Reservists Carry Heavy Load in Humanitarian, Reconstruction Missions
June 25, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 26, 2007) - Three Army Reserve Soldiers appeared with Chief of the Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz at the State Department's Foreign Press Center Thursday to share their deployment stories with the media.
Maj. Christopher Matson, Sgt. Robert Rose and Spc. Miles Noonan all said they were extremely proud of their roles in combat and humanitarian missions across the world.
Maj. Matson of headquarters company, 108th Division (Institutional Training), from Charlotte, N.C., was part of a nine-person team that advised an Iraqi Army battalion on everything from combat operations and logistics to developing a noncommissioned officer corps in 2006.
On one occasion, Maj. Matson's unit was under fire in a small alley. When he tried leaving the Humvee to assess the situation, two Iraqi sergeants stopped him, telling him that it was too dangerous and they would take care of it before running into the alley themselves.
"I'll never forget the Iraqis that I worked with. They're some of my best friends and will always be with me. It was tough to leave them," said Maj. Matson, adding that he keeps in contact with Iraqi soldiers who have e-mail access.
"They considered us brothers, and when an Iraqi calls you his brother, it's a sign that he's willing to sacrifice his life for you," he said.
Sgt. Rose had just arrived at Fort Sill, Okla., from Richmond, Kan., with the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, to mobilize for deployment to Afghanistan when the October 2005 Pakistan earthquake occurred. In less than a week, his unit was in Pakistan distributing food, clothing and shelter to victims.
The sergeant said he saw unimaginable destruction that was compounded by the cold and snow.
"I had a lot of clothing on, but children were wearing only thin clothes and sandals," he said. "I gave a pair of my gloves to a kid. He didn't know how to put them on, so I showed him and he was just overwhelmed.
"A lot of their newspapers called us 'angels of mercy.' They painted Chinooks on the side of their trucks to show that we were there to help them," Sgt. Rose said.
His unit spent about four months conducting humanitarian missions in Pakistan before arriving in Afghanistan to transport Soldiers and supplies in support of the war on terrorism.
Spc. Noonan of Fairfield, Maine, deployed to Panama for three months this year with the 94th Military Police Company to support the New Horizons Project, a Reserve and National Guard task force to build schools, clinics, roads, and provide medical and veterinary care in third-world countries.
He said he was grateful that his unit was able to help people who had nothing, like the family of two children who died in a house fire. Eligible to return home after two weeks, he volunteered to stay for the whole three-month project.
"I think it shows the generosity of the American people and the Army as a whole, and that we really are there to help and do what we can for them, and now we have friends for life," Spc. Noonan said.
Army Reserve Soldiers are essential to humanitarian and reconstruction missions. According to the Army Reserve Web site, 97 percent of all civil affairs personnel are in the Reserves. They have built roads, schools, hospitals and women's centers, in addition to training Iraqi soldiers and police officers to perform combat and civil affairs missions, and life-saving medical procedures.