Guest Post by Alex Baldwin
My name is 2LT Alex Baldwin. I was deployed with the 267th Ordnance Company based out of Lincoln, Nebraska. Our unit received mobilization orders in November of 2003 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom Three. At that time I was a Specialist with a 63W MOS, (Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic). Our company was going to Forward Operating Base Speicher near Tikrit to provide maintenance, recovery, repair, and up-armoring of military vehicles. I remember being very excited for the deployment. 2003 was a fast changing year from me. I graduated high school in May, I graduated Advanced Individual Training in August, and I was on active duty orders in Fort Riley Kansas by December. (I had graduated Basic Training the summer before on the split option program)
My deployment changed my life in the best ways possible. For instance, my deployment set me ahead of my peers in college, in my career, in relationships, in my maturity and almost all aspects of my life.
Among college students I had the GI bill to benefit from. I had the savings of combat pay to live on. I had the experience of how getting a job done right the first time pays off three times the hours invested. Once I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer I already had firsthand experience with welding, repairing, and doing all the key skills I tell other people to do now. Many engineers are great with the theoretical perfect world, but not in the practical world. I feel I am more familiar with both. By that I mean, I have seen some crazy theories work and I have seen some good theories fail. In relationships I have never been closer to a group of men than those I worked side by side for long days and some all-night missions. I learned the power of a hand written letter from friends back home. I learned valuable lessons from my leaders of that time. Lessons such as saying good morning before any other business of the day, no matter the situation.
It wasn’t all roses for us at the time. Luckily, I was “10 foot tall and bullet proof.” I never thought I was going to die or be injured, and in a lot of ways I’m glad. I did worry about the random rockets landing close to our area of operation but it never kept me up at night. I did worry about improvised explosive devices being in every vehicle we recovered or every pot hole we crossed but I didn’t care enough to second guess anything. I was jolted into reality when one of our convoys was attacked on July 11, 2004. Several Soldiers were injured and two lost their lives in an IED explosion. It could have been worse, and for that I’m thankful. This counts as one of the hardest days of the deployment but also to include in that list are days being homesick wondering what your friends and girlfriend are doing back home. Unlike July 11th, the homesickness fades away after 3 to 4 months in country.
About the Author:
2LT Alex Baldwin currently holds the position of executive officer for B Company, 257th BSB in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is employed at Caterpillar as a mechanical engineer in hydraulic mining shovels. He is married to the lovely Kara Baldwin. LT Baldwin has been in the National Guard since 2001. He took advantage of the split option program completing Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri before graduating high school. He completed Advanced Individual training in Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, with a 63W MOS. LT Baldwin was deployed to Iraq to support OIF3 with the 267th ORD Company. He went through PLDC in Ashland, Nebraska in 2006 and graduated OCS from Fort Meade, South Dakota in 2009. Then in 2010 he graduated college from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. LT Baldwin is slotted for BOLC this February.