Citizen Soldier: Answering the call, for the love of their country

Story by Spc. James Truitt

Citizen soldiers were the first to defend our nation. Now, over 225 years later and thousands of miles away from home they are still answering the call.

A reserve component unit manned primarily by soldiers from the Pacific Northwest formally assumed various duties in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II throughout Iraq April 18.

The citizen soldiers of the 81st Brigade Combat Team left not only their families but also their civilian lives.

Men and women from all walks of life; teachers, student's, owner's of small businesses and postal workers set their education and careers aside to answer the call of duty.

"Within my command I have got a Boeing engineer, medics, technicians, firefighters who make about 80 to 100 thousand dollars a year," said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Barr, 81st BCT command sergeant major. "I've even got a battalion commander who makes more money on and off duty as a cop than he makes wearing the uniform."

Throughout our history citizen soldiers have been called to serve in every major war and conflict as well as many peacetime crisis.

"The guys who really don't need to do this, are here," Barr added. "But they are here because of their sense of duty. and the love of their country."

Staff Sgt. Lyle Lamb, HHC, 81st BCT, Colt team chief, is a maintenance supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service in Portland, Oregon.

"It was difficult leaving my family," said, Lamb a husband, and father of five. "It was tough leaving my wife all by her lonesome with the kids, but she's proud to say her husband is serving [his country]."

"[LSA Anaconda] isn't too bad, it's a lot nicer than I thought it would be," Lamb said as he consumed another spoonful of the tooty fruity ice cream. "We're out here to do a job, when that job is done we'll go home."

"When I heard that we were getting activated my first though was 'I'm going back'," said Master Sgt. Brian Thimmig, a Sheboygan, Wisconsin native who works in the 81st BCT S-3 shop. "When I [deployed] here during the first gulf war, my kids were young, now that they're older they didn't like the idea of me [deploying] but they understand that it's my job and my life."

Thimming, works closely with the military in civilian life too as a technician repairing tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

"I've been getting paid to drill and train," Thimming added. "Bottom line, it is my duty to be here."

Barr finished with a smile.

"For me, I look to [this deployment] as an advantage," kidded Barr. I hope my twin one-year-old daughters are potty trained by the time I get home."

"From NTC, we flew to Kuwait, crossed the border and convoyed to at Camp Anaconda," said Brig Gen. Oscar B. Hilman, 81st BCT Commanding General. "Now we're here together performing our American duties as a team.

"I'm very proud of my soldiers," added Hilman. "I'm proud of them, and of their outstanding performance."

The 81st BCT recently assumed base security responsibilities from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.