the plane forso long, you just got to get acclimated. The first thing that you feel when you step off the plane is, what I tell people, it's like opening the oven. When you first open the oven and you feel that, "Wow," it can't really burn you, but it's hot enough that you feel it, that's pretty much what it feels like when you step 01:14:00off a plane into that type of environment, the degree, the temperature, it's just like that. That was the first experience, "Yep, it's going to be a hot one." It just keeps getting hotter from there. Then you get over December, January, the temperature just keeps increasing. The hottest that I saw was 130 degrees. One of the guys actually took a picture, I never was able to find that picture, but took a picture of the actual thermometer on the wall, it actually read 130. That's pretty cool.
JC: In Kuwait, it's hot. What else is it like? I assume you're on base at this point.
CGC: Yes. There's the base. I think it was Arifjan, I think it was Arifjan. Ithink it was called Arifjan. More Training-
JC: Are you with the National Guard or at this point is it mixed?
CGC: At this point it's mixed. As a matter of fact I think it was the first timeI came across one of the guys that I was with in active duty. Small world. He was a specialist along with me at the time, E4 mechanic, and I ran into him in Kuwait. It was the craziest thing, but we just kind of looked at each other like, "What's going on?" By then I was already commissioned, and he's like, "You went to the other side, you went to the dark side." "Yeah, I became an officer." I think he was a staff sergeant, E6. I think he was a staff sergeant. "You made staff sergeant, that's pretty good." He's still on active duty. It was just one of those things. No, we come together, you can see reservist, National Guard, 01:16:00active duty. Different branches, will see Air Force, we didn't see too many Marines. There was Air Force, some Navy. We just kind of come together and everybody goes off different places.
JC: How did those distinctions play out? There's a lot of different groups here,there's different branches of the military, there's different ranks systems, officer dynamics and stuff. How does that change? Did you feel like even just coming from ... Now you are in the National Guard as opposed to the Army, active-duty. Did you feel like it was different from that stand point? I know the situations are so different, I know it's not comparing apples to apples at all. Now you're an officer, so you're coming from this different way. Can you talk about that a little?
CGC: That's what's unique about the military, there's really no ... The initialcontact, there is really no difference because we all go by rank. Nowhere does it say, National Guard or active-duty, it's all just US Army. I guess, from the military perspective, that's what's unique, that we all associate with the rank. I didn't really see any difference because we all went through the same training, whether you are a National Guard reservist or active-duty component, we all went through the same training before we crossed over to Iraq. I don't recall experiencing any differences.
JC: Was being an officer different at all?
CGC: Yeah, that is different. That is different from mine listed experience, it01:18:00is different. Expectations are higher, you are expected to perform at a certain level, a higher level. You have to understand, not only the details but understand what is the bigger picture. You have to be able to reach from the youngest soldier to the oldest. Just different skill set because again, now you're in a leadership role. Where expectations are higher and more results driven, but you still have the human element to deal with.
JC: Is it still a hands-on element?
CGC: Yes and no. Not as much-
JC: Mechanic is very hands-on-
CGC: It's more the managerial type, hands-on. We have a saying that you have tolead from the front. You have to set the example, so never ask your team to do something that you wouldn't do. If it means, "We are going to go here then I'm going to take the lead." Always setting that example, being that role model, leading the way. That's the hands-on portion of it, don't expect someone to do something that you wouldn't do yourself. That's about as hands-on, again, it's more management type style. Yeah, you kind of get away from it with this officer stuff.
JC: Actually, real quick. What is your rank coming into this?
CGC: At that point I was first Lieutenant. Yes, I was first Lieutenant.
JC: How many people are you in charge of?01:20:00
CGC: I was deployed as a maintenance control officer, so we had a company ofjust over 200 soldiers. The way that worked was kind of unique that, during the day I was in charge of them because I was the main's control officer. I ran the maintenance operations, I set the priority of work for every section. Every section had a different task, some worked on generators, some worked on air-conditioning units, some worked on electronics. Different skill sets, so is a maintenance control officer I managed a lot of that during the day. Once they were done doing the maintenance tasks, then the responsibility fell on the commander in the first sergeant. Anywhere in between, while they were not doing maintenance, it falls on the company commander in the first sergeant. That was the dual responsibility, the command team and then the maintenance control officer. We also had an E8, a master sergeant, he was my maintenance control sergeant. That's when we say command team, we had a command team of a commander in First Sergeant. Then a command team of a maintenance control sergeant and myself, a maintenance control officer, for just over 200 people.
JC: What was your understanding of the mission at this point? Your specificmission? Were you doing maintenance for-
CGC: We were doing maintenance for other Army units that are in our base and inour operation, that pass through a need maintenance support. We were attached to, at the time, we were attached to the 129th CSSB, combat service support Battalion, that's actually out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The 101st, the Screaming Eagles. We were attached to them, they were the higher battalion and we were the company. Yeah, it was just maintenance. At least, we thought it was 01:22:00maintenance, it was just going to be maintenance but of course we get there ... Actually, prior to getting to Iraq we found out that, not only are you going to be maintenance but part of your mission is going to be running security missions. But we are mechanics, my guys are mechanics. That was kind of another shock to a number of us. Wait a minute, we are a maintenance company, why do you have us doing combat arms type stuff? That's just what it called for.
JC: Yeah, let's talk about that. We've gone from weekends in two weeks a year ofmaintenance to now you're going to be doing some guard duty. People were kind of shocked a little bit, is that what you're saying?
CGC: Yeah, shocked, but at the same time going back to what I said earlier, thegroup of people that we were with, the type of people that enlist, type A personalities, similar ideals. It was just one of those things that, "Cool, not only do I get to be a mechanic but I get to go play combat arms. Even though I'm not an infantry guy or gal I can go play army. Sounds like were going to get a chance to, okay." For the most part, I think it was well accepted. We just didn't know how it was going to work, because we knew that our main mission was maintenance. We had an additional duty of providing what we call clips, combat logistics patrols. Not only do we fix the equipment but we are going to be using the carbon to be providing security to move supplies. That was different, for 01:24:00the most part we just did a rotation. We had a group that wanted to do that mission, the clips, the logistic control missions, but we rotate people through.
