News: Soldiers Answer the Call - Alpha Co., 1-175th Inf. prepares for Iraq deployment
Story by Sgt. Eric Rutherford
By Spc. Eric Rutherford
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FORT DIX, N.J. – Santa brought Brian Tarr a special kind of present this year – a present that he wasn't expecting. He was opening gifts with his family when a knock came at the door. Thinking it was a friend stopping by to deliver good tidings, Tarr went to open it.
"As soon as I saw that purple hat, I knew what it was," said Tarr, an infantryman with Alpha Company, 1-175th Infantry. "I opened the door and the FedEx guy handed me my package and asked if I was in the military. It was addressed to Spc. Brian Tarr. I stuffed it under my shirt and went back inside to my family. I told them that it was just an old friend stopping by to wish me Merry Christmas."
After two years of civilian life, Tarr had received his Individual Ready Reserve recall orders calling him back to duty on Christmas Day.
"I took the package into the bathroom and read it," Tarr said as he stared thoughtfully out of the window of a Humvee parked online at the forward operating base training site at Fort Dix, N.J.. "I left it in there, and my niece found it and brought it out in front of my mom. I asked her not to freak out and ruin Christmas."
Tarr, a West Palm Beach, Fla., resident, is one of about 12 Soldiers who were called-up from the IRR to serve with the Frederick, Md., unit. Tarr, who was in college at the time, didn't get upset by the news, even though it was delivered on Christmas Day.
"It didn't bother me. I knew this was going to happen," Tarr said. "This is my calling. My morale and motivation helps Soldiers. What I know can help people stay alive."
Tarr, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, said he is anxious to finish mobilization training and put his skills to use in the fight in Iraq.
About half of Alpha Co. has already served on combat tours. Ten percent of the company is made up of IRR call-ups.
"They bring a lot to the table, a lot of motivation. They are here and they are doing the best that they can," said 1st Sgt. Duane Diven of Alpha Company. "Our guys want to get going. They want to get out there."
Diven, who returned from a deployment to Guantanamo Bay in April, said that after 22 years, he continues to serve because he likes what he does, and he believes in the cause.
"Everything we do is vital. Our mission is just another piece of the pie. It is essential to the peace process."
Alpha Company was mobilized May 22 and arrived at Fort Dix on May 25 to receive training for their year-long deployment to Iraq, which begins later this summer. The company is training on convoy operations, route reconnaissance, weapons familiarization and first aid, among other Soldier skills. The infantry unit's mission in Iraq will be force protection and convoy operations.
Tarr said their mission will help with the progress in Iraq.
"Progress is being made," he said. "Good stuff doesn't make a story. Bad stuff and violence make a story. Since I was there in '03 to '04, progress has been made. I am looking forward to seeing the progress."
When it comes to the training and deployment, Tarr said Soldiers should listen to what trainers have to say.
"Stay motivated and stay positive," he said. "You've got 50 to 60 guys to boost you up when you are down. Remember, it can always get worse. These are only blanks flying over your head here. And training can be fun. Take everything you can get here. Every little piece helps. This is good training."
The advice Diven gives to Soldiers getting ready to deploy is a little simpler.
"Get fit. Get mentally and physically prepared," he said.
The IRR, which consists of around 300,000 personnel, is an Army program that allows Soldiers who have completed their active duty or reserve time, but still have time left in their eight-year military service obligation, to return to their civilian life with the possibility of being recalled to duty.
Most Soldiers who join the Army sign an eight-year contract. Any time of that contract not served as an active duty Soldier, National Guardsman or Reservist is fulfilled under the Individual Ready Reserve. During that time, a Soldier can be recalled to active duty.
For the citizen-Soldiers of Alpha Company 1-175th Infantry, that possibility became a reality. That reality for many of them became an opportunity to once again answer America's call for service.
While deployment can be difficult on a Soldier and his family, it can be especially hard on a Soldier who has been a civilian for some time.
Alpha Company Soldiers, whether IRR recalls or not, have been dealing with the difficulties and persevering during their training for deployment to Iraq.
This work, Soldiers Answer the Call - Alpha Co., 1-175th Inf. prepares for Iraq deployment, by SSG Eric Rutherford, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.