Back from Iraq
Truckee resident Specialist Adam Pepper, 27 , son of Alan and Cathy Harry, recently returned home from a one-year tour of duty in Iraq where he served in the United States Army as a gunner. The Sierra Suns Christine Stanley spoke with Pepper about his experience and what will happen next.Whats your position and what do you do? I was a gunner in Iraq. We go out on combat patrols or to meeting s with provincial leaders. I would be the gunner on the lead vehicle and watch the road for IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or vehicles that would want to stop the convoys and attack us.Did you get to drive a tank? I have. I actually got a track driver award while I was in Iraq. A track vehicle is any vehicle that runs on a track theres the A1 Abrams tank, then there is the Bradley fighting vehicle, and these things called Cats, which are ammo carriers. There are the Howitzer that shoot the artillery, and the 1068s which are little tracked vehicles for communications and personnel. … I can drive them all. Do the tanks have cup holders? Actually, they do. Theyre called hands. How many years have you been in the military? Two.Why did you decide to join? To fight this war. My grandfather was in the Navy, and my father was in the Army, and Ive got four brothers and none of us had served, so I thought it would be good for one of us to join. My dad always told me that nothings free, so this is my way of paying for all of the freedoms weve got.Where were you stationed? Im stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, and when I went to Iraq, I was in a town called Najaf, and later we were in a town called Kalsu, south of Baghdad.How long were you there? I was there for one year. Im on leave for 37 days, and then I will go back to Texas until April or May, and then I will be going to South Korea for two years.Was there anything enjoyable about the time you served in Iraq?Yea, we got to go out hunting with peregrine falcons. Its called falconing. Its kind of a higher social status activity. So we went out with some of the provincial leaders and we caught all sort of game and had kind of an Iraqi barbecue. There wasnt much else that was good, but the day I left was awesome.What was the most difficult part? Watching people die and having to see that. We come across dead people and dead animals dogs and donkeys all the time. All the violence and death was probably the hardest thing. And its pretty nerve wracking driving down the road everyday and knowing that each second could be your last.Did you have the personal supplies that you needed? Yes. I have a huge family and they all mailed me things. Theres a group called Friends of Nevada County Military they send out care packages and they were sending me all sorts of good stuff, so they really took care of me and I want to thank them a lot.A lot of classrooms and youth groups like to send care packages to the troops. If you were to put together your own care package to send to a troop, what would you put in it? A magazine, maybe a DVD or a movie, and eye drops are good because its really dusty there and really dry. Packets of Gatorade we have tons of water but nothing with flavor. And also some kind of snack like beef jerky or crackers. Crackers and water go together well. A little bit of entertainment and some stuff to make me happy. Oh, and maybe some music.Is the American media giving viewers an accurate representation of whats really going on in Iraq? Nope. What are they leaving out? It seems like the American deaths are just a body count. You know: Five soldiers died today, and thats it. I would like to see pictures of them and to tell you where theyre from and what they did. If they did that it would be awesome, but they dont and it makes me angry. And it doesnt seem like they talk about how many Iraqis get killed. The terrorists dont just attack us, they kill everybody. People need to know that these people are animals and theyre not just killing U.S. soldiers, theyre killing their own people.What would you like to see happen to Saddam Hussein? Most of the crimes he committed were against the Iraqis, so whatever the Iraqis want to do is fine by me.Do you think its accurate to say that Iraq is now in a civil war? I dont know if I would call it that because theyre not really civil to begin with. Its animalistic over there and super violent. What is the thing you are enjoying most about being home? Visiting family and getting a chance to slow down. My brain has been on high alert for so long; I cant sleep at night and Ive been having very off-the-wall dreams that I cant explain. Its nice to calm down and not be on high alert. Did you have pin-up pictures on your bunk bed? Yea, we had all kinds of stuff from magazines, but the army has strict rules. It has to be tasteful, so its mostly stuff from Maxim and FHM. Something to make you smile when you go to bed at night which is hard to come by.Are you on myspace? Yea, I am. I have a picture of me by a Humvee.What American music and television were you able to access over there? We didnt really have music, but TV we did. It was limited because they only get a few English stations. We got a few sports stations and couple of news stations. And we had access to the Internet.Would you like to share any last thoughts? Keep supporting the troops. Its really tough over there and getting letters is the best thing. If I could have gotten a letter every day, I would have been in hog heaven. There were months at a time where I wouldnt talk to anybody and that was pretty tough. And remember the fallen soldiers that have paid with their lives.
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