If they weren't doing maintenance, they are doing the security missions and viceversa. If you are doing security you are doing maintenance. We had some people there who were happy to do nothing but the security mission and then we also had guard duty. We provide our own security around the base, big towers around the base where our guys had to rotate. Do different hours, different shifts, I think it was like eight hour shifts, eight or 12 hour shifts up on the towers, securing our base. We go from one week in a month, two weekends a year, to turning wrenches, to providing security for own supplies, moving up and down central and northern Iraq. It was great, they were very receptive and as a matter of fact, some of our best gunners, we had the 50 caliber machine gun, were females. Yeah, that was pretty cool. They were proud of it too. "Yeah, we got this." That was always pretty cool.
JC: Has that changed from Bosnia even, were there still a lot of female troopsback then?
CGC: I didn't see as many. There were some, but not as many, from what I canrecall. Being a maintenance company, it's one of those jobs, military occupational specialty, MOSs, it's always been, you will always have females in that kind of profession. I just don't remember seeing as many, but they were there. I think now, thinking back, like I said we could pretty much put a whole 01:26:00squad of females to run one of our gun trucks. It's no big deal.
JC: I guess there's got to be tons of differences. What's one of the biggestdifferences between your first deployment in Bosnia and then Iraq? That's one thing I didn't really ask about Bosnia, we talked about it as a peacekeeping mission. Was there any combat in Bosnia at all that you-
CGC: No. No, not at all. I just remember the closest thing was in ... We hadonly been there for just a couple of months, or a few months. Kosovo, there was something going on in Kosovo. Again, being an E4 enlisted, I didn't really care to know too much. "I've got to go turn wrenches, I've got to go get showered, I've got to go eat. Got to go go do my physical training, that's all I'm worried about.
JC: [inaudible 00:12:16]
CGC: I did, and I think that's what made it even easier. It was like going towork, but we were in Bosnia. Inside a wire, but you are right there, everything was right there. You get up, go to work, have some food, go do your exercise. It was just pretty routine.
JC: How did Iraq feel, did that change anything? Just within the basin alsobecause of the nature of the mission changing?
CGC: I do remember in Bosnia, we had our weapons with us but we didn't have tocarry the ammo. I think at some point we didn't have to have weapons with us at all. Just from that, to the second time when I went to Iraq the first time, 04, 01:28:0005. That we had to have our weapon and we had to carry our ammo. Even more so in 08, 09 when I went back to Iraq. That wasn't even part of the discussion, you will always have your weapon, you will always have ammo, you will always walk with a battle buddy, always have someone with you. It just kind of increased. The threat level increased and so did our, what we call our posture. Going from weapons every now and then, no ammo, to weapon and ammo, to weapon and ammo with a battle buddy. It just kind of increased every time based on the mission.
Speaker 3:What part of Iraq where you actually based in?
CGC: In 04, 05 I was in Eastern Iraq. It was Ballade. And then in 08, 09 I wasin the western part of Iraq in Al-Assad. That was kind of unique too, I got to see both sides. Eastern Iraq near the Tigris River, and then the Euphrates on the Western. I got to see both sides and that was kind of cool. I got to drink water out of the Euphrates. Of course, it had been processed but it was still kind of cool to say that I got to drink water from the Euphrates. What? It was processed and it was fine, but not too many people can say that.
JC: [inaudible 00:14:40] cradle of civilization, that's amazing. You are on thebase a lot, had you been off base much at that point?
CGC: I didn't have to, even the first time. Again, it's based on ... I think01:30:00back, I wish I would've had a chance to go outside the wire the first time in Iraq. I kind of envy the guys that actually got the chance but, like my commander always sat me down and said, "You have your mission. You are in charge of these guys while they are here. This is just as stressful as going out there." What I forgot to mention is that Ballade was known as Mortarilla-ville, because we were mortared all the time. I'm into numbers a lot and I forget the numbers now. I'm getting old but we got mortared over 100 times in Iraq, the first time that I was there. That kind of put things in perspective, but at the same time I was kind of envious that I didn't get a chance to go outside, and you guys did. Then of course, you have different people come and talk to you and put things into different perspective. "Your stress is a little different, you are still getting martyred, you still have to cope with you don't know when the next round is going to hit or where it is going to hit." It's a little different. The first time I didn't get a chance to go outside, the expense is just that, getting mortared. That was enough.
JC: Can you describe that? What's that like? I think people hear this in thenews and on reports but I don't know that people have an understanding of what that is, the fact that this installation is being attacked. We picture night vision, things that look like fireworks hitting something we can't really see-
CGC: Sometimes we saw that, sometimes we didn't even see it, we would just hear01:32:00it. If we heard it, we knew it had already had. If we would see it, then we knew it's coming, but sometimes we didn't even see them. We would just share them go boom and then within a few seconds we would hear the siren. Okay, you know what that means, grab your stuff, put your everything on, get your helmet on, get your weapon, get your ammo and go to the closest bunker. Wait it out and see what happens. We could be sitting like this and we start hearing the counting. Then the siren goes off. Okay, grab your stuff, get to the closest bunker. It even happened several times while I was on the phone, while I was on the Internet, talking on the phone in the Internet caf. It got to the point where my wife knew, because she could hear the siren going off. "You've got to go?" "Yeah, I've got to go. I may call you back later or I may call you back in a couple of days but I've got to go." That's it, put my stuff on and go to the nearest bunker.
JC: With the mortar attacks, you are inside the base. Do the hit a wall at somepoint or-
CGC: No, they hit inside the base. A good number of them hit the airfield, thatseem to be the primary target. We did have some head to where the living quarters were and even one hit the dining facility. It was sporadic, but for the most part most tend to hit the airfield side. That's what made it kind of stressful, you never really know. If you look at the percent, over all the 01:34:00percent tells us that they are going to the airfield but there is still that percent that hits inside.
