2-113th, British Soldiers keep watchPhotos and story by Sgt. 1st Class Edwin Tejada, 2-113th Infantry Battalion
“I always wanted to do something related with combat,” Wydner said.
And so he did. Soon after returning from Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, Wydner was informed he would deploy to Iraq less than a month later.
Wydner is practically a permanent resident at Safwan Hill, a Multi-National Coalition Forces post. Located close to the Iraq-Kuwait border, Safwan Hill was once an Iraqi intelligence and surveillance site during Saddam Hussein’s regime and one of the first battlegrounds during the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Towering over the desert landscape like an iceberg of rock in a sea of sand, the view over the hill is impressive.
WHEN WE ARE ON DUTY,WE ARE DEAD SERIOUS ABOUT OUR MISSION BECAUSE IT INVOLVES THE SAFETY OF OUR GUYS.
“We have a view of everything around us…I can see the Iraqi nightlife and it is very different from ours,” joked Wydner.
At an age in which most of his peers are in college, or having fun, Wydner spends long hours tirelessly observing through a scope, looking out for dangers that may jeopardize Coalition troops, a responsibility these Soldiers do not take lightly.
“When we are on duty, we are dead serious about our mission because it involves the safety of our guys,” Wydner explained.
At first, Wydner was nervous about working with British Forces and the treatment he would receive from other members of the Multinational Forces.
“When I first heard I was going to be with the British (Soldiers) I thought I was going to be in a dangerous area, with some hardcore infantry guys, but they are very respectful and look up to us.”
Wydner has now adjusted well to his environment and is comfortable performing his mission with his new “mates”. “We [Coalition Soldiers] work together on everything, from cleaning the toilets to watching out for suspicious activities,” Wydner explained.
Despite being in a very restrictive post and enduring a grueling work schedule, Wydner has no regrets about joining the military and celebrating his first enlistment anniversary in Iraq.
“I always knew I was going to do the military before my education,” Wydner asserted. “If I were not doing the military, I would be studying environmental science or something that would keep me outdoors, just like in the military.”
Rather than kicking doors down or chasing insurgents, as he thought he would be doing, Wydner says that working alongside the Multi-National forces, especially the British, has been a great learning experience.
“I am learning about their vehicles, weapons, but mostly about them as people.” Wydner added, “They’re not that different from us; they want to [see a successful outcome to] the war and help the Iraqi Government and people, but mostly they want to make sure all our guys [Coalition Service members] get out safe.”
|(c) 2008 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs|