Troop Prepares for New Life
February 4, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - After more than nine years of serving his country, one dedicated Soldier prepares for life as a civilian. But before he makes the journey from camouflage to pinstripe suits, he takes time to reflect on his life so far and recent duty in Iraq.
"This deployment was very different from my last," said Sgt. Phillip Stockard, an infantryman with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. "I have now deployed twice with the 1st Cavalry Division, but each time has been a completely different experience."
Learning and growing from different environments is nothing new for this troop and he is ready for the next one.
"I grew up in two completely different environments," said Stockard. "When I was little, I grew up on the tough streets of Detroit with my mom, and then, as a teenager, I lived in a ritzy neighborhood with my dad and step-mom. They were like two totally different worlds. But the lessons I learned growing up have stuck with me every day."
Growing up with a psychologist as a father, Stockard was always getting advice for ways to be successful when he got older. But being a teenager, he didn't want to listen.
"When I graduated high school I was set to start college on an academic scholarship, but I through it away with one fight," explained Stockard. "I could have done so much from where I was, but I couldn't see it then."
With the streets of Detroit behind him, Stockard met up with a long time friend, who was then an Army recruiter, and joined the Army in 1998 as an infantryman and started to journey to be "All that he could be."
"During my time in the Army I have deployed to Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq twice," Stockard said. "I was in Kuwait when the Iraq war began. We couldn't believe it when we heard that the towers were hit and next thing we know we are being told they are firing scuds and sitting in the (Bradley Fighting Vehicles) for several hours."
After returning from Kuwait, he knew he wanted to go to a unit that would be heading back to the fight. Although he was assigned to 1st Infantry Division at the time, he was ready for more and requested a transfer to the 1st Cavalry Division, knowing they were going to be heading to Iraq in the spring of 2004.
"I love to be deployed," said Stockard who is married with three daughters. "It's hard on my family, but they are my focus while I'm fighting the enemy."
But this deployment changed everything, and would be the beginning of the end for a dedicated Soldier's Army career.
"I have always volunteered for deployments. I don't just wait for them to come my way," Stockard said. "And with that, I have also always told myself I would do this till I got hurt."
On August 21, 2007, Stockard's deployment came to a screeching end when his team was hit by an improvised explosive device while on a foot patrol outside Camp Taji, Iraq.
"The blast punctured both my eardrums, and I had shrapnel in my eardrums, neck and face," he said. "I was sent to Germany for treatment and then to San Antonio to Brooks Army Medical Center for the remainder of my treatment and recovery."
"Being at BAMC was the hardest part of it all," Stockard said. "I was just a couple hours away and yet I couldn't go home. I wanted to be with my family so bad."
Now, five month later, Stockard's hearing is back and better then ever, and he is ready for his next adventure in life.
"I have several options right now that I am looking at. One of which will put me right back over in Iraq, but will provide for my family well into the future," he explained. "I'm not decided yet on what I'm going to do. But right now, I'm spending time with my family and preparing what ever the future may bring my way."