JC: What are these too? The technical name for projectiles, is it all differentkinds of things?
CGC: Yeah, different sizes, rockets. No, it's all military grade stuff. Whateverthey could get their hands on, it could be just regular mortars, rockets. Anything that they could get their hands on to shoot into the bases. That's what their goal was but it was funny that after the first and second time it happened a little bit. Every Wednesday at noon, I don't know if you realize that every Wednesday at noon, the siren goes off. I remember hearing that the first time and for a split second I just kind of froze. I was with my wife at the time and she said, "What's wrong?" I just kind of laughed it off. That's one of those things that you just get so used to, you get so much into their reactionary mode that that's your life. For 12 months, that's what you live, that's what you know.
You hear a siren, your first instinct is to look around and grab your stuff,because you've got to go to a bunker, some are safe. That was kind of neat. The other thing was every time they deployed, not so much the first time in Bosnia, but the other two times, we would always go through the training, more training, more training. How to react to that, how to react to that. One of the scenarios was before you cross a bridge, you have to slow down and discern things that you 01:36:00have to do to make sure it's safe to cross. We did that so much, so much, so much, the same thing that coming back home, even if I wasn't driving it was one of those things. We would just be driving, we call it the pucker factor. "No, it's fine, you are stateside. It's just a bridge, you don't have to prepare for anything."
Those kinds of things, we laugh about it mostly. We talk about it and we laughedabout it but those were the experiences that most military personnel will go through and again, you don't experience it until you go through something like that. Something can be a positive experience, some can be negative unfortunately. I think the positive ones are just that, you laugh it off because you realize, "I'm back in the states, back in the US. No one's after me, I don't have to worry about a bridge, I don't have to worry about the siren. It's cool." That's the kind of stuff that you don't hear about in the news.
JC: You only hear about how ... And people do have problems of course, but wejust only hear about the problems. Is that what you are saying?
CGC: Definitely, because it's definitely an experience and I'm glad ... That'sprobably another reason why I want to do this because I want to paint a positive picture on something that sometimes can be perceived as negative, regardless of beliefs or reasons. No, some of these things is just human nature. Anytime you are an environment where you do the same thing over and over, you become accustomed to it. You are going to react to something or someone in the same way. Case in point, you go through all that training and you experience it, when 01:38:00you hear a siren, you are wired to react in a certain way. But then you get over that and you just kind of ... Now when I hear the siren, its like, "Whatever, no big deal." Now I can go under a bridge, "Whatever, no big deal." It takes time to get to that. Unfortunately some can get through it and some can't. But that's just the way we are wired, I think.
Speaker 3:Speaking of acclamation and adjusting to new scenarios, I wanted toknow what it was like to run this maintenance operation in Iraq, relatively early on in the US presence over there. Were there particular challenges and hurdles to overcome that sort of like, not necessarily a part of your training, or maybe wasn't expected?
CGC: I think that's where I had been working at Ohio health for a while. I wasgoing to bring that with me but anyway, some of the training that I received through my employer was in process improvement. I was able to apply that to running the maintenance operations, because it was all about how can we improve our turnaround time? How can we get this Humvee for example, let's say it's going to take four hours, can we make it in three hours? Can we identify some gaps that we can streamline the way we fix things, the way we approach on how to repair these things? I was able to do that. It was one of those things that I think was a benefit for the traditional, one week a month, two weeks a year, military personnel that, they bring a different skill set.
I was able to use that even though I was working with, we had Air Force, Iworked with quite a few contractors. Being able to speak that civilian language, 01:40:00I was able to work with them and collaborate and as a group we figured out, we've got to get a little smarter on this. Get better at things and get the results that we need. Running it was, I try to run it very similar to my civilian job. Managing people, I always looked at that the way I manage people, working on equipment, I manage people that are still providing a service to patients. Both service oriented, both have people that you manage and both have customers. I always try to kind of use that to my advantage and try not to make it more complicated than it needed to be.
Speaker 3:Were the day-to-day experiences on the job, in terms of the repair andthe work that you guys ... The equipment, was that different from what you had trained on in the Guard here in the States and in Bosnia? Was it a totally different kind of circumstances?
CGC: Some was, but it was hard to really just to even think of or even havingthe time or the opportunity to train with things that we would see. Being in the base, again, you have units all around, so you never know what unit could be passing through your area of operations. They may bring a piece of equipment that you just never seen. Active-duty or national guards are like, "Wow, they were just starting to field those and we were just starting to get those. I've never worked on that." You did have that, not much though. Occasionally it was just one of those things that, your mechanic, you can figure it out, work on it. 01:42:00
JC: I was just going to ask. You went over with kind of this idea of managingpeople who did a job and you mentioned the idea of leading from the front. If you are familiar with this, you guys have this curveball thrown at you that you're also going to be doing security detail. You said, from a personal perspective, you envy little bit those people who get to go outside the wire. But also, you are in a leadership role now. What was your perception of now, you are managing a group of people in the theater that are almost always inside the wire, not that that's not dangerous given the mortars. Now, also they are going actively out into the combat scenarios. As the guy who is leading this group, how did you approach that, how did you feel about that?
CGC: Actually, I mentioned this to just before. It was one of those things thatI got over it really. Really, what I learned from the group that just really learn to work together and build teams. It wasn't till after the fact that I realized that that was our coping mechanism, the fact that they were very selfish in a sense. "This is my team, you don't come into our little team and try to change things, or disrupt the way we do things." That's what happens, when you're giving a mission and you have people that care and take it seriously, I think it was, I see it as human nature that they learn that, "We've got to look out for each other.
Don't worry about what's going on outside of us, we are together, this is our01:44:00team. We are going to go do security outside of the wire, ignore all the stuff that's going on, all the BS. We've got to look out for each other." For me, I had a hard time at first, why are they trying to be so segregating themselves from everybody else. It took me a while to realize, that's their coping mechanism, that's how they are dealing with the uncertainty of what's going to happen when they go outside the wire. After a while, it's just kind of one of those things that you just kind of, as leader, you just take a step back and let them do their thing.
