Destination, Afghanistan: Soldier ships out today

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It takes a special breed of person to forfeit a comfy -- and safe -- life in America and volunteer for a job that involves routine danger in a land thousands of miles from home.

But, that's exactly what Dan Vesely, a Craig native and 2000 graduate of Moffat County High School, did when he enlisted in the Army in 2002. Two years later, Vesely was pulling guard duty and manning a 50-caliber machine gun while escorting convoys in Iraq.

"I just wanted to serve my country, and this gave me the opportunity to see the world," Spc. Vesely said Thursday.

He got his wish, and then some, in 2004, when he was assigned to serve five months in Iraq. He's going to get it again today.

Vesely is scheduled to leave Fort Polk, La., with the 10th Mountain Division for a 6- to 12-month tour in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

He is set to arrive in Afghanistan late Sunday, after a 24-hour flight.

The 25-year-old soldier is prohibited from discussing many aspects of his upcoming mission. He limited his comments by saying only that he'll again be assigned to guard duty and convoy escorts.

On the surface, those responsibilities don't sound so perilous. But, if his Afghan tour is anything similar to Iraq, Vesely's job will have its hazards.

Convoys routinely face enemy ambushes and roadside bombs, he said. But Vesely puts a brave face in front of the potential danger he faces in the Middle East.

"You anticipate you're going to be attacked, and we were in Iraq, quite a bit," he said. "I've been fired at before. You just hope for the best, and try to get through it.

"Really, I'm not too worried about it. I'm more worried about missing the holidays. I'm just going to go over there and do my job."

Vesely's mother, Diana Vesely, and twin sister, Angela, currently reside in Craig.

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