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Interview with Todd B. Walton [5/20/2005]

Lindsey A. Miller:

My name is Lindsey Miller and (cut off) I am interviewing Todd Walton known as Walt, it is May 20, 2005 and we are at Fire Station 2 in Kearney, Nebraska. I am going to let Walt tell you a little something about himself.

Todd B. Walton:

I joined the Army straight out of high school. I went active on 18 October 1990. Four years of active duty as a medic. Got out, joined the Nebraska National Guard in Kearney with the first of the 159 Armor as a medic. In 1999 we transit!oned to a Transportation Unit, became a trucker because there are no medics assigned to a Transportation Unit and been serving, and then in January of 03 got a phone call that I had been transferred to another unit, found out, that was on a Tuesday, on the following Thursday night found out that I had been activated and I was to report Tuesday morning at 7 am.

The orders said that we were going to be gone for 365 days unless sooner extended or released, which my wife found very funny I deployed with the intent of being gone for six months and halfway through the tour it was extended to a year. So I actually went off active duty the seventh of June 2004.

Lindsey A. Miller:

O.k., why did you decide to join the Army?

Todd B. Walton:

I grew up to serve your country, that's you know, the first thing you do, that was the only goal I had in life. I had taken an EMT class prior to becoming, joining the military. Thought EMS seems real interesting, became a medic, actually loved it. While I was on active duty started to see things you know nursing, nurse practitioners said hey that wouldn't be too bad so if I ever got out that is what I'd do. And that's what I'm still working on.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Why did you pick that branch of the service?

Todd B. Walton:

The Marines didn't have anything medical. The Navy provides corpsmen. The Air Force, the day I was supposed to go down for my MEP's physical, Military Entrance Processing Physical I actually had my appendix out and the Air Force would not talk to me for six months. The Army was talking to me and said three months, six weeks if we can get proof that you are back to a hundred percent. The Navy just didn't seem that interesting at the time. So I talked to the Army, joined up and that's the way it went.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Alright, do you recall your first days in service?

Todd B. Walton:

Yea, went to Fort Knox Kentucky. Like I said we deployed the 18 October, 1990. I had the military mindset this is what I was going to do and I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into. But it's rather interesting because your yanked away from everything and they transition you. Actually the section where we stayed is where they filmed Stripes. I got to sleep in the barracks were they filmed Stripes, that was my claim to fame right there.

It's interesting to see everybody, how they dealt with it. Get up while it's still dark, go to bed when it's dark, you know, the typical basic training things. Once we actually, that was the in-process, once we actually got across the street, is referred to where they do the basic training, they broke us into platoons and that's where we finished out our eight weeks. We had three drill Sergeants for my platoon, very colorful individuals.

Once we started to work together as a platoon and get rid of the individual mentality, they worked, we got more respect. You know, the farther along you go, and they each had their own traits that are evident the longer you go along. The intimidation, the psychological part of it was very interesting.

When they were breaking us into platoons they had 160 guys up on the floor and if was if your name starts with A line up over here, if your name starts with B line up over here, when they'd get enough they'd break, o.k. that's how they broke them down. Well there was this E -7 standing there in his class A uniform, all dressed looking, just standing there position attention, just watching us and he looked like superman in class A's. Rather intimidating.

Come to find out that Drill Sergeant Burgnam was not really that bad. We were supposed to go home for Christmas Exodus which I absolutely don't mind. I didn't know that in the middle of basic training you have two weeks. At that point they were building up for Desert Storm. And it started, we had our plans to go home for, you know, planes, trains, buses, whatever. Started hearing what's going on we'd ask our Drill Sergeants, they'd tell us, you know, kind of what's going on and got to where I'd tell my family don't expect me till you see me.

The Senior Drill Sergeant came up one night and we're doing PT because it's November in Kentucky, and asked, had us all toe lined, all lined up and asked who here was going home, or who liked Christmas. A lot of people raised their hands including a couple of Drill Sergeants. He told them to drop, had them knock out some push-ups, bah-humbug, I hate Christmas.

Told them to recover and it was who here was going home for Christmas, everybody raised their right hands and he said no no no put your arms down. Who here is going home for Christmas? Everybody raised their right hands and looked around a little bit, he said everybody put your arms down. Who here is not going home for Christmas, kind of look around no arms in the air, he goes everybody put your right hands in the air Christmas has been canceled due to lack of motivation.

They were trying to speed troops up to get as many through basic training and training to go be deployed as soon as possible so they canceled Christmas Exodus. A lot of guys were holding out the hope that were going home. That was a very important lesson in a very early part of my military career. We had 36 hours for Christmas. It started on noon of Christmas Eve and we were actually allowed to go to the PX and things like that.

If you had family that was coming in they could sign you out and take our off post or something and we had till midnight on 25 December too. And they had all our packages and everything, our care packages and stuff and they piled them up, they let us have them then. And there were tables about four feet by four feet and they put them up and it was just mounded with sugar and cookies and yea everything we couldn't have. Guys walking around just wired on sugar but we had to get rid of this stuff in 36 hours. That was Christmas for the most part and the light of Thanksgiving and Christmas are two very big holidays in the military.

You will have turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, they had ice sculptures, little shrimp cocktails in the paper cups and we got to go into the Drill Sergeants area and watch movies and things like that, it was laid back.

Finished basic training the third of January. The fourth we went to Fort Sam Huston in San Antonio Texas. The company size at that time for medics, the 91 Bravos was the designation, was 240, they upped it to 360 at that point and every two weeks they were graduating a company because they had on going companies in different rotations and it got to the point it was alpha company you are going to Saudi.

It didn't matter if you were reserve, it didn't matter if you were guard, it didn't matter if you were active duty, you had orders, they you had duty you were going. We, and at that point they started feeding us back into the civilian sector after a little bit where you have four hours, five hours, then you have all day Saturday, then it was Friday afternoon end formation be here Monday morning in formation. We came one week from being deployed to when they had the seize fire and then we hung around for a long time, the guard and reserve guys got to go home and we hung around to wait for orders.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Were there any certain special things that helped you get through all of that experience?

Todd B. Walton:

Not really. It was just mindset; this is what I am going to do.

Lindsey A. Miller:

O.k., so which war did you serve in?

Todd B. Walton:

Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Where exactly did you go?

Todd B. Walton:

Once we got mobilized we reported here, we went to Scottsbluff, Nebraska with the unit that we were transferred to along with the people from another unit. They combined three units. We were there for three days, we went to Fort Carson, Colorado. Went out, got issued the stuff, were getting our shots, the whole nine yards, we had to do a field training exercise. It was so cold there they had to pull an active duty component off the ranges, we went out there, actually had my fingers get frostbite where they were black. Their hurrying us up and it turns out that we were going to go through Turkey on the Northern push while when Turkey baucked we had to wait and wait. Wound up 90 days from the time we reported until we actually deployed. Stir crazy and of coarse there's the rumors that go around and things like that.