Let them, as long as it's not anything unsafe and someone can get hurt, that'sfine. If you want to do this, no problem, go for it. It was little things, they wanted an extra pack of Gatorade, or an extra pack, an extra set of nails. It was just something that little things like that, "Yeah, go ask for it." Sign off on it, "Go ask for it." It was just those things that again, I think, that's how they cope with it and that's how they help build those teams. That was the struggle for me, trying to understand, why are they doing that? I think at the end of it that's what I came up with. It was just how they maintained that security amongst themselves.
JC: There is some more that I just want to ask about the first deployment. Idon't know if you know about the change in ... You've got two things going on, because you've got your group are charged with fixed with the things that are coming back. Then you also have the military reacting to what tactics are being used because you are at the front end of what we now know as the insurgency. But you are at the front end of IEDs where they started out pop can size and they 01:46:00start making them bigger and refining the tactics and delivery. We are talking about what you're end loss was, I was really interested to know how your group was dealing with those repairs, and to see this stuff coming back in. Then also, going back out, what are you guys doing to better equip those vehicles for what's really happening outside that wire?
CGC: Pretty much everything kicked off in 03 and we were there towards the endof that and 04 and 05. We were right at the end of where, as a matter of fact, we were still going into from core weight, half of us went on the road into Iraq and half of us went on the plane, C130. We had to get the vehicles, because we knew we were getting more intelligence that IEDs are getting worse. What we ended up doing is using sandbags in our vehicles to, in case there was an IED, it would sort of absorb the blast. We also added some steel plates to the doors because as a maintenance company we have welders, they do welding as their trade.
We were able to fortify our equipment with steel plates that we found in theyard. It wasn't until, we were probably about half way through our deployment. Probably in the middle of 2004 when we started getting the actual up armor equipment. We had a mix, we had up armor equipment and we had some steel plated equipment that we had put together ourselves, with sandbags. It was kind of one 01:48:00of those things whereby the time we left, towards the end of 05, no one was going outside of the wire unless they were in an up armor vehicle. That was the guidance Army wide, that was it. It was just one of those things, we talked earlier about technology, how much it evolved from 99, 2004, and 2008, 2009.
The same thing happened with our equipment sets. From 99, when I was there in04, 05. Towards the end of 05 and when I went back in 08, 09. In 08, 09, there was no what we call soft vehicles. If you saw them, it was a rare because everything pretty much was up armor. That was it, you didn't ride in anything that was not up armor. It was one of those, how much we evolved as the operation grew and changed, the equipment sets and how we deal with the change, how everything just kind of evolved. Now that I think about it, technology evolved, the weapon system evolved, the way we reacted evolved. Everything just keeps moving.
JC: Can you describe up armor? People will hear this term but it's clearly notjust welding steel plates on to something, which you guys did. From a mechanic's perspective, what are we really talking about?
CGC: When we talk about up armor, that's equipment that comes out of thefactory, off of the assembly line, already assembled. It comes already like that, with all the steel plates, same color, they are not welded. Everything is already there. That's up armor. Steel plated is just that, we took steel plates and we actually welded them to the doors. Everything we could do to protect the 01:50:00cab of the vehicle. That's the bigger difference, I would say up armor is already from the assembly-line, prepackaged, here it is. Just get in it and drive.
JC: How much control do you have over the equipment once it comes to you? I'msure there's guidelines somewhere but potentially you are making a decision, you can start welding steel and stuff like that. Then also as kind of a sub question to that is, were you able to, as you are getting experience about what's happening to these vehicles going out into the field, are you able to communicate that to who is in charge of making these vehicles? Were they responsive to-
CGC: Fortunately, that was already going on. We didn't really have to reallycommunicate too much because Army wide it was already being worked on. The biggest thing for us is just making sure that we stayed in constant communication with our higher headquarters to let them know the type of mission that we were on, the number of vehicles that needed to go outside of the wire, all the detailed stuff. That supported how quickly we would get the up armor equipment versus another unit that occasionally will go outside the wire, maybe once a month versus us every day. That kind of stuff, that kind of information, we always like to make sure that we are sharing constantly.
JC: Sharing data for logistics, that kind of information?
CGC: Making sure that they understand our mission and-
JC: Potentially sending them mechanical information, I guess?
CGC: Correct, more of the mission that we are on and why we need the equipmentversus another unit who doesn't go outside the wire is often. That would help our Battalion. [inaudible 00:36:57] will say, "We need so many up armored equipment, here is why we need it, here's the mission that we are doing. Here is 01:52:00the actions that we've had, here's the issues that we've had, and here's the impact if we don't get the equipment." That's the kind of stuff that we influence at our level.
JC: How connected did you feel to what was going on with the overall strategy inIraq? That sort of thing?
CGC: Really, I don't know. It's one of those things that, you don't really thinkabout and it just goes back to like what I said earlier. At least for me anyway, it goes back to the whole commitment piece and being a patriot and just following orders. If I had a problem, I probably wouldn't be in uniform. For me personally, it's one of those things that if I ever had a problem at any time, I have the option of just hanging it up. Of saying, "I've had enough, I've done my time. I'm going to resigned my commission and move on." I've never had that feeling, I've always felt that I believe in what we do for our nation so I have no reason to question it. If it ever gets to the point where I start questioning it then that's my cue to hang it up and move on. I don't know, maybe that's-
JC: You have a job to do, probably [inaudible 00:38:47] at that point too. Atthe same time when I think like early 2000's and we've come back to this idea of the media a lot. Were people on base able to get a lot of just normal media 01:54:00access at that point?
CGC: We watched the lot of, what was the name of that? Army network? I forgetthe name of it, but it was basically a military channel, all the news came through there. That was in Bosnia, not so much in Iraq and 04, 05 and even in 08, 09. You had everything by that time, you name it. CNN, Fox, whatever you want, you could watch whatever you wanted. Initially, it was just whatever the satellites could bring in. It was mostly the local Department of Defense channels and it was very limited. We still got to see what was going on around the world.
