Every day we hear stories of gunfights, convoy attacks and American soldiers who’ve been killed in Iraq. But Private First Class Jason Corino says there's another side to the war that few people see. That is the good that's being done by U.S. troops for the Iraqi people. KKTV’s Nora Seibert has his story, in this “Soldier’s Diary.”
PFC Corino was a reservist who was activated early in 2003. He deployed last May after months of training. But he’s no stranger to Army life, after serving 3 years of active duty earlier in his career.
He says the jobs they did in Iraq gave him a reason to be thousands of miles away from his own family and home. And it's the smiles that made it worth it.
In just 5 days’ time, his 244th Engineer Battalion, based out of Boulder, turned a dirt lot into a playground. "Got to use what we've got around us," he says. They scrounged up plywood, plastic piping, and even old car parts to build a merry-go-round.
To do the work safely, they taped off the area and some soldiers stood guard. "We had a couple of the older ones get in there and help us out a little bit," he says. And when they cut the tape, the kids rushed in. "The excitement on their faces---they're laughing--- coming up saying, ‘Thank you, Mister.’ It's just an overwhelming feeling of awe." He says his group also remodeled Iraqi schools. "Before, it was riddled with bullet holes---basically trashed."
While in Iraq, PFC Corino says he logged about 10,000 miles driving in a convoy. One two occasions, his convoy was hit, but he was not hurt. He traveled to different U.S. military camps---making the living conditions better for the troops. They built showers and bathrooms and hooked up electricity. He even built a shelf for a medic at one camp.
He says people don't get to hear about the “strange” things either, like the camel spider. He describes it as a big bug that's a mix between a spider and scorpion. “You don't want to run into them---they're fast!"
He says one thing that did not move fast, was his convoy from Iraq back to Kuwait so his unit could go home. But, he did figure out how to have a comfortable ride home. “I actually helped load the bags into the airplane so I could get first-class seats.”
PFC Corino got home April 5th. He says he kissed the ground when he got off the plane. He's now looking for a civilian job and planning to get out of the reserves.
Tune in next Monday night at 10:00 p.m. for another “Soldier’s Diary.”