Thousands of soldiers deployed from Fort Carson last spring---brave, ready to fight the enemy, and liberate a country. A year later, most of these servicemen and women have now returned home from deployment.
Before he left, KKTV gave First Sergeant Clinton Reiss a video camera. During his deployment, he sent back video from the front lines. In July, we shared some of the footage with you.
KKTV’s Nora Seibert recently sat down with 1SG Reiss, now that he’s safe in his own home. She has his “Soldier’s Diary.”
Clinton Reiss is with Fort Carson’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. In Iraq, he led a troop of 136 soldiers. This was his second time in the region. He also fought in the first Gulf War.
He left last April. "A little anxiety, some fear." The unit traveled about 20 miles an hour in a convoy from Kuwait to the Syrian border---staying near the town of al-Kym. "It was agonizing. Sleep either on top of your vehicle or somewhere in the vicinity on a cot on the ground."
At first they lived in a maintenance bay---no showers and washing uniforms by hand. "You change uniform, take the dirty one, wash it in a bucket and hang it up to dry.”
Part of the mission was to train an al-Kym police force and border patrol officers. Quickly, the trainees caught on. "We would work in conjunction with them. Eventually it got to the point we over watched it and they did it."
Although he and his men are combat soldiers, they also had a humanitarian mission. "There's a lot of money that goes into the hospitals--the schools. You just have to wonder, being in the background, if the Iraqi people see that."
1SG Reiss says the hospital was medium-sized, and need light fixtures, air conditioning and equipment. "They don't have the adequate amount of medicine. All that was brought in."
He's very proud of his soldiers---the job they did and the lives they changed in Iraq. "The soldiers have to go out from our base camp every day. How brave they are---to watch them go out and see the smiles on their faces when they go back in.”
But this is war. In a combat zone, soldiers are killed. 1SG Reiss lost a soldier in his squadron while in Iraq. SGT Michael Dooley was killed at a checkpoint last June. "It brings everyone closer. Brings everyone a wake up call."
He says it also made him think. "You lose a soldier or a soldier gets wounded, it makes you wonder, ‘Do these people really want us here?’” They named a road in Iraq after SGT Dooley---a road they used to continue their mission.
"They say the generation in World War II was the greatest generation. This generation is also right up there with them.”
1SG Reiss is now on leave and enjoying some much needed time off. He’s back at home with his wife and their 13-year-old daughter.
Tune in to KKTV 11 News next Monday at 10 p.m. for another “Soldier’s Diary.”