Lindsey A. Miller:

What exactly was your job or assignment?

Todd B. Walton:

Transportation. When we flew, we flew into Kuwait City and we spent two nights at the arrival point. Then they moved us to Camp Arifjohn. It seem like everything in Kuwait is relative to Kuwait City. It was just another camp there. They put us in what was to become the new PX warehouse with two other units. Things were rather packed because they were getting a lot of people in. Stayed there two nights, landed on the 22nd of April and on the 26t of April I was driving into Iraqi with the advanced party. They got our trucks. We drove up to Fallujah Air Force Base, which is outside of Nasiriyah, and were there for a majority of time or close proximity to Fallujah.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Did you actually see combat?

Todd B. Walton:

We had some pot shots taken at us, didn't you know return any rounds. Nothing like it was up North. We had a pretty pud deployment. Got to deal a lot with the war torn Iraqi's. They would try to steal stuff off your trucks as your driving because they were so poor, especially southern Iraq. Saddam didn't like them so he didn't give then a lot of the basic necessities or government support. The country was just extremely, extremely poor down there. Yea, there was some of that and there was a whole lot of nothing when you are out there driving in the, in the desert.

Lindsey A. Miller:

So there weren't any casualties in your unit?

Todd B. Walton:

Nothing related to combat. There is a disease called liease manaysis. Which they thought they had pretty well eradicated like TB, turns out that this little air force base had the largest population of liseas manysis carrying sand flea's and one of our guys did get that and he had to go to Walter Reed Hospital for three, four months for treatment before he was able to come back. But actual combat, we had a couple of guys in a wreck, lucked out really well, but that was it.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Can you tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences?

Todd B. Walton:

There are various things that stick out and I guess they don't seem like there that important or that interesting. Did you ever see the movie Groundhogs Day with Bill Murray?

Lindsey A. Miller:

Over and over.

Todd B. Walton:

That's actually what it seemed like. Driving in Iraqi for the first time just because you cross the boarder and there is a tank trap, it's a large trench, 10 to 12 feet deep 20 feet wide and it's designed because tanks can't drive across it. The country just seems to get dirty, the roads go from good roads to really poor roads, even if their asphalt. There is, the main route was three lanes each way of pavement or hardball, compared to like 1-80. That was good, but other than that. Driving through, there was a town called Samavah which was on the way up to Scani or New jaft or Diwaniyah where we hauled a lot of stuff. It was crowded and it was nothing to see donkeys and BMW's within a block of each other. You have people riding, it's just a whole different style of living and it reminded me a lot of Somalia from what you see in Black Hawk Down. You know the same type of buildings, three, four stories, really tight. You had to drive over the river and you went on the bridge and I remember thinking you were just a perfect sitting duck. One time we were going there and I was manning the 50 caliber machine gun cruiser and the driver and I were talking, he was driving the truck and I am manning the weapon and he says see the guys with the AKs, a group of guys with AKs? Well there allowed to carry AK 47 as a defensive weapon. I look, got them. Were about a mile down the road when we realized that we both saw guys with AKs, just not the same group of guys. Which does not give you warm fuzzies. There's just a lot of different things that are interesting. And part of it is Iraqi culture is so, is so historic and so diverse. Yea, I was able to tour Babylon, the city of Babylon, a lot of people just hear about Babylon and I was actually able to see it. There was a place called, outside of Nasiriyah and Fallujah Air Force Base called the Ziggart Ur, z- i-g-g-a-r-t and Ur is u-r. The curator, and he just lived there, there is no fence or anything protecting it, he lived a little ways away in a little farm. He is a third generation curator. He taught himself English out of the dictionary. To go over there for a tour it was through NWR, National Wildlife and recreation. You had to sign up for the NWR tour and it cost you a buck, that's how they paid the guy. You know kill a couple of hours. The Ziggart Ur was built in like 4000 BC. It's kind of like a pyramid but what was interesting was we'd drive around there and we looked at the Zig like you would look at the water tower or you would look at, people of St. Louis would look at the arch. We saw the Zig. That was our point of reference, it's on the horizon everyday. Among other things, there is catacombs there, a remainder of a palace that a king had built. Got to tour the tomb of a king, which the British had excavated in the mid 20', like 28, 25, 28, 1928, 1925. It's very interesting when you are taking the tour and the curator is referring to it as the new lumber because they shored up the roof and it's 80 years old and it's new, which, in the grand scheme of things it was very new. Like I said toured Abraham's house because they re-built everything but the roof. The culture on that was just very, very interesting. There is a lot of other, I don't know, piddley things. You know there is so much, I don't know what interests, there is so many, trying to get them in order is really, order in your head is very difficult.

Lindsey A. Miller:

How did you stay in touch with your family?

Todd B. Walton:

Letters, some cards, the mail, the war started in March of 03. We were there in April of 03. Things were very primitive when we first rolled in. I took a bunch of disposable cameras cause I'm going to take pictures so my wife could see this. I had a camera, we where there maybe a week, I had a disposable camera I'm going to send home. We'll I, they had a post office set up so you could drop off stuff. Do you have a box to mail this in or an envelope, nope. Well how am I supposed to, we just have the means to get out, some for incoming. I wound up taking an MRE bag that your MRE comes in, turning it inside out so the writing was on the inside, put the camera in there and I wrote everything in there just in case it got eligible, duct taped it shut and wrote my wife's address on it, put free because you don't, like letters and stuff you don't pay postage you just write free where the stamp goes to mail. It took my wife awhile to get it. She thought it was rather funny when she actually got a camera inside a MRE container. When we first got there especially up north, we didn't, there is Occupational Security, Op-Sec, Communication Security, Com- Sec, that if you, Heroldo got in trouble, if you remember because he gave something out, that would be Op-Sec, Com-Sec, and if somebody was eavesdropping or paying attention to his little interview, o.k., this unit is at 10 this location, this is where they are going. Newsweek had a very interesting article you know because they are covering the build up to the War and they had a map of Iraqi. So one time I snuck home on pass, we got two Newsweeks, took the maps out and I numbered them identically, gave them numbers. So when I talked to my wife I'd say o.k. I'm at one or I'm at three. On our little key one was Kuwait, three was FallujahAir Force Base, then there was Air Force Base time but Fallujah, Nasiriyah. I had a chance, I was there for about a week, they had a satellite phone set up and you got like 20 minutes when you called. I called my wife and the first words out of her mouth was it's just like CNN because the delay on a satellite phone every time it switches a satellite you get like a half second delay and we had a couple second delay. That was the hoot, was it's just like CNN. And she was, where are you, and I'll say three and I could hear the map russling, o.k. good thing your not at seven, you know or whatever it was. And we joked about it later because as the next rotation was coming over they had a month notice. They knew pretty much where they were going. They knew pretty much when they were leaving. My wife I would call her about daily from Fort Carson, or every other day, and she knew I was gone when she hadn't heard from me for awhile. And so the first time in about a week and I call her, you know where are you, I'm in Iraqi. Had internet after awhile and waiting in line for two or three or four hours for phone or internet was not uncommon. You would get 20 minutes usually, maybe 30 minutes on the internet. Sometimes it was fast, 11

