Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

November 6, 2009

Deployment eye opener for local prosecutor

(Gary McKenzie is an assistant attorney general in the office of AG Randy York, serving the 13th Judicial Circuit. He is also a member of the Tennessee National Guard and is on a one-year deployment to Iraq. During that time of service, Capt. McKenzie will be sharing his observations and thoughts about his experience in the Middle East.)



I received my orders this past May telling me I would be deployed in June in support of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom). I went through most emotions that any member of the military does in such a situation. I was excited, nervous, but sad to leave my family behind. My family and I gathered together in Jackson at the end of June and I kissed my beautiful wife and three kids goodbye. I then jumped on a plane and away I went.

My unit, the 194th, is an engineering brigade commanded by Gen. Robert Harris. Our mission was to arrive in theater and be a brigade headquarters for all engineering assets in Iraq. This mission says a lot about the faith the Army has in our unit as this is an important job to be tasked to a National Guard unit. Our state should be proud of the job that our soldiers are doing over here.

When we arrived in Kuwait and got off the plane, the first thing that I noticed was the heat. I do not know how to describe it, but a friend best described it as sticking your head in an oven that is set around 500 degrees. Once you have done that, get a fan pointed at you and throw sand in it. If you do these steps you will recreate the living conditions of Kuwait in July. The wind feels like a hot hair dryer being held on you. It is a very unforgiving environment.

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