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War Stories: Huskies In Iraq

Stan Seo, '93
Captain, 281st Military Intelligence Company, 81st Brigade Combat Team, Washington Army National Guard; Time of service: March 2004-March 2005; Stationed: Camp Anaconda, near Balad; Currently: Mill Creek

Stan Seo, '93I was manning the entry control point at the airbase over there in Anaconda. At my entry control point, we got everything. We got indirect fire, mortars and rockets. We had small-arms fire on a regular basis - people shooting at us or near us. And then we also had what are called VBIEDs, Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, and IEDs dropped along our route, right in front of us, about 500 meters out, on a regular basis. What else did we have? We had what are called VCIEDs, Vehicle-Carried IEDs. They attached those to unsuspecting Iraqis that were inbound into our base. Essentially, all the civilian vehicles came through our entry control point, so we had to screen all those people. So invariably they would stick bombs on these people's cars and trucks and whatnot. A lot of times the drivers would get out and find them. Sometimes we would find them on the cars or the trucks that were coming into the base. And then we'd have to get the bomb personnel- EOD, explosive ordnance demolition-out there to disarm the bomb or blow the vehicle in place if they couldn't disarm it. ...

The friendships were what enabled us to kind of work through it. We had a group, we called it the Captain's Cove. We built a little deck by our hooches, and every so often when we all had a chance, or when it cooled off to, like, 90, we'd be out on the deck. Just a quick sanity check. Shoot the breeze. Drink our near-beer. We had our spades games, our poker games. And we were able to commiserate about all the issues we had. For me, personally, that's what kept me sane. That and being able once in a while to get ahold of my wife on the phone.

Our brigade was mobilized to go to Iraq in November of '03, but we'd been initially alerted for the invasion back in March . and my wife and I had found out, right about that time, that we were pregnant: 'I'm going to be a father, holy cow, and I'm going to be deployed to Iraq.' And of course, everything going through my wife's head-'Hold on a second here. I have to be a single mom for the first year of our son's life.' He was 15 months when I came back. I can't imagine how people back in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, how they could do without e-mail. E-mail was the best - a huge morale booster for all personnel. Including myself, obviously, because I could keep up every day, or every couple of days, when I got a chance to get online and check email and see pictures. I'd get kind of a daily update from my wife: this is what he did today.

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