Todd B. Walton:

some times it took you 20 minutes to logon and check one e-mail. It got progressively better. The phones got to be, where we were at they were real real good, it was a period of time. The mail was interesting. Our anniversary was the 30th of November and mail has been taking about two weeks to get home. So I'm thinking ahead. I get an anniversary card. I mail it first week in November. Our anniversary rolls around. Did you get my anniversary card? No I haven't. Well I mailed it. My wife is very understanding. She has traveled the world. She has lived in a third world country. She understands this stuff. And for about the next month every time I talk to my wife, because I call every, about every third day because that's when our platoon had CQ or Charge of Quarters and that is when we had to use the phone for that platoon, that is how they divvy it out. I would ask her did you get the card and I finally got to the point where I quit asking. She got our anniversary card February or March. Which is bizarre. You would mail some stuff and it would be there in a week and then you got things that take forever. It was just an absolute hoot. Where would you buy an anniversary card at? They, I planned ahead and I took a birthday card for my wife with me. So I would have, I buy it in the states and it traveled with me. There were a certain amount of cards I took because I didn't know how long I was going to have. They set up a PX or Post Exchange. Kuwait was civilized a lot faster than Iraq. They had a PX already established. It was small. You would stand in line for hours, go in, look around. It was probably, 12 the tent PX at AJ, Arifjohn, 40 feet wide, 100 feet long. And you wait in line. You go in there and your choices are, if you want deodorant this, you might have two brands to choose from. They would have trailers, like semi-trailers they'd pull in. Put steps on back, put steps on the side door and that's your PX. Fallujah when they were first setting up they sent conxes, they are the military shipping container you see going down the road, they put them on ships. They have a bunch of conexes and they'd put plumber netting over them and they had pallets setting out there of stuff and you'd walk in and look around and I'm looking for foot spray. I think it's in that conex over there. You can just go riffle through, find it and check out and the more, the longer it went on the more established they got. You know they had a large building, actually had a pretty good supply. It got better but yea you'd have the PX.

Lindsey A. Miller:

What was the food like?

Todd B. Walton:

MRE's are MRE's. Their much better than when I first got in. Hot sauce is your friend. My wife had a standing order, until I told her otherwise, to once a month send me baby wipes, toilet paper and hot sauce. The necessities, that's what you need right there. The chow halls like in Kuwait were pretty good. Seating 15 hundred people at a shot was nothing and it's not one of those things o.k. we move 15 in and set them down. There would be eight serving lines and there is people constantly going in, constantly going out. It's just a revolving cycle. When we were on the road and we first got into Iraqi we lived out of the back of our 13 truck. We ate MRE's we took along. There is always something. Oh it was alright. Also the boredom would get bad enough that you'd eat just to go, you know, you'd go to the chow hall and eat and that would kill 15 minutes. It got to be better but it was rather interesting because when we got to having pop, you know cans of pop, it was 300 milliliter cans instead of 355 like were used to. They still use pull tab technology over there, not pop top. It just didn't taste right. Why? For awhile we would eat out of a Mobile Kitchen Trailer, MKT, and have one hot a day or maybe two. Like breakfast and supper. You'd walk over and it's a two wheeled trailer that the military has that converts into a kitchen and they have tray packs. It's the military's version of microwave meals I guess. Heat them up and here you go. You'd stand at a tail gate of a truck or they had a wire spool. You stand there, you'd eat. Shelf stable bread, fresh white shelf stable I think was how it, just it's freeze, not freeze dried but vacuum packed. This stuffs got a shelf life of like forever. They have shelf stable milk, does not need refrigerating. Little cartons, it's not that bad. Yea in retrospect. Then it just kept getting better. They'd have the chow hall you'd go through they'd try to make American meals and things. They'd serve us ribs and you'd look at them and they are not like you would go to Applebee's and get ribs. Little bit longer, narrower and not as much meat on them. You kind of wonder what it was. You know o.k. it was probably something you know a really malnourished cow or something. We used to joke about the, they had a lot of Iraqi's or Third Country Nationals, TC 14 units, they would work in the chow halls, places and they had a joke called the reservation. They lived in their own little compound. But they put everything up you needed, and the salad bar they would have mushrooms and croutons and dressing and cheese. Everything you'd need for a salad except the lettuce because they didn't have lettuce. Yea it was there maybe for a week but everything was there for a salad except the lettuce. Also, you know, Christmas, Thanksgiving they'd try real hard to make things good. Fourth of July, that seem to be a big military holiday for some reason. We happened to be down south in Kuwait. You know burgers and fries, there were some that you'd have short order line. You know get grilled cheese or cheeseburger, hamburger or what not. It was funny you would have, about every third day you had vegetable lasagna. They used up all the vegetables they had to use. Some days you'd go through and just, you'd read what the menu what it's supposed to be and I'll take that. You know your not really sure what it is. It varied you know, some food was good, some was bad. It was.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Did you feel any pressure or stress when serving?

Todd B. Walton:

During deployment and also when were, I actually took a bit of a pay cut when I was activated and event though I got, they give you separation allowance, because your separated from your family, I got basic allowance housing which pretty much paid the mortgage. You got paid so much if your married and if you had kids you get paid a little more. There is a little bit of that stress. My wife having to deal with what was going on. I 15 had a 15 month old son and a 13 year old daughter when I left. I left a week before her 13th birthday. She had a hard time with that and I wasn't real happy with it. The actual, yea I joke in hindsight my wife had the easyer job. You know, the stress, once we actually got deployed a lot of the bullshit went away. It was here's a job go do it. My life got to be real easy because there was only so much you could do. You know and you'll talk to people they'd want to find out what their spouse, or boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever were doing. Kind of like Pinky and the Brain, same thing we do every day. You know, if you go on a convoy, o.k. this is what time I leave, this is the load, this is where were going. You get your go to war stuff and try it. There wasn't a whole lot of stress. I mean duty stress, job stress. It was just get up, do the job, this is it. [Interview interrupted by a telephone call] There wasn't a whole lot of pressure just because you do your time. I mean you go, this is your job, this is what you do. The stresses were things like talking to my wife and she said that there was moisture on the bathroom floor. Where's it coming from? Don't know. Turned out we had a plumbing hole in the wall, a hole in the plumbing. It turned out o.k but there's things that I would normally be taking care of that I can't. The winter is really cold and she was running out of firewood for the fireplace. I can't go out and make more. I didn't have time to make it before I left. Of course at the same time there's a lot of people that really step up. A friend of mine called, he was always wondering what he could do. I sent him an e-mail saying hey lend a hand, Susan 16 needs a good cord or so of wood. He got on the, sent me like seven e- mails about it. It's not working, it's working, going to do this, were going to do, got it taken care of. Actually the stress of the, not being able to help her with things. You know, I'm seven thousand miles away. There's no and there's also some of the stress of she's raising two kids by herself. You know that's the, I, fortunately I got all of my affairs in order before I left. So, I didn't have to worry about that. You know that was a good thing. But yea the stresses were a little bit different than what your used to here.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Was there anything special that you did for good luck?

