OTF Soldier Story for October 5, 2009 - Sgt. 1st Class Patrick McDonald
Current Unit: 448th Civil Affairs Battalion
Current Position: 38B Civil Affairs
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Fort Lewis, Wash.
Hometown: Olympia, Wash.
Years of Service: 18
After deploying twice to work with the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), Sgt. 1st Class Patrick McDonald helped coordinate the first and second democratic elections in Iraq. Having seen the progress in election procedures overseas, the Soldier knows the price of democracy and freedom, and it is a liberty that he does not take for granted.
"What we take for granted they often would give their life for," said McDonald, who has voted in every election since he was eligible. Even while deployed to Iraq during the U.S. Presidential Election in 2008, he recalled voting for the next Commander-in-Chief beside a statue of Saddam Hussein.
While deployed to Iraq from August 2008 to August 2009, McDonald served as the Command Liaison to IHEC, the organization that coordinates all elections throughout Iraq. Similar to the role he played when he first deployed from May 2005 to July 2006, the Soldier was responsible for coordinating security missions surrounding the election and assisting with voter registration, as well as providing subject matter expert support to IHEC leaders. For his meritorious service during his first deployment, McDonald was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Reflecting on the change between his two deployments, the Soldier described the considerable progress in the Iraqi election process as "night and day." He said that prior to 2006, Iraqis were unable to vote freely, and many voters were scared of repercussions. However, when he returned in 2008, McDonald said he witnessed a newfound confidence of the Iraqi citizens when voting.
During his most recent deployment, McDonald was the only Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) in his section and worked with many high-ranking officers, as well as Iraqi government leaders. Using his civilian job experience as the Assistant to Washington's Secretary of State and his education, McDonald said he worked hard to represent the role of an NCO well. Committed to serving as an NCO and proud of the role he plays in the Army, he hopes to attend the Army's Sergeants Major Academy in the future.
McDonald serves with the 448th Civil Affairs Battalion at Fort Lewis, Wash. He recently returned to his civilian job and is thankful for the support they provided him during his deployment, including frequently sending care packages and notes of encouragement.