By Sgt. 1st Class Alex Licea, 3rd BCT PAO, 82nd Abn. Div., MND-BJuly 15, 2009
BAGHDAD - As a corrections officer for a youth detention center in his home state of Georgia, Staff Sgt. Fredrick Campbell took pride in mentoring troubled youth and getting them back on their feet to become better citizens and serve a greater purpose in their communities.
But after three years as a coach and mentor to young people in his local community, the Ocilla, Ga., native had a higher calling to service in a greater capacity. So the then 23-year-old decided to enlist in the Army and serve his country as an Army Paratrooper and logistics specialist. Nine years of service and four deployments later, Campbell knows he made the right choice.
"I really took pride in changing the lives of troubled youth and try to make them outstanding citizens," he said. "But I wanted to serve and defend my country, so here I am doing my part to secure freedom."
Campbell is assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad and is currently serving his third combat tour in Iraq. Campbell has also served a tour in Kosovo.
Like most combat veterans, Campbell has had his share of highs and lows during a deployment. Campbell's most memorable and defying moment came during the initial stages of the 2003 U.S.- led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein's regime. As a member of the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Division, Campbell was one of nearly 1,000 Paratroopers to participate in Operation Northern Delay, a combat jump into Northern Iraq to secure the Bashur Airfield in order to provide strategic relief for Coalition forces advancing on Baghdad from the south. Campbell said the emotion prior to jumping out of the aircraft was something he will never forget.
"I was nervous because I did not know what to expect when I jumped out," he said. "We all had our fears, but we were ready to face anything that stood in our way."
For the next 45 days, Campbell and his fellow comrades worked, ate and slept on that open land in Northern Iraq. Looking back now, Campbell cherishes the experience despite all the hardships that came with it.
"It was tough living out of your ruck sack with no clean clothes, showers and eating Meals Ready to eat every day," he said. "But that experience has made me appreciate all those things we normally take for granted and have today. It also prepared me to grow in the ranks and it groomed me to become a noncommissioned officer."
During his current deployment to Iraq, Campbell describes himself as a combat enabler ensuring his fellow Paratroopers have all the supplies they need to make sure they can complete their mission. Currently Campbell supervisors both junior Soldiers and a team of local nationals to ensure these supplies get to the troopers.
As U.S. forces continue to drawdown from Iraq, Campbell is proud of his three tours in the country.
"I have seen the beginning of the war, the middle and now the first steps of the drawdown," Campbell said. "It is a great thing that the Iraqis are really taking control of their country and providing themselves a better future."
Military service is not uncommon in Campbell's family. Both his uncles were career servicemembers in the Army and Air Force respectfully.
Campbell is married and has an 11-year-old son named Kenshaine. Campbell hopes to pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. During his free time, Campbell likes to go to the gym and play basketball.