Todd B. Walton:

No, yea I didn't carry a rosary or, just make sure the weapons are clean. Yea I carried a few extra magazines just because if we actually got into a gun fight I really consider it to be bad form to run out of bullets in one. Other than that there's no, there's no good luck there.

Lindsey A. Miller:

How did you entertain yourselves?

Todd B. Walton:

Music. Ihadc.d.'s. I had people bum me c.d.'s and send over. Just did a lot of reading. I actually read War and Peace all seventeen hundred and seventy four pages of it. Among you know, Tale of Two Cities and a lot of different books. I figured this was my chance to get a little culture, educate myself. Also learned how to play chess. I did not know how, I really did not know what a pawn was to a rook to a knight to a king but I learned. I figured in a year long deployment I probably played at least a thousand games of chess. It would became an evening ritual, you know, 17

Todd B. Walton:

we'd have, get everything ready for the next day and you know we'd have chow, get showered up, what not and we'd play some chess. Spades was a card game. We got to where we'd play poker but we would use Iraqi dinar. When we first rolled into Iraqi the dinar was about three thousand dinar to the dollar. By the time I left it was probably about fifteen hundred dinar to the dollar. But it was great because o.k. I am going to raise you three thousand dinar. You'd gamble for four hours or whatever and your up three thousand dinar. O.k. I'm up a buck or you know or I'm down a buck. When we got better living conditions the tents I had never played the game Risk. We played a lot of Risk. Some guys worked out. Writing letters home. Vegging, sleeping, you know if you could sleep that would pass time. It was, when we actually got electricity that we could count on and better living conditions, there would be guys that had Play Stations sent over or they would buy one or TVs. We would watch DVD's, movies, we'd watch a lot of stuff. Again, just it kills time. You know it's sad that the that you would, the times that you'd read, and you'd read for an hour and not retain anything. Just something for you to focus on is why you did it. Do you recall any particular humorous or unusual events? Humorous or unusual. I remember as the convoy would leave Cedar they would line up, and were talking thousands of vehicles would leave camp in a matter of hours. It would start at like five o'clock until nine o'clock in the morning. There would just be convoys going out and you know 18 were talking two, three thousand vehicles, sometimes more, sometimes less. I remember laying in bed one morning, in my bunk and hearing gunfire and I remember slowly coming to and thinking o.k. and I didn't, didn't strike me as o.k. I'm in danger. I'm sitting there and I'm thinking o.k. how many rounds was it and it was like three bursts like dunt, dunt, dunt. And I'm trying to count and I'm running my fingers and out goes dunt, dunt, dunt the recycle while I'm counting and then I'm trying to identify is it was AK or is it 16. It's all one weapon so it's probably just out and then I heard the 50 cal open up which is a half inch diameter round and whom, whom. Out of bed like that. It was somebody doing tests on their way out of camp which they weren't supposed to been doing. I remember coming back on a convoy we had a pedestal that we'd mount like 50 caliber machine gun in or a squal, which is an automatic weapon, kind of like a M-60 and then, and you'd have, that was your curse serve weapon. You'd have a guy on security and he'd sit there. I'm the convoy commander. I'm driving the Hummer and we had no, upper armor is a foreign concept at this point. The doors were off, the top was off. Riding along I've got, were in the middle of nowhere riding along a three lane highway you know, each way. I've got my leg dangling out of the Hummer and I got my weapon, you know, across my lap pointing out and I'm driving and all of a sudden the gunner started shooting and it's automatic and I just freaked. You jump up because a, somebody is possibly shooting at us and he is returning fire and I need to get the 19 convoy out and we need to take action and he looks at me and kind of laughs and says I was shooting at a bird. He just hauled off the side and started shooting. We were just board out of our mind. But I had this, in hindsight it's funny. At that point, no, it was not funny. I remember it turned out to be eight man tents. The, in our living conditions when we lived in tents, you figured out when the tent was at capacity you had a sheet and a half of plywood, 48 square feet, for your area and that included the common like, the hallway area. Well there was four of us living in what was an eight man tent so we had room up the wazoo. I remember us actually getting, that's when we went from cots to actually got bunks. I mean single beds, mattresses, thick mattresses. I remember on guy, he was not very tall, sitting on his bunk and his feet are dangling because of the bunk and the mattress. You know small things like that seem like there great. The, although it is forbidden, there was alcohol sold along side of the road. You know Iraqi's would sell, capitalism took off great. And the guys, you know, Iraqi's would come up and try to sell you stuff. They had whiskey and they had gin and there is no way I'm going to touch this because you don't know if they drain it and put in formaldehyde or whatever. That was my lucky charm was being dry. Did have a beer. There was two of us and it was the best beer that I've ever had ever had in my life. Corona, driving down the road, it was the only time I'd ever done the drinking and driving thing, two of us, it was the best beer I've ever had in my life. And there were some things that they were funny at the time. 20 You talk to people that were there they were funny. Trying to explain to someone else, you know they don't grasp the.. .but yea, there's a lot of things, part is just what we did, I was, what we did for amusement, part was how we dealt with things. Things you just had to do it because you had no other choice. I mean in hindsight oh their funny but trying to explain to someone else that wasn't there, has not been around it would seem really strange or just not fiinny at all.

Lindsey A. Miller:

So, can you tell me some of the pranks that you would pull on each other, if you did?

Todd B. Walton:

Sorry, I was thinking of another one of those really funny moments that you had to be there for. And it's absolutely wrong. Pranks, not a whole lot. I'd do things that would be humorous and of coarse if a guy had a brother or something like that. But actual acts, not a whole lot.

Lindsey A. Miller:

What did you think of your officers or fellow soldiers?

