BAGHDAD - Cotton Valley, La. native, Spc. Brent McCarty of the 39th Military Police Company, is greeted by Brig. Gen. Owen Monconduit, commander, 225th Engineer Brigade July 11 during Monconduit's visit to Forward Operating Base Shield. McCarty joined the Louisiana National Guard under the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) and was deployed with his unit to Iraq soon after.

BAGHDAD - As a linebacker for Cotton Valley High School in Louisiana, Brent McCarty looked up to his coach Christopher Pace for guidance and direction. That was at least five years ago and now Spc. McCarty, a driver and gunner for the command team of the 39th Military Police Company, attached to the 8th MP Brigade, plays on a different team here in Iraq, and it's thanks to his old coach and an incentive program called the Army National Guard Recruiting Assistant Program (G-RAP).

Coach Pace just so happens to be a first lieutenant in the Louisiana National Guard, serving for the rear detachment of the 39th MP Co., who signed up McCarty under the G-RAP. As a Guard Recruiting Assistant, Pace earned $1,000 for signing McCarty and an additional $1,000 when McCarty completed Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training.

McCarty had dropped out of college and was working at what he considers a dead end job with not future. Then he met Pace at the mud races and he is back on track.

"College was the selling point," said McCarty, Native of Cotton Valley, La., who plans to return to finish up his college degree when he returns home under Louisiana National Guard's state tuition exemption program.

For now, McCarty's job as a gunner and driver involves his working with Iraqi forces to help protect the nearby community of Rusafa; a job that is carries a high degree risk especially for Iraqis who are now in control of the major cities.

"I respect them for what they are doing now. It is dangerous, but they are doing it for their country," said McCarty, who also gave praise to his team members. "I feel we're doing a great job helping a country get back on its feet."

That's much like what McCarty's coach did for him, and it's something McCarty plans to carry forward as a psychologist one day--.

"It would be a great way to help people," he said.

Page last updated Wed July 15th, 2009 at 12:20