‘Hurry up and wait’
Marine reflects on military experience, plans new chapter after serving in Iraq
Although many troops return from Iraq with nightmares of mortars exploding, Sgt. David Wade with the U.S. Marine Corps came home with a computer slide show and some conversational Arabic.
In the common military terms, “hurry up and wait,” Wade’s job was to rush to get satellite communications up and running — via secure Internet and phone lines — then take 12-hour shifts to be sure they stayed up.
“Basically, my job is sit here and watch the satellites,” Wade said.
To pass the time, he caught up on his music-listening and created a slide show to music on his laptop computer from photos he took while overseas. He also bought interactive CDs that taught him the basics of the Arabic language.
Wade joined the Marines after graduating from Moffat County High School so he could “get out of Craig.” He completed his four-year commitment and was at home when airplanes hit the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
“As soon as 9-11 happened, I was in the recruiter’s office,” Wade said. “By February, they had me signed up and ready to go.”
He re-enlisted for four more years, and this time, he saw more than Camp Pendleton in California. He went to Iraq twice, the first time for 11 months, and the second for seven months.
“It was better than the first go round,” he said about his most recent tour. “(The first time), there was no chow halls, no base, we were moving every other day.”
This deployment, Wade stayed at Al Asad, Iraq, where he helped install a 16-foot satellite dish. Wade thinks he was lucky not to have seen more action.
“Al Asad didn’t get attacked that much,” he said. “I think it made the news once or twice.”
He was also fortunate to have food and facilities on base to make his stay more comfortable.
“Sometimes, we’d have chicken or lasagna,” he said. “Sometimes, we’d have stuff we didn’t recognize.”
They had a Postal Exchange store set up in an old gym on base, which sold toiletry items and some snacks.
Wade recalled, however, receiving packages with other foods he was craving. His parents sent him sour gummy worms, which melted into “one big brick.” So, he just took a bite of the block.
He returned Dec. 4 and was home at Christmastime. He took the recent nine-day leave to spend some more time with his parents. He returned to Camp Pendleton on Saturday, and will be in Georgia the next two months for schooling for the job he had in Iraq.
He’s looking forward to being done with the military next February.
“Eight years is a good amount of time to experience it,” Wade said. “It’s time to see something else.”
He plans to look for jobs in the satellite-communications field, which he said could pay more than $180,000 a year for people fresh out of the military.
He also could use his commercial driver’s license, which he earned as a driver during his first enlistment.
Meanwhile, overseas, Wade thinks the fighting is wrapping up, and he’s happy with his service to his country.
“I think we have accomplished what we went there for,” he said. “Unfortunately, they didn’t have the weapons of mass destruction, which is what we went in there to do.”
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