Todd B. Walton:

The unit I was transferred into we were transfer in there because they lied on paper and were caring what is referred to as ghost soldiers, people that are no longer in the military or haven't been, you know in the Guard they haven't been drilling but the higher numbers they have the more money you get. And they got activated because they looked really good on paper and got activated and were short 70 guys out of 160 so they had to transfer us in. In 15 years of military service active, five and a half of it active that's the worst unit I had ever seen. It's amazing that we didn't kill somebody. And the people I would trust with my life I could count on one 21 hand and I would have a finger or two left over. That was, it lead up to a lot of anger on my part. I still have a lot of resent, a lot of anger for that unit and a lot of people. It didn't, we got through it. That's probably; there were a lot of things that I could have done better. I have to admit when my unit had transferred out, actually deployed I was able to give them a lot of heads up. There were some things that they were, learned from the mistakes that were made. Which...

Lindsey A. Miller:

Do you recall the day your service ended?

Todd B. Walton:

The day I left country or ....?

Lindsey A. Miller:

Yea.

Todd B. Walton:

The, like I said we were deployed on six month ?????. Flew in April, get to fly home in October. Great. Then we got extended and it became a 12 month plan and when we were getting ready to leave in April of 04 things were heating up again. There was a hold on Transportation Units. We at one point had been extended for another 30 days or something like that, for about three days. We were the only guard unit at that point that had been extended. ____.. ..(5 seconds) To get us out of country and there were units that weren't that lucky. They hauled troops down, yea they hauled how many ever units down. They were going to pack our stuff up put it on ships____.. ..(3 seconds) They came down and they were going back. I was telling my wife were supposed to be going home, but don't believe it until you hear it from me. We flew and landed in Kuwait at 23:30 on 21 April and____.. ..(2 seconds) At 20:30 hours it was 22 up____....(2 seconds) 364 days and 23 hours____....(3 seconds) The plane would hold about 150 people you know,____.. ..(5 seconds) A lot of people cheering____....(17 seconds) END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE; BEGIN SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE

Todd B. Walton:

It was two am local time in Shannon, Ireland. They opened the bar up in the duty free shop. We were allowed to have two beers and I'm not a Guinness man but when in Rome. It was five bucks a beer. I went up and paid the guy, you know gave him ten bucks, said I wanted a euro back. I called my wife. Got a picture of it, calling her from Shannon, Ireland holding a beer and I remember her saying, asking me where I was and I said I'm in Shannon, Ireland drinking a beer. And it had been a long time since I had heard my wife that happy. She was real, real happy. We were there for an hour or two. We flew into Bangor, Maine. We hit there 04:30 local time. You know, o.k. it's four thirty in the morning, you know, the air port is going to be deserted you know. We walked off and there was 10 to 12, 15 VFW members, there wives, what not, shaking our hands, welcome home. It was absolute cool. They were handing us cell phones, call home. Let me get out my calling card. No, no, no call home. Unfortunately my wife did not hear the answering machine but I called the people I'd been thinking about and said you know, I'm in the states. Flew into, from there we flew into; it finally became light as we left Bangor, Maine and flew into Lincoln. They had the little welcome home thing for us. Took us to camp Ashland outside of Lincoln. Did the hey welcome 23 home thing. 11:30 in the morning, of course were eight hours ahead at that point. I just, it was nice they actually had beer and pizza for us. The beer I was kind of surprised about but we were happy to get that. It was just nice to actually be in Nebraska. Green grass, you know, just things that, the river, I don't even know what river, it goes by Ashland, to be able to look at it and its clean. It's, there's not things floating in it. That was a good one and then when, we were there, we were locked down for a couple of days and then our families could come and get us. Well my wife and kids decided to stay here but my parents, both my sisters, my one sisters family, her husband and two kids came and we went to Lincoln and I remember them asking where do you want to go eat and I said I don't care. As long as they serve alcohol and you don't have to eat off paper plates or paper, plastic utensils I don't care, you know. There like Applebee's or Pizza Hut or this.. .alcohol and no plastic that's what I want. And they couldn't understand the, but for a year except for a couple of days when I went down to Cutter on an R and R trip you ate off of paper plates with plastic forks, plastic knives. Certain meals you knew just to grab three, four forks and a couple knives because you knew you were going to be busting them as you were going through the meal. When we actually left Ashland we drove into Kearney on the bus. We kicked out the guys for Lexington, McCook at the Commerce Center and the police department sheriffs escorted us through town. When I saw the Chief of Police directing traffic at 11th and 2nd, I thought, is he still the 24 chief, but they had everybody out and the ribbons and the people out. It was great, you know, and I was able to get out of the bus and you know, my wife and family, you know, right there, it was, it was nice.

Lindsey A. Miller:

What did you do in the days and weeks right after you got home?

Todd B. Walton:

Adjust. My wife, when we actually got to the house, I was home for like half and hour and she finally said do they speak in full sentences where you come from? And I had to stop and think about it and I said I don't know. Because military lingo it's, are you ready, you know, or you moving, you know. You look at somebody and go up and they say up. Yea ready to go, you know. All set. And part was driving, because of the noise of the trucks. We wouldn't talk because you'd have to yell over the truck. It's amazing. I'd just walk through the house trying to figure out what's changed because it's been over 12 months since I've been home and, looking at stuff and just being able to walk to the fridge and get a beer. She'd kind of look at me and laugh but you'd go up to the fridge and open the fridge and there's choices here. You know? It took a little bit because you didn't have to eat at a set time, you know, the chow hall was open these hours, if you were going to eat then this is when. Got no, my son was 15 months when I left and he was 30 months when I got home. My daughter, it just took awhile to get used to, you know. Get used to everybody again, you know, walk around the house. Talk to the neighbor, my neighbor was great because I said, went over and hey I'm getting activated, I don't know how long it's going to be, I don't know if I'll have 25 to stay a year, would you please see about the snow and you know maybe the lawn. Well 15 months later I'm home, you know, hey thanks, you know. Go over, talk to him. We had family come down, got to go out, you know, member of the Fire Department, got to go down to the station, you know, just see people and see what's going on. We had a port detail, they were responsible for putting stuff on the ship and they came back a few days behind us. They did a little mini welcome home for them. Got to go down and drive a truck. Learning how to live, drive in the U.S. was different. I was driving down to the station down Avenue A and halfway down the block, and I had already committed to the block, there's a McDonalds, a brown McDonalds bag laying there in the middle of the street. There's a car on the right, car on the left, it's a residential street it's not real wide. And I remember processing it and getting worked up because I can't take an invasive act, I've got to drive right by it I can't clear to the left, it's right in the middle of the street. And it finally hit me, this is Kearney, Nebraska. That is not an IED.

Lindsey A. Miller:

What's an IED?

