Seven 13th SC(E) Soldiers Experience Déjà Vu
Story and Photos by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Most Soldiers get a new job in a new unit every few years, but seven Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), are on their 3rd tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, under the same unit, in the same place.
“It feels like I never left,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gloria R. Storey, class I supply noncommissioned officer in charge, about her 3rd deployment with HHC here.
Much has changed in the four years following their first deployment with the 4th Corps Materiel Management Command, in support of OIF II, and their second deployment either with 4th CMMC or HHC during OIF 06-08,
“The accommodations are better this time,” said Omaha, Neb., native, Warrant Officer Robert B. Barta, petroleum/water technician, a sentiment echoed by the other third timers.
“The first time we lived in tents, so this is much better,” said Chief Warrant Officer Paul Orthel, supply system technician.
“Also, the security situation is a whole lot better,” said Orthel, a Titonka, Iowa, native.
The much disparaged burn pit was also a topic the third timers were passionate about.
“I’m really glad they greatly decreased the burning,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Marbury, supply liaison with the distribution management center.
“Last time the smoke from the burn pit enveloped everything,” said Marbury, the Grand Prairie, Texas, native.
Other seasoned veterans focused on the brighter side, and appreciated the history and natural beauty of the land formerly known as Mesopotamia.
“I tried to learn Arabic so I could communicate with the local populace and I realized this culture goes back thousands of years,” said Lt. Col. Bob Crouch, chief of plans.
“I’ve seen this country from the air, and it’s a beautiful country,” said Crouch, the Coral Springs, Fla., native. “From the mountains to the deserts, it’s just beautiful.”
Despite various experiences the Soldiers have during the deployment, they all miss their Families more than anything else.
“Personally, I miss my Harley Road King,” joked Orthel. “But being away from home, missing Family, its all part of the job we have.”
“I really miss the simple things, like mowing the lawn, cooking, things that we take for granted at home, but can’t do here,” said Crouch.
For one senior NCO, the milestones and changes that occur in her family as they grow and mature are the most cherished events.
“All the special events, the monumental times, are what I’m going to miss the most,” said Copperas Cove, Texas, native, Master Sgt. Dorothea Goodson, support operations administrative assistant.
While in Iraq, most Soldiers average a 14 hour workdays, seven days a week and must maintain their regular physical fitness in addition to their work schedule. These long hours can easily become overwhelming to the unprepared.
“It’s all about getting into a good battle rhythm,” said Harker Heights, Texas, native, Lt. Col. Richard J. Tate, deputy support operations officer. “You have to hit the right priorities everyday to take care of yourself.”
Every Soldier has different things they do to break the monotony.
“I think getting involved with church is one of the best ways to enjoy your time here,” said Goodson.
Orthel agreed, “Church is something I look forward to every week.”
Barta said he doesn’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. “Just talking to fellow Soldiers helps me relax,” he said.
With the 13th SC(E) playing an integral role in the U.S. drawdown during the coming months, these Soldiers will no doubt be busy, but they give their regards to the Soldiers on the front lines.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the Soldiers conducting operations with the Iraqi Security Forces,” said Crouch, “Living on JBB is easy, they’re out there every day. They’re the real heroes.”
From Left, Sgt 1st Class Thomas Marbury, supply liason, distribution management center, Warrant Officer Robert B. Barta, petroleum/water technician, Lt. Col. Richard J. Tate, deputy support operations officer, Lt. Col. Bob Crouch, chief of plans, Chief Warrant Officer Paul Orthel, supply system technician, Master Sgt. Dorothea Goodson, support operations administrative assistant, and Sgt. 1st Class Gloria R. Storey, class I supply NCOIC. These seven Soldiers are on their third rotation here at Joint Base Balad with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). (US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Joel F. Gibson, 13th SC(E) Public Affairs)