JC: Was it still limited during your first deployment to Iraq or not so much? Itwas more in Bosnia it was limited-
CGC: Not so much, more in Bosnia, yeah.
JC: Okay, the media was crazy about what was going on. Did that affect peoplethere at all?
CGC: I don't think so, and again, at least not from our perspective down at theunit level. Down at the unit level we are so far from what's going on big picture wise, we focus on our mission and that's about all we are concerned about at that point.
Speaker 3:Do you recall any significant interactions you had with Iraq seesthemselves, the local culture and if so did you have a sense of local people's receptions to the US presence?
CGC: Actually, I was going to say that the one thing I mentioned before when wespoke was, we were in Kuwait and I can't remember if it was 04 or 08, but I know 01:56:00that I was in Kuwait. We were out in the middle of nowhere, the desert, getting ready to fire our weapon systems, more training and everything just kind of stopped. We wondered why everything stopped. Then all of a sudden I see this family, I remember seeing the mom and I remember seeing the dad and the little kids. I think it was in 04. It was in 04. I had my two-year-old in my four year old and I remember seeing a little boy with the family and they are out there picking up brass.
At first I was like, "What in the world? We are out in the middle of nowhere.How do they find us? How do they know we are out here?" But they did and here it is, a little family. What they were doing was they were collecting brass to take it back, sell it to somebody, who would later melt the brass and make little figurines to sell. Of course, some of those figurines would end up inside the base outside the PX, the military store, the PX, the Post exchange. I had someone say, they collect the brass and they sell it. You'll see it, once you get over to Iraq you'll see it in some of the bazaars that they have, on posts, or some of the little trinkets that you buy. It's one of those things that it kind of took me back to I guess just a different perspective of how much we have 01:58:00in the US.
Even just taking it in, even more personally than that. I've been given myfamily, I've been given so much as far as opportunities, so much that my boys are not going to be have to be doing or would never have to do that just to make ends meet. It was one of those moments that just kind of like, for a moment of reflection. "Wow, we are here in hopes that their life gets better so that they don't have to do that. That their kids can be kids and that they are not out there collecting brass so that they can make money." That was another moment that I will remember forever. Forever. It's just a different perspective. Again, just things that sometimes we as [inaudible 00:44:03] take for granted, unless you are put into that situation, that environment. You get to appreciate things a little more.
JC: That was in Kuwait, while you are doing the training? You mentioned earlier,I'm sorry to jump in ahead, but you got to go out, outside of the base more in your second tour. Is that true?
CGC: Same thing, I got to go but it was on an airplane. It wasn't actually outon the ... I was in the higher headquarters, before I was in a battalion ... Excuse me, on a company, that was a battalion. This time I was with brigade, so as a brigade staff you are even farther away from when we talk about the hands-on. There is really no hands on. Once you're at the brigade level, it's all about metrics and managing systems, managing commodities, supplies. At that 02:00:00point you are really not even managing people, per se, but your managing project and systems. That people operate of course, that you distance yourself even more. At that point we had no reason to go outside of the wire because you are at a different level. No, it was just one of those things.
You are on the base, now you're inside the post. Our senior leaders had a chanceto go, but it goes back to they are in a different leadership role where if you're a colonel, you are making those life or death decisions. You are expected to go outside of the wire, that's the expectation. If you're making this call, you need to go out there and see what's going on. For those of us that are what I call the staff pukes. For those of us that are in the staff, we just kind of sit there. We have computers and emails and PowerPoint presentations. Spreadsheets and provide the boss the answers. That's what we do.
JC: Let me ask you a question about what those two sort of aspects are. This isstill sort of just inching between combat and the more, I guess logistic role.
CGC: The administrative functions, yeah. We still support the combat element,but just from a distance. Making sure that they have all the equipment, all the supplies that they need, when they need them to keep them going.
JC: Do you think those relationships are changing with the way war is changing?
CGC: As far as?
JC: Were they may be further apart before or closer? Just the administrative andthe ... I think of the idea of behind enemy lines, and not, and how that has so 02:02:00changed now-
CGC: Yeah, definitely. I think we're going back to that slowly, I think we aregoing back to ... I think it's going to take years. But I think the whole idea of enemy lines is not part of the equation anymore. Like I say, even when we were on the base, we still had to have our equipment with us, within arms reach. Our helmet, our Kevlar, everything had to be within arms reach. Even if we were in the dining facility, everything had to be within arms reach. Our weapons had to be with us at all times. Even though we were in an administrative role, there is no enemy line. They could be right outside, right outside the fence. That had definitely change for us, recently anyway, in the last decade. The whole enemy line concept is no longer valid.
JC: Do you think that's especially applicable to the National Guard, otherthings that are understood to be something different than combat troop, and now it is sort of forced in this role. With the roles sort of all changing ... I don't know why I'm asking a terrible question.
CGC: I don't know, I wasn't in the National Guard before. I hear stories now,back in the day-
JC: That's kind of what I'm ... I guess that's a much simpler way for me to askwhat I'm trying to ask is, how do you understand the National Guard to have changed in the past 10 years or so. I know, you are kind of coming in right before a lot of that went down. Even the the stories you gave, what can you glean about that?
CGC: That it was definitely your traditional, one weekend a month, two weeks a02:04:00year. It was very predictable, you knew where you are going for you two weeks of training, you knew what you were going to do. You knew you were going to have the weekend in between those two weeks, you would have that weekend off to go around. If you are going, it used to be camp Grayling in Michigan. That was the place that, for the most part, most of the Ohio units went for their annual training. I hear stories now, "We got the weekend off. What are you talking about?" In between those two weeks, because actually the base in Grayling has pretty good recreational activities going on.
There is a lake, there is boating, a lot of stuff. "We used to do that." "No, wecan't have fun. Are you crazy? We train from the day we get there to the last day we leave. We are training." There's some kind of training going on and if we are lucky will have what's called a morale welfare event, which is typically a cookout. But that's about as the most fun is you're going to have. We call that mandatory fun, but yeah, that's it. I hear those stories because it was predictable, you knew nothing is going to change. If they said in November, the weekend of the seventh and eighth, that's our next drill., Then that's what it is. You know what you're going to do, you know when it is. Compared to how I grew up with the National Guard over the last decade, it's not as predictable anymore. Case in point, I just had this past year, I had five weeks of annual training.
Two weeks was for school, to get more military education and the other threeweeks was for actual training. Now we talk about drill weekends, not as a 02:06:00weekend but as multiple days. We are talking about Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then occasionally, in fact this year we are going to have a four day drill period, where it's Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It has changed tremendously from a predictable environment to a very unpredictable. It can change. Yeah, last month we said in April it was going to be this weekend, but actually something happened, we had to change it to this weekend. That's the norm now, some like it, some don't. Some decide just to hang it up after 20 years of military service. I can't take this, I'm gone. Some, like myself, just kind of go on with it. Whatever.
JC: It sounds exciting [crosstalk 00:51:52]. I kind of want to get back to ...I've been asking a lot of follow-up questions about topics, I want to get back a little to the narrative of your experience. How are we doing on time, by the way? A problem about me turning up on time is I don't know how long we've been talking-
JC: We're right on time. Moving through, back to your life. Doing your firsttour in Iraq, when you come home ... We've talked about some of that, some of the adjustments. Were there any other adjustments like what we talked about?
CGC: No adjustments, at this point it's just experiences. Just coming home, thereception, those kind of things. We came back, even the second time, during my first and second time, we came back to a reception full of friends and family. We had an escort, a police escort the hallway through from the airport to our 02:08:00reception area. US flags flying all over the place, on the side of the street, all of that, all that stuff that we kind of were touching on as far as the commitment, the patriotism, love for your country, for our country. I got to see that, I got to experience that. That was kind of neat. Everybody coming together as the result of 9/11, people's mindset changed. That was kind of neat, I got to see that several times. People buying dinner for us all of a sudden. A waiter or waitress, "It's taken care of." "What do you mean?" This gentleman already left because they don't want you to know that they bought ..."
Because we want to at least say thank you, thank you for doing, you didn't haveto, but thank you. Most of the time they don't want us to know that they paid for our dinner. That's happened several times. Even just the simplest things now, if I'm in uniform at a store or something, at lunchtime or something. Little kids, "Thank you for your service." I don't know if they really know what that means, but for me it's comforting to know that at least they are being taught that there is something to be said about commitment, patriotism. Being proud of, as young as our country is in comparison to Europe, we still have done a lot. It's one of those things where I just, I appreciate that and just a simple thank you. When I hear that, "Thank you," "No, no problem. I volunteered, 02:10:00no one forced me. You're welcome."
Speaker 3:I was just going to say, what was happening in your civilianprofession and in your family life after coming home from this deployment in Iraq?
CGC: Everything was back to normal. Yeah, I missed some birthdays, but againit's all those things that, sometimes we take for granted. You get used to it, because yeah, you miss birthdays. As a matter of fact, you see there is a lot of stuff, some moments that ... My first year anniversary, of course, I was in Bosnia. We ended up sharing our first year anniversary over the phone. That was kind of cool. But what my wife ended up doing was, she saved the piece of cake, the wedding cake, and she sent it to me, to Bosnia. It was pretty cool. At one end she is sitting here in the states, over the phone, wishing each other happy anniversary and I'm in Bosnia, with my cake, eating my cake. Stuff like that, it makes you forget about the other stuff that you miss. The birthdays, the holidays, it's moments like that that kind of trumps everything else. Seeing video of my youngest, riding a bike for the first time, again, in that moment you forget about everything else. I missed her birthday, but you forget about it. You're like, "Wow, I get to see a video of him riding a bike for the first time." Moments like that, I just forget about everything else. It just becomes trivial. 02:12:00
JC: That's amazing that she got that cake all the way there.
CGC: Yeah. Frozen, it was pretty cool. I don't think people believe me when Itell that story, it's for real. I didn't make that up. It's for real.
JC: Showing the importance of logistics.
CGC: What's that?
JC: Showing the importance of good logistics.
CGC: That's right, it traveled all the way around the world. It made it. I ateit and I didn't get sick.
JC: You come back. What was your original contract when you are with the guard?You come back and now, do you have the choice to sort of go in a different direction or sort of stay and take this military path I guess? Was that a choice that you thought you had at that point?
CGC: Yes, because at that point I didn't have ... I had already completed all ofmy ... Usually when you go to school, anytime the military sends to school, it's always a commitment attached to it. At that point, even in 04, I was done. I could have resigned my commission and said, "I'm done, thank you very much." I still felt like I was being productive, like I was contributing, family was okay with it. My support structure was there. Right now my full-time job is tied to the military, so in order for me to keep my Monday to Friday job I have to stay in the National Guard. However, I can still just say, "You know what? I'll just 02:14:00find another job. I'll resign and then him out of it completely." That's still an option, but again, I still feel like I can contribute. Physically I am able.
JC: For you it wasn't much of a question, it's sort of seem to be, despite maybethe idea that you are only getting in for a while, [inaudible 00:59:30] let's keep going.
CGC: Yeah, everything, even in the civilian career. I was moving along justfine, then just about five years ago now maybe, 2009 is when I actually really did a lateral move from the civilian side to the military, Monday through Friday. For that same reason that I just enjoy being in uniform. I got used to being in uniform, to me it was a no-brainer. Here is an opportunity that will allow you to stay in uniform Monday through Friday, and on the weekends too. The two weeks a month, one week in a month, two weeks a year. I figured, why not? I can still use some of my civilian acquired skills and still lead people, still working in logistics, not nutrition. But it still in logistics, and I enjoy doing that. Here I am, 17 years later, in uniform.
JC: That opportunity to take the Monday through Friday military job, that wasafter the second deployment?
CGC: Yes, after the second one.
JC: Do you want to talk about that a little? Because we haven't talked aboutthat much. I'm going to ask about the second deployment maybe one more time, because I'm kind of pushing those together.