Todd B. Walton:

Improvised Explosive Device. Anything from a pop can or a piece of trash, to a dead animal, to a car. It got to the point you would look for rocks that might be marking where these are. They actually put 155 millimeter artillery rounds incased in concrete and replaced chunks of curb with them. You know, so if you saw new concrete that would. Driving down downtown Central, downtown, you know Central Avenue, its way 26 too clean, the cars are too nice, it's not crowded enough. Scanning rooftops, just, and you know you're supposed to obey street signs, stop lights, things like that here. When I was coming back from when we escorted those guys home, I was driving the fire truck and, because you know everybody thought 1 should, oh that's great. I got three, four people with me and coming down 39th where the railroad crosses by the fairgrounds the cop stopped ahead of me at the stop sign. I just slowed down because he was in my way and as I'm breaking the plain of stop sign, I'm realizing I should be stopping for this. You know your supposed to stay in your lane. It's the, I took, my family and I were taking vacation, when I extend my wife and I talked were taking vacation. You know I was like o.k., should be home by this time, you pick the dates and were going to go. Drove, I had like ten thousand miles behind the wheel over there that was just actual behind the wheel time. Driving to Lincoln and back to the airport, as we would come up on overpasses, I was halfway back I think, before I got to the point that I could concisely stop doing it, but I would scan the overpasses for lEDs or something down on the bottom. Is there anybody on the top that is going to be trying to throw stuff in, obliviously I'm in truck mentality, you know, are they going to try to drop something into your truck and for giateen wires that would be set up. Is there somebody manning a cruse serf weapon. You know the actual, you stop for, you know, stop signs, stop lights. Paying for gas, what, it was concise effort to remember to pay for gas because over there 27 you would just pull up, fuel up and keep going. Yea the military was picking up the tab. It took some getting used to and there's some things, I remember going shopping at Walmart. Yea that's a pain but walking in, o.k., you want to buy whatever. O.k. you could go look for whatever and there's like 12 choices. You know, you can walk in and you know the pop is not going to, it's going to taste like American pop. It's not going to be expired. You know, if you pick up a thing of gummy worms their not going to be one glob from you know heated together. The candy bars like Snickers, all the chocolate and caramel or whatever is not down to one end because when it got hot it melted and moved down there. You had choices. You know, just actually having choices. Taking a shower, you wear flip-flops, shower shoes, taking a shower in your own shower without shower shoes was just bizarre. I mean, you felt filthy doing it. You know getting used to little things like that. Everything I brought home with me I was washing. Just to get the sand out of things. Seeing family, you know being able to go talk to people and you know see what's going on. And I noticed that when I would be riding with somebody I wouldn't talk. Just because it was a, got in the habit of not doing it, had to get over it. My driving habits, I'm getting better. I'm getting to where I will sometimes have two hands on the wheel. Because when your driving, if your in the middle of nowhere where there's nothing out there, my left hand would be, as I'm driving, my left hand would be holding my weapon, my right hand would be on the wheel. But if we were somewhere where 28 something didn't seem right my left hand was on the wheel, my right hand was holding a pistol grip ready to use a weapon. So theirs a lot of little nuances there that and a lot of people commented about my driving. I'm getting better. But it takes a little while to get used to it.

Lindsey A. Miller:

You talked about the sand being everywhere. On the news it would always show sand storms and things of that nature. Did you experience those?

Todd B. Walton:

Oh yea. First off the sand is more like flour. The best way I can describe it is take a fifty-pound bag of flour and just drop it in your kitchen and just start walking in it and see where it goes. We would be driving, one convoy I thought they were tornadoes; they were like really big dust devils. They looked like the size of tornados. There would be six, seven of them across the road and you would drive through these little things. They were like just huge dust devils. There would be times your driving along and you couldn't see the front of your truck. You know the visibility would come and go. It's a lot like driving in a really bad blizzard only its brown. Sand everywhere. I mean just everywhere. You know things that you would thing to be clean, clean is all relative anyway. Sand just everywhere, I mean you got used to it, taste it, you know it'd be here, it'd be there and you got the point that it's not that big of a deal. Sand storms sometimes the wind would just all of a sudden start to blow and you know, tents flap, you know flopping and you don't want to go outside. And it would be hot, you know you want the breeze but you 29 know your just ingesting the sand. Had, we called it the Kuwaiti crud. Came home for at least a month if not two, would be coughing. Just getting rid of the sand that was so impregnated in your lungs. You had to just cough it up. Yea I got some of the, you know, you get to know quite a bit of sand. I got a t-shirt somewhere that says sand storm survivor.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Did you eventually go back to work or school?

Todd B. Walton:

Yea, the day I was supposed to start my pediatrics class for nursing I walked in, told my instructor I am leaving, I don't know when I'm going to be back. Two years later, you know I had to take all of my spring breaks and everything at once, I started back. I'm working through school. I have two semesters left to go. I am working full time and actually this is not the job I had when I deployed. I worked for Central Fire and Safety doing fire extinguishers and while I was deployed one of the full timers for the fire department quit. I heard about it, Zolf of the department told me you know, he was quitting. I actually applied for the job from Iraq. I took the test over the computer, when I first started, I was e-mailed when I first got ???? I called my answers back, did a phone interview over the, or did an interview over the phone. I waited till I got home to do my civil service task but yea I went back to work. There is just a certain time, you can only kick around so long without having something to do.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Is your education supported by anything that you've done? 30

Todd B. Walton:

The Guard picks up my tuition, which is a good thing. I did have the GI bill but I was on the ten year plan for school before I got deployed and now I'm on the twelve year plan. I worked my way through most of the GI bill before I had left. But their picking up the tuition which is nice.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Did you make any close friends while active and now? I don't know if that's the correct words.

Todd B. Walton:

I know what you mean. Theirs people I liked. You would associate with people there just, differing, varying levels. Started out as my squad leader moved to the platoon sergeant. Yea. And a couple of guys we would, because we wanted to know how long we were sitting at Carson. We would get together on the weekends and you know, play spades and drink. Same way going through the deployment. As we got home that was pretty much it and a lot of the people I don't care to see again. You know there is some that you see them at drill, you know, hey how you doing but it wasn't anything great when we were there. Couple of people on the civilian side, you know, it really worked out better, you know, being able to talk to people and that got a little bit better you know. I had friends that, when my wife and I met we were actually set up by a couple of buddies of mine and the whole thing was going over to where he was and having enchiladas. So on the 17th of September I try to have enchiladas. I make enchiladas for her. I had a friend that, I couldn't do it so I called said hey could you please deliver enchiladas, Susan just, you know, she kind of liked that. Yea there's certain people that I don't ever care to see 31 again and there's, if we got thrown together again, yea I would mesh back but it's nothing extreme.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Did you a veteran's organization of any sort?

