U.S. Forces began their push into the country of Iraq in early 2003. Veterans like Fox vividly remember those trying years leading up to the current U.S. Forces’ position within the country. “In those years of the war, it was about killing or being killed, and we [soldiers] all wanted to come home,” Fox states.
Fox remembers these years as being some of the most mentally challenging.
“Witnessing a battle buddy pass or a friend die is an image that you never get out of your mind. No matter how much you try to shake it, it’s always there,” said Fox. “You almost want to run away to escape the hardships.”
These hard times brought forth growth, but for Fox, the growth that was evolving within him was one fueled with anger for a people viewed as the enemy. This anger led him to ultimately make the decision to leave the military after serving as a Marine gunner for five and a half years.
“These people were not friends of mine. I was nothing more than an outsider looking into a culture I couldn’t understand and didn’t care to relate to,” expressed Fox.
This pessimistic mentality changed with Fox’s return to the military as a member of the Military Transition Team. The intense combat that was previously favored started to lean more heavily toward rebuilding the country of Iraq.
“We lost many lives during the invasion, but their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. In fact, their memory still drives me to want to push forward in this fight,” a sympathetic Fox states. He said this was his reason for opting to return to the force, but as an Army infantryman.
Fox gives much credit to his time deployed as a member of Military Transition Team. This deployment shaped his pessimistic way of thinking to an optimistic point of view, symbolizing a pivotal change in his life.
“Living in close quarters with leaders of the Iraqi public changed the way I viewed the civilians. [Iraqi civilians] were friends. I understood them, and no longer viewed them as the enemy but as people who needed my help, a service I volunteered to do; to protect those who find it hard to protect themselves,” explains Fox.
A humbled Fox, now a platoon leader, is on his fourth tour in Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. He is astounded by the progression that has occurred in Iraq during the eight years that U.S. Forces have been in the country.
“There’s a lot of good here in Iraq. When I lead my guys on patrols I tell them to avoid tunnel vision and not to be afraid to connect with the people here. I not only view the populace through the eyes of a soldier but from the perspective of a father, husband and friend,” advised Fox.
When asked about his military career, Fox states “I joined not wanting the praise or accolades that come with the uniform but to make a difference. I’ve been deployed almost half of the time I have been married to my wife,” and every day that I’m able to inspire a soldier or young child in a village by giving them a necessity like water, it makes it all worth it”.
Spending time away from family and friends never gets easier over the course of multiple deployments. However, Fox feels his personal sacrifice and selfless service is greatly appreciated by Iraqi civilians. He says their gratitude and appreciation can be seen in the smiles of admiration whenever his platoon arrives to a local school or village to deliver humanitarian aid.
November 14, 2011: Written by 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Redistributed by www.SupportOurTroops.org