CGC: I came back in 2009 and within a few months ... I went back to Ohio health02:16:00and things were changing. Again, I had been in uniform quite a bit, from the time I went back to work there in 2001 all the way through to 2008 and into 2009. A couple of diplomas under my belt, it training exercises. I've had a lot of time in uniform, I just got used to it. I felt like I was ... I don't know, I felt more distant from the civilian population at work. I saw some things coming too, our management team was getting kind of cut a little bit. People that were really somehow mentors were being let go. "What's going on? Maybe I need to go somewhere else. There's something going on."
Again, that opportunity presented itself, I applied for a job. It was a lateralmove, financially no impact. I was like, "This is great. I'm going to go ahead and apply and see what happens." I get selected for an interview, I make the top three, then I get the job. Things happen for a reason, so maybe that was supposed to happen this way. I came on board in 2009, full time, working logistics. in the G4, that's the logistics name, G4. General 4, 4 is the number for logistics and supply. Then you have 3 for operations and 2 for Intel, intelligence. When you hear S2, S3, S4, there is a reason for it. For his logistics. One is personnel.
Anyway, got into logistics in the G4, working as a logistics officer at the02:18:00state level. That means we provide all the resources, all the supplies, the funding that's needed for all the combat units in the state of Ohio to conduct their training. To meet their requirements, because every unit has certain requirements to meet. It takes money and resources and we provide that. I started doing that in 2009 and that's where I've been. I've moved around, different jobs within the G4, just part of my development. Still logistics, but now in the last three years, I'm working in the automation side of logistics. Before, I was managing the money and the resources that were flowing into Ohio for the units. Now I'm managing the systems that we use to order the supplies and manage the money.
It's kind of even farther away, non-managing the systems. It's more of a supplychain management, that's really what it equates to in the civilian sector. Doing that for the last few years on the full-time side. Then on the one weekend a month, two weeks a year, I work as a, still in logistics, I work as a supply operations officer for the infantry brigade combat team here in Ohio. There is a group of us, right now there is only fourteen of us. I'm short three people but there is 14 of us to manage all those supplies and resources for the brigade, which has over 3000 soldiers. 14 of us, over 3000 that we manage the commodities.
JC: Your Monday to Friday, it's very similar to your weekend job-
CGC: It's still logistics-
JC: But is it sort of for a different group?
JC: Just trying to-
CGC: The Monday through Fridays at the division level, that oversees all the02:20:00brigades in the state of Ohio. Whereas on the weekend, I'm one level below that, actually two levels, at the battalion level. I go from division down to the battalion level on the weekend, to manage logistics, but at the battalion level for the brigade. You have division, brigade, and Battalion. I go down to levels. But it's still logistics-
JC: Is that more hands-on?
CGC: Yeah, actually. That one is a little more because there is more interactionwith the other logisticians in the state of Ohio. There is a lot more hands-on, which I was looking forward to doing, getting back to the-
JC: Have you still enjoyed the work as it's sort of gotten less hands-on?
CGC: I know that it's just part of development. For almost 2 years I wentthrough that, where I had command, I was in charge of a standing manage company. 130 something people, hands-on. Then I get moved to a staff job, which is hardly any hands on. But that's just how it is, part of the development. Part of the development cycle, career management, you have to do your time, even in the jobs that are not ... You are behind a desk, it's okay but when I had a chance to move into this support operations job, I was like, "Yes. Back to the hands-on, back into the unit function, working with other people and other brigades. More of the hands-on." That's where I enjoy being, but I know that what you call staff time is just part of keeping us growing as leaders and developing. We all 02:22:00go through it.
JC: Let's go back, let's try and go back to that. I know we sort of skipped themiddle chronologically. To get to that final tour in Iraq, what led up to that? You sort of decided to keep going with the military. Do you just sign up for another tour?
CGC: I don't have to do anything. That's the beauty of it, I don't have to doanything. Since I'm not tied as an officer, you don't have an actual what's called ETS. I forget what ETS stands for now. We don't have a set date, the "You enlisted for three, then you are out at three." Once you get commission you have up to 30 years to be a commissioned officer. It changes, when you count in listed time. Anyway, we don't have a set date. The only set date we have is the age. At the age of 60, regardless of where you are in your career, or rank, at the age of 60 you've got to hang it up. That's it. No, it's just one of those things that I don't have a set date so as long as I enjoy what I do, if I enjoy what I do, my support structures there.
JC: You just stayed the course and you will never be that second [inaudible 01:08:40]
CGC: I knew the possibility was there, I don't know how soon, but I knew thatthe possibility was there. Because we rotate every four years, we go through this training cycle where you reset, you train, you train, and then you become available. It's what's called an available year. During that year, your unit may 02:24:00or may not get selected for deployment. If you don't get selected, then in the following year you going to that reset mode. More schooling, more training, and the cycle to start over. Based on that, I knew that there would be a possibility, but you really don't know what the likelihood of that is going to be. You know it's a space in that cycle.
As long as there's still something going on in Iraq, I'm going to come to thatphase in that cycle where, depending what the mission calls for, if they need a certain type of unit that Ohio has, we may get deployed. That's what happened. You get to that, people would ask, "Wait a minute, didn't you just get back?" "I got back in 2005, that was three years ago. It's about right." Three years, that fourth year we start hitting that available year. "By the way, we need a headquarters element, a logistics headquarters element, to come to Iraq and provide control of the logistics for the combat units." [crosstalk 01:10:24]
JC: Had things changed much when you came back for the second time? I mean justyour experience, your job, things like that.
CGC: Yeah, my civilian job. That's when I really saw the difference on just02:26:00people around my department and things going on at the leadership level. Like I said, people there that were my mentors for my career were moving on, either by choice or not. I found myself kind of thinking, "Wait a minute. What's going on? What did I miss? I've been deployed a lot but what I miss?" It just so happens again that the opportunity presented itself and I took it. But yeah, things have definitely changed on the civilian side. I could see that I just didn't feel like I could fit in. I felt more comfortable and more at home being in uniform then out of uniform. I think it was just a combination of my mindset and everything else I was going on around me, just kind of came together. "I need to go, I need to go somewhere else."