Todd B. Walton:

I was a member of the Legion since early 90's, I'm not sure, I think while I was still on active duty. Joined the VFW when I was home for the following ????.

Lindsey A. Miller:

What kind of activities does, do you do with those organizations?

Todd B. Walton:

Not a whole lot. Well I've been home for about a year now, the VFW I have not done a whole lot with. The Legion is still my hometown one, which I'll go up here in a few weeks and help them with one of their fundraisers but I'm pretty much an inactive member. A bad one.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or military in general?

Todd B. Walton:

I, when I told you about Christmas Exodus being canceled. That really played a big role because I was in the mindset that I'm here until I go, you know, I'm here until I actually go home, I'm not going to believe it until you know. That made a big difference. The people that were on active duty before, you could pick them out from the people that had just been in the Guard. You know, a lot of these guys hadn't been that long of a duration doing military stuff since, you know, since like basic training or something. Doing like, you had to get out of uniform and get into civilian clothes. Uniform is just another set of clothes. There's stuff there that just being active, it helped. And being military long enough, this is what your 32 going to do. You've got to do it and yea it seems stupid but you get up, do the job, go to bed. And the next day repeats.

Lindsey A. Miller:

What do your kids think about you being in the military?

Todd B. Walton:

Jason was too young to really know, I don't think he really knew, he knew who I was but really didn't miss me. He doesn't really care. He's going to be four in August and o.k. Dad dresses up kind of funny every now and then, you know, big deal. My daughter, we would butt heads because we have a real strong personality, and a lot of it's similar and once she heard I was going to be deployed, you know, she was really upset I was going to miss her birthday and things like that. In a way we got closer at that time. Susan told me one time, because my pickup stayed at the house, that one time they were coming home from shopping wherever it was and Stephanie just started to bawl, just, and it took Susan like a half hour to get her to calm down, you know, what's, because they just turned the comer to the house and Stephanie saw my pickup sitting there and it was, oh good Dad's home and then she realized, Dad's still in Iraq. And were back normal I guess, o.k. daughter, that's how it goes. We don't talk about it a whole lot, you know, just something I do, the whole time they've known me, the whole time Susan has know me I've been in the military either active or in the Guards. So, but... go ahead.

Lindsey A. Miller:

No, you go ahead. 33

Todd B. Walton:

I guess they don't know any different, you know, it's not like I joined up when they were young. Stephanie worries about me, going again and there's a lot of stuff that is just not said and you just think about it, so.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Does your wife support you being in...

Todd B. Walton:

She hates President Bush. Bush basher she is right there. The, I got yanked, you know, I voted for Bush and that's why I went. She understands something you need to do, she accepts, she not real happy with it. December we had a, Freedom Salute is what they called it, and they gave us different things you know for, and some of it was just little coins or something that only people that deployed got. You know you stayed, you didn't live in the states, you don't get this. And some of the stuff was kind of, you know kind of neat, you know, brought home and showing Susan stuff and one of the things was a folded flag in a case. It had a little, I forget what it is, underneath it, a little brass plaque. I thought you know, there's not a whole lot of my stuff I would like to display and I'm like this would look really good on the mantel. Absolutely not, absolutely not and you know Stephanie is sitting there and were looking at it, well why not? Well if you didn't come home that is all I would have got. It's in the basement, still in the box and, maybe someday but it was, you know Susan understood the reality of it and that was absolutely not.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Is there anything else you would like to talk about that we didn't cover?

Todd B. Walton:

It's, it was a very unique experience. It was interesting to see the change from when we got there. When we first got there, there would be Iraqi's 34 along the side of the road selling dinar. Then it just, as they got some money, it's capitalism at it's finest right there. It built up. There was a, outside Fallujah Air Base was a little hut. And you go, well o.k. the guy's got this or that you know. A lot of it is you just go out there, nothing better to do. As we kept going, he got paint, he painted this pink, why I don't know why pink but o.k. pink and that became the pink palace. O.k. The next thing you know there's another building and were talking thatch you know fronts or roofs or cobbled together, and then its brick, you know they'd make like, like adobe brick. By the time we left there it was like a strip you know a mini-mall. Tile floors, glass fronts, you know just how things improved. Safwan used to be, you know were driving southern Iraq, there is nothing out there. Safwan used to be kind of fun because northern Iraq there is not a whole lot out there either. You stop, you'd go to the, kind of like a truck stop, you'd line up, go and get trip briefings, give you a chance to go to the bathroom and eat chow, whatnot. They'd, you know, armor on, and things like that, and you cross and there would be Safwan and these people were trying to steal stuff off your truck. I mean actually trying to steal the gas can off the running board. It didn't matter they were going to steal it, that was fun, you know, o.k. they would try and chuck rocks at you, you know driving through and your assistant driver, A driver going here comes the rocks you know they 'd bounce off the hood and hit the glass just didn't seem, but that was fun and then there was nothing. And it was a dirt poor town. I mean literally dirt poor. 35 Hadn't been down there for about six months, well about four months, five months. The trips out and I couldn't believe how much it'd grown because they actually were getting money and Iraq's more stable and their building things and they got you know cars there, they got a market. It got to a point that you actually detoured around a bazaar because it was getting so much better. It was interesting we had what we called roving patrols and were sitting there one day and there's five of us between two trucks and this suburban, pretty good shape for Iraq, pulled up, I mean real good shape for Iraq, pulled up in front and a man in traditional dress got out, walking towards us and you know were perceiving a threat, just comes, walks up and says hey guys, how's it going? Excuse me, you know, how you guys doing? I mean it's American English. I believe his name was Ali, he had fought against Saddam in the first war when we, the U.S. encouraged the uprising. He became a refugee and was in Saudi for like five years as a refugee in a camp. They finally got him moved to the U.S. and he went to work at Boston University in their business department and he was, besides supporting himself he was supporting 34 people and sending back like three thousand dollars a year and supporting a family of like 34,1 mean it was phenomenal. But this was his first time back, he was going to see his family, he was shipping these vehicles back, his goal was to eventually buy a couple hectares of land and run a taxi service because that was. And to have him able to come up and talk and understand American English. He would bring his relatives out so they 36 could meet us and understand what, you feel kind of bad because your, by the time it got that the flank jacket could actually have body armor. Your holding your weapon, you know you've got all this stuff on and bring the kids up you know to see it, your getting your picture taken with them and they, your able to talk with them and you know they see were not big green meanies or you know. And talk to them and find out what life was like, you know FallujahAir Base was apparently Saddam's pride before he got stupid. We pretty much shut it down and took it over. That was just interesting. Also the, when I first got in the Army it was the end of the Cold War. It was very simple, if they carried an AK they were bad, if they carried a 16 they were good. You know that's a great old cheat sheet. Well now with the way the worlds changed our former enemies are now our allies. The Ukrainians would be a prime example. They were living in AJ with us on the same camp. And at first it was a little tentative and it got to be a little better and we'd talk to them and you know they were you know ten feet tall and bullet proof in the you know Cold War days because they were soviet block, no, we would clean their block, they got to meet us and you know, learn things. It was kind of humorous because you could talk to them about home and this and that, and talk to them about their house, and ask them about their front yard. Yard, meter, yes. They could not, Saucer could not get past a yard as a unit of measure, not a front yard. It was kind of a hoot to do it and also the Romanians, the Checs, the Ukrainians, the Japanese they had to change their constitution to be able to 37 deploy, because after WWII, they could have a military for defense purposes only. Defenses are Japan. To see the Rising Sun driving around out there was just, I mean, we were just talking about WWII. That's the last time US and Japanese were at a combat zone at the same time and they weren't like yeah ok, there's a lot of things like that that are bizarre. I listen to people complain about the heat, you know, it's warm, it's hot out here. I was making them drill the other day and one of the guys that was not deployed commented on the heat, you know it's like 88, 89, you know, big deal, and he comments on the heat and out of five people standing there, he was the only one that was not deployed and then he kind of realized that to maybe not worry. I told him I'm not going to bitch about the heat until it's over 120. That's my little rule, right there, 120. That was hot. Other people talk about not liking to eat off, using plastic utensils but you had no room to bitch. There are a lot of things that people take for granted that you didn't deal with. That's a whole lot different. I mean, being back in the states is a really big deal. It's also nice, had people, I didn't come on leave, because we told my daughter next time you see me I'll be home. So we saves, you know, of course when your not paying taxes because your in a combat zone, besides being in danger you don't pay taxes. It's amazing how much money you make when you don't pay taxes. Were saving a little bit, you know, little nest egg. The guys that come home on leave they come and find someone to talk to them and you see apprehension because is this right. You're home, yeah you should 38 be happy here, but it's not home, the home is 7,000 miles away. You're reactions to things, you see them kind of hesitant about talking about it. And you start explaining, o.k. I'm not nuts. That's interesting, had a chance, there's a unit deployed right now 1075th out of Columbus and York, Nebraska. Last June, July, it might have been June, anyway, they were getting ready to deploy. Four of us that had been deployed as transportation, same thing, we were able to go over and get them classes and that was actually one of the most satisfying drills I've done, I think in my life because we didn't have, you know they had a month notice, o.k. get everything in order, you know this is probably where you're going, this is what's going to happen, you know this is what's been going on here. We found out Thursday night, Monday was a holiday and we reported Tuesday morning. We're gone for 15 months by the time we actually got back, you know, in our house. Able to give these guys lessons in part of those convoy operations, o.k. what you teach in the states, and o.k. this is how we are going to do it does not apply over there, and being able to get them into that mindset and they've been hit, a couple times and so far they've been lucky, and yeah you kind of hope what we imparted hopefully helped. And you look at things a whole lot differently. You know, some people, things that used to bother you, don't. It's just no big deal, been worse. Things like that. I think that's about it. I've probably bored you long enough.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Now I have a couple of questions for you now, can we do that? 39

