In Honor of Memorial Day: 22-year old Soldier reflects on third overseas tour
Story by Staff Sgt. Paul Evans, KY ADT 4 Public Affairs NCO
NOTE: Each week kentuckyguard.com publishes stories by or about Kentucky National Guard unit public affairs historian representatives, also known as UPAHRs. This is an additional duty taken on by a Soldier or Airmen with the intent of telling their unit’s story. This is one such story ….
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan – Four years into his career, Spc. Jesse Loghry, a combat medic serving as a vehicle gunner with the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 is already an old veteran. That’s because the Springdale, Ark. native, who graduated high school at Ft. Knox, Ky. in 2008 is well into his third deployment.
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“I’m 22-years-old. This marks my third deployment and yet…not the best decision I could’ve made,” Loghry joked.
“On this trip, I’m slotted 11B (Infantry), something I thought I’d never get the chance to do,” he reflected. “I’m a medic. I never would have thought any time that I’d be behind a 50 (caliber rifle), pulling a gunner’s job going down the road, but here I am doing it.”
“The biggest thing is that I don’t want somebody else to put themselves in harm’s way whenever I’m perfectly capable of it,” Loghry explained. “And I’ve always wanted to be in the military, so it’s just another thing. I get up, toss on the uniform, and I get a sense of pride that very few people in the world will ever see the things that you see.”
“It’s a different sense of just being able to know that you’re different. You’ve got experiences that nobody else will ever have,” he added.
“In my deployments, I get told by a lot of different people that I work with, they’re like ‘man, you’re the best medic I’ve ever worked with,’ and it does give you a sense of pride,” Loghry described. “The biggest thing for me is, if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. So, I feel like I have made a small difference, at least in some people’s lives.”
Loghry spent his first two deployments serving in Iraq.
“The first one, we started in 2009. We were out of FOB Key West in northern Iraq. I was with the 2113th Transportation Co. out of Paducah, Ky., and I was put into 2nd Platoon, 2nd Squad as their medic. We ran convoy security to just everywhere in the north half of Iraq from Baghdad all the way up to just about the (Turkish) border,” Loghry recalled. “I was primary medic on just about every mission.”
“We were in our trucks about eight, nine hours of the day. So we would be gone for two or three days, come back, have a day to rest, and go back out again,” he added.
“The second deployment was this past year in 2011. When I came on orders, it was exactly a year after I’d come back home from the first one,” Loghry said. “I was with the 940th MP (Military Police) Co. out of Walton, Ky., who were attached to the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.”
“We were primary base QRF (quick reaction force) for all of VBC (Victory Base Compound in Baghdad)…we did external dismounted patrols, we gathered human intelligence, basically made sure the bad guys weren’t going to attack the FOB,” he explained.
“With this mission, I was at (Camp) Atterbury getting ready to go home from Iraq and (ADT 4 member Spc. Courtney) Stewart messaged me on Facebook and asked me if I was back in the states,” Loghry recalled. “Then she asked me if I felt like going overseas again. I said, ‘sure, why not.’”
Loghry briefly reflected on how he’s dealt with deploying so many times at such a young age.
“It hasn’t really affected me that much till now, because I just always thought of it as ‘I’m young, I don’t have any kids. I don’t really have anything holding me back. If I go overseas and something happens to me, it’s not really going to affect anybody except my family,’” he explained.
“I would rather be overseas than someone who’s got a wife and kids. Now, I’m still only 22,” Loghry added. “But it’s starting to get to me that I just kind of need to get my life going back home.”
For Soldiers who have not deployed, Loghry offered a few key pieces of advice.
“Remember the little things,” Loghry advised. “Because that’s what will push you through. The smallest things back home, like my little brother, he turned 4 (years-old) this year, and I see pictures on Facebook of him growing up. And it’s just like, I remember whenever he just three months old. He’s grown up so much, and it’s like, ‘God, I miss the hell out of him.’”
“Listen to your Senior NCOs,” Loghry added. “The ones that have been over and have done the stuff, really listen to them and try to learn everything you can. No matter what your job is, try to learn everything.”
Having served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Loghry offered a few comparisons of his experiences in each.
“Afghanistan, we live in tents. I’m not used to that,” he said. “I like Afghanistan because we’ve got a really good chow hall. In Iraq, at the end, we were eating MREs and basically, everything was kind of shut down.”
“I like the scenery a little bit better in Afghanistan,” Loghry added. “In Iraq, it’s all desert, it’s all flat…either that or if you’re in the city, you see run-down buildings. It’s like you’re in the ghetto everywhere. There’s trash and dead animals laying in the street and they don’t even care.”
Loghry said he has received some emotional support while deployed from family and a few close friends who happen to be active duty Army officers.
“My dad always seems really supportive about it,” he described. “My mom, I know she hates it. And my little brother Charles, he’s going to turn 22 (years-old) in December. He joined the Army and he’s now active duty as a Medic at Ft. Knox. I don’t ever want him to think that he’s got to live up to (my) expectations,” Loghry added.
“I’ve got a few good friends. Like 2nd Lt. Ryan Torres, that’s always going to be my best friend,” Loghry said. “I’ve known him since high school and he’s now active duty. Once he finishes up Ranger school and we go on vacation while I’m home on leave, he’s going to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Stryker Brigade (in Germany).”
“My other best friend, 2nd Lt. Dillon Orison, he actually graduated from college (at Western Kentucky University) in May. “He’s going to be an Armor officer. Other than that, I’ve got very few people I talk to back home,” Loghry noted.
If everything goes well, Loghry said he does plan on deploying again, but plans to take a few years off before the next trip.
“Depending on how the duration of this thing goes will be the deciding factor of whether I want to end up staying in the Army or not,” Loghry said. “I don’t want to say that I’m burnt out, but at the same time I’d love to be home right now.”