Local Pictures
Classified Ads
 Announce Births
Email Us
Buy A Copy
Local Links

Issue Index

02-16-04: Celina man gets break from sizzling in Iraq


U.S. Army Specialist Brian Monbeck may not agree with the reasons for war in Iraq, but he did his duty and recently returned home with other members of the 101st Airborne Division after nearly a year in the dangerous Middle East.
The 26-year-old from Celina, works as a cook with the 101st Air Assault Battalion, a group of about 335 soldiers. After the invasion of Iraq and ouster of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Monbeck’s unit set up a base near Qayyarah. The formal name of the airstrip, Qayyarah West Airfield, became known to the soldiers as “Q West.”
After following a meandering route through the Iraqi desert in the early days of the war, Monbeck’s unit finally took up permanent residence at Q West. There, Monbeck was responsible for helping prepare nearly 700 meals per day using six, 6,000-BTU cooking units that are part of the unit’s mobile kitchen trailer.
Conditions in Iraq varied greatly. In the early days of the war last spring, temperatures were moderate, a lot like spring in the United States, Monbeck said. By summer, though, temperatures often sizzled over 130 degrees. Add a full uniform, 22-pound flak jacket, and at times a suit to protect against chemical or biological attack, and it was nothing short of miserable, he said.
Once the airfield at Qayyarah was set up, the soldiers were treated to a few more luxuries. Soldiers could access e-mail, use satellite telephones to make important calls home and watch television news reports. At one point, commanders installed a Web cam that allowed family members of the troops to see them as they spoke with them on Yahoo’s messenger service.
Monbeck’s unit was lucky in that it never came under attack while on Iraqi soil. The group’s Apache helicopter pilots made some offensive strikes but the rest of the battalion came through unscathed. The battalion is one of the few in the 101st that came through the conflict without any casualties, Monbeck said.
Occasionally, Monbeck drove as part of a convoy to an airfield in Mosul where the Army picked up its mail.
“You learn to keep your head on a swivel, always looking out for something out of the ordinary,” Monbeck explained, although he never saw any of the guerrilla attacks on military convoys that have been commonplace since the end of major fighting.
Monbeck said he has seen the Iraqi people change in how they view the American soldiers in their homeland. Before the war started and in its early days, people in villages would unsuccessfully try to block the roads to prevent the military convoys from rolling through.
But later, at Q West, after Saddam Hussein had been captured, Monbeck said he saw a different side of the Iraqi mindset.
“They were grateful,” he said.
As for the reasons behind the war, Monbeck said he doubts there ever were the weapons of mass destruction that U.S. and British intelligence indicated Hussein had stockpiled. He admits that Hussein is a deplorable human being who likely has committed atrocities against his own people. But Monbeck said he doesn’t believe the American government should have involved itself in Iraq.
But the soldier states his views without criticizing President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or anyone else in the government, displaying the overwhelming sense of duty inherent to every good soldier.
“I don’t agree with what (Hussein) was doing, but it’s their country. In our country, we do what our president says; they should do the same,” Monbeck said.
If a change in Iraqi leadership was necessary, it should have come from the Iraqi people, not the American war machine, he said.
Back at home, his mother and wife stopped watching news coverage of the war. News clips and sound bytes about dead soldiers were simply too much to take, they said.
“It sends an instant panic through you. It’s too ugly to watch,” said his mother.
“I’m so excited that he’s back on the right side of the ocean,” said his mother, Sandy Monbeck, who welcomed home her oldest son back from war late last week. She said the “perk” in her son’s voice came back after the troops from the 101st were safely back on American soil last week.
One of the most difficult parts of Monbeck’s deployment came in August, when his wife, Ann, gave birth to the couple’s second child together. When Monbeck first left Fort Campbell, Ky., in the spring of 2003, he expected to be home in time for the birth of his son, Caleb.
“It was a bad experience all the way around,” said his wife.
Doctors were predicting complications with birth, although everything went smoothly. Monbeck found out about the birth while he was at Q West.
He did not meet the infant until October, when Monbeck was chosen for a 15-day leave as part of the military’s rest and relaxation plan to boost morale among troops. Then it was back to Iraq.
Monbeck is now on leave until Feb. 26 when he must be back on the base at Fort Campbell. His future remains unclear. He is eligible to leave the military in October 2005 and might stay or possibly go to school, he said.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822


L10 Web Stats Reporter 3.15 LevelTen Hit Counter - Free Web Counters
LevelTen Web Design Company - Website Development, Flash & Graphic Designers