Todd B. Walton:

Oh, it's your time.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Was anybody else, any other relatives in your family in the military?

Todd B. Walton:

My dad did four years in the Air Force, that probably the reason I originally looked at the Air Force. During the Vietnam War, he chose to enlist instead of being drafted. Did his four years, got out. His bother was drafted, in the Army, had entirely different experience than dad did, you know, dreary. That's the most part for my family is that.

Lindsey A. Miller:

You're in the Reserves still?

Todd B. Walton:

In the Guard yea.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Guard, sorry.

Todd B. Walton:

That's fine. Guard is State, Reserve is Federal.

Lindsey A. Miller:

O.k., what do you have to do for that, what are your responsibilities?

Todd B. Walton:

One weekend a month, two weeks a year. The Guard has a policy, you should only be deployed once every five years, but we'll see how that pans out. You know, do your time. Well also, a lot of the stuff we trained on, is bullshit, this doesn't really matter. Convoy operations, and teaching the new guys the way things are done, you know you need to know this, this you don't. The 735th came back, that's actually our unit, we're going to be able to mesh here in July and get going, and it's interesting, working with the 1075th out of York and Columbus. We give them convoy briefings, and we give them the basic information and when we first landed it would take a long time to get a convoy put together, got to get everything done. Now it's bom, bom, bom, bom, lets go. Getting them up to speed on that 40 and it's interesting dealing with a battalion they haven't deployed. One of the things is doing a little run over to Hastings to the turning site. They couldn't get over it, I lead a convoy of Hum-vee's over, you know, only like five of them, here's what you need to do, here's what we're going to go, here's what time were leaving, make it happen. And 30 minutes later, we're gone. They not used to moving at that pace. Yeah I do the one weekend a month, two weeks a year.

Lindsey A. Miller:

Would you encourage other people to join?

Todd B. Walton:

Yes, the military, I have always thought the military was a good deal, especially if you are young and single. If you have no attachments then that's the time to really do it because there's so many ways they can take you. If you don't' know what you want to do in your life, you know like I want to do something medical, o.k., I don't know, I was able to get a focus on my career. Think you like carpentry, hey join up, be a carpenter. If you don't like it, you've got some money for college and you know you don't like it, you still have a job skill. The military is a good thing. It's something a lot of people should be doing. I have a view of it's a responsibility. You get a lot of stupid stuff out of your system. When I was active, I literally drank paychecks. There's nothing better to do, you know it's like when you hit college. Yea you have the freedom, you do a lot of stupid stuff. I don't have to worry about rent, I don't have to worry about food. You know, that's the time to get that stupid stuff out of your system. And also you also look at the people in the military that are, as a 41 medic, I've got a couple hundred guys, there my responsibility. It could vary from ten to a couple hundred. They are my responsibility, I'm it. You know, you've got the responsibility and also you kind of limit yourself. You want to do this, this is your time to do it. You see the world, when I joined up, I didn't want to be anywhere in the United States, I wanted to be anywhere outside the United States. Of course it's the military, they wait till I'm married with two kids, and then your going to get to see the world. But if you see the world, you know, things you will never a have a chance to do again, and you actually get to be paid to do it. And you'll pick up, sometimes when you talk to people they say you can spot the ones in the military just on how they behave and what they do. You give two people a job to do, spot those in the military make it happen. Not all of the time but sometimes you can.

Lindsey A. Miller:

I don't have anything else. Is there anything else you would like to say?

Todd B. Walton:

No, hope I didn't bore you.

Lindsey A. Miller:

No and thank you for this and for the service.

Todd B. Walton:

Not a problem and if you have any questions, want clarification let me know.

 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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