JC: The second deployment in Iraq, were going to ... They needed some logisticspeople so just again for, I know we've gone over it a couple of times. For someone listening to this, the second time in Iraq, you were stationed where?
CGC: In Al-Assad, that was on the western side of Iraq, on the Euphrates side.We fell under a Marine, the Marines was the high headquarters. Basically, we were supporting the Marines for the most part, there was quite a few Marines. We had Army, Navy, Air Force, but we had a large group of Marines that we supported. Again, logistics, logistics, logistics. Whether you're Marines or Navy, you still need food and fuel and Emma and all the good stuff.
JC: As far as what you were doing there, had much change between your first and02:28:00second deployment?
CGC: The management piece, I didn't have to manage as many people. It was moreprojects than anything else. I had a smaller size, I went from the first time when I said 200 plus personnel to less than 15. Again, it was just due to the fact that we were managing projects versus actual missions. That was the big change there. Again, at the brigade level, so higher up in the chain, dealing with more of the big picture stuff. Directly close to the division level where the big decisions are made. Really hands-off, more distant from the unit.
JC: Even being higher up, could you tell that things in Iraq in general hadchanged since you had last been there? Or had they changed?
CGC: They had, and I say that because we had, again, being at that level, thebrigade level, we get more visibility on really some of the political decisions that are made. We had a chance to, we were having a pilot on transportation, for transportation, so we use some of the local transportation companies to run supplies. Again, that was in preparation for us to pull out of Iraq can say, "You can be self-sufficient. You have proven it by being able to run transportation from point A to point B." We did get to see some of those things, 02:30:00some of the bigger picture things, bigger impacts for Iraq. That was just one example, we dealt with local contractors in Iraq, from Iraq. Giving them work, rebuilding infrastructure around the base, we got to see that. Whereas I didn't get to see that down at the unit level, your turning wrenches, you're providing security. That's that. A couple of levels higher, then we get to see some of that. There were several incidences where we had the chance to contribute to some of the big things that were going on.
JC: And you got to connect, to interact more with the local populations, itsounds like.
CGC: Yes, and not just the local but Pakistan, Turkey, they had people there.Australia, there were several countries that were represented-
JC: Contractors and stuff like that?
CGC: Either contractors, businesses. It was Air Force, running the contractingteams, then it goes to the Marines. That was probably the most diverse group that I've worked with, multiple languages-
JC: What's that like?
CGC: I don't know, for us it's no big deal. I don't know, we're used to it, youget interpreters when you need them. Most of them speak English a little bit, or enough to get by. I think that was again, just the challenge and the experiences gained from all of that.
JC: Were there tensions between the different groups at all, or was everyone onthe same page?
CGC: I think for the most part it was understood that they were there to, of02:32:00course, make money. They are businesses, whether they come from Turkey or Pakistan, they are there for a reason. To make money. I'm sure they had their own internal competition and would say, that's what capital is all about, compete. When I think overall, I think everyone was on the same page. We are here because they need a service, we can provide a service, we can make money. They can get service. I think they understood that idea.
JC: Was the situation on base, were the mortar attacks as common?
CGC: Not as much and that had to do with the location. Al-Assad, if you look ata map, it's in the middle of nowhere. We had miles and miles of sand around us, so to get there is ... There were very few mortars, very few. It didn't compare to Ballade. In Ballade we were surrounded by communities, whereas in Al-Assad you saw a desert. It's a big difference.
JC: Do you guys have anything to ask about the second deployment? I know wealready talked about a lot of this sometimes coming back we sort of got the big things. Is there anything you want to mention that we haven't talked about?
CGC: I think we covered all the good things and all the cool stuff that youdon't see in the news and the media.
JC: Yeah, that's been kind of the backdrop just from our starting conversation.That there is this sort of narrative out there that doesn't tell a certain side of the story. I know it's a huge story and very hard to do something small, but 02:34:00as we sort of wrap this up is there anything that you can think of that you want to say to people who don't have the opportunity to talk to someone that's actually been there? Who has only seeing what they've seen on TV? What is your message for that person?
CGC: I guess it would be, don't be quick to judge. Be open-minded, educateyourself before making any decisions or deciding one way or the other. The main thing is just keeping in mind that how we got here as a country, as a nation ... [crosstalk 01:19:55] Just that, being open-minded. This is just to the public, educating yourself, being aware of what's going on an understanding where we started as a country and how far we have advanced in comparison to other countries. There's a reason for that and I think, not just military but individuals that are willing to volunteer their time, their effort, potentially 02:36:00their life. Just take all that into account, consider that and just learn to appreciate it for what it's worth. Not for political reasons, just we need people that are willing to do that for our nation. Whether for this reason or that reason, we just need that. It would be like saying, "We don't need any more." No, we need people that want to see all that got some blood. We want people like that. Take it for what it's worth, that's all.
JC: In that vein, we've been asking people, and this is probably a bad one toask right before another alarm goes off. Given that less than 1% of the population serves in the armed forces, what do you think people should know about the Armed Forces? About people who serve? About combat? About this lifestyle?
CGC: I think everything that I've said, you have to be ... We talk aboutselfless service, it's definitely selfless service. You have to put others before you to be in this line of work. I don't know, again, for me it's been easy. It's always been about commitment, the patriotism, the love for my country. I guess just that, just keeping that in mind. There is so much to offer, the country is so much to offer, but we need people who are going to stand up and fight for those freedoms and opportunities. Without it, I don't think we would be where we are today.
JC: Do you have any more questions? I feel like that's a good wrapup. That came02:38:00from the forward review that I didn't cover, it seemed important.
Speaker 3:It covered a lot of that. I was just going to ask whether otherformative experiences, maybe outside of the deployment that we haven't talked about, that have shaped your service experience?
CGC: No, I've pretty much touched on all the events, experiences that I willremember forever.