BALAD, Iraq — Intrigued by the adventure and opportunity, Sgt. David L. Bridgeman, of Peoria, Ill., a squad leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., decided to join the military.
"Growing up, all I did was hunt, fish and camp; so, when I turned 17 one of my friend's sisters joined the Army National Guard and sent a bunch of letters talking about all of the guns she'd shot and [other stuff she did] — that was pretty much it — I was sold right there," he said.
"So, when I talked to a recruiter [and] he asked me what job I wanted, I told him I want[ed] the heart, where the guys are the first on the ground and kicking down doors. That's why I was pointed in the direction of the infantry, and I've been in the infantry since 2002."
Bridgeman has deployed three times since joining the military nearly eight years ago. He first deployed to Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, out of Germany, and is currently on his second deployment to Iraq with 1-28 Inf.
He said that he has seen a significant change in Iraq since his last deployment which was during the surge in 2006.
"Since we've been here, there have only been a couple of incidents," Bridgeman said. "The Iraqis are working harder ... They still have some work to do, but they had to [develop] the base [before] build[ing] their way up, and they are well on their way."
As a squad leader with multiple deployments to his name, Bridgeman said some of the best advice he's ever received came from his first squad leader who told him to never forget where he came from.
"Every [Soldier] is different. Some learn this way [while] some learn a different way, [and] some don't react very well to yelling and screaming. He told me to never forget that at one time I was a [private]."
As for Bridgeman's future, he said that he plans to make a career out of the military and is thinking about joining